The Tigers narrowly escaped Starkville with a 28-25 win over Mississippi State Saturday afternoon and although it wasn’t always pretty, the defense made enough stops early in the game and the offense was able to take advantage of miscues from the Bulldogs over the course of 60 minutes. Here are five reasons why the Tigers came out on top and are 1-0 in SEC play.
1. The LSU defense kept the Bulldogs (mostly) in check
The LSU coaching staff and Tiger fans don’t need to be reminded again how the defense fared last time it played Mike Leach’s offense. After giving up over 600 passing yards in last season’s opener, LSU defensive coordinator Daronte Jones decided to stick with a three man rush and played a lot of dime coverage, using six defensive backs and put an emphasis on stopping explosive plays from Mississippi State. The game plan proved effective, especially in the first half when LSU went to the locker room with a 7-3 lead. Two late touchdowns from Mississippi State might have spoiled an otherwise solid effort from the Tiger defense, but the coaching staff had a plan, stuck with it and it worked.
2. Kayshon Boutte keeps finding the endzone
What more is there to say about the premier wide receiver in the SEC? Max Johnson continues to find his favorite playmaker and Johnson continues to make big plays game after game. Johnson scored two more touchdowns Saturday, including a 64-yard catch and run to open up the second half that felt like a momentum shift for the Tigers’ offense. Johnson now has eight touchdowns in four games.
3. LSU won the turnover battle
Two early turnovers for the Tigers defense set the tone for the first three quarters and even though LSU wasn’t able to fully take advantage of each takeaway, the turnovers swung the game in LSU’s favor. Mississippi State’s two turnovers came inside the LSU 30-yard line and the Bulldogs squandered momentum-building drives.
4. Mississippi State couldn’t get out of their own way
This one feels a little too literal, but LSU was able to capitalize on several mental and physical mistakes made by the Bulldogs to escape Starkville with a win. Busted coverages, timely penalties, and even a scary play where two Bulldog defenders ran into each other that resulted in a Kole Taylor touchdown on third down. It wasn’t pretty for LSU all day, but it helped that Mississippi State played a slightly uglier game.