THE BREAKDOWN - LSU vs. Miss. State
Sizing up the unit by unit comparisons in Saturday’s game between LSU and Miss. State
by Matt Deville
Tiger Rag Senior Editor
(At left) Will Jarrett Lee get the start on Saturday? (Photo by Amanda Rothrock - © 2008 Tiger Rag)
After last week’s dramatic victory over No. 10 Auburn, the LSU Tigers return home for the SEC opener with the Miss. State Bulldogs.
Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Tiger Stadium. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
LSU (3-0, 1-0 SEC) comes into the game ranked No. 5 in the latest AP POll. But the Tigers look to move up after No. 1 USC’s 27-21 shocking defeat to unranked Oregon State last night.
The Tigers have won eight straight games against Miss. State (1-3, 0-1) including last season’s 45-0 drubbing in Starkville.
LSU rushing offense vs. Miss. State rushing defense
This will probably get downright ugly. Charles Scott, who is now being whispered about as a Heisman Trophy candidate, ran for an LSU-at-Auburn-record 132 yards versus the Tigers last Saturday and is currently seventh in the nation in rushing offense averaging 131 yards per game on the ground. He ravaged the Auburn defense even throughout the fourth quarter utilizing his size, speed and bruising nature to churn out huge chunks of yardage. Scott’s Heisman campaign takes a huge step forward as he will get the opportunity to rip and run through Miss. State’s 92nd-rated rushing defense (181 yards per game allowed).
LSU passing offense vs. Miss. State passing defense
Surprisingly, Miss. State’s passing defense is among the nation’s best. The Bulldog secondary is giving up only 126 yards per game through the air (4th nationally) and Miss. State is rated seventh in the country in pass efficiency defense. But that’s easy to understand considering teams rack up huge chunks of yardage on the ground against them. Teams do not have to throw to beat Miss. State; just ask Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets amassed 438 rushing yards last weekend.
Miss. State rushing offense vs. LSU rushing defense
Anthony Dixon is a stud running back, one which Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville compared to LSU’s Charles Scott. But it doesn’t matter how talented Dixon is, the Tiger defense held Auburn’s rushing attack to all of 70 yards as LSU ascended to ninth in the nation against the run (55 yards per game allowed).
Miss. State passing offense vs. LSU passing defense
The Miss. State passing game isn’t the worst aerial attack in the nation, but there are lots of teams that throw the ball better. Quarterback Wesley Carroll has completed almost 55 percent of his passes (51 of 95), thrown for 528 yards, and has a good receiver – Brandon McCrae – to which to throw. But he’s thrown twice as many interceptions as he has touchdowns, and the Miss. State offensive line has given up nine sacks in four games.
LSU special teams vs. Miss. State special teams
If LSU can sustain the success it had at Auburn, then the Tigers appear to have cleared up the loose ends in special teams. Colt David is healthy and kicking the ball well. Brady Dalfrey came out of hiding and averaged 48 yards per punt last week. Josh Jasper kicked his first touchback of the season. The only weak link was Trindon Holliday, who muffed two punts. Les Miles said he is going to keep Holliday on punt returns, however. Miss. State kicker Adam Carlson got his only field goal attempt – an 18-yarder – blocked at Georgia Tech.
Les Miles reminded everyone why he is among the nation’s best coaches. Looking as if the Tigers were dead in the water trailing 14-3 at Auburn, Miles rallied the troops, made some gutsy play calls – a halfback pass and an onside kick – and won at Auburn for the first time in 10 years. He also improved his record to 3-1 against the Tigers and improved his record to 8-3 against Top 10 teams. Sly Croom looked to be getting things turned around in Starkville with a bowl victory last season. But the Bulldogs have regressed and look like their old selves.
Miss. State hasn’t won in Tiger Stadium since a 28-19 victory in 1991. The closest score this decade in the LSU-State series was a 31-13 decision in 2002. The only chance Miss. State has in this one is the hope that LSU could still be flying high after last Saturday’s win at Auburn.
Unlike last week, this one won’t be close and will be very high scoring – on one side, that is. Mississippi State doesn’t have the personnel to compete with LSU, so expect something similar to the 45-0 beating LSU handed the Bulldogs last season in Starkville. The Tigers get a tune-up before heading into an open date. Jarrett Lee and Andrew Hatch get continued reps in preparations for the Oct. 11 date at Florida.