Mississippi State (FL) @ LSU
Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Midnight Irish Time September 20th 2014 (ESPN)
Taking down the No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers on a neutral field in Week 1 doesn’t seem like the most impressive of victories, but the LSU Tigers came back from a 24-7 deficit in the middle of the third quarter to win the game 28-24 in the final minutes. Overcoming adversity like that in a big game could be a sign of things to come for the #8 ranked Tigers. Also 3-0 heading into conference play are the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Quite the opposite of LSU, however, Mississippi State has yet to play a tough foe through the first three weeks of the season. What does that mean? Well, the Bulldogs might be relatively unprepared for a contest with a team like LSU.
Although the Tigers average 38.3 points per game, the passing offense has been subpar behind the first-year starter Anthony Jennings. While Jennings has some previous experience as a starter due to an injury to star quarterback Zach Mettenberger last season, he is still trying to get used to being ‘the guy’ in charge of running the offense. The sophomore has passed for just 566 yards and five touchdowns to combat just one lone interception through three games. The offense’s main target in the receiving game has been Travin Dural who has 12 catches for 370 yards and four touchdowns — he has been carrying a big load seeing as the top two targets from last season moved on to the next level. The run game has been a bit more impressive than the passing attack, ranking 37th in the nation. Kenny Hilliard leads the way with 215 yards and three touchdowns while Leonard Fournette has 162 yards and two scores of his own.
Mississippi State has featured a top-tier offensive attack thus far in 2014 — most likely because of the fact that they haven’t faced a tough opponent yet. The Bulldogs are led by junior Dak Prescott at quarterback and he has been quite impressive for his second year as the team’s starter. Prescott is a dual-threat QB who has passed for 696 yards and nine touchdowns with just two interceptions while rushing for another 273 yards and two scores — good for second on the team. While sophomore wide out De’Runnya Wilson leads the team with three touchdown catches, senior Jameon Lewis leads the team in catches, 10, and receiving yards, 107, but has yet to reach the endzone on a reception. As previously mentioned, Prescott is second on the team in rushing yards while running back Josh Robinson leads the way with 288 yards and three touchdowns on 6.3 yards per carry.
Defensively, the Bulldogs allow just 12.3 points per contest which is good for the 11th-best mark in the entire nation. However, Mississippi State is in the middle of the pack when it comes to total yards allowed per game with an elevated 392 per contest — and over 300 per game comes from the opponent’s passing attack. The Tigers, on the other hand, have allowed a total of 24 points this season in three games, ranking second in all of college football in points allowed per game. When it comes to total yards allowed per game, the Tigers also excel, ranking third in the nation with just over 205 per contest.
PREDICTION: Mississippi State 10, LSU 28