Thursday, September 25, 2008

PREDICTION: Mississippi State

As I sit and marvel at the spectacle of Oregon State making USC sweat, it's tough to devote a ton of thought to this game. Not because I'm glued to the Oregon State game. I'm not. In fact, other than the possibility of LSU rising in the polls, I really don't care all that much about USC. The bullshit that flies back and forth between Baton Rouge and Los Angeles is, to me, a bunch of silliness. Really. Who give a shit if they claim a non-BCS championship? If Phil Steele crowned his own national champ this year and it was different than the BCS team, would you care? Exactly. The AP poll is interesting but irrelevant.

See. Tough to focus on Mississippi State. I just don't think this game is going to be close at all.

Anyway. Don't fear. Les Miles and the Tigers won't have a focus problem. Florida is two weeks away, after a Bye week. Miles has already said he's throwing out the MSU/Georgia Tech film. He's focusing on what MSU was able to do against Auburn, particularly on defense. So, I don't think focus will be an issue.

But let's be serious. LSU owns Mississippi State. In every sense of the word. Last year's 45-0 waxing was not an unusual result for this series in recent years. LSU has consistently outscored MSU by large margins. And, if I have my stats right, the Tigers have won 16 of the last 17 contests.

This year's Croomdogs are not playing like last year's variety. The defense still has it's moments. But they're just moments. Dixon is still a good runningback. Pegues is still a good return man and decent DB. But that's about it.

Keys to the game:

1. LSU's defensive line will own MSU's offensive line. Early. And often.

2. LSU's defensive backs will have to fix some of the coverage mistakes to avoid giving gifts to an otherwise poor MSU passing attack.

3. LSU's punt team and kickoff team will have to find a way to keep Pegues contained. He's pretty good.

4. LSU's RBs and OL need to establish the running game early to take the pressure off of Lee early. Give him a quarter to establish his confidence.

5. Jarrett Lee needs to play a relatively error-free game. TD>Ints. >55% completions. >200 yards passing. He does that and LSU will roll.


A. Injuries. Knock on wood, LSU is pretty unscathed right now. Hatch is probably still recovering a bit, and Beckwith is still out. But otherwise, LSU is good. They need to stay that way. Because after the Bye week, the Tigers have Florida and South Carolina on the road, followed by Georgia at home.

B. LSU QB. Jarrett Lee needs a good, solid game. If Lee struggles, MSU has a good enough defense to stack the box and make the running game much more difficult. And LSU needs to put Miss State away, and early. Because Jordan Jefferson needs some quality PT before Florida, just in case.

Prediction: LSU 24-0 at halftime, and LSU 49-0 final score.

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