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LSU vs. Mississippi State Preview: Two Teams Against Each Other and Reality

LSU Tigers vs. Mississippi St. Bulldogs, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

They say you're never as great as you look during a win, nor as bad as you look during a loss. LSU and Mississippi State will put that theory to the test tonight.

Because in their highest-profile games to date, the Tigers and the Western Division Bulldogs went in opposite directions. LSU blasted Oregon in its season opener, using the usual combination of superior defense and grinding offense to clinch a victory that vaulted them into the top three, quickly obliterating any thoughts that the Jordan Jefferson suspension would prevent LSU from carding some big wins.

Mississippi State, meanwhile, lost in its opening game to Auburn. That's not necessarily anything to be ashamed of -- a depleted defending national champion on its home field is still a defending national champion on its home field. And while the 381 yards of offense State gave up is nothing to be proud of, it's still 150 fewer yards than Mississippi State gained itself. You have to like that margin if it holds up over time -- though that could be a huge if.

And tonight will test that in a strength-on-strength kind of game. It's hard to tell if the question should be whether the LSU defense can hold the State offense to a score that the LSU offense can top, or whether the State defense has to just do well enough to allow the offense to outscore LSU. Maybe it's a little bit of both.

Just a guess -- LSU is not quite the world-beaters that they appeared to be, and Mississippi State will be better at home tonight than it was against Auburn on the road. But LSU will still be better, and it will still be good enough.

LSU 24, Mississippi State 21