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Mississippi State vs. LSU 2016 final score: What we learned from the Tigers’ victory

LSU jumped out to a big first half lead and held off a late Mississippi State rally.

Mississippi State v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

LSU (2-1, 1-0 SEC) defeated Mississippi State (1-2, 1-1 SEC) 23-20 Saturday night in Baton Rouge and, for a half, it looked like the Tigers of old. With a 23-3 halftime lead, Les Miles’ crew was in control and would suffocate the Bulldogs in the first half.

A furious fourth quarter comeback for Mississippi State brought the Bulldogs within a field goal, but they were unable to capitalize after getting the ball back with two minutes to go and a chance to tie or win the game.

Damian Williams entered the game in the fourth quarter after it appeared Nick Fitzgerald left the game due to having his helmet come off and, after immediately converting a fourth down, led Mississippi State to a pair of touchdowns and the game’s final tally.

The first half featured an efficient, balanced offense as LSU threw for 172 yards and ran for 110 while limiting Mississippi State to 82 yards. Danny Etling appears to have a firm grasp on the quarterback position, but struggled along with the rest of the LSU offense in the second half as the Purdue transfer only picked up 43 passing yards in the frame.

Three Things We Learned

1) Leonard Fournette is Leonard Fournette

After sitting out last week’s game against Jacksonville State due to a reported ankle injury that has been lingering since fall camp, the junior running back did not look at 100% but still racked up 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 28 carries. With LSU’s bye week not coming until the end of October, Fournette will have to be managed to make sure the injury does not linger throughout the season, but he is still one of the best running backs in the country.

2) Mississippi State’s Quarterback Competition May Be Back On

Nick Fitzgerald appeared to take a firm grasp on the quarterback position last week with 178 rushing yards and over 350 total yards against South Carolina. This week, however, was a slog for the sophomore from Georgia as he completed only 50% of his attempts for 120 yards and picked up 13 rushing yards on 13 attempts (with a long run of 15 yards). After Damian Williams entered the game in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs’ offense picked up and Williams threw and ran for a touchdown during their late rally.

3) Danny Etling is LSU’s Best Option at Quarterback

While Brandon Harris has more physical tools than Etling, the quarterback position has not clicked in Baton Rouge since Harris took over a few years ago. Etling is not great, but offers more poise and composure than Harris. With a backfield of Fournette and Guice, LSU does not need spectacular quarterback play; just a modicum of success. Going forward, Etling offers that.