Game Date and Time: September 16, 2017; 7:00 p.m. EDT/6:00 p.m. CDT
Radio: Geaux Zone
Odds: 7.5 point spread in favor of LSU (OddsShark.com)
In the SEC opener, the No. 12 LSU Tigers and Mississippi St. Bulldogs square off in a rather evenly matched battle. Both teams come in outscoring their opponents by 30 points or more and are doing quite well defensively, too. With two of the top ranked quarterbacks in the SEC, this will be a true challenge for both teams.
Here are three key factors to look at in the game:
Whose offense will show up?
With Mississippi State dual-threat quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, LSU’s defense may have their work cut out for them. Fitzgerald is currently ranked 10 in the SEC for rushing yards with 152 and three rushing touchdowns. He is also not afraid to throw the ball, either. So far this year, he has completed 28-47 for 363 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.
This quarterback is major factor in the Bulldog offense. But, will it be enough against Dave Aranda and his fifth-ranked defense? The Bulldogs currently lead the SEC in scoring with 53 points per game.
Oh Danny, boy! It’s time to the shoot your shot!
Danny Etling, last week, showed us that he doesn’t have to depend on the run game because he will throw if he needs to. This season, the quarterback has completed 71 percent of his passes, only missing his targets nine times. He’s amassed 398 yards through the air so far.
Under new offensive coordinator Matt Canada, Etling has moved into a new territory of exploring other options than running the ball (his play-action is kind of dope). His new favorite target, receiver D.J. Chark, is just an added boost for Etling to throw.
However, the rushing will not stop with power running back Derrius Guice on their team. Guice has had more than 100 yards rushing in each of the first two games. If the Tigers can get both the passing and running game together and ironed out, they will be unstoppable.
Both teams are close offensively. They average approximately 200 plus yards in both rushing and passing.
Arden Key is Back!
Coming off of shoulder surgery and being cleared for contact, LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron stated that defensive end Arden Key will play as much as possible. The "Sack Monster" is ready to go, even if he is not 100 percent.
Key has the speed and physicality to stop the run and disrupt the pass as well. He could be hell for Nick Fitzgerald. Will he be healthy to play a major role in the defense?
Both teams are quite good defensively...
And this will be the determining factor in the game. Whose defense will stand last?
LSU’s defense is ranked fifth in the nation, which says a lot and they are known to be defensively sound. They have limited their opponents to an average of 32 rushing yards and 138 passing yards per game. However, they aren’t Mississippi State, who is the most challenging by far this season. The Bulldogs could give the Tigers some problems.
Mississippi State is not too bad, either. The Bulldogs are allowing 86 rushing yards and 89 passing yards per game on average. They also have a standout defensive player on their roster the name of Jeffrey Simmons who could cause havoc to the LSU offensive line. Simmons, who was the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week for last week’s performance, blocked a PAT, blocked a punt, and recovered a fumble for 90 yards for a touchdown.
LSU has won the last two meetings against Mississippi State. Each have been decided by five or fewer points in the final two minutes.
Overall, I think LSU is the better team. Their defense is arguably dangerous and will cause big problems, especially with Arden Key back. The defense has to stop Nick Fitzgerald from running the ball. If the defense keeps that in control, the Tigers will do away with the game. If the Tigers offense perform similarly, if not better than last week, they will win this game.
This is a challenge that is long awaited to see what the new offensive coordinator Matt Canada could really do against an SEC team. Let the battle begin!
LSU 28, Mississippi State 21