It’ll be 3:30 p.m. ET on a Saturday afternoon in the fall before you know it. That means one thing: One of the great sports television theme songs will hit the airwaves once again.
The SEC on CBS opener pits the LSU Tigers, your reigning, defending National Champions, against the new look Mississippi State Bulldogs down in Death Valley. It obviously won’t be the same because of all the anxiety-inducing shithousery that 2020 has brought along with it. But, some shred of normalcy will attempt to peek its way through the muck on Saturday afternoon in Baton Rouge.
LSU won’t quite look the same as they did a season ago. Gone are Joe Burrow, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, Thaddeus Moss, Patrick Queen, K’Lavon Chaisson... ... ... okay, you get the idea. But still, LSU will have lots of talent to boast including the best cornerback in the country, Derek Stingley Jr. as well as Glen Logan, Terrace Marshall Jr., JaCoby Stevens among others. Myles Brennan is the new man at QB, and he’ll certainly have his work cut out for him after what Burrow did a year ago.
Mississippi State, meanwhile, couldn’t look more different on a macro or a micro level. Mike Leach has made his way down to Starkville, installing his Air Raid system along the way. K.J. Costello will be the man at QB, as the Stanford Cardinal transfer is tasked with helping to bring forth a new era for Mississippi State football. They still have Kylin Hill around, and on defense they are headed by Erroll Thompson and a host of some more talented players.
Much like many of the matchups you’ll see on Saturday, there are kinks to work out here. Especially on State’s side, who has a whole new offense to get rolling. State’s passing attack has been, shall we say, not their strength the last few seasons. Joe Moorhead couldn’t quite replicate what Dan Mullen had going, and even while Mullen was succeeding, their aerial attack wasn’t quite on par with others. Costello is more than capable, but he will certainly have a stern test in facing Stingley, Stevens and an LSU defense that should still be pretty great.
Brennan has to learn a newish offense as well, as Joe Brady fled for an offensive coordinator job with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers in the offseason. And of course, he’ll have to deal with the copious amount of losses that the offense had to the NFL Draft and opt outs. There is no telling how things will go, but I’d still suspect that LSU picks on State’s defense in this game. State gave up over 28 points per game a season ago, had a ghastly pass defense and the run defense was just above average. While at Wazzu, Mike Leach’s defense weren’t... always so great, and even though the talent is different in the SEC, the philosophies might clash quite a bit.
Spread: LSU -16.5 (FanDuel)
Total: 56.5 (FanDuel)
Moneyline: LSU -900 | Mississippi State +570 (FanDuel)
This may be one of the only cases this entire weekend where the over makes sense. Both these teams will probably score in bunches, or at the very least, I think LSU is going to pile on the points on State’s defense. There will be cobwebs, but I do think that’s a confident stance to lean on. LSU -16.5 is quite a lot of points, especially for Week 1 and especially after all that’s gone down. But it depends on if you trust State to get stops or not.
How to Watch
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. CT
TV: CBS (Check your local listings!)