College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions: The Over/Under Bet to Make for LSU vs. Mississippi State (Sept. 25)
Sean Gardner/Getty Images. Pictured: Derek Stingley Jr.
LSU vs. Mississippi State Odds
|Mississippi State Odds||+1.5|
|Moneyline||-130 / +110|
|Time||12 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.|
Do you remember where you were when K.J. Costello was a lock to win the 2020 Heisman and Mississippi State was going to crush every offensive record in the history of college football?
It’s safe to say much has changed since that night one year ago when Costello torched LSU for 623 passing yards and five touchdowns, spoiling the Tigers’ title defense before it could even get started.
Both programs now meet in 2021 with 2-1 records and offenses that still haven’t fully hit their stride.
With the SEC West playing out to be Alabama followed by six teams that don’t appear to have much separation, this game will be big in flushing out the pecking order and giving the winner a leg up on a better bowl game.
Will this season’s meeting in Starkville be another shootout, or is there better value in picking a side to win?
LSU vs. Mississippi State Betting Preview
LSU makes the trip to Starkville a week removed from its most impressive game of the season, a 49-21 win over Central Michigan.
Quarterback Max Johnson and the offense played their finest game to date, as Johnson finished the first half completing 20-of-25 passes for 280 yards and four touchdowns.
Even more impressive was his ability to connect on big plays, hitting multiple touchdown passes of at least 20 yards in length.
Two of those touchdown tosses were to true freshmen Deion Smith, as the Tigers had several freshmen on the offensive side of the ball record breakout performances last week. This certainly bodes well for LSU moving forward as it continues to gain more experience.
Another of those breakout freshmen was running back Corey Kiner. Kiner averaged 6.2 yards per carry against the Chippewas on 12 carries, a massive upgrade over the team’s average of 1.9 vs. UCLA and 3.5 against McNeese State.
The Tigers have really struggled with their offensive line and rushing attack this season — Rush Success and Line Yards ranking 122nd and 118th, respectively. Losing 2020 leading rusher John Emory Jr. due to academic ineligibility certainly didn’t help either.
That’s why Kiner’s breakout is a huge plus moving forward for the rushing attack.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again. Last season, the Tigers refused to abandon man coverage against the Bulldogs, resulting in total annihilation.
You’d have to think new defensive coordinator Daronte Jones will deploy a lot more zone schemes to slow the air raid.
It’s no secret that Mississippi State is going to pass often on short, quick routes, so delivering pressure to quarterback Will Rogers is key.
LSU has arguably the nastiest defensive line in the country, leading all of the FBS with 17 sacks and ranking first in Havoc. That pressure has greatly aided its pass defense this season, allowing just 193 yards through the air per game and ranking fifth in Defensive Pass Success.
One big piece of injury news is that defensive end Andre Anthony suffered a season-ending injury last weekend.
Anthony already has 3.5 sacks and a touchdown this season, but fortunately for LSU, it has an embarrassment of riches on the line. BJ Ojulari and Maason Smith rank first and fifth, respectively, in the SEC with a combined 7.5 sacks.
Mississippi State Offense
A quick look at the box score from last week, and it’d be easy to assume Mississippi State beat Memphis. That wasn’t the case, however, as the Tigers won 31-29 despite the Bulldogs having nearly twice as many yards.
It’s safe to say there won’t be a 2020 encore this week with Rogers under center. Even though the sophomore is fifth in the country in average yards per game (361), no quarterback has thrown more passes than his 163 attempts.
Mike Leach’s offense has dinked and dunked its way down the field against the two worst passing defenses in the country (Memphis and Arkansas State) and had middling success against a competent NC State secondary.
While the Bulldogs rank well in rush success (seventh), only Western Kentucky has rushed the ball fewer times this season.
That same offensive line has done a fair job protecting Rogers, allowing just six sacks. How often LSU can get to Rogers may very well prove the decisive factor.
Mississippi State Defense
Mississippi State has been great this year at stopping the run, allowing just 74.0 yards per game with a Defensive Rush Success ranking of 11.
That, however, may not prove all that much of a factor, as LSU runs the ball just 43.1% of the time, only more than seven other programs.
Instead, the Bulldogs’ defensive line may be exposed for its weakness in generating pressure. Miss. St. has only caused six sacks this season and will be at a huge disadvantage going against LSU’s offensive line.
The Bulldogs did an excellent job of holding Seth Henigan and the Memphis offense to just 159 yards passing, but LSU is loaded with much more talent at the skill positions that could stretch the secondary thin if Johnson has unlimited time in the pocket.
LSU vs. Mississippi State Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how LSU and Mississippi State match up statistically:
LSU Offense vs. Mississippi State Defense
Mississippi State Offense vs. LSU Defense
Pace of Play / Other
LSU vs. Mississippi State Betting Pick
With both teams being fairly inconsistent through three games and this SEC matchup taking place in Starkville, the best play may not be on the spread.
Instead, let’s take a look at the total of 56.
The Tigers and Bulldogs are two of the least likely teams to run the ball (123rd and 130th in Rush Rate). With plenty of passing comes more chances for the clock to stop, thus lengthening the game.
Additionally, Ed Orgeron has expressed a desire to push the tempo, using a “warp” offense that is full speed, no-huddle. LSU has averaged 66.67 plays per game this season, but Orgeron wants it even faster, something closer to the 2019 team with Joe Burrow that averaged over 74 plays per game.
With LSU’s freshmen skill players playing their best football to date — combined with the known commodity that is Kayshon Boutte — this Tigers team could very well have one of their best days of the season against Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs are more than happy to engage in a shootout, and while it won’t be as prolific as 2020, they’re very capable of putting up numbers, even against a secondary with as much NFL talent as LSU’s.
While it won’t come near last year’s total of 78 points, it should still be a showcase for both offenses.
I’m comfortable betting the over 56 up to 59.