Mississippi State vs. LSU Betting Odds, Picks: Back Saturday’s Short Underdog
Photo by Kevin Langley/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jayden Daniels (LSU)
- Mike Leach and the Mississippi State Bulldogs travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to take on Brian Kelly and the LSU Tigers on Saturday afternoon.
- This matchup marks Kelly's first SEC game as LSU's head coach, and his team enters as short underdogs.
- Read on for Anthony Dabbundo's full betting breakdown and pick.
Mississippi State vs. LSU Odds
Last time the entire country watched LSU, its special teams unit was the laughing stock in primetime on Labor Day weekend.
Special teams cost the Tigers the victory in their Week 1 game against Florida State, and that unit will get a chance to redeem itself as LSU opens SEC play at home against Mike Leach and Mississippi State on Saturday night in Baton Rouge.
The Bulldogs have looked very impressive in their first two games of the season, beating both Memphis and Arizona by multiple scores.
This isn't their first true road game because they won in Tucson last week, but few things in all of college football compare to a road trip to Death Valley in Baton Rouge for a night game.
Mississippi State is a road favorite of 2.5 points, but the experienced Bulldogs could run into problems against the Tigers' elite defensive line.
Mississippi State has a textbook Leach identity when you look at the statistical profile. The Bulldogs rank in the top five in the nation in Passing Success Rate and top-10 in the nation in passing frequency. They're going to throw the ball a lot and do it successfully to keep the chains moving.
They're not particularly explosive but like to control the game by methodically working their way down the field.
Quarterback Will Rogers already has nine touchdowns and two interceptions in two games. Per PFF, Rogers has three Big Time Throws and zero Turnover Worthy Plays.
Here's the key for Rogers, though: He has only been pressured on 16.7% of dropbacks, but when the rush does get to him, he's averaging 2.2 yards per attempt.
When kept in a clean pocket, Rogers owns a 9:1 TD-INT ratio and is averaging 8.8 yards per attempt. Neither Arizona nor Memphis had the defensive lines to cause Havoc and develop pressure on the Bulldogs' quarterback.
LSU is 21st in pressure rates and projects to be potentially even better.
If anything is going to wreck the Air Raid, it will be pressure and negative plays to force Leach's offense behind the sticks.
Let's recap just how much went wrong for LSU in that opener against FSU.
Punt returner Malik Nabers muffed two punts. LSU had a field goal blocked in the second quarter, and then had its game-tying extra point to force overtime blocked.
The Tigers also took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a kickoff.
It's fun to laugh and joke at them and first-year head coach Brian Kelly, but the reality is that those kinds of mistakes are uncharacteristic of a Kelly team and even more importantly, probably not repeatable.
From a play-to-play perspective, there was a decent amount to like from the Tigers. The run defense is excellent and the defensive line should be able to shut down whatever little amount of running the Bulldogs try to do in this game.
The Tigers are a top-20 defense by Rushing Success Rate and may have one of the best defensive lines in the country. That's good for pass rush too, as LSU is 21st in sack rate and can get to Rogers and disrupt the Leach Air Raid.
The Tigers' biggest weakness offensively in the game against FSU was the protection in the passing game from the line. That is not something that the Bulldogs will exploit in this match because their pass rush is non-existent.
The Tigers' offensive line received the worst grade of any unit on the offense in that loss, and it's reflected in the passing numbers of Jayden Daniels. When pressured, Daniels is averaging a paltry 5.3 yards per attempt and has a 61.1 passing grade.
When he's in a clean pocket, Daniels is averaging 8.0 yards per pass and a much better 73.3 PFF grade. If you can get pressure on LSU, the passing offense is in trouble.
Mississippi State, however, is not a team that should have Daniels frequently under duress.
Mississippi State vs. LSU Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Mississippi State and LSU match up statistically:
Mississippi State Offense vs. LSU Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)
LSU Offense vs. Mississippi State Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams
|Seconds per Play
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Mississippi State vs. LSU Betting Pick
LSU's defense was even more impressive than the final score against Florida State suggested, especially when you consider how many times special teams put the Tigers' defense in precarious positions. The average starting field position was the 39 yard-line for FSU, and it still mustered just 24 points.
The Tigers should be able to find success on the ground once again after getting 4.0 Line Yards per rush, and will keep the Air Raid Bulldogs offense on the sideline.
Even though Mississippi State is experienced and its offense will move the ball through the air for sure, it can't generate enough pass rush to get stops against Daniels.
The market moved off the key number of three down to +2.5 early in the week as some LSU money came in. I think this game is a true toss-up, and I will take the Tigers with the points because of that.
Pick: LSU +2.5