Saturday College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions: Which Side to Bet for LSU vs. Mississippi State? (Sept. 25)
Sean Gardner/Getty Images. Pictured from left: Damonte Clark (18) of the LSU Tigers and Malik Heath (4) of the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
- LSU and Mississippi State go to battle on the gridiron on Saturday.
- The Bulldogs won this matchup last year, but two of our analysts see betting value on opposite sides.
- Mike Ianniello and Tanner McGrath debate which side of the spread to bet below.
LSU vs. Mississippi State Odds
-115o / -105u
|Mississippi State Odds|
-115o / -105u
Two of the internet’s favorite wacky coaches face off on Saturday when Mike Leach takes on Coach O.
I’m sure that Tanner is going to talk all about Mississippi State’s 44-34 shellacking of LSU last season. Yes, it was bad — an embarrassing loss that initiated the Tigers’ downward spiral last season.
But — that was last year. Record-setting Bulldogs quarterback K.J. Costello is probably selling used cars somewhere. More importantly for the Tigers, the stubborn Bo Pelini was sent back to some farm in Ohio.
Also, it is important to note who did not play in last year’s game: All-American cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. — arguably the best defensive player in the country. Stingley and Eli Ricks form the best cornerback duo in college football.
LSU’s defense has really improved this season, and its secondary is a big reason why. The Tigers defense ranks fifth in Passing Success Rate and has held each of its three opponents under 260 passing yards.
The offense juggled multiple quarterbacks last year, but Max Johnson is the guy now and has thrown for 11 touchdowns and two interceptions this season. He looked terrific last week throwing for 372 yards and completing 75% of his passes.
Star receiver Kayshon Boutte has six touchdowns through the first three games, and LSU has done a great job moving him all over the field between the slot and the outside to get him the ball in more situations.
Other weapons have begun to emerge in Try Palmer, Deion Smith and freshman tight end / wide receiver hybrid Jack Bech to give Johnson plenty of talent to throw to.
Mississippi State barely came back to beat Louisiana Tech by one point in its home opener after falling behind, 34-14, and then lost to Memphis last week.
Now, the Bulldogs kick off their SEC play with a three-game set of LSU, Texas A&M and Alabama. Good luck.
Before we even start with the “State lost to Memphis” B.S., how in the world is this a fumble recovery for a touchdown?
Memphis (+3) with the most insane play of the day!
21 unanswered for the Tigers, who lead 28-17 late 🐅
— BetSided (@BetSided) September 18, 2021
Oh, and a big shout out to the SEC, who recognized the tragic misstep and decided to neither apologize nor do anything about it.
But I digress: The Bulldogs took this fluke on the chin, and then scored 12 points in the remaining five minutes to almost pull off the comeback. Besides, it’s not even a game they should’ve lost.
State outgained Memphis 468 yards to 260 in the game while converting 26 first downs to Memphis’ 12. But that ridiculous call and nine Mississippi State penalties propelled Memphis to an underdog victory.
However, that loss might be good for Mike Leach and Co. heading into this week. The hungry dog runs faster, they say, and this hungry home underdog has all the tangibles to beat LSU — or at the least cover the 2.5-point spread.
The Bulldogs defense is for real. They returned 85% of their defensive production from last season, per TARP, and the unit has held opposing quarterbacks to just a 57.8% completion and 3.0 yards per rush.
The State defense is 21st in Defense Success Rate and 11th in Defense Rushing Success Rate. That doesn’t bode well for LSU, considering it's averaging 3.0 yards per carry and ranks among the bottom 10 teams in Rushing Success Rate.
Plus, Mississippi State put up those numbers against Memphis and NC State, rather than McNeese State (is that even a real school?) and Central Michigan. Don’t fall for Coach O’s charm nor Mike Ianniello’s literary skills. The Bulldogs are the sharp play on Saturday.
Ianniello: Sure, it is easy for Tanner to say they “almost pulled off the comeback” against a Group of Five team.
No, that kick return should not have counted. But the Bulldogs special teams should also have known to pick up the ball. This is a continued pattern of Mississippi State being undisciplined.
Mississippi State ranks 124th in the country in penalties, getting called for 10 a game with only six teams committing more penalties than the Bulldogs. Last season, they were 83rd and Leach’s teams consistently ranked outside of the top 80 at Washington State.
Yes, the Mississippi State defense is very good. Defensive coordinator Zach Arnett has done a great job for the Bulldogs. But even he knows the grass is greener in Baton Rouge, which is why he interviewed for the LSU defensive coordinator position this offseason.
He was eventually passed over for Daronte Jones, but even he knows the LSU defense has more talent than the Bulldogs.
McGrath: The LSU defense has some talent, but they’re all in the hospital right now.
The Tigers lost defensive end Andre Anthony for the season last week, and he’s currently joined on the injury list with DEs Ali Gaye and Glen Logan. Starting safety Jay Ward is also listed on the injury list at the time of writing.
This is a banged-up defense that did play well against lower-tier talent the past few weeks.
But imagine if we forgot the UCLA game? The Sissy Blue Shirts ran around, through and over the LSU defense to the tune of 210 yards. That was en route to compiling 470 total yards against this supposed “Green Grass” defense you speak of.
The LSU defense is going to try and create Havoc. But it's not going to be able to when A) it doesn't have its defensive line and B) Leach and Will Rogers are going to get the ball out too quick for the B-team to do anything.
And even though the Bulldogs throw the ball more than any team in the nation, they rank seventh in Rush Success Rate during the 23% of the time they do run. The Leach-Rogers regime will have plenty of opportunities to move the ball Saturday.
Ianniello: The Bulldogs run the ball less than any team in the country, and the Tigers will be able to key in on this one-dimensional offense that they now have plenty of tape on.
Once SEC teams got video of the new Mississippi State offense, it averaged just 18.1 points per game in SEC play.
Mississippi State played its best game in the last two years against LSU in that opener last year in Leach’s first game. The 632 total yards of offense is the most yards it's put up under Leach, and it hasn't even eclipsed 500 since.
As fantastic as the Bulldogs played, the game was still tied halfway through the fourth quarter. They will not be able to repeat that performance against a much improved LSU defense.
The Air Raid offense is averaging just 6.6 yards per passing attempt this season, 98th in the country after ranking 113th last year. Those dink-and-dunk crossing routes might work against some teams, but it did not work against the SEC speed last year.
McGrath: Excuse me, but this dink-and-dunk offense currently ranks 25th in Passing Success Rate.
The scheme isn’t meant to average 10 air yards per attempt, but it’s death by a thousand cuts. And I think Rogers’ 1,000 yards and 8:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio proves it’s been working just fine.
The Bulldogs might not repeat 600 yards of total offense, but they’ll move the ball. And this defense that Arnett has done such a “great job with” (your words, not mine) is going to shut down an LSU offense that has achieved nothing this season.
Leach’s team is prepared to play a better all-around game than Orgeron’s team is. Football games are won in all three phases, and I know Bill Belichick would be on MSST +2.5 in this spot.
Ianniello: Bet LSU -2.5
LSU blew a lot of coverages last season in the first game under a new defensive system, in the first game seeing a new offensive system, and without its best defensive player.
We have seen SEC defenses have no problem slowing down this Air Raid offense, and LSU has one of the best secondaries in college football.
Back a motivated LSU to get revenge on Saturday. Geaux Tigers.
McGrath: Bet Mississippi State +2.5
Mike makes plenty of “OK” points, but there’s a reason the sharp money is on my side.
The Bulldogs actually opened at +4.5, but they have since been bet down to +2.5. At the time of this writing, Mississippi State has pulled 47% of the betting tickets but over 80% of the betting handle.
So, don’t be a square. Instead, remember that Coach O is 10-12 ATS as a road favorite while Coach Leach is 14-9 ATS as a home underdog.
It’s also worth mentioning that Leach is 18-14 against the spread (ATS) following a loss. After shellacking them last year, get ready for the hungry BullDOGS to shock the Tigers yet again.