The third week of the 2011 college football season begins with a top-20 matchup featuring a pair of SEC-west rivals when the 3rd ranked LSU Tigers (2-0) travel to Starkville, MS to take on the 25th ranked Mississippi St. Bulldogs (1-1) in a Thursday night (8:00pm ET) matchup. LSU rolled at home last week over Northwestern State 49-3, after knocking off then 3rd ranked Oregon 40-27 in an impressive victory in week one. Mississippi St. dropped a 41-34 shootout at Auburn last week after opening with a 59-14 dismantling on the road against Memphis in week one.
LSU has shut down the run so far this season, holding their two opponents to an average of 45.5 YPG rushing, god for 8th best in the nation. Oregon was the top offense in the country last season, so that is no small accomplishment for the Tigers. The offense led by senior QB Jarrett Lee has been impressive as well, putting up 44.5 PPG (20th best in the nation) with Lee throwing for 231 yards and two scores in a game and a half of actual field action. This game will feature strength against strength, with Miss. St. coming into the game with a diversified running attack led by dual-threat QB Chris Relf, who has run for 157 yards and thrown for 397 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT in MSU’s two games this season. Running back Vick Ballard with 301 rushing yards and 4 TDs rounds out a Bulldog rushing attack that has piled up 321 YPG so far, good for 6th best in the nation, and 588 total YPG, the 5th best in the nation. The MSU defense has been suspect, allowing 199.5 rushing YPG, 99th in the nation, and will need to step up big time to keep the Tigers under the 27.5 PPG they have allowed so far this season. Relf and company were stopped inches short of the goal line in the final seconds against Auburn, they will have to rebound from that disappointment, elevate their intensity level and play what may be an even tougher opponent on a short week.
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LSU vs. Miss. St. Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
LSU Tigers -3.5
@ Miss St. Bulldogs +3.5
Over 49.5 (-110)
Under 49.5 (-110)
LSU vs. Mississippi St. Pick:
The last meeting between the two teams was a 29-7 LSU win in Baton Rouge September 18, 2010. The under is 6-2 in LSU’s last 8 SEC games and 14-6 in the Tiger’s last 20 games on grass. The under is 7-2 in MSU’s last 9 SEC games. LSU is 11-3 ATS in the last 14 meetings between the two teams head-to-head, and the favorite is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 meetings head-to-head. LSU has won all ten meetings since 2001, but has failed to cover 3 out of the last 5.
With a hellacious defense and an offensive unit that has thus far exceeded expectations with starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson serving a suspension, LSU has the talent and experience to play with anyone, anywhere. With both teams having a short week of preparation, the advantage goes to LSU with the Tigers being able to rest their starters in the second half of their blowout win last week and MSU losing a gut-wrenching contest on the road to an Auburn team that was extremely vulnerable. The Tigers had some trouble on the road last season, losing to both Auburn and Arkansas in the SEC, but they have traditionally dominated Miss. St. and they have a tenacious defense that held the Bulldogs to 3.5 YPC and notched 5 interceptions in last season’s win. Their solid running game should be able to take advantage of the Bulldogs’ soft run defense and their defense is capable of dominating the MSU offense. It all adds up to a LSU team that should be able to cover the 3.5 point line in this game.