LSU Flying High
A rally on the road kept LSU's hopes alive for a second straight national championship. Such a comeback likely won't be necessary this week.
Following last week's thrilling victory, the fifth-ranked Tigers return home and look to avoid a letdown Saturday against Mississippi State.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made LSU -24 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 68% of bets for this game have been placed on LSU -24 (View College Football bet percentages).
After easily beating Appalachian State and North Texas in its first two games of the year, LSU (3-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) faced its first major test last Saturday at then-No. 10 Auburn.
LSU trailed 14-3 before rallying in the second half. The Tigers gained 284 of their 389 yards after halftime, and quarterback Jarrett Lee and Brandon LaFell hooked up on an 18-yard touchdown pass with 1:03 left to give LSU a 26-21 victory - its first win at Auburn in a decade.
"The pride is enjoyed with victory and enjoyed with seeing your team come of age and play really good, competitive football against a quality team on the road,'' said coach Les Miles, whose team rose one spot in this week's rankings.
The winner of the LSU-Auburn game has played in six of the last eight SEC championship games, but the defending national champions still have a number of difficult games ahead, including at No. 4 Florida (Oct. 11), home against No. 3 Georgia (Oct. 25) and versus No. 8 Alabama (Nov. 8).
While making it through its schedule unscathed will be a challenge, this week's game isn't expected to be one for the Tigers.
LSU has defeated the Bulldogs (1-3, 0-1) eight straight times by an average margin of 32.4 points since a 17-16 road loss Oct. 23, 1999. The Tigers have also won eight straight home games over Mississippi State since a 28-19 defeat in 1991.
In last season's 45-0 rout, LSU held Mississippi State to 10 rushing yards and 136 passing yards while intercepting six passes.
Despite that track record and 17 wins in their last 18 home games, Miles doesn't want his Tigers to overlook the Bulldogs.
"We have to be ready to play," he said. "The key is that we have to be ready to improve. This team is in a good position.
"We were better last week. Now, we have to do it for four quarters."
Miles was pleased with Lee's ability to lead the Tigers for the winning score last week, but the coach is still not ready to name the sophomore his starter.
Lee, who has been splitting time with junior Andrew Hatch, was 4-for-4 for 43 yards on the winning drive, and finished 11-for-22 for 182 yards and two touchdowns. Hatch, meanwhile, went 2-for-6 for 16 yards and rushed for 40 before leaving with a neck injury in the third quarter.
"Our quarterback position has made progress," Miles said. "Both quarterbacks are going to play. So, it doesn't make that much of a difference as to who is the starter.
"Changing the name of the guy who goes on the field first is not a big thing. We're going to rally around the guy who plays quarterback."
Whichever quarterback is under center will be handing off to Charles Scott. The 5-foot-11 junior rushed for 132 yards against Auburn, giving him 394 yards and four touchdowns on the season. The Tigers rank second in the SEC in rushing (220.0 yards per game), which could spell trouble for the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State allowed 438 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns in last Saturday's 38-7 loss to Georgia Tech.
The Bulldogs' offense also struggled, committing four turnovers to increase its season total to 12. Mississippi State had gone eight consecutive quarters without offensive points before Robert Elliott's 6-yard touchdown midway through the final quarter against Georgia Tech's second-string defense.
"We have been through a great deal of adversity here before and we've dug ourselves a hole," Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom said. "I expect our guys to continue to fight and fight our way out of this hole."
BETTING TRENDS FOR THIS GAME
LSU is 14-2 against the spread versus MISSISSIPPI ST since 1992
LSU is 15-1 straight up against MISSISSIPPI ST since 1992
5 of 10 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
LSU is 1-1 against the spread versus MISSISSIPPI ST over the last 3 seasons
LSU is 2-0 straight up against MISSISSIPPI ST over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
LSU is 6-2 against the spread versus MISSISSIPPI ST since 1992
LSU is 8-0 straight up against MISSISSIPPI ST since 1992
2 of 3 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
MISSISSIPPI ST is 1-0 against the spread versus LSU over the last 3 seasons
LSU is 1-0 straight up against MISSISSIPPI ST over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
KEY INJURIES FOR THIS GAME
[LB] Darry Beckwith downgraded to doubtful - Knee - 09/15/08
[DB] Danny McCray is upgraded to probable - Ankle - 09/18/08
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