MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS (7-2)
at LSU TIGERS (7-2)
Kickoff: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. EDT
Line: LSU -14.5, Total: 44
No. 7 LSU looks to bounce-back from a rare home loss when it faces a team it has dominated in recent years, No. 21 Mississippi State.
LSU has not lost a home game to Mississippi State since 1991 and has won 12 straight SU (9-3 ATS) overall in this series, allowing seven points or less in seven of these victories, including each of the past two seasons (29-7 and 19-6 wins). The Bulldogs have been crushed in the past two weeks by Alabama (38-7) and Texas A&M (38-13), while the Tigers had the No. 1 Tide down before allowing a game-winning TD drive with 0:51 left to play.
Which SEC school will bounce back from last week's loss? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every key college football game throughout the 2012 season.
Mississippi State's offense has done very little in the past two weeks, scoring just 20 points with a mere 145 rushing yards (3.0 YPC). Considering how great LSU's run-stop unit has been (103 YPG, 12th in nation), this meager rushing output isn't expected to make a significant jump. That leaves it up to QB Tyler Russell to keep his team in this game by throwing the football. He's in the midst of a pretty strong season with 1,954 passing yards (7.4 YPA), 16 TD and just 3 INT, but this is not a good matchup for him. The last time he visited Baton Rouge two years ago, he tossed three interceptions in just 10 pass attempts. And as good as LSU's rushing defense is, the passing defense is even better, ranking second in FBS with just 150 passing YPG allowed. Although Mississippi State has committed five turnovers in its past two road games, it has one giveaway or less in the other seven games it has played this year, and LSU thrives on stripping the football. If MSU doesn't turn the ball over, it has a shot to hang around in this one.
LSU QB Zach Mettenberger threw for 298 yards versus ‘Bama’s top-ranked defense, which was actually a season-high for him. But the Tigers are much better running the football, as their 201 rushing YPG ranks third in the SEC. Freshman Jeremy Hill was the workhorse last week with 107 yards on 29 carries (3.7 YPC), marking his third straight 100-yard game. But if his lower-body injury sustained last week limits him on Saturday, both Michael Ford (370 rush yds, 5.9 YPC) and Spencer Ware (268 rush yds, 3.9 YPC) are capable backs. Considering Mississippi State just allowed 361 rushing yards (6.2 YPC) to Texas A&M last week, expect a heavy dosage of carries from LSU's ground game. Defensively, the Tigers have forced a whopping 23 turnovers this season, with multiple takeaways in each of the past seven games.