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New-Look Tigers, Bulldogs Kick Off Campaign in Death Valley

LSU head coach Ed Orgeron reacts after an LSU touchdown in an NCAA football game on November 9, 2019, against Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Defending national champion LSU has won 11 of its last 12 home games against Mississippi State. However, both teams look a lot different this season as the Tigers begin life after Joe Burrow and the Bulldogs debut new head coach Mike Leach. LSU is favored by nearly three touchdowns to extend its winning streak to 17 games.

Mississippi State Bulldogs vs LSU Tigers
  • Date/Time: September 26, 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Stadium: Tiger Stadium
  • TV Coverage: CBS
  • Opening Odds: LSU -19.5 | O/U 55.5 (Line History)
  • Mississippi State vs LSU Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

This opener matches the 19.5-point spread the Tigers were favored by in last year’s visit to Starkville, which LSU won 36-13. The Tigers have not laid more than 20 points against Mississippi State since 2008.

Mississippi State News & Notes

The Bulldogs have several long-term trends to the UNDER, staying below the total in 14 of their last 18 conference games and in eight of their last 10 on the road. They’ve also gone UNDER in their last five games vs LSU, with an average of 39.6 points scored in those contests.

But you can throw all those low-scoring trends out the window with the arrival of colorful head coach Mike Leach and his Air Raid attack. The Bulldogs are projected to put up a lot more points in Leach’s fast-paced system, especially with veteran quarterback K.J. Costello in the fold after transferring from Stanford. Prior to an injury-riddled 2019 campaign, Costello threw for 29 touchdowns and completed 65 percent of his passes for the Cardinal in 2018.

Mississippi State will also unveil a new defensive scheme as Zach Arnett makes his Bulldogs debut as offensive coordinator. Arnett ran a 3-3-5 scheme for the past few seasons at San Diego State, leading the Aztecs to top-15 national rankings in several defensive categories.

LSU News & Notes

Heisman-winning quarterback Burrow is the most obvious departure from last year’s record-setting team, but LSU has lost a lot of key talent throughout the roster. The offensive line returns just one starter, two of the team’s top three linebackers have moved on to the NFL, and Biletnikoff Award-winning receiver Ja’Marr Chase has opted out for the year to declare for the NFL draft.

Even some of the voices calling the plays have changed, including new passing game coordinator Scott Linehan. The former NFL offensive coordinator will guide new starting QB Myles Brennan, a fourth-year junior who attempted just 40 passes in limited action last season. Meanwhile, Bo Pelini will take over at defensive coordinator, moving LSU back to a 4-3 scheme.

There are still a few notable returnees, particularly on defense. Defensive back Derek Stingley is back after recording six interceptions a year ago, and safety JaCoby Stevens is the team’s top returning tackler from 2019. Still, all the changes might continue one interesting trend we’ve seen from LSU in recent years: slow starts. The Tigers are just 1-8 ATS in their last nine home games in September.

Betting Pick: Mississippi State +19.5

With each team implementing so many changes on both sides of the ball, there’s potential for some sloppy play in this contest. That can only favor the underdog, especially one catching this many points, and Mississippi State’s passing game opens up the chance for a backdoor cover if we need a late touchdown.

Shark Bites
  • The UNDER is 14-4 in Mississippi State’s last 18 conference games.
  • LSU has won 16 straight games (avg. winning margin: 25.38).
  • Mississippi State has lost 11 of its last 12 games at LSU.