NCAA Football Thursday: #25 Mississippi State hosts #3 LSU

The 25th ranked Mississippi State Bulldgogs (1-1, 0-1 SEC) will host the 3rd ranked LSU Tigers (2-0, 0-0 SEC) at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Mississippi tonight for the featured Thursday Night NCAA Football game of the week. The LSU Tigers have looked sharp even without their two leading offensive starters, QB Jordan Jefferson and wide receiver Russell Shepard, however senior quarterback Jarrett Lee has picked up the slack for LSU, and helmed an offense that has generated nearly 45 points per game in the first two contests of the season. Lee and the Tigers will face the MSU Bulldogs’ 6th ranked run offense along with senior quarterback Chris Self, making this game likely to be an exciting, grinding SEC game for football fans to watch and wager on this evening.

With both teams coming into tonight’s match-up on short rest, stamina could begin to play a factor in this match-up especially in the second half. However with LSU cruising in to Starkville after a crushing 49-3 defeat of Northwestern State over the weekend, and MSU trying to pick itself up after a heartbreaking 41-34 loss to Auburn, the onus is on the Bulldogs to squeak out a win at home and save some face against LSU and the SEC Western Division tonight, should they wish to be considered any sort of national contender, or even an elite team this season. Against the SEC West, MSU is 2-9, with their only wins coming against Ole Miss, and they haven’t gotten a win against LSU in 11 straight tries, with their last victory coming way back in 1999. LSU on the other hand has all the confidence in the world coming into this match-up, having handled a similar style offense displayed by Oregon in Week 1, and seemingly having no problems scoring without their top offensive weapons. Between their offensive prowess and their strength on defense, the Tigers certainly will enter tonight’s game with the upper hand.

Betting Lines for #3 LSU vs. #25 Mississippi State

Though the cowbells will be ringing loudly in a sold-out Davis Wade Stadium tonight, LSU is the team to beat on their opponents’ turf, and at Oddsmaker Sportsbook (read the review of Oddsmaker Sportsbook), the Tigers come into the match-up as the favorite to win, giving up 4 points on the spread at -110 odds, and -170 odds on the money line. The MSU bulldogs will be +150 underdogs, and with a run-based offense expected out of both teams tonight, the over/under has shifted lower than usual for either team, standing at 50.5 points (-110 either over or under the total).

Our Pick to Win:

Mississippi State has perhaps its best team in recent memory under Dan Mullen, but their crutch continues to be the top teams in the SEC West, who they’ve failed to overtake since the division was carved out. LSU’s 11 straight wins and 68-33-1 overall in this series is no laughing matter either, especially with Les Miles’ a proven winner, even if not a creator of a flashy offense. With many offensive weapons available on both sides of the ball in this game, I like the over bet on total points first and foremost here, but for a straight up bet to pick the winner, LSU looks like the stronger, more poised team in this match-up, and prevails tonight 35-24 on the road.

Players to Watch, LSU:

Jarrett Lee, QB – Jordan Jefferson who? The senior out of Texas has filled in admirably behind center, going 19-for-32 with 231 yards passing at 2 TDs in the first two weeks. Comfortable behind a solid running back tandem, look for Lee to continue to make strikes to Rueben Randle, who is also a fill in for top WR Russell Shepard.

Michael Ford, RB – Though he’s not gotten the bulk of carries so far this year (27 to 32) in the tandem with Spencer Ware, Ford has almost double the production, amassing 168 yards on a 6.2 yard average with 4 TDs. Although MSU is known for their powerful running game, LSU’s will be one to watch as well, and it starts tonight with Michael Ford.

Players to Watch, Mississippi State:
Chris Self, QB – The opposing senior quarterback has been solid so far this season, and will need to step up his game tonight against a strong LSU pass rush and defensive secondary. Completing 61.1 percent of his passing for 397 yards and 3 TDs, Self is a proven leader, and will need to be on point tonight if the Bulldogs wish to pull off an upset at home.

Vick Ballard, RB – The reason for the Bulldogs’ lauded rushing numbers, Ballard is already on pace for an outstanding year, amassing 301 yards on 31 attempts (9.7 yard average) with 4 TDs. LSU will be honed in on Ballard tonight, so it’s time to see if the senior back can step up, get around the LSU front line, and help his team pick up a touchdown or two in this match-up.

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