September 16, 2017
Michael Bonnette (@LSUBonnette)
Sr. Assoc. Athletic Director/SID
TUPELO, Miss. – LSU gets its first big test of the season on Saturday as the 11th-ranked and undefeated Tigers travel to Starkville to face unbeaten Mississippi State in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
Kickoff for the game featuring a pair of 2-0 teams is set for 6:05 p.m. CT on ESPN and the Watch ESPN app with Joe Tessitore, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe on the call. The game will also be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network with Chris Blair, Doug Moreau and Gordy Rush calling the action. The game can be heard for free on the internet at www.LSUspoorts.net/live.
The Tigers will be welcomed to Davis Wade Stadium with cowbells and a lot of noise, something LSU simulated in practice and meetings this week.
“I’ve been there (to Mississippi State) many times and I have great respect for them,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said this week. “They are going to be loud and they are going to ring those cowbells. This is a blue-collar, hard-nosed group that loves their football team.
“We simulated the noise, as we do every week, by putting a John Deere tractor right behind the offense with some big speakers and we play their fight songs, crowd noise and the cowbells.”
However, Orgeron is quick to acknowledge that the crowd noise and cowbells won’t be the determining factor in the game on Saturday.
“That will not win or lose the game for us,” Orgeron said. “We cannot let it be a distraction. It’s not about the crowd noise, it’s about us and what we do. Every team in the SEC has their own traditions, and they’re all loud. It’s just something we have to get used to.”
Overall, LSU has won eight straight games over Mississippi State in Starkville, a streak that dates back to a 42-0 win in 2001. State’s last win over LSU in Starkville came in 1999 by a 17-16 count. Dating back to 2000, LSU has won 16 of the last 17 meetings with the Bulldogs.
LSU goes into its SEC opener after impressive wins over BYU and Chattanooga to open the season. BYU didn’t cross midfield against LSU in the opener and last week, the Tigers limited Chattanooga to just 66 rushing yards in a 45-10 win in Tiger Stadium.
In two games, LSU has allowed only one touchdown and the leads the nation in rushing defense (31.5 yards per game) and ranks No. 5 nationally in total defense (169.5 ypg). LSU hasn’t turned the ball over this year and the Tigers are plus-3 in the turnover margin category through two games.
Mississippi State has wins over Charleston Southern (49-0) and Louisiana Tech (57-21).
The Bulldogs, behind the play of quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, lead the SEC in scoring offense (53.0 points per game), rushing offense (304.0 yards per game) and are third in the league in total offense (507.0 yards per game).
In two games, Fitzgerald has accounted for eight touchdowns (5 passing, 3 rushing) and 515 total yards (257.5 yards per game).
The Bulldogs aren’t just impressive on offense, they are first in the SEC in pass defense, allowing only 89.0 yards a game through the air. In two games, the Bulldogs are holding opponents to just a 42.1 completion percentage (16-of-38). Overall, the Bulldogs are allowing 10.5 points and 174.0 total yards per game.
The Tigers will attack the Bulldog defense with a senior quarterback Danny Etling and junior running back Derrius Guice, who has rushed for at least 100 yards in four straight games. Etling, who is 9-3 as LSU’s starting quarterback, has completed 22-of-31 passes for 398 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions
Guice, who last week became the quickest running back in school history to reach 2,000 rushing yards for a career, is third in the league in rushing yards per game (112.0) and is second in total touchdowns with four
“We had a tremendous week of practice,” Orgeron said. “Tuesday was a little shaky with the crowd noise but we bounced back on Wednesday. Our guys have done a tremendous job of preparing. Today was ‘Focus Friday’ and we’ll be prepared for our first road test of the season. We’re going to do the things we did last year. We’re going to bring energy, be very focused, and everyone that travels has one purpose, to win the football game.”
Under Orgeron, the Tigers have won eight of 10 games with four of those victories coming in contests played away from Tiger Stadium. All eight of LSU’s wins under Orgeron have come by at least 15 points.