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LSU vs. Mississippi State: 5 Things to Watch in This Weekend's SEC Battle

Ryan GuillemetteCorrespondent ISeptember 13, 2011

LSU vs. Mississippi State: 5 Things to Watch in This Weekend's SEC Battle

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    The 25th-ranked Mississippi St. Bulldogs will be hosting the No. 3-ranked LSU Tigers at Davis Wade Stadium this Thursday at 8 p.m. ET in what is sure to be an extremely physical game of smash-mouth football.  

    LSU is very hot in pursuit of the top spot in the polls.  They bring a powerful defense that has shut down one of the most explosive offenses in the country.  On the offensive side they are led by quarterback Jarrett Lee who has been very successful in commanding the Tiger offense.  

    On the opposite side of the ball, Mississippi State brings a strong rushing offense that will try to break through defenses and make them regret trying to tackle them.  They look to shut down the Tigers win streak and begin to climb the polls once again.  

    This is going to be a very physical game that should be a huge battle on the line of scrimmage. It's going to be a great game between two ranked teams.   

Watch for Mississippi State to Run the Ball

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    Mississippi St. is a great rushing team that is going to be looking to use this weapon against LSU on Thursday.  

    Mississippi State's offense is based on simple running plays and options, but this simple offense is very effective. The Bulldogs have rushed for a combined 642 yards against Memphis and Auburn.  

    The Bulldogs have a very physical offense that tries to punish the defense on every play.  This physical offense is averaging 46.5 points per game.  The Bulldogs are also averaging 321 rushing yards per game, which will be a test for LSU's star defense.  

    LSU has a lot of respect for this team. Defensive tackle Michael Brockers had this to say about the Bulldogs rushing game: "Oregon tried to run east and west and get you out of your gaps. (Mississippi State) doesn’t really care where you are; they’ll try to move you out of your gaps,” Brockers told USA Today. “That’s the biggest difference, them being more physical than Oregon was trying to zone you out of your gaps. These guys are really trying to power you out of there.”

    It should be a battle at the line of scrimmage in this smash-mouth style of football.   

LSU's Great Defense

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    Mississippi State will be facing one of the best defenses in the nation in LSU.  

    The Tigers defense has only allowed an average of 15 points per game.  Against Oregon and Northwestern State, LSU allowed only 45.5 rushing yards per game, which will be a major test for Mississippi State's explosive running game.  

    Just like LSU, Mississippi State holds LSU in high regards, Bulldogs Head Coach Dan Mullen joked that LSU might be too good for the SEC and had this to say about LSU's defense: “I’m sure they would win the NFC East this year."

    LSU turned down one of the most explosive offenses in their opener against Oregon. They have a lot of speed in their defense, which makes them very effective in preventing the big plays.

    The Bulldogs may be missing some of their offensive line due to injuries, which could leave some holes for LSU to exploit.  

    One thing is for sure: LSU is going to do everything they can to control the line of scrimmage this Thursday.  

LSU's Offense Is Doing Very Well

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    There was a lot of doubt coming into the season about whether or not quarterback Jarrett Lee could lead LSU's offense. There is no more doubt.  

    Lee has played exceptionally well under center and has been a key player for LSU.  

    Lee has completed 19 out of 32 passes for 231 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.  Lee was taken out at halftime against the Northwestern State Demons, giving him a good rest.  

    Bulldog Head Coach Dan Mullen said this about Lee: "He's a great manager of the game," Mullen said. "He makes all the throws he needs to throw in the key situations for them, and he puts them in a great position to win football games."

    The Bulldogs will also need to find a way to contain wide receiver Rueben Randle, who has gone for 131 yards and a touchdown, running back Michael Ford, who has 168 yards and four touchdowns and Spencer Ware, who has 119 yards and three touchdowns from the backfield.   

Mississippi State Must Pressure Jarrett Lee

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    Mississippi St. Head Coach Dan Mullen's game plan is to stop Jarrett Lee.  

    Lee can be very dangerous if you let him get comfortable, so it will be crucial to put pressure him on every play.  The Tigers average 44.5 points per game, so the Bulldogs must find a way to keep the ball away from LSU.  

    The Bulldogs defense has allowed 27.5 points per game. They are going to need to find a way to keep LSU off the ball and silence their offensive threats. It is going to be a big challenge for the Bulldogs, but they should be able to pull it off.  

Prediction

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    My prediction is that LSU is going to take this one.  

    Even though Mississippi State has a great rushing game, LSU's defense is just too strong to allow the Bulldogs to do anything big against them.  Oregon had a very explosive offense that was shut down by this extremely fast and powerful defense.  

    If two of Mississippi State's lineman are unable to play after injuries they received in previous games, LSU is going to find a way to exploit this and cut the backfield off before MSU's running backs can find open field.  

    On the other side of the ball, LSU's offense is very hot and has been putting up a lot of points in every game. I don't think that the Bulldogs defense will be able to shut down all the offensive weapons that LSU has to offer.  

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