Tiger Predictions: How No. 6 LSU Football Picks Up Game One Win Over Mississippi State
It hasn't been an easy offseason to wrap your head around for a variety of reasons, yet we've reached the homestretch of the LSU football season. The Tigers open the 2020 season with Mississippi State and Mike Leach's air raid offense coming to town, a formidable first foe for the LSU defense to sink its teeth into.
Here’s how we think home opener will shake up.
Prediction: LSU 33, Mississippi State 17
LSU heads into Saturday's matchup as 17-point favorites over a Bulldog team that is in a similar boat to the Tigers scheme and personnel wise. While the Tigers certainly aren't welcoming a new head coach to the locker room, there has been plenty of roster turnover and coaching changes with both programs.
Offensively, LSU will be able to attack this young, inexperienced Bulldog secondary. It'll be a good first day for Myles Brennan to ease into his role as the Tigers' new starting quarterback. It wouldn't be a bit surprising to see LSU take a bunch of early shots to provide a spark to the team and the 25,000 fans that will be in attendance.
It also might be a subtle message to those who think the team has taken a significant step back on offense with the loss of Joe Burrow, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase. Coach Ed Orgeron has talked up the running attack something fierce in recent weeks, calling it the most consistent unit on the offense.
Chris Curry will draw the start but expect John Emery and Tyrion Davis-Price to also play heavy roles in a by-committee approach. Orgeron has said that if a particular back is having a good outing, the team would be willing to run with that back for the bulk of the carries. As a result, expect one of the three to earn 100+ rushing yards.
As for the receiving weapons, all eyes will be on Terrace Marshall and Arik Gilbert but a deep shot to Racey McMath or Kayshon Boutte is very much something that should be expected throughout the course of the game.
Brennan should have success in this opener and it wouldn't be surprising to see him eclipse 200+ yards passing and a couple of touchdowns.
The gameplan for LSU on defense will revolve around keeping quarterback KJ Costello and running back Kylin Hill at bay as they present the two biggest threats to the LSU defense. Costello is a transfer out of Stanford who has experience while Hill is back as the conference's leading returning rusher a season ago.
You don't call it an "air raid" offense to run the ball so expect the emphasis to be on the passing game, which means the Tigers' secondary will be on high alert all afternoon. It will be the first great opportunity to see Elias Ricks and Cordale Flott as full time starters opposite Derek Stingley.
The cat and mouse game between Mike Leach and Bo Pelini will be an interesting back and forth to follow. Pelini will want to bring as much pressure as possible but five wide sets will make it difficult to bring too much additional pressure from the linebackers and defensive backs.
"Bo’s very creative, but he’s also a fundamental guy and he’s also an effort guy. There’s a lot of stuff that he can do and there’s a lot of stuff obviously when you get into camp you want to put in most of your defenses," Orgeron said. "Then he’s got a rolodex where he’s going to call his stuff according to the offense that we see. With the Air Raid he may use something he doesn’t use against another offense. You’re not going to see everything. I think he’s going to bring the stuff that he needs. He does a great job of calling and making adjustments during the game. I believe in what he’s doing."
The front four will be interesting to follow as their roles will be all the more important if Pelini doesn't bring much additional pressure. Watch for BJ Ojulari on third down situations as he's been touted by multiple players as one of the top edge rushers on the team already.
The Tigers jump out early in this one and ride a double digit lead most of the game to start 1-0 this season.
"The first game is always the game everybody is most excited about because it's the first game," safety JaCoby Stevens said. "It's special because we open up with an SEC West opponent so there's multiple things that are gonna get us hyped up for the game."