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Three Things to Look for -- LSU versus Miss St. Prediction

Nevis has racked up 3.5 sacks this season
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Saturday Night in Death Valley. I can't believe it's here.

LSU kicks off their home season versus Mississippi State on Saturday. The Bulldogs come into Baton Rouge winless. But head coach Dan Mullen's club played Auburn tough, losing that game by only three points

What everyone will be looking for is LSU's quarterback play. I won't waste your time discussing who should be the starter, because HKT columnist Thomas Powers did a fine job of that the other day. 

Here are three other things to keep a keen eye on...

1. What about Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf

If defense really wins championships, then the Tigers are right on track.

LSU currently leads the nation in sacks with 10. Getting pressure on the quarterback is one of the biggest factors when it comes to winning football on the college and professional level. 

In my preview last week, I pointed out that LSU only had one sack in their three SEC losses last season. LSU tallied six last week versus a mobile quarterback in Larry Smith.

People are focusing how Jordan Jefferson will perform under center this weekend for LSU when they fail to realize Chris Relf for Mississippi State isn't exactly Drew Brees either. 

Though Relf doesn't have the wheels Smtih possesses, the stout junior stands at 6'4'' and can move around in the pocket pretty well for Mullen's offense. 

But that really shouldn't matter, because LSU should be able to handle the Mississippi State offensive line. LSU's defensive line has been dominant, led by senior Drake Nevis. Nevis, who seems to have the approval of former LSU All-American Glenn Dorsey, has constantly been in the opposing team's backfield causing havoc for the other team. 

2. Can LSU establish the line of scrimmage on offense against Mississippi State?

It's this simple:

A) With struggling quarterback play, LSU is going to run the football.

B) Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz knows that and will force LSU to throw football in order to move the football. 

C) But knowing Les Miles, he will want Gary Crowton to still try to run the football against a SEC eight man box. 

With that logic, LSU will need to be able to pound the rock even if they are facing "The Purple People Eaters." 

Stevan Ridley had career game versus the Bulldogs, but so did offensive lineman Josh Williford and T-Bob Hebert in place of the injured Will Blackwell. If these guys get off the football like they did versus the Commodores, the Tigers should get four yards a carry.

Diaz knows wide receiver Russell Shepard's homerun capability when he gets the ball on the Jet-sweep. Expect that play not to be as successful against the Bulldogs. 

LSU fans should put their money on Ridley making the longest run of his 2010 season last week versus Vanderbilt. But I can easily see a huge run for either Alfred Blue or Spencer Ware.

If LSU can get anything going on the ground, LSU can start using play-action pass to aid Jefferson.

3) Will DeAngelo Peterson play?

LSU tight end DeAngelo Peterson will be a game-time decision according to Miles.

Reamer stood no chance vs Peterson
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Mitch Joseph has done a fine job in place of Peterson, but Joseph does not have the vertical ability that stretches the defense. Peterson does, and can't be guarded in man coverage by a linebacker. Ask Alabama's Cory Reamer about that.

If Peterson plays, this should excite LSU fans is because Jefferson has completed some nice throws to Joseph. JJ had to throw darts to Joseph for those passes to be completed.

Jefferson told me before the season that he and Peterson have a great relationship since his freshman year. No telling how much the signal caller can improve when he gets one of his best friends and favorite targets back healthy.


LSU fans are on upset alert because of how close the Bulldogs play them in Starksville last season, with the Tigers making an impressive goal line stand to win the game.

But the game last season was the ESPN morning SEC game that week. I might be wrong, but LSU might have been the only road team to win a game in those circumstances. In most cases, teams on the road didn't even put up a fight.

I guess they don't lie when they say "You better eat your Wheaties."

LSU has also beaten Mississippi State nine straight times in Death Valley. That won't matter come Saturday, but LSU is historically better at night.

Mississippi State, outside of receiver Chad Bumphis, doesn't have too many playmakers. I would bet the under for if Mississipi is able to gain 250 yards of total offense against the stingy Tiger defense.

Since LSU doesn't win "big," they will win this one "comfortably."

LSU 31 - Mississippi State 16


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