BATON ROUGE - A week ago, LSU put together its best overall performance of the season in its near upset of top-ranked Alabama in Tiger Stadium. LSU will look to build on that effort when they host 22nd-ranked Mississippi State for Homecoming on Saturday night in Death Valley as the Tigers look to position themselves for a possible berth in a BCS bowl.
With three games left on the schedule and with a ranking of No. 7 in the Bowl Championship Series standings, LSU is still in position for a sixth 10-win season under head coach Les Miles as well as a possible shot at a bid to a BCS bowl.
In order to do though, the Tigers have to win out and it starts with Mississippi State. Kickoff between the Tigers and the Bulldogs is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. and the game will be televised by ESPN with Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge, and Holly Rowe on the call. The game can also be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network and on the internet in the GeauxZone on LSUsports.net with Jim Hawthorne, Doug Moreau and Gordy Rush calling the action.
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LSU brings a 7-2 overall mark and a 3-2 league record into the Mississippi State contest. The Tigers, who are 36-2 in Saturday night games under Miles, are ranked No. 9 in the both Associated Press Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches poll this week.
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Mississippi State has dropped two straight after opening with wins its in first seven games. The Bulldogs have lost in back-to-back weeks to Alabama (38-7) and Texas A&M (38-13) as Mississippi State has tumbled from No. 11 in the polls to its current spot of No. 22. Mississippi State is the fifth straight ranked opponent for LSU, which represents the longest streak of its kind in school history.
"This is a very capable football team with quality players on both sides of the ball," LSU coach Les Miles said. "Coach (Dan) Mullen has done a great job there. His teams are always very prepared and they play hard from start to finish. They have a great offensive scheme and they have a bunch of playmakers on defense.
"I'm excited about bringing my team back into Tiger Stadium. I thought we gave great effort last week against Alabama. The key for us is to build on last week's performance. We are going to need to play well on Saturday because Mississippi State presents a tremendous challenge for our football team."
Times of Interest
The LSU-State series has been a one-sided affair since the 2000 season as the Tigers have won 12 straight and 19 of the last 20 against the Bulldogs. The last Mississippi State win in the series came in Starkville in 1999 by a 17-16 count. You have to go back to 1991 to find the last time the Bulldogs won in Baton Rouge (28-19).
Against the Bulldogs, the Tigers will face an offense that is averaging 30.8 points and 387.1 total yards (156.4 rushing, 230.7 passing). Quarterback Tyler Russell has thrown for 16 touchdowns and just three interceptions, while running back Ladarius Perkins is third in the SEC in rushing with 804 yards and eight touchdowns.
Defensively, the Bulldogs have two of the top defensive backs in Johnathan Banks (4 interceptions) and Darius Slay (4 interceptions) as well as two of the top tacklers in the league in linebackers Benardrick McKinney (73 tackles) and Cameron Lawrence (72 tackles).
As a unit, the Bulldogs are holding opponents to 19.7 points and 377.9 total yards (290.7 rushing, 168.2 passing) per game.
The Tigers will look to take advantage of Mississippi State defense against the run with their stable of running backs led by true freshman Jeremy Hill, who has rushed for 100 or more yards in three straight games. Last week, Hill became the first freshman in LSU history to run for 100 yards or more against Alabama with 107 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries.
Hill emerged as LSU's featured back three weeks ago when he broke loose for 124 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winning scamper of 50 yards late in the fourth quarter, against then-No. 3 South Carolina.
A week later, Hill erupted for 127 yards and a TD in the road win over Texas A&M. Hill leads the Tigers and ranks 15th in the SEC with 429 yards and six touchdowns.
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger is coming off his best performance as a Tiger by throwing for 298 yards and one touchdown on 25-of-34 passing against Alabama. For the season, Mettenberger has thrown for 1,717 yards and eight touchdowns with Jarvis Landry (31 rec., 292 yards, 2 TDs) and Odell Beckham Jr. (30 rec., 493 yards, 2 TDs) being the top receivers.
Defensively, LSU continues to rank among the best units in the nation as the Tigers are allowing just 15.3 points and 253.1 total yards (102.8 rushing, 150.3 passing) per game. A week ago, LSU limited Alabama to its lowest offensive output of the season with just 52 plays, 21 points, and 331 total yards.
"We've had a really good week of practice," Miles said. "The attitude and effort have been great this week. This team understands that there's a lot of football left to play and that anything can happen. The key for us is to play LSU football. That's our culture. We have established a standard here and we need to play to that standard each week. I think we'll do that on Saturday."