By: Travis Pulver
- Spread: LSU -16.5
- Moneyline: LSU -1250; Mississippi State +750
- Over/Under: 56.0
*Odds via DraftKings.com
It has been a long time coming, but the defending national champions will finally take the field this weekend when the LSU Tigers host the Mississippi State Bulldogs for the 114th time. While it hasn’t always been the most competitive rivalry, it is a rivalry, nonetheless.
Fans can count on both teams bringing their ‘A’ games.
If history is any indication, though, the game may already be done and over with. Since 1985, LSU has lost to Mississippi State just five times. Only two losses have come since the turn of the millennium. But when both teams take the field Saturday, neither will be much like it was last season.
So, since they have yet to play a single game, how can you trust what they will play like? You can’t. That means fans will have to decide how to bet off what little they do know.
LSU Tigers Betting Preview
When you think about a national champion that went 15-0 taking on a team that went 6-7 last season, it is hard not to favor the defending champs. But these champs are not going to look too much like the group that won it all last season.
Last year’s team saw 14 guys get drafted, five inside the first round. Twenty former players total are now on NFL rosters. Another 15 are gone due to opt-outs, transfers, and/or dismissals. That means the roster has only a few returning starters and even less with experience of any kind.
Due to all the personnel losses, many have viewed the Tigers’ preseason rank to be a little inflated (No.6). But head coach Ed Orgeron has always been viewed as a solid recruiter. However, while fielding an almost brand-new starting offense will be a challenge, replacing passing game coordinator Joe Brady may be asking too much.
They have tasked Scott Linehan with that job. But as antiquated as he was with the Cowboys, is he going to be up to the challenge?
It doesn’t get any easier on defense, either. Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda is now the head coach at Baylor. Former Nebraska head coach, Bo Pelini, steps in as the new DC. He will need to find several new starters, as well, along with installing a new scheme.
Mississippi State Bulldogs Betting Preview
For the Bulldogs, the story is all about their new head coach—Mike Leach. With him, will, of course, be his ‘air raid,’ pass-happy offense. To guide it, he will have former Stanford quarterback and graduate transfer, K.J. Costello.
Officially, freshman Will Rogers is also listed as the starter, but he will probably only play if Costello falls flat on his face.
Costello’s best offensive weapon will be running back Kylin Hill, the SEC’s leading returning rusher. He will likely not see nearly as many carries but will probably get lots of work as a receiver out of the backfield.
His receivers do not have a ton of experience, but they will get put to work quickly in Mike Leach’s offense.
If there is a downside to the offense, it is the front line. Last year’s group as a good one, but losing Tyre Phillips (tackle) and Darryl Williams (center) will hurt. How quickly the rebuilt line can gel will be the key to whatever success the Bulldogs have on offense.
But if there is a downside to Mississippi State, it is the defense. While there is talent in the group, it will be down five of last season’s top tacklers. The defensive line is expected to be tough, and the linebackers will be led by a beast in Errol Thompson.
Their problem, however, will be in the secondary. While some experience does return, it will need to learn from last season and perform better this year.
OddsUSA Best Bet of the Week Betting Prediction
LSU will likely be just fine despite losing so many players from the championship squad. Programs like the Tigers tend to reload with ease because they recruit so well. That could very well be the case for the Tigers this season.
However, with new coaches on both sides of the ball to go with so many new starters, it would not be shocking to see LSU get off to a slow start. Not only does it take time to learn how to play together, but it takes time to learn how to play a new system together.
Having Scott Linehan coordinating the passing game is not encouraging.
Mississippi State will have its share of growing pains as well, but the Bulldogs may start with a slight edge since it has more returning starters. However, Ed Orgeron is the better head coach between him and Mike Leach. While his players may not look great right out of the gate, he will make the necessary in-game changes to get things on track. So—how should you bet? Take Mississippi State to win against the spread, but for LSU to win straight up. As for the over/under, with how well a Mike Leach offense can score, take the over (56).