Scouting the schedule, Game 3: Trip to Baton Rouge opens SEC play for Mississippi State

Editor’s note: This is the third installment of our “Scouting the schedule” series, which breaks down every game on Mississippi State’s 2022 football schedule. Part 2 detailed MSU’s first-ever matchup with Arizona, while Part 4 will analyze the Bulldogs’ matchup with Bowling Green.

Mississippi State will not only begin Southeastern Conference play a week earlier than usual.

The Bulldogs will have to do it in some of the unfriendliest confines in the league — if not the entire sport.

MSU opens SEC play with a road game in “Death Valley,” home to LSU. The Bulldogs have won there before — upsetting the Tigers to start the 2020 season, for instance — but it’s never an easy task.

After a second-half surge powered LSU to a win in last year’s SEC opener in Starkville, MSU will be looking to set itself on the right foot in the conference standings.

But a new-look Tigers team led by former Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly will stand in the way.

Mississippi State will play LSU at 5 pm Sept. 17 at Tiger Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN.

LSU quick facts

2021 records: 6-7 (3-5 SEC)

Coaches: Brian Kelly, first year

ESPN Football Power Index: No. 10

All-time series: 72-37-3, LSU leads

Last meeting: Sept. 25, 2021

History

LSU has historically been one of Mississippi State’s toughest opponents.

The Tigers are nearly doubling up the season series, winning every matchup with the Bulldogs between 2000 and 2013 before Dak Prescott led a win on the bayou in 2014. MSU has averaged only 12.3 points in its 112 meetings with LSU all time and has been outscored by an average of nearly 10 points per game.

But MSU has won two of its past five games against LSU, including the season-opening upset in 2020 in Baton Rouge.

The 2021 matchup marked the first time since 2001 that LSU was unranked when it faced Mississippi State.

2021 season

A mediocre season in Baton Rouge marred by plenty of season-ending injuries was enough to get LSU coach Ed Orgeron fired at the conclusion of the 2021 campaign.

A loss to Kansas State in the Texas Bowl finished a 6-7 season for the Tigers, who posted a losing record in conference play.
LSU managed wins over ranked opponents Florida and Texas A&M but couldn’t beat four other ranked teams: Auburn, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Alabama.

The Tigers lost their season opener to UCLA before beating McNeese State and Mississippi State. They lost an overtime game to Arkansas prior to wins over Louisiana-Monroe and A&M to attain bowl eligibility.

Quarterback Max Johnson transferred to Texas A&M after putting up 2,815 yards, 27 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2021. Tyrion Davis-Price’s running back topped 1,000 yards and was one of a whopping 10 Tigers drafted in April.

Cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. was a first-round pick, guard Ed Ingram went in the second round, and Davis-Price and cornerback Cordale Flott were third-round picks.

But top receivers Kayshon Boutte (509 yards, nine touchdowns), Jaray Jenkins (502 yards, six touchdowns) and Jack Bech (489 yards, three touchdowns) all return.

On defense, linebacker Damone Clark (135 tackles, 15.5 for loss, 5.5 sacks) was a fifth-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys. Defensive end BJ Ojulari, who led the team with seven sacks, will return.

Key additions

A transfer class sitting No. 12 in the nation by 247 Sports’ composite rankings is pretty low by LSU standards.

Still, it includes five-star Texas linebacker Harold Perkins and three other top-100 recruits, all from Louisiana: offensive tackle Will Campbell, quarterback Walker Howard and defensive lineman Quency Wiggins.

In the transfer market, the Tigers landed high-rated cornerback Jarrick Bernard from Oklahoma State and defensive lineman Mekhi Wingo from Missouri.

Arizona State transfer quarterback Jayden Daniels will compete for the starting job, and former Ohio State cornerback Sevyn Banks is poised to make an impact.

LSU also landed Arkansas defensive backs Joe Foucha and Greg Brooks Jr.

Theo DeRosa reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.

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