I did pick LSU #10 going into the season and #7 most recently, and I had not ranked Mississippi St.; but I can’t say I’m shocked by this outcome. I especially wasn’t surprised it came down to the last play, but I was surprised by the margin in the visitors’ favor after three quarters.
You can only beat a rival like that so many years in a row. I know they’ve had some bad teams in that stretch, but they’ve also had good teams and LSU has at least had mediocre teams who could have easily lost.
I did think the streak would end in Starkville, so the idea of it being at home and at night gave me some hope. On the other hand, I heard one of the announcers today pick Mississippi St., and I didn’t really have an argument with the points he made.
Even though the Bulldogs had not played anyone (which is why I hadn’t ranked them, along with the fact that they had just barely qualified for a bowl game last season), I was concerned by the apparent strength and versatility of their offense. The Mississippi St. offense had given LSU problems in the past, although before they had similar plays with a two-quarterback system.
It’s nice to have location and recent history in your favor, but you have to make plays. Too many times, LSU just didn’t make them even though opportunities were there. I was disappointed that the players seemed to allow themselves to get discouraged similar to the way they did against Wisconsin. But on the other hand, I have to give some credit for responding late even though, unlike against Wisconsin, it was not enough.
That said, if the coaches want the players to make the right plays, they need to make the right calls are made. You might look at the game summary or whatever and conclude LSU was just never in it until it was too late, but that’s not the case. I would admit they didn’t get the offense going the way it should have been until too late though.
There were good calls that gave LSU a first and goal at the 2 (after the opening touchdown by the Dawgs), but I don’t consider four runs up the middle good play-calling after that point. You have to do something to spread out the field (pitch, bootleg, play action, something) at some point. You know, kind of like how Mississippi St. gained yards against LSU and how Wisconsin gained yards against LSU despite an almost complete lack of a passing game in Week 1.
This failure would keep the Tigers scoreless until the waning minutes of the first half. Seven points rather than 0 right there would have been huge.
The comeback from 17-0 and 17-3 at the half did not materialize, but it could have. After the LSU defensive touchdown to open the first half, the Tigers had a great chance at a stop on 3rd and 11. So without making it a full blitz, LSU rushed into the backfield (and then just stood there), and the second Mississippi St. got the ball out of the backfield, they just needed one halfway-decent block to get a first down. Then, they drove to the end zone.
That first stop is just huge against this kind of team. LSU would have had so much momentum having the ball (and probably at least satisfactory field position) down by only 7, not counting the missed opportunity for points in the first half.
Then the Bulldogs scored again and would lead by as much as 24, but who knows what would have happened if LSU had gotten the ball back right away before the first State touchdown of the second half? Think about how much of a break the Mississippi St. defense got. LSU had the ball to end the first half, but deep in their own territory, the Tigers decided to let the half expire, so that didn’t tax the State defense. Then they had halftime, then Mississippi St. had the ball, then LSU scored on a turnover and gave the Bulldogs the ball back, then a long drive followed that. Even if LSU doesn’t score on that possession, that still could have tired the defense somewhat and led to more success (and sooner) later on in the game.
(Apologies for the picture. No matter what I did, I couldn’t make it larger.)
This was not only Mississippi St.’s first win against LSU since 1999, it was only the second since 1991 (and LSU was terrible all but three years of the 1990s). 1991 was also the last time the Bulldogs won at Tiger Stadium. I believe I was there, actually. I wonder how much the ticket prices have increased since then.
This was also only LSU’s second home loss since October 2009 (the other was by four points to Alabama in 2012).
Anyway, hopefully this is a learning experience for the players, but John Chavis and Cam Cameron shouldn’t need learning experiences at this point. I hope they learned something anyway. Maybe LSU should just pretend they’re already down three scores when the game starts from now on. I’m not just talking about the offense. Mississippi St. was held to three points in the final 24 ½ minutes
This might not be LSU’s year being that the new quarterbacks and mixture of old and new running backs are not coming along as LSU fans hoped, but it’s also not over. Auburn lost to a team that finished with three conferences losses early last year and then went all the way to the national championship game. That team was LSU.
On another positive note, this is by far the most traffic my site has ever gotten in a single day. There are three hours left in the day here on the West Coast, and I’ve almost tripled my previous record.