SEC Football returns this weekend, which includes national champ LSU hosting Mississippi State. LSU has been hit hard by several opt outs, including star wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase and DL Tyler Shelvin. Both are expected to be drafted high in the 2020 NFL Draft. The game will be in Baton Rouge at Tiger Stadium with about 25,000 fans in attendance.
Last season, the Tigers beat up on the Bulldogs 36-13 on the road, thus covering the 17.5 points.
The line for this game has trended downward. After opening at LSU -19 but has trended downward to -17.5 points since. LSU has been picked on 58 percent of the bets against the spread. On the moneyline, the Tigers are listed on 86 percent of those bets.
The over/under was originally set at 55.5 points and has moved upward slightly to where it stands at 56.5 points. 80 percent of the bets on the total are for the over.
Game-time Weather: At kickoff, temperatures are expected to be in the mid-80s with the real-feel temperature in the low to mid-90s. Winds are from the south-southeast at five to 10 miles an hour. There is a decent chance of rain in this one as there is a 40-50 percent chance of showers as the afternoon goes on.
The Pirate has arrived in the SECMike Leach takes over at Mississippi State for Joe Moorhead, who went 6-7 last season and 3-5 in the SEC. Leach is going to throw at will in his Air Raid offense and fortunately, he has a very good quarterback in Stanford transfer K.J. Costello. He passed for 6,151 yards with 49 TDs and 18 picks at Stanford, including 3,540 yards and 29 TDs in 2018. Interesting that in 2018, Gardner Minshew was first-team all-Pac 12 quarterback for Leach at Washington State, when Costello was on the second team.
LIVE | Head Coach Mike Leach Week 1 Press Conference https://t.co/yCZKwq0Ser— Mississippi State Football (@HailStateFB) September 21, 2020
That's good news for Bulldogs fans, considering they ranked 12th out of 14 SEC teams in passing yards per game at 179.5. If you are a fan of running the football, don't expect the Bulldogs to match last season's 220.6 yards per game on the ground (21st). RB Kylin Hill ran for 1,350 yards with 10 TDs last season and caught 18 passes for 180 yards. Leach will run the ball some, though last season, his Cougars rushed for just 68.1 yards per game.
Defensively, the Bulldogs struggled big-time last season. They return just four starters for new DC Zach Arnett and his 3-3-5 defense. He comes from San Diego State, where they often ranked in the top 15 in the nation. LB Erroll Thompson (84 tackles) anchors a defense will rely on youngsters and some transfers. Losing CB Tyler Williams to an opt out won't help matters.
No Injuries Reported.
From Burrow to BrennanLSU finally won the big game because they had an incredible quarterback in Joe Burrow (60 TDs, 6 INTs). The Tigers have always had talent at running back, wide receiver (Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry), but they haven't had a quarterback who could consistently make them better. Unfortunately for head coach Ed Orgeron, not only is Burrow gone, but they've lost just about every offensive weapon from last year and they return just two starters. Junior quarterback Myles Brennan did get some reps last season (mainly garbage time) and will take over. The only returning starter at receiver is junior Terrace Marshall, who had 46 catches for 671 yards and 13 TDs.
When we visited the town where LSU’s “Coach O” grew up — in Lafourche Parish, about 75 miles down the bayou from Baton Rouge — his mother Coco insisted we eat her homecooked gumbo before we talk. https://t.co/6NgwpsAwie pic.twitter.com/mhfoh9WXnG— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) September 21, 2020
On defense, the Tigers were really good last season. They were just overwhelmed by an offense that ranked first in scoring (48.4ppg), first in passing yards per game (401.6ypg) and first in total yards per game (568.5ypg). Last season's defense allowed 343.5 yards per game overall (31st), but 222.7 yards in the air (9th in SEC). They return four starters and they will be tested this season, because there's no way the 2020 offense is going to be able to match 2019. Cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. is just a sophomore and after grabbing six INTs as a freshman, he might be the best in the nation. Safety JaCoby Stevens (92 stops) somehow stayed for his senior season. After that, there's talent, but a lot of question marks, especially at linebacker. Jabril Cox, a grad transfer from North Dakota State, should help right away.
OUT: WR Ja'Marr Chase, DL Nelson Jenkins III, LB Ray Parker, T Dare Rosenthal, NT Tyler Shelvin
Questionable: TE Arik Gilbert, CB Eli Ricks
LSU is: n/a
Miss State is: n/a
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I do have faith in Leach as head coach and Costello as quarterback. I don't think anybody can match what Burrow did and Brennan is going to struggle some in his first game without Justin Jefferson, Thaddeus Moss and Chase. LSU is trying to re-load and not rebuild, but that's going to be a tough task. They should win this game based on talent alone, but the Bulldogs should give them a very tough game and will cover.
Prediction: Mississippi State +17
Full-Game Total Pick
I never thought LSU's defense that great to being with last season. Now, they have to replace an entire linebacking corps and most of the defensive line. Mississippi State has a lot of weapons for Leach to play with, including Hill at running back. Their defense, as usual under a Leach squad, will be a big question mark to start the season. They have to learn a new defensive coordinator and scheme.
Prediction: Over 57.5