Coming off a hot win against the formerly No. 2 ranked Georgia Bulldogs, the LSU Tigers defeated the Mississippi State Bulldogs, 19-3 in Tiger Stadium on Saturday night.
The opening drive could not have gone much worse for the Bulldogs, with back-to-back false starts and a 31-yard interception return by Michael Divinity to make it first and goal for the Tigers. LSU responded with a three-play touchdown drive, complete with a one-yard scoring run by running back Nick Brossette to make it 7-0, LSU with 12:37 remaining in the first quarter.
If the early turnover didn’t make it evident enough, quarterback Nick Fitzgerald can’t exactly be trusted to throw the ball. But he is dangerous when he has the ability to break free and make use of his mobility.
That approach worked on the next Bulldogs drive, as Fitzgerald recorded 40-yard and a 13-yard rush to bring Mississippi State just outside of the LSU end zone. Fitzgerald was denied at the goal line though, as the defense held the Bulldogs to a Christmann field goal. LSU’s lead was cut to 7-3, with 8:43 left in the first quarter.
With just under four minutes remaining in the quarter, Fitzgerald was intercepted for the second time of the night, this time by safety Grant Delpit at the 24-yard line. But LSU failed to capitalize, as Burrow was picked off by cornerback Cam Dantzler, allowing the Bulldogs to take over at their own 1-yard line.
Neither team was able to get anything going on offense until the final minutes of the second quarter, when LSU found something that resembled a passing game for the first time of the night. On a drive that included a a 19-yard reception by receiver Derrick Dillon and an 11-yard reception by wideout Dee Anderson, kicker Cole Tracy nailed a 25-yard field goal to bring the LSU lead to 10-3 at halftime.
According to Burrow, part of the slow start on offense had to do with his own case of the butterflies.
“This was the first game I was a little nervous... I don’t usually get nervous, but I think I was a bit nervous coming off a big win (against Georgia),” he said. “I knew it would be a big game we might lose.”
The LSU offense found more rhythm in the second half, as the Tigers were first to the board with a 38-yard field goal by Tracy with 10:44 left in the third quarter.
Mississippi State responded with a gutsy drive that saw them attempt a conversion on fourth down twice. The first attempt was successful, but the second resulted in a turnover on downs, with LSU taking over at its own 45-yard line.
The Tigers capitalized on the effort by Delpit, driving 44 yards down the field on nine plays. A Joe Burrow scramble set up 29-yard field goal by Tracy to extend the LSU lead to 16-3 with just under three minutes remaining in the quarter.
In the final quarter, LSU put three more points on the board with a 40-yard field goal by Tracy. The kick attempt was set up by a 20-yard laser from Burrow to running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and a pair of rushes from Burrow and Brossette. The Tigers lead comfortably at 19-3, with just under 11 minutes left of playing time.
LSU seemed to ice the game with a Kristian Fulton interception, but the play was negated by a targeting call on Devin White. Additionally, Fulton and John Battle were each flagged 15 yards for celebrating the interception. Mississippi State kept the ball and got 45 yards worth of penalty yards. John Battle would pick off Nick Fitzgerald to end the threat.
Mississippi State would threaten one more time, in the game’s final minute. The Bulldogs drove into the red zone as the clock wound down, but Nick Fitzgerald threw his fourth interception of the game at the six yard line, the final one to Grant Delpit.
The Tigers head into a bye week, but face an ominous next opponent in Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide. Due to the targeting penalty, Devin White will be unavailable for the first half of that game. Kickoff time has yet to be determined for the game in Tiger Stadium on Nov. 3.