The cowbells were out in full force Thursday night but the LSU defense had much more of an impact on the game than anything the Mississippi State fans brought (or wore) in to the stadium. LSU (3-0, 1-0 SEC) picked up a 19-6 win at Mississippi State (1-2, 0-2) for the 12th straight victory against the Bulldogs. LSU has now won 19 of 20 contests between the two SEC West schools.
LSU's defense showed Thursday night that they are built for winning right now. It was an impressive performance, allowing just 193 yards of offense against a team that just a couple weeks ago put up over 600 yards of offense (albeit against Memphis). Morris Claiborne had the highlight of the night with an unbelievable interception over the middle of the field. It was not quite David Tyree quality, but it was still pretty darn close.
Let me one of the first people to come clean in saying that when Jordan Jefferson was suspended I was a little quick to dismiss LSU from the national title contention. If you will allow me to do so, I would like to eat my words a bit. Jarrett Lee has stepped in and been just fine running and managing the offense. He was 21-of-27 for 213 yards and a touchdown in the victory. As long as he continues to avoid making mistakes, then LSU's title hopes remain in tact moving forward, especially with that defense lining up when Lee is on the sideline.
“I told the team the defense needed to come in and play the way they did to have the success that we came to have and they did," LSU head coach Les Miles said. "I felt like the intensity of the defense was strong and that really ended up being the tale of the day."
Mississippi State is now 0-2 in the SEC West, which essentially puts their wild dreams of playing in Atlanta to rest. They still have to play Arkansas and Alabama. If the LSU game was a measuring stick kind of game, then we saw that the Bulldogs just don't measure up yet. A week after falling a few yards shy of beating Auburn on the road in a wild offensive game, Dan Mullen's team just could not find a way to come up with a big play against a stout LSU defense.
“Their guys made plays ours didn’t," Mullen said after the game. "Really that was the bottom line of the football game. I thought our guys played tough; played physical. We needed to make a play defensively.
“We didn’t get into a rhythm. We played with a lot of young offensive linemen with all the injuries we’ve been having. We got behind and had to throw the ball and play their game. Our playmakers have to make plays. We will be all right; our guys always bounce back. We were right here this time last year."
Mississippi State may have been over-ranked heading in to the season, which seems so easy to say now after two losses in division play and the one win coming against Memphis. The Bulldogs will drop out of the top 25 rankings this week and will have to prove on the field they are worthy of that consideration.
“We have to keep grinding away," Mullen said after the game. "We are trying to build a championship program. We are playing championship teams. We played the defending national champs and just played the best team in the nation. Those are big humps to get over. Probably the next step in the SEC for us is to win the SEC. If you win the SEC West, you’re the best in the country."
In order to do any of that though, Mississippi State needs to win one game in the division. Mullen has set the bar high, but it may be out of reach for a while.
Mississippi State will host Louisiana Tech next week and should be able to even up their record. LSU is back on the road next week with a key non-conference match-up in Morgantown against the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Follow Kevin McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.
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