College Football Week 4 Betting Preview: LSU vs. Mississippi State

The LSU-Mississippi State rivalry is not one of the flashiest in college football, nor is it among the most competitive. Of the 114 meetings between the two programs, LSU has won 75 of them, including 18 of the last 21. But Mississippi State has won two of the last four, including last year’s contest, the first under new head coach Mike Leach.

Can Leach and his new high-powered offense start a new streak? Could the reign LSU has enjoyed for the last couple of decades be slowed? With such a small point spread posted for the game on sportsbook apps around the betting market, this is anyone’s game to win.

LSU vs. Mississippi StateBest LSU OddsBest Miss State Odds
Point Spread-2.0 (-110) BetMGM+2.5 (-109) BetRivers
Moneyline-130 BetRivers+115 BetMGM

The total ranges from 56 to 57 as of Thursday.

LSU Tigers

After a wildly frustrating 2020 season, LSU fans are craving to see their team return to glory and play a more consistent game this season. With so many new players thrust into the limelight last season, growing pains were inevitable. But this season, the team has more experience, which should translate to better, more consistent play.

Three games into the season, LSU sits at 2-1 straight up (1-2 ATS), losing its season opener to UCLA 38-27 and taking care of inferior foes McNeese State and Central Michigan.

Max Johnson is back as the team’s quarterback and has played much better than he did in 2020. So far, he is completing a respectable 64.8 percent of his passes, has two 300+ yard games, and has thrown two interceptions. He already has 11 touchdowns; he had eight in the five games he saw significant time in last year.

He does not have much in the way of experienced talent at wide receiver, but there is a lot of potential there. The offensive line has done an adequate job after struggling mightily in 2020. But the one aspect of the offense that has struggled in the running game.

LSU has traditionally had one of the better running games in the country. But the Tigers have rushed for 100+ yards in only one of three games — and that was against McNeese State, an FCS team and not one of the more competitive ones

As for the defense, things are looking up. But after last season’s horrendous effort, there was nothing else the defense could do but improve. The secondary gets a big boost from the presence of Derek Stingley Jr. at cornerback, arguably one of the best players in college football. The front seven got gashed against UCLA for 210 yards on the ground.

The Tigers will not have to worry too much about the run game against Mississippi State.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

The Mike Leach Era got off to a tremendous start last season with a big win over LSU in the season opener. The offense was as explosive as expected, and they came away with a win — but it was all downhill from there. Consistency at quarterback, amongst other things, was an issue, and the Bulldogs managed just three more wins the rest of the year.

So far, the 2021 Bulldogs (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) are improved. The passing attack has thrived with Will Rogers under center (361 yards per game, seventh in the nation). Makai Polk is his No. 1 receiver with 25 catches for 226 yards, but he has four other guys with 100+ yards. His offensive line has done a decent job at protecting him (64th in the nation in sacks allowed), but there is certainly room for improvement.

As could be expected with a Leach team, the run game is practically nonexistent (130th in the nation at 45.3 yards per game). That lack of production comes as no surprise.

Defensively, the Bulldogs have been mediocre. They are giving up fewer than 100 yards a game on the ground (73.3, 16th in the nation). But they could do a better job of getting into the backfield. They rank 13th in the conference in sacks and 12th in tackles for a loss this season.

Betting Recommendation

This game will be an entertaining one to watch. Both teams have capable offenses and decent defenses. Both should be heading into this game with 3-0 records, but mistakes in their respective losses cost them. So, how do you pick a winner between two teams that are so similar?

You look at how well they do what they do.

Neither team runs the ball well, so the run game is basically a nonfactor. LSU’s defense looks better on paper, but that will happen when you beat up on an FCS team. Both have strong air attacks, but Mississippi State has been more productive because of Leach’s dedication to the passing game.

The Bulldogs made more errors in their loss to Memphis compared to LSU in its loss to UCLA. But Mississippi State’s passing game will give it an edge — as long as Rogers does not turn the ball over. Take Mississippi State to win via the moneyline and the spread.

As for the total, it will be surprising if these teams do not go OVER 56, and if you’re on board with us, find a book at that number and fire away until it moves up.

About the Author

Travis Pulver

Travis Pulver is a lifelong football fan, something he says comes naturally having been born in the football-crazy state of Texas. Through the years, his love of sports has extended into baseball, basketball, golf, and rugby. Life currently finds him in Indiana with his wife and two kids.