By Jeff Palermo
Two years ago, Dak Prescott led Mississippi State to an upset win over LSU in Death Valley. The Bulldogs will look to do it again Saturday night when they visit the Bayou Bengals. Prescott now plays for the Cowboys, but State has another talented dual-threat quarterback in Nick Fitzgerald.
The sophomore from Georgia rushed for a school-record 195 yards in a victory over South Carolina last weekend. He also threw for 178 yards and two touchdowns.
Danny Etling is expected to start for the Tigers after sparking LSU to a win over Jacksonville State. The Bulldogs are deep along the defensive line and at linebacker. Defensive end A.J. Jefferson is a future NFL player and had a career-high four tackles for a loss and two sacks in the season opener against South Alabama.
Mississippi State's leading tackler from a season ago, Richie Brown, is back for his senior season. He had 10 tackles and two tackles for a loss against South Carolina.
The Bulldogs secondary is young. They have three starters in the defensive backfield who are first-year starters. Senior safety Kivon Coleman is a returning starter, but only has one interception in 41 collegiate games. The hard-hitting safety said earlier in the week, it's not intimidating to play in Tiger Stadium at night.
Coman may feel differently after trying to tackle LSU All-American Leonard Fournette. The Heisman hopeful is back after sitting out the Jacksonville State game with an injury. Last year against the Bulldogs, Fournette rushed for 159 yards and three touchdowns.
LSU hopes they can get wide receiver Malachi Dupre back on track. The former John Curtis standout had his streak of 13 consecutive games with a reception snapped against Jacksonville State. He only has 3 grabs for 24 yards on the season.
Mississippi State's leading receiver last year is back for his senior season. Fred Ross caught a school-record 88 passes in 2015 and already has 11 receptions this season, but only for 73 yards and a touchdown.
On special teams, Misississippi State's Logan Cooke is one of the best in the SEC. He has an average of 47 yards a punt and he's already placed six inside the 20-yard line. While, LSU's Josh Growden is not among the top 10 punters in the league.
Bulldogs field goal kicker Westin Graves has been ok. He's 4-of-6 on field goal opportunities, with a long of 48. But missed a 28-yard field goal in the final seconds that would have given State a win over South Alabama.
State does not have a punt returner like LSU's Tre'Davious White, who had an electrifying 60-yard punt return for a touchdown last week.
Expecting this one to be close, but LSU's defense makes some adjustments and shuts down the Bulldogs in the 2nd half and the Tigers win 24-17.