There’s no other way to say this: this game was weird. Really, really weird. It was a game where Mississippi State legitimately blew out No. 8 LSU, but somehow there the Tigers were throwing into the end zone with a chance to win as time expired. The Bulldogs became the first non-No. 1 ranked team to win a night game at Tiger Stadium in the now 10-year Les Miles era of LSU, joining 2009 Florida and 2012 Alabama. And Mississippi State did it in an authoritative fashion those others couldn’t, building a 34-10 lead and 570 yards of offense before holding on to a 34-29 win.
How did LSU nearly crawl back and steal this thing? Mississippi State employed the ‘ol prevent offense, even passing on a field goal try that would have put them up 37-16, and backup quarterback Brandon Harris caught fire, completing 6-of-8 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns before throwing an interception at the goal line on a last gasp Hail Mary. Oh, and a snap that went over Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott’s head and into the arms of an LSU defender certainly helped, setting up LSU’s final touchdown as Mississippi State hoped to ice away what would have been a 34-23 win.
But despite the ugly ending, Mississippi State looked good tonight. Really good. Prescott looked every bit worthy of the offseason whispers entering him into the Heisman conversation, powering the Bulldogs’ running game with 22 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown and hitting 15-of-24 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Josh Robinson, a Louisiana native alongside his backfield mate, rushed for 197 yards and a touchdown – on 16 carries. It was shocking how many times Mississippi State got the ball in space.
The Bulldogs also contained LSU’s offense, limiting the Tigers to 89 rushing yards, and forcing starting quarterback Anthony Jennings out of the game after producing 157 yards on 26 attempts.
This game was not as close as the final score indicates. This was the Tigers’ worst home performance – especially on defense – since before Nick Saban came to town.
Which leads us to wonder: whom does tonight’s stunning result say more about, the winner or the loser?
On one hand, LSU could prove to be of the ilk of similar purple and gold teams in the past, the one that had never lost to a non-No. 1 ranked team at home under the lights in the past 10 seasons, and Mississippi State could prove to be a legitimate contender in the SEC West.
Or, there could prove to be a reason that LSU has now fallen behind 24-7 and 34-10 in the two games its played against Power Five competition, just as there could prove to be a reason the win moves Dan Mullen to 3-21 against Top 25 competition at Mississippi State.
Does this win prove how good Mississippi State really is, or how bad LSU might be?
The probable answer: it’s likely somewhere in between. One thing is certain, though. We’ll find out very soon. After taking next week off, the soon-to-be-ranked Bulldogs return to Starkville and host No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 5 Auburn.