Ahead of Saturday’s SEC showdown between the LSU Tigers and Mississippi State Bulldogs at Tiger Stadium, SDS’ Brett Weisband breaks down a crucial matchup for the Tigers: how the linebackers will contain Dak Prescott. 

There’s no question about it: LSU’s defense is scary good. Shutting their opponents out for 147 straight minutes is proof enough of that, regardless of competition (and that competition hasn’t been as bad as some of the cupcakes the rest of the SEC has faced). They’re deep pretty much everywhere but defensive tackle, and that shined through this past Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe.

Starting junior linebackers Kwon Alexander and Lamar Louis were late scratches, and Duke Riley and Deion Jones stepped right up to bottle up the Warhawks. Alexander and Louis will be back against Mississippi State, and they’ll be needed against the most versatile quarterback in the SEC, Dak Prescott.

Prescott is averaging 323 combined rushing and passing yards per game, and he’s accounted for 12 touchdowns already. Despite his robust rushing numbers — 91 yards per game on the ground, along with 2 TDs — Prescott is very much a pass-first quarterback. Mississippi State calls some designed runs for Dak, with read options and QB draws, but many of his runs are improvised. With the way LSU is able to lock down receivers downfield, Prescott will likely have to make something happen with his feet to keep the Bulldogs in the game.

If that’s the case, the linebackers will have to be disciplined. They’re experienced, with senior D.J. Welter rounding out the starting group, and they’ll have to play like it. If they lose containment on Prescott, he has the speed to burn them and pick up big chunks of yards. Even if they stay on him, he has the size at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds to break out of tackles.

If Mississippi State pulls the upset, Prescott breaking out would be a big reason. Tiger fans better hope the linebackers are up to the task.