Using ESPN’s FPI (Football Power Index) as a guide, Mississippi State (3-0) has a 39.5 percent chance to beat No. 8 LSU (3-0) on Saturday.


Mississippi State has fooled fans before, and those same fans are weary of another Bulldogs disappointment to come sometime this season. Since Dan Mullen’s arrival in 2009, Mississippi State has started every season with a bang by beating a string of unworthy opponents, causing the masses to believe the Bulldogs are finally among the nation’s elite teams. Instead, the Bulldogs traditionally fall apart upon reaching the quality opponents on their schedule, which would put MSU right on schedule for a loss in Death Valley Saturday night.

Mullen and his Mississippi State squad are hoping to buck that trend with a stunning upset of the No. 8 Tigers this weekend, knowing they’ll almost certainly crack next week’s Associated Press Top 25 with a win on Saturday. The FPI gives them close to a 40 percent chance to win the game, which is higher than State’s win probability has been against LSU in recent years. The heightened win probability can likely be credited in large part to Bulldogs’ quarterback Dak Prescott, who has dazzled at the helm of the Mississippi State offense this season.

The Mississippi State defense has also looked stout so far this year, ranking second in the conference against the run. It’ll need to turn in another strong performance to limit a solid LSU rushing attack (averaging 226 yards per game), and to keep up with LSU’s top-flight defense (ranked in the top 5 in the nation).

The Bulldogs can prove they are for real this year with a statement win over a top 10 team in one of the toughest road environments in the nation. A loss will leave fans expecting another average season from Mississippi State, resulting in 6-7 wins and an invite to an underwhelming bowl game. But a win could get fans to believe MSU is the real deal, and a true contender in the absolutely loaded SEC West. The Bulldogs have a steep hill to climb, but with close to a 40 percent chance to win Saturday against LSU, they could prove themselves to be a sleeper team in the nation’s toughest division.