Trap game? No way. Last trip to Starkville will have LSU focused on Mississippi State
LSU is 6-0 and 2-0 in the SEC.
It moved up to No. 2 in the AP poll after a 42-28 victory against then-No. 7 Florida on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
Mississippi State is struggling.
The Bulldogs are 3-3 and 1-2 in the SEC after a 20-10 loss at Tennessee on Saturday.
They have lost 2 straight, having been whipped at Auburn 56-23 2 weeks ago before having an open date.
So the LSU-Mississippi State matchup Saturday in Starkville seems like it might be a mismatch in the Tigers’ favor.
But LSU coach Ed Orgeron understandably sees things differently.
He remembers all too well the Tigers’ last trip to Starkville 2 years ago.
It was the first SEC game of Orgeron’s first season since being named full-time head coach.
LSU had done pretty well under Orgeron the interim head coach in 2016. The Tigers went 4-2 and the losses were respectable. The Tigers played No. 1 Alabama to a scoreless tie through 3 quarters before losing 10-0.
They were on the verge of knocking off No. 21 Florida, but failed to punch the ball into the end zone with 2 tries from the 1 in the final seconds.
But the game at Mississippi State the next season was much different.
Orgeron was named the full-time head coach between the 2016 and 2017 seasons, and he seemed to be someone that LSU had to settle for after being unable to come to terms with Jimbo Fisher or Tom Herman.
There were a lot of questions about whether Orgeron was up to the job.
LSU started 2-0 in 2017, but wins against BYU and Chattanooga, though convincing on the scoreboard, weren’t enough to convince skeptics that the right man was in the job.
The SEC competition would be a much better gauge, and Orgeron’s Tigers were not up to the task in Starkville.
LSU was penalized 9 times and 2 of the infractions were for targeting and led to ejections. Orgeron’s Tigers seemed undisciplined.
The score was tied at 7 before State scored 30 consecutive points and LSU didn’t score again.
State outgained LSU 465-270 and Aeris Williams rushed for 146 yards for the Bulldogs.
Orgeron’s Tigers seemed inferior in all phases.
The coach was reminded of how bad the game was last week when he reviewed the film. He was studying it because the Tigers were getting ready to play Florida and coach Dan Mullen, who was State’s head coach 2 years ago.
“They ran the speed option on us, we were out of position,” Orgeron said. “They ran the quarterback throw back, we were out of position.”
Of course a lot has changed since then, including Mullen being in Gainesville and having been replaced by former Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead.
Orgeron is more entrenched in his job after going 7-3 the rest of the way after the State loss, 10-3 last season and starting 6-0 this season.
But that whipping still stings.
Orgeron is 31-9 and 17-7 in the SEC as the LSU head coach. The 30-point margin at State is the largest margin of defeat for any of his Tigers teams.
LSU couldn’t slow down the Bulldogs offense and it couldn’t sustain anything against their defense in that embarrassment.
It seems highly unlikely that the Tigers will have any such problems this week.
In fact, the memory of what happened on the last trip to Starkville should eliminate any possibility that LSU could fall into any sort of trap in the wake of the inspired 42-28 victory against then-No. 7 Florida last Saturday with a game against No. 11 Auburn looming Oct. 26.