Rapid Reaction: Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State make statement with blowout win over LSU
Mississippi State dominated LSU tonight, and what a statement it was.
You can make the case that tonight’s win is Mississippi State’s biggest win since beating No. 2 Auburn in early October of 2014, which catapulted the Bulldogs to a No. 1 ranking.
Sure, Mississippi State beat a higher ranked Texas A&M (ranked No. 7) last year. But that was a different context. At the time, the Bulldogs had already lost five games, and Texas A&M felt overrated to most fans.
Tonight’s win is bigger. The win signifies that Mississippi State is a real player in the SEC West in 2017.
It signifies that Alabama’s biggest threat in the west is not LSU, but Dan Mullen’s team from Starkville.
We know Nick Fitzgerald is good and can put up impressive numbers against average teams. Tonight, he looked phenomenal against a very legitimate defense. If you’re Nick Saban, after tonight, Nick Fitzgerald is officially on your radar as a real threat in 2017. Maybe the biggest threat.
Moreover, the plays that the Mississippi State offense rolled out were beautifully designed and well executed. The offense had a good LSU defense on its heels the entire night.
The Bulldogs defense came into the week ranked third in the conference in terms of yards per game allowed (174 per game). Mississippi State’s defense played physical and did enough to stop Derrius Guice and the Tigers’ rushing attack.
Oh, and Jeffery Simmons might have his hands on the SEC’s defensive MVP through three weeks.
For LSU, it’s a bad loss. Fans had high expectations for the team entering the year, especially for the offense after some major fireworks toward the end of the 2016 campaign. The Tigers were painfully one-dimensional on offense, and Danny Etling was never able to get much going in the passing game.
Guice was held to 76 yards rushing, while Mississippi State’s Aeris Williams rushed for 145 yards. Fitzgerald’s 88 yards on the ground were great, but the constant threat of Fitzgerald is helping open up the run lanes for Williams.
As kickoff approached, LSU was up to an 8-point favorite on many sportsbooks despite the game being played in Starkville. The result is one of the more lopsided results in recent memory by a team expected by Vegas to lose by more than a touchdown.
This week was the first of a very tough three week stretch for Mississippi State. Next week is at Georgia, followed up by at Auburn. It’ll be very difficult, but it’s not out of the question for the Bulldogs to win the next two games. If they can, there’s a great chance that Mississippi State could be 9-0 when they face Alabama on Nov. 11.
LSU gets to reboot against Syracuse and Troy in the coming weeks before the big game against Florida.