Miss St.-LSU is SEC’s quirkiest rivalry

LSU has dominated Mississippi State in many ways over more than 100 years and 111 games and should do it again Saturday

While there is no doubt that Mississippi State-LSU is one of the Southeastern Conference’s longest-standing football rivalries with 111 games played by the schools since 1896, it is also arguably one of its quirkiest as well. These oddities stem from where many of the games have been played, the number of extended winning streaks by each school, and LSU’s total overall dominance (73-35-3).

Courtesy Mississippi State Athletics

History

Following that first-ever Tigers win, a 52-0 shellacking on Nov. 20, 1896 in Baton Rouge, the series has evolved into LSU’s longest and MSU’s second-longest behind only Ole Miss in the annual “Egg Bowl.” In that time, it has also been played in Monroe, La., and the Mississippi cities of Starkville, Jackson, Columbus, and Gulfport.

From 1923-1930, every game was played in Mississippi — one in Starkville and five in Jackson (the two did not meet in 1924 or 1925.) Then from 1931-1957 every game, yes you read that right, everygame was played in Louisiana. The 1932 and 1933 games were played in Monroe and all the others on the bayou. In fact, in the span from 1931 to 1973 when the two began playing a true home-and-home series, only four games (1958, 1962, 1963 and 1971) were played in the Magnolia State.

Photo courtesy Mississippi State Athletics

LSU won six of the first eight matchups in the series, had another stretch of 11 wins in 12 meetings, another of 15 wins in 16 meetings and another of 12 wins in 14 games. Then you look at the span from the turn of the century in 2000 through 2017 and see 16 LSU wins in 18 meetings.

MSU’s best showings came in 1917-1926 and 1978-1984 when the Bulldogs won six of seven in those spans. The Bulldogs have won two of the last four meetings, however, including a 37-7 upset last year in Starkville. LSU came in ranked 12th in the country, but the Bulldogs manhandled the Tigers to record their first win over a ranked LSU team at home since 1984.

LSU-MSU 2017 | Photo by Kelly Price – Courtesy Mississippi State Athletics

This year’s version

At first glance it would appear it’s going to be another long night under the lights of Tiger Stadium for MSU (4-2 overall, 1-2 in SEC) as No. 5 LSU (6-1, 3-1) comes in riding a wave of exhilaration after defeating then-No. 2 ranked Georgia 36-16 last week. LSU has also currently won 21 straight games in the month of October, won 12 straight under Ed Orgeron when the Tigers have scored 20 points or more and, oh yeah, for good measure, it’s homecoming.

Don’t jump to conclusions so quickly, my friend, as State’s greatest strength, its running game led by senior quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, matches up nicely with an area in which LSU’s defense struggles. Fitzgerald, who passed Tim Tebow this season to become the SEC’s all-time leader in rushing yards by a QB, is the fifth-leading rusher in the entire conference with 513 yards on 98 carries, and he’s scored seven rushing TDs.

LSU’s defense has been middle of the pack overall and against the run, which could make for some anxious moments on Saturday. The Tigers allow 404 total yards per game, which ranks seventh in the SEC, and 202 yards rushing per game, which ranks sixth.

Also, the Bulldogs come in off an open week on the heels of an incredible performance that saw them rush for 349 yards in a 23-9 dismantling of Auburn on Oct. 16. In that game, Fitzgerald posted 195 yards and two TDs on 28 carries, and he will probably need something close to that for MSU to have a chance on Saturday.

“This is going to be one of the best quarterbacks we see all year,” Orgeron said. “He likes to run between the tackles. He is very dangerous.”

LSU’s offense counters with running back Nick Brossette, the SEC’s fourth-leading rusher with 640 yards and nine TDs and junior QB Joe Burrow, who hasn’t been great, but steady enough to evoke visions of Bowl Championship Series playoffs to come among the Baton Rouge faithful.

MSU Head Coach Joe Moorhead | Photo by Kelly Price – Courtesy Mississippi State Athletics

First-year MSU coach Joe Moorhead summed it up very robotically saying, “We are going to have to play with fanatical effort and surgical precision to beat another top-ranked team in the country.”

While it may get interesting if LSU rests on its laurels from last week or is already looking ahead to its Nov. 3 matchup with Alabama, but don’t hold your breath that MSU will really be fanatical or surgical enough to make that happen. H&A

Kickoff for Mississippi State versus LSU is set for 6 p.m. CDT on ESPN.

Cover photo: Former MSU quarterback Dak Prescott scrambling against LSU 

 

Jimmy Creed

Jimmy Creed

Jimmy Creed is the former award-winning sports editor of The Anniston (Alabama) Star and editor of Saints Digest, the official team publication of the New Orleans Saints. He is a two-time winner of the Alabama Sports Writers Association Herby Kirby Award for the best sports story in the state of Alabama and has received numerous writing awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors, the National Motorsports Press Association. and the Alabama Press Association. He is also the author of NASCAR legend Donnie Allison's biography "Donnie Allison: As I Recall."
Jimmy Creed

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