Second-ranked LSU began its preparations for the first game of the season on Saturday with a workout at Charles McClendon Practice Facility in Baton Rouge.
For the first time since 1991, the Tigers will open up their season on the road against a Southeastern Conference opponent. The last time that happen, LSU fell to Georgia, 31-10, on a game nationally televised by ABC.
This year, however, should be much different. The Tigers will play at Mississippi State on Thursday at 7 p.m. The game will be televised by ESPN and LSU has opened up as three-touchdown favorites against the Bulldogs, who have lingered toward the bottom of the SEC West standings for the last handful of years. Chris Fowler (play-by-play), Doug Flutie (color analyst), Craig James (color analyst) and Erin Andrews (sideline reporter) will be covering the game for ESPN.
It’s game week. The spirits of the players are high,” said LSU coach Les Miles. “I like where we are at this point. We gave the players some time off. They came back and it appears they have handled their business well. They looked fresh and ready for practice today. The preparation will be pretty equal.”
LSU will travel to Starkville on Wednesday. Thursday’s game will feature the first test for three new starters on offense – quarterback Matt Flynn and offensive linemen Lyle Hitt and Carnell Stewart, who both will line up on the right side.
“Our offensive line is coming around. The first-time starters are fun to watch. It’s fun to see how they interpret how they play over the length of a game,” Miles said. “We will have two first-time starters there, but I think they will both play well.”
Flynn, defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey and defensive back/special teams standout Craig Steltz will serve as game captains.
The game will be played at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field, which has a capacity of 55,082, which holds less than 37,000 more people than LSU’s Tiger Stadium.
Mississippi State, which is coached by Sylvester Croom, has not had much success against LSU in his four years in Starkville. The Tigers have beaten the Bulldogs by a combined score of 250-43 in the last six meetings. Croom is 9-25 in his career as MSU coach.
The Tigers will be led by one of the nations best defenses led by standouts like Dorsey, Tyson Jackson, Charles Alexander, Marlon Favorite, Ali Highsmith, Chevis Jackson and Jonathan Zenon.
The Bulldogs are led by senior wide receiver Tony Burks, who averaged 24.3 yards per catch a season ago. On the ground, MSU’s main threat is running back Anthony Dixon, who averaged four yards per carry last year as a freshman.
The Bulldogs also return four starters on the offensive line. Expected to start at quarterback is junior Micheal Henig, who started six games last year and threw for 1,201 yards with seven touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Offensively for the Tigers, look for the versital Jacob Hester to start at tailback and Early Doucet and Brandon LaFell to start at the wide-receiver positions.
Keiland Williams is also expected to get some time at running back. MSU is led defensively by senior defensive lineman Titus Brown.
MSU’s Derek Pegues, who is expected to return punts and kicks, was one of the top special-team players in the SEC last year.
LSU leads the all-time series, 64-33-1. The last time MSU beat the Tigers was in 1999 at Starkville, 17-16. It is only one of three victories the Bulldogs have posted against LSU since 1984.
The Tigers enter the game with their highest pre-season ranking since 1959. In 2004, LSU was ranked No. 3 in the pre-season. That season, the Tigers blanked MSU, 41-0, in Baton Rouge.
The No. 23 LSU volleyball team got their season off to a good start by winning the Mizuno Tiger Classic on Sunday with a 3-2 win over St. Louis this past weekend at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge.
The Lady Tigers (3-0) also beat Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday and UNO on Friday. LSU’s Lauren DeGirolamo was named the tournament MVP, while teammates Marina Skender and Brittnee Cooper were named to the all-tournament team.
The Lady Tigers return to action on the road this weekend in the Mizuno Invitational II in Houston. The Tigers will take on Illinois on Friday at 10:30 a.m., before closing out the tournament on Saturday against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 11 a.m. and tournament host Rice at 5 p.m