A few short weeks ago both the LSU Tigers and Mississippi State Bulldogs each thought they had a shot at playing in the SEC title game.
Unfortunately, both are now essentially out of contention. But while Saturday night's game between the Bayou Bengals and the 'Dogs down in Baton Rouge (7 pm ET, ESPN) may not be as important as it could have been, it still matches a couple of bowl-bound border rivals.
As of Saturday, most college football betting outlets tracked by OddsShark.com had the Tigers as -16-point favorites for Saturday's game.
LSU has beaten MSU 12 times in a row. Last year the game was tied at 6-6 late in the third quarter before the Tigers tallied the last 13 points for a 19-6 victory in Starkville.
LSU started 5-0 this season, beating nobody of note, then lost at Florida, 14-6. The Tigers then rebounded to beat two ranked teams, South Carolina, 23-21, and Texas A&M, 24-19.
Last week LSU rallied from down 14-3 in the third quarter vs. No. 1 Alabama to take a 17-14 lead, but allowed the Tide to drive 70 yards down the field and score the winning touchdown with just under a minute to go in a 21-17 defeat.
On the bright side the Tigers got their best game ever out of junior QB Zach Mettenberger last Saturday, as he went 24-for-35 passing for 298 yards and zero interceptions against probably the best defense in the country.
Mississippi State, meanwhile, started this season by winning its first seven games. But in reality that was a pretty soft first seven games, considering Tennessee was probably the toughest foe over that span.
Two weeks ago the Bulldogs went to Tuscaloosa and took their first loss of the season, by a score of 38-7, and last week the 'Dogs lost at home to Texas A&M 38-13. So it's kind of hard to tell just how good (or bad) MSU really is.
Statistically speaking the Bulldogs have been outrushed their last two games by a combined 540 yards to 145.
Meanwhile LSU has outrushed foes this season by a 201-104 YPG margin.
Free Pick: The Bulldogs did most of their damage this season against a weak schedule. The Tigers, despite their faults, are no Middle Tennessee. So we'll give the points and go with LSU.