LSU has some reason to be wary heading into the road trip to Starkville, especially after a difficult and emotional loss to Georgia last week. But the Tigers should be able to escape with a win over Mississippi State, crucially avoiding a second conference loss in the process. With games against SEC West powers still to come, they don't need a hiccup now.
Mississippi State has a pair of romps over cupcakes to go along with losses to Oklahoma State and Auburn, which makes it difficult to know just what to make of the Bulldogs at this point. The offense has been solid, averaging better than six yards per play in three of four games, but the defense has been uninspiring against the power-conference teams it has faced.
LSU hasn't scored fewer than 35 points in a game this season, so the Bulldogs need to clean up their problems in a hurry.
Rankings and records: LSU is 4-1 (1-1), ranked No. 10 in the AP Poll and No. 11 in the Coaches Poll. Unranked Mississippi State is 2-2 (0-1). LSU is 68-35-3 against Mississippi State all-time.
Vegas: LSU opened as a 9.5-point favorite, and the over/under opened at 53.5.
Weather: The high is expected to reach 84, and there's a good chance of rain.
Three names to know
Zach Mettenberger -- Mettenberger is off to a fantastic start and ranks in the top 10 nationally in both yards per attempt and passer rating. He threw for 372 yards against Georgia, and is averaging a 64.1 percent completion rate. He's also connected on 13 touchdown passes against just one interception.
Jarvis Landry -- Landry has been a major beneficiary of Mettenberger's big year -- he already has 520 yards receiving. He finished last season with 573 yards.
Odell Beckham Jr. -- Beckham will easily surpass his receiving yardage total from a year ago. The pass distribution among LSU receivers is interesting -- Landry and Beckham are pretty much the only guys Mettenberger targets. They have 60 receptions between them, while no one else on the team has more than four catches.
Two things at stake
As mentioned at the top, LSU can ill afford a second conference loss. Not with Florida, Alabama and Texas A&M still to come. (As well as a treacherous road game at Ole Miss.) Conference title and BCS aspirations could die with a loss to MSU, and at minimum, the odds of a division title would decrease dramatically.
Mississippi State needs some positive vibes heading into the back end of its schedule, and there's no better way to get that ball rolling than by upsetting the Tigers. The Bulldogs get Bowling Green and Kentucky at home after this one, and they'll need every win they can get before the South Carolina-A&M-Alabama gauntlet that awaits them in November.
How to witness
TV: 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Online streaming: WatchESPN. XFINITY customers can stream online here.