No. 20 LSU hosts Mississippi State in Death Valley on Saturday, as both teams move forward after a checkered first couple of weeks. Both lost in Week 1, and LSU's got particular uncertainty to sort out going forward.
The Tigers lost their opener against Wisconsin at Lambeau Field, and they started slowly last weekend against FCS Jacksonville State. Quarterback Brandon Harris was terrible through one game and change, and Les Miles benched him for Purdue transfer Danny Etling mid-game. Etling's got some talent, but Harris has more, and it's not a great outcome for LSU that it still doesn't have an obvious answer under center.
Mississippi State suffered a Week 1 indignity, losing on a clanked field goal against South Alabama. Five-star freshman defensive end Jeffery Simmons was suspended only for that game after a video surfaced of him hitting a woman, and the Bulldogs went ahead and lost it anyway. They rebounded last week against South Carolina, 27-14.
Now, someone's going to get a nice win, and someone's going to seem sort of in shambles.
How to watch, stream and listen
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN. The broadcasters are Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham and Jerry Punch.
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Spread: LSU opened as a 14-point favorite.
Three big things to know
1. LSU's got a mess at quarterback right now. Harris is more talented than Etling, and Harris being good would give LSU more options on offense than the Tigers could otherwise have under any plausible circumstance. My view is that LSU should hope Harris pushes to take back his starting job. Will that happen this week? Who knows.
2. LSU doesn't technically need to win, believe it or not. Sure, it stretches the imagination. But LSU could lose this week, fall to 1-2 and still make the College Football Playoff. The Tigers would surely need to run the table through the rest of SEC play, including a win against Alabama and in the conference championship. (Those are things they'd need anyway, in all likelihood.) But the SEC champ is going to make the Playoff, so it wouldn't be impossible. It'd just be almost impossible.
3. Mississippi State needs to get a win back. The South Alabama loss threw MSU's year into peril. This was always going to be a bit of a transition, with Dak Prescott now in the NFL and a couple of SEC heavyweights apparently peaking around the Bulldogs. But losing that Sun Belt opener means 6-6 or 7-5 is going to be a game worse, unless they can find an upset somewhere. This is as good a chance as any.