Football

5 thoughts on Mississippi State’s thrilling upset of No. 6 LSU Tigers

Photos: Mississippi State Athletics

Mississippi State’s ceiling is pretty high

Even with the Bulldogs playing sloppy football, this is a game in which the Mississippi State football team appeared to be the better team. 17 of LSU’s 34 points came off of turnovers. 7 of those 17 points came thanks to a sloppily thrown ball that was picked off and returned for a touchdown.

If Mississippi State can clean up those turnovers, the seven penalties the Bulldogs committed, and the center-quarterback exchange issues that plagued MSU in the first half, there’s a chance this team could be something special.

But that’s a pretty big caveat.

I still have no clue how good this team is, there’s a very good chance LSU has collapsed after losing all of the talent it had a season ago, but man does the Mississippi State football team look really, really good after this win.

The Bulldogs will still need to prove themselves and play consistent football, but I’m not as skeptical about this team potentially being a good team now as I was before Saturday afternoon. This team’s ceiling is very, very high. Hopefully State can continue to play up to that level throughout this year.

If Mike Leach’s offense can work in Death Valley, it can theoretically work anywhere

Look, if the Mississippi State Bulldogs were able to throw for more than 600 yards on LSU in Death Valley, there’s a chance the Mississippi State Bulldogs can throw the ball for a ridiculous amount of yards on anyone.

Heck, the Bulldogs leaned all the way into Leach’s scheme, running the ball just 16 times and throwing it 60 times. There was no adjustment period from MSU’s old scheme to its current one. Mississippi State relied fully on passing the ball for success, and it worked.

Costello completed 36 of his 60 attempts for a 60% completion rate, an SEC record of 623 passing yards, and 5 passing touchdowns. He also tossed a couple of picks, including a pick six, but he thrived on the road against LSU.

MSU gained 8.3 yards per play, Costello got 17.3 yards per completion, and the Bulldogs got a dominant win.

MSU’s defense appeared to be far better than I expected

I was absolutely blown away by the performance the Mississippi State defense had against the LSU Tigers. Statistically, MSU’s performance wasn’t great. The Bulldogs were gashed for 425 yards, 345 of which came via Myles Brennan passing. LSU had 25 first downs, ran 84 plays, and gained 5.4 yards per play.

But this comes as Mississippi State, in an abbreviated and hectic offseason, abandoned more conventional defenses for the 3-3-5, a considerably different system than what MSU had run before.

State picked off Brennan twice, sacked him seven times (THAT’S A LOT OF TIMES), and routinely disrupted what the Tigers wanted to do on offense. I’ll take that any day of the week to go along with an offense that is scoring 44 points on the defending national champs.

This game should help out in recruiting

I don’t know what goes through the head of a high school football player, I’ve never been one. But, I have to imagine that if I were a high school football player in Mississippi or any of the states bordering Mississippi, I’d be really interested in what Mike Leach was building in Starkville.

This is especially true for anyone playing offense, except for maybe running backs or full backs who aren’t great at catching. In his first game as a head coach in the SEC, Mike Leach and his innovative offense took the conference by storm. In his first game as a quarterback in the SEC, K.J. Costello scribbled his name in the record books and almost certainly launched himself into Heisman consideration.

To top it all off, the Bulldogs bowled right over the defending national champs in the process. If I was a high school athlete, I’d be very interested in playing for a guy who can accomplish that in an abbreviated offseason in his first game in the SEC.

I’m excited about the future of this football program again

There’s no doubt that the end of the Joe Moorhead era ended very, very poorly. The Bulldogs were a disjointed mess and Mississippi State had a hard time playing a game that wasn’t plagued with penalties or turnovers or any other sort of nonsense.

When Dan Mullen left, the program was trending up, but State’s star quarterback was injured and Mullen was taking essentially all of his coaching staff with him to Gainesville, leaving very few pieces remaining in place to continue on with what he had built.

As the Bulldogs announced the hiring of Mike Leach, I was ecstatic, but admittedly unsure of how quickly MSU would be able to succeed given the drastic changes that were about to take place. All of those concerns are gone.

Is Mississippi State going to contend for a national title this season, or next season? Probably not. Is Mississippi State in a better place now than when Moorhead or even Mullen left it? Probably. If State can hold on to Leach for a while, the Bulldogs have a very good chance at building something that can be successful for a very long time.

For more independent Mississippi State news and commentary, follow The Underdog Tribune on Facebook and Twitter. Follow Ethan Lee on Facebook and Twitter.

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