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4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET11:00 PM GMT7:00 AM 北京时间4:00 PM MST6:00 PM EST, Sep. 16, 2017
Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field, Starkville, Mississippi  Attendance: 60,596

No. 12 LSU, Mississippi State bracing for physical SEC opener

LSU Tigers at Mississippi State Bulldogs

  1. LSU has won its last eight road games in this series, Mississippi State last beating the Tigers in Starkville back on October 23, 1999. The Tigers have also won 12 of their last 13 overall games versus the Bulldogs, including a 23-20 home victory last season.
  2. LSU has allowed 10 or fewer points in seven games since the start of last season, including in both of its contests in 2017. Those seven games are tied for fourth most in the FBS.
  3. DJ Chark had three receptions for a career-high 103 yards against Chattanooga last week. The senior has a career average of 19.9 yards per catch (25.7 in 2017), which is third highest among active FBS players with 30+ career receptions.
  4. Mississippi State has outscored its opponents 106-21 this season. The 106 points are the second most the Bulldogs have scored in their first two games of any season (131 pts in 1914) while the 21 points allowed are their fewest since giving up 19 in their first two games in 2012.
  5. Since the start of last season, Nick Fitzgerald has accounted for 19 of Mississippi State's 30 total rushing touchdowns (63.3%). That percentage is fifth highest among all active FBS players. Fitzgerald had five total TDs (3 pass, 2 rush) in last week's win over Louisiana Tech.

No. 12 LSU and Mississippi State have compiled similar resumes on the way to their head-to-head match-up in the SEC opener Saturday night in Starkville, Miss.

Both teams are 2-0 after lopsided victories against non-conference opponents, using balanced, productive offenses and stifling defenses.

The Tigers beat BYU and Chattanooga by a combined score of 72-10; the Bulldogs beat Charleston Southern and Louisiana Tech by a combined score of 110-21.

Now comes the real thing.

"Seems like we're getting into the season now," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. "It's cranking up."

Both teams know this game represents a significantly stronger challenge than either has faced so far.

"Once you get into conference play, things are going to ramp up," Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald said.

"If anyone needs any outside motivation other than we're playing an SEC team, they probably shouldn't be playing. This is what we're here for; this is why we came to school here. This is the conference we play in, for which we're really excited and really ready to go."

LSU has won the last two meetings. Each of the past three meetings have been decided by five or fewer points in the final two minutes.

"Obviously this is going to take 60 minutes from all three phases," Orgeron said. "Look at Mississippi State the last two years, we get up on them, they get behind, they come back, they almost tie the game. It's going to be a battle."

Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen said the Tigers' offense presents a third different scheme in as many games.

"We go from the wishbone to a team we had to prepare for a real up-tempo offense," he said. "We've got a week to practice, adjusting and getting lined up to all the different shifts and motions that (the Tigers) do and being ready to go when the ball is snapped.

"(LSU) is built on running the football, and obviously they've got some fantastic running backs and a good offensive line. It starts with the run game for them. You know they're going to do a great job of scheming you to try to gain the numbers advantage and be able to run the football. They set up the pass game off the run."

The Tigers' Derrius Guice has had more than 100 yards rushing in each of the first two games, making things relatively easy for quarterback Danny Etling.

Mississippi State leads the SEC in scoring (53 points per game) and is averaging 507 yards per game.

"We're physical; they're more physical," Orgeron said. "(Running between the tackles) is where they're really good, especially with (Fitzgerald)."

LSU could be without its best interior defensive linemen in Rashard Lawrence, who missed last week's game because of an ankle injury, but he practiced in full pads Tuesday.

"We may have to move some guys around," Orgeron said.

But the Tigers' defense received a boost when outside linebacker Arden Key was cleared for contact this week for the first time since undergoing offseason shoulder surgery.

"We'll play him as much as we can," Orgeron said.

Orgeron said LSU had targeted this game for Key's return; Mullen said he assumed as much.

"He's probably one of the most dominant players in our league," Mullen said.

"It's a mismatch. He has the speed and physicality to be a run stopper, but he's extremely disruptive as a pass rusher and can change the game. When you scheme up plays, you've got to really pay attention to him. He can make things happen all by himself."

Meanwhile, LSU's offensive line will have to contend with State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, who was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week after last week's game in which he blocked a PAT, blocked a punt and recovered the football for a touchdown, and returned a fumble 90 yards for another touchdown.

"He's really getting there," Mullen said. "I've really seen him take up the game and try to be a much better fundamental player. He's a gifted athlete, and you can see that in some of the special plays he makes."

And for the first time this season, these teams will have to contend with SEC talent on the other side.

Updated September 12, 2017

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