Editor's note: This article is part of the Clarion Ledger’s summer series addressing questions surrounding the Mississippi State and Ole Miss football programs. Today, we take a look at the most important game this season. Here's our answer from the Mississippi State perspective.
There are 12 games in every college football season, and with the nature of the game in this era, it can be argued that every one of them is just as vital as the others.
That said, certain games on the schedule end up looking larger than others in the grand scheme of things.
Take 2018 for example. Mississippi State lost, 13-6, to Florida on home turf. It was a game the Dawgs could've won had they made some plays here and there, the difference between a 9-3 regular season versus 8-4. It's one they'd definitely like to have back.
This year, the key game will be the Oct. 19 matchup against LSU. The Tigers will likely be favored when they roll into Davis Wade Stadium, but the Bulldogs should have what it takes to keep the game competitive and even come out with an upset victory.
Mississippi State lost by 16 points to LSU last year, but the game was much closer than the final score of 19-3 indicated. The Tigers scored their lone touchdown after a Nick Fitzgerald pass was intercepted and returned to the 3-yard line. Otherwise, all LSU could muster thereafter were four field goals.
The home team has won each of the last three games in the series. Mississippi State won 37-7 two years ago in Starkville. If head coach Joe Moorhead's offense has taken serious strides from one year to the next, State has more than a decent shot at holding serve at home this year.
If the Dawgs do beat LSU, it sets them up nicely for the back half of the schedule. Moorhead and company do not want to head to Kyle Field in College Station, Texas, coming off a loss to LSU. Back-to-back losses in late October could derail whatever progress the team had made to that point.
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The start of the season is favorable for Mississippi State. Following the season opener against the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the Bulldogs have three home games in a row against Southern Miss, Kansas State and Kentucky — all games State is likely to be the favorite.
The LSU game comes after back-to-back weeks on the road against Auburn and Tennessee. If State loses either or both of those, then the LSU game serves as a monumental bounce-back opportunity. If the Bulldogs come back home after a pair of wins, then LSU is a chance for the Bulldogs to stay near the top of the SEC West standings.
Either way, Davis Wade Stadium should be packed and loud when the Tigers come to town. It's the most important game Mississippi State has on its 2019 schedule.
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Contact Tyler Horka at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @tbhorka on Twitter. To read more of Tyler's work, subscribe to the Clarion Ledger today!