Mississippi State University football is on the road again Saturday as they head to Baton Rouge for their first Southeastern Conference matchup against Louisiana State University.

Mike Leach’s debut as the Bulldogs’ head coach came against the Tigers in 2020, when the Bulldogs took down the then-defending champions 44-34. However, this time around, Mississippi State is the team with high expectations heading into the SEC opener against the Tigers.

Leach is in his third year as head coach of Mississippi State, while Brian Kelly is only two games into his SEC coaching career. The third year of Leach’s Air Raid offense has led Mississippi State to a 2-0 record, while LSU is 1-1 under Kelly this season. 

Leach gave his thoughts on Kelly’s knowledge of the X’s and O’s at Monday’s presser.

“I’ve known him from a distance for a long time. I was in small college same time he was. I’ve always liked him. He takes the X’s and O’s seriously.  In this business, there’s a few sweater wearers. They just want to wear the sweater and point various directions. Just kind of a PR figure. He’s not that. He’s always been in the thick of it. Very knowledgeable X and O guy,” Leach said.

MSU has the opportunity to turn some heads on a national level if they defeat LSU in Death Valley. If the Bulldogs win in Baton Rouge Saturday, MSU could improve to 3-0 with a huge home stretch looming in when they face Bowling Green State University, Texas A&M University and the University of Arkansas.

In their two wins, the Bulldogs held opponents from scoring more than 24 points. However, they face a tough task this weekend with Arizona State transfer quarterback Jayden Daniels. Daniels presents a unique challenge for the pass rush with his ability to scramble and extend plays. The quarterback has 132 rushing yards this season, averaging 6.9 yards per attempt, and he has not turned the ball over this season.

The defense should be able to apply pressure on Daniels after playing against Arizona's Jayden De Laura, who has a similar style of play. However, Daniels’ lack of turnovers puts some extra pressure on Will Rogers and the MSU offense.

The Bulldogs' offense are tied with LSU for the second most points per game in the SEC. Rogers leads the SEC in passing yards and has been very efficient so far this season. He has looked comfortable in the pocket – with his targets surrounding him – and may have found his go-to wideout, Caleb Ducking.

Ducking is tied for second in receptions at the receiver position with Rara Thomas. Thomas has 15 more yards than Ducking, but Ducking has found the end zone more. Rogers showcased his trust in Ducking last week when the gunslinger continued to target Rogers after a drop that turned into an interception.

Rogers and Ducking look to continue their great connection this weekend in one of the toughest environments the SEC has to offer. The Bulldogs and Tigers kickoff Saturday at 5 p.m., and the game will be aired on ESPN.

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