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LSU vs. Mississippi State: From Death Valley to Stark Vegas

Tiger Stadium "Death Valley"-Louisiana State University
"LSU Tiger Stadium" by danielfoster437 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. via Flickr

The rivalry between the LSU Tigers and Mississippi State Bulldogs first came into existence before the turn of the 20th century, when the two teams first met in 1896. It is LSU’s biggest rivalry at a whopping 116 meetings.

LSU holds a 74-36-3 record over the Bulldogs. And of course, there have been some notable games between these storied programs over the years. Here are just a few:

1982: Miss. State 27 – LSU 24

LSU was coached by Tigers legend Jerry Stovall, who was the Heisman runner-up to Terry Baker in 1962 and the SEC Player of the Year. The ’82 Tigers rolled into Starkville undefeated, coming off a 20-10 win over Bear Bryant and Alabama on the road the week prior.

The LSU offense was led by Alan Risher at quarterback, running backs Dalton Hilliard and Garry James (known as the “Dalton and James Gang”), and WR Eric Martin. On defense, the Tigers were led by DL Ramsey Dardar, DL Rydell Melancon, DL Leonard Marshall, LB Albert Richardson, and a talented secondary with James Britt, Jeffrey Dale, Eugene Daniel, and Liffort Hobley.

On that Tigers coaching staff was current North Carolina head coach Mack Brown calling plays on offense and the venerable Pete Jenkins coordinating the defense.

The Bulldogs of Mississippi State were coached by Emory Bellard. Running the Bulldogs offense was veteran QB John Bond and RB Michael Haddix led the rushing attack. But it was a kicker from Baton Rouge who would get the win for the Bulldogs.

This game was a back-and-forth affair all night long. The game was tied 14-14 at halftime and was tied again at 17 all at the start of the 4th quarter.

Mississippi State Kicker Dana Moore (out of Belaire High School in Baton Rouge) had not been recruited by his hometown Tigers. Moore missed one kick earlier that would have put the Bulldogs in the lead. But Moore would get another chance, with the game on the line and only seconds left on the game clock. With the score tied at 24-24, Moore booted a 45-yarder through the uprights to snatch victory from the jaws of the Tigers.

LSU finished 8-3-1 on the season and earned a berth in the Orange Bowl. Mississippi State finished 5-6.

1986: LSU 47 – Mississippi State 0

The ’86 version of the Tigers were coached by Bill Arnsparger. The offense was led on the field by freshman QB Tommy Hodson, one of the greatest to ever suit up for the Tigers, running back Harvey Williams, and wide receivers Wendell Davis and Tony Moss. The defense was led by DL Roland Barbay, LB Michael Brooks, LB Toby Caston, LB Eric Hill, DL Karl Wilson, LB Ron Sancho, DB Norman Jefferson, DB Greg Jackson, and S Chris Carrier.

The 1986 Mississippi State team, coached by Bulldogs legend Rocky Felker, had upset #8 Tennessee earlier in the season. But the loss to LSU was part of a 4-game losing streak to end the ’86 season on a sour note as the Bulldogs finished 6-5.

Hodson went on to lead the Tigers to the SEC Championship and was named 1st Team All-SEC, and SEC Freshman of the Year that season.

1991: Mississippi State 28 – LSU 19

The 1991 LSU team was coached by Curley Hallman, the worst coaching hire in LSU football history.

Mississippi State was coached by Jackie Sherrill in his first season in Starkville. The Bulldogs had a bye week prior to the LSU game. Sherrill knew that the LSU rushing defense allowed opponents 200 yards per game on the ground. So, what did Sherrill do? He changed his entire offensive scheme and installed that old tried and true offensive scheme from the 1970s -1980s called the Wishbone.

In Death Valley, the Bulldogs feared no evil as QB Sleepy Robinson, RB Kenny Roberts, and RB Karl Williamson combined for 205 yards rushing to lead Mississippi State to victory. Against the Bulldogs, LSU WR Todd Kinchen gained 248 yards receiving in a losing effort. LSU finished the 1991 season with a 5-6 record.

2014: Mississippi State 34 – LSU 29

The Bulldogs came into Baton Rouge led by QB Dak Prescott, a native of Haughton, LA. Prescott had been recruited by LSU…as a tight end. Against LSU, he threw for 268 yards and two TDs and rushed for 105 yards and a score.

RB Josh Robinson added 197 yards on the ground for Mississippi State as they ended a streak of 14 consecutive wins by the Tigers in the rivalry. LSU scored three touchdowns later in the game, but it was not enough. The Bulldogs finished the season 10-3. LSU finished at 8-5.

2016: LSU 23 – Mississippi State 20

This would be the final home game for LSU head coach Les Miles.

LSU took a 23-3 lead into halftime, but the Tigers were outscored 17-0 in the second half. Danny Etling passed for 215 yards and a score. RB Leonard Fournette rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers held off the Bulldogs in the end. The following week, Miles was fired after a five-point loss to Auburn on the road.

2022: LSU 31 – Mississippi State 16

LSU mounted a spirited comeback after being down 13-7 at halftime. The Tigers outscored Mississippi State 24-3 in the second half to earn the victory. They executed a balanced offense in the game: 207 rushing yards, and 210 passing yards. LSU QB Jayden Daniels passed for 210 yards and a touchdown. In addition, he added 93 yards rushing and another score. LSU held the Bulldogs to 289 total yards for the game.

On defense, Tigers DB Jay Ward recorded 11 tackles and an INT.

2023: LSU at Mississippi State

The LSU Tigers are 9-1/2 point favorites on Saturday.


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