Despite the offense's best efforts, the still-porous defense allowed MSU to stay only at arm's length away. Always sticking within a one-score deficit, an already weary LSU fan base couldn't help but feel nervous after the Tigers' heartbreaking defeat last week against Georgia.
That all changed late in the third quarter though. The LSU defense bent, but did not break and the Tigers scored 31 unanswered points to eventually pull away and seal a 59-26 victory.
"We weren't perfect in any way," said LSU coach Les Miles. "We're a young team that's coming. We'll certainly build on this. We'll see this film and enjoy it."
After the LSU defense allowed 274 yards in the first half, MSU took possession to open the third quarter and marched it 65 yards on five plays. But the Tigers eventually stiffened up forcing a field goal.
LSU answered with a three-pointer of its own on the next possession, making it 31-26.
MSU took over and again seemed to run through the LSU defense unimpeded. The Bulldogs gained 47 yards on five plays to get to the Tigers' 39-yard line. But the defense came up with another stop, forcing a missed field goal attempt.
LSU surrendered 112 yards on those two third-quarter drives, but MSU came away with only three points.
"We came out slow, but we went into halftime and said, ‘This stops here," said Anthony Johnson, who had a sack and five tackles Saturday. "We came out, played our tails off and had a great game."
With an opportunity to finally pull away, Zach Mettenberger and company took advantage of the opportunity, launching a five-play, 75-yard touchdown drive.
On that possession, Mettenberger, who finished with 340 yards passing, completed a pair of passes to Odell Beckham for 48 yards, including the 33-yard touchdown pass. That combination proved to be a deadly weapon for LSU, as it has all season. Beckham finished with 179 receiving yards on nine receptions and a pair of scores.
But don't forget about Jarvis Landry, who reeled in eight catches for 96 yards, and Jeremy Hill, who racked up 157 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Add all that together and you get LSU's sixth consecutive 400-plus yard game to open the season, the only time that's ever happened in school history. The Tigers actually finished with 563 yards of offense, the most against a SEC opponent since 2004.
"Anytime you have balance in an offense, they're not comfortable," Miles said. "When they're indecisive, we have an opportunity to take advantage of it. We like to run. We like to pass."
Despite all that offense, LSU only had a 12-point lead after that 33-yard strike to Beckham with 14:50 left in the game. The defense needed to come through one last time to really secure the victory, and that's exactly what the Tigers did.
LSU brought pressure and forced MSU QB Dak Prescott to overthrow his receiver, finding freshman CB Tre'Davious White, who reeled in his first career interception. White returned it to the MSU five-yard line, setting up a Hill touchdown.
It was all Tigers from then out as Alfred Blue would eventually score his first touchdown of the season, making it 52-26 late in the game. The Tigers capitalized on one last MSU turnover, resulting in a Kenny Hilliard touchdown, his third of the game.
Despite the lopsided score, the players and coaches did acknowledge it wasn't a complete effort. The offensive line surrendered three sacks and another three quarterback hurries. Though the defense finished strong, it did struggle early in the game with several new faces appearing in the starting lineup and rotation.
So LSU will look to build off this victory as the Tigers return home to face Florida next week.
"It was a team effort," Miles said. "We'll improve, and we look forward to our next opponent in Tiger Stadium."
To discuss LSU's 59-26 victory against Mississippi State, head to the Game Thread on the TSD Message Board.
Game Thread: LSU vs. Mississippi State