Jack Bech

Illustration by Tanya Ramirez

LSU at MISSISSIPPI STATE

WHEN: 11 a.m. Saturday

WHERE: Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, Miss.

TV: ESPN

LINE: LSU by 2½

So let's say Ed Orgeron and his LSU football team go into Starkville, Mississippi, at 11 a.m. Saturday and leave with a win. How, suddenly, do the Tigers look?

They'd be 3-1, heading into a night game against Auburn in Tiger Stadium. Sounds like a pretty strong matchup.

But what happens if if goes the other way? Let's say Orgeron and LSU leave Starkville with another loss at the hands of Mike Leach. How, suddenly, do the Tigers look?

As our own Scott Rabalais puts it: The knives will be out. The boo birds will be out. And Orgeron’s seat, already warm, will be scalding.

So, yes, it's a pretty big game. It is perhaps Orgeron's most important game since that night in the Superdome nearly two years ago, when LSU claimed the national championship.

The stakes are high. So let's take a look at all the angles.

COVER STORY:

Jack Bech wasn’t the headliner in LSU’s 2021 signing class, but his role steadily increased over the Tigers’ first three games. After Bech’s breakout performance last week against Central Michigan, he spoke confidently about his position and LSU’s outlook this season. Then, in the midst of his answers, Bech stopped to recognize the three people he honored on his eye black: Judson Voorhies, Garrison Gautreaux and Kathryn Howard. Our Wilson Alexander tells the story of the three people whose memory Bech honors. “This is my motivation right here,” Bech said. “This is who I do it for.”

NEWS ON JOHN EMERY JR. AND DEREK STINGLEY JR.:

Wilson also filed stories about two key players who will likely miss the Tigers’ game at 11 a.m. Saturday in Starkville, Mississippi: superstar cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., who is “very questionable,” and tailback John Emery Jr., who is still working to regain his eligibility.

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SCOTT RABALAIS:

It’s all very simple: Ed Orgeron faces his most important test since the Clemson game as he takes his Tigers into Saturday morning’s game at Mississippi State. It's a game that may prove pivotal to his future as LSU’s coach.

PREDICTIONS:

You want staff predictions on LSU-Mississippi State? Of course you do. Wilson Alexander, Scott Rabalais, Sheldon Mickles and Zach Ewing take their swings.

INSIDE THE BETTING LINE:

At Caesars Sportsbook, LSU opened as a 3½-point road favorite, but that number dropped to 2½ and has held there for much of the week. Zach Ewing explores this, plus the over/under and LSU’s (falling) odds at winning the SEC championship.

SEC RANKINGS, FROM Nos. 1-14:

You can probably guess No. 1. And you can probably guess No. 14. What about the rest of ’em, including LSU? Our Sheldon Mickles sizes up takes stock of the toughest conference

FOUR KEYS TO VICTORY:

How does LSU avoid a second straight embarrassing loss to Mississippi State? Keys include fixing problems on defense, avoiding coverage busts and finding a way to handle key absences. Wilson Alexander has more.

MISSISSIPPI STATE’S TOP PLAYERS:

Some key roles have changed from last year, when Mississippi State stunned LSU in the season opener. Insight on quarterback Will Rogers, wide receiver Makai Polk and cornerback Emmanuel Forbes.

BEST TV GAMES OF THE DAY:

You don’t need another excuse to enjoy a Saturday full of good matchups. You just need a guide. Sheldon Mickles walks you through the best matchups, including Wisconsin-Notre Dame and Texas A&M-Arkansas.

Happy Saturday. Let's do this.

Email Perryn Keys at pkeys@theadvocate.com.​