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LSU cornerback Cordale Flott (25) and running back Corey Kiner (21) celebrate the Tigers' 28-25 win over Mississippi State at Davis Wade Stadium on Saturday Sept. 25, 2021, in Starkville, Miss.

1. WHAT WE LEARNED

Like in the NFL, a win is a win in the Southeastern Conference, so LSU’s 28-25 victory Saturday at Mississippi State can hardly be discounted. But the highlights — improved defense, big-play offense — were offset by the Tigers nearly squandering an 18-point lead in the final 11 minutes that could have been a crippling blow to Ed Orgeron’s coaching tenure. LSU got a victory worth celebrating, but is it equipped to handle bigger challenges ahead?

2. TRENDING NOW

Despite being without All-American cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., the Tigers’ bend-but-don’t-break-too-much defense did enough to prevail. LSU did have to resort to a junk defense, a 3-2-6, to do just enough to neutralize Mississippi State’s "Air Raid" offense that still got its yards, 486 of them. Under the circumstances, and against the backdrop of last year’s embarrassing loss to the Bulldogs, it counts as a step forward under defensive coordinator Daronte Jones. Barely.

3. FINAL THOUGHTS

As Dennis Green might have said, the Tigers are the team we thought they were before the Mississippi State game. Fabulously talented, perhaps fatally flawed, and still a mystery to try to handicap. With a mostly one-dimensional offense getting little push from its offensive line, the Tigers have their troubles. That said, it looks like every remaining game is winnable except for Alabama, and every game is losable except for Louisiana-Monroe. What a wild ride.

Email Scott Rabalais at srabalais@theadvocate.com