Sports

Mississippi State focused on ending dubious 14-game losing streak vs. No. 8 LSU

LSU coach Les Miles, right, sings the school alma mater with his team after an NCAA college football game against Louisiana-Monroe in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014. LSU won 31-0. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

LSU coach Les Miles, right, sings the school alma mater with his team after an NCAA college football game against Louisiana-Monroe in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014. LSU won 31-0. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)  (The Associated Press)

Mississippi State has an ugly history against LSU during the past two decades.

The Bulldogs have lost 14 in a row in the series dating back to 1999 and 21 of 22 since the Southeastern Conference split into two divisions in 1992.

The dubious stretch has featured a few close losses and even more embarrassing blowouts. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen says none of them will be relevant when the Bulldogs (3-0) travel to face No. 8 LSU (3-0) on Saturday.

"All that matters is this week," Mullen said. "Every game that's ever been played there has no impact on this game. Every game that we've played against them has no impact on this game. Every game we'll play against them in the future has no impact on this game. It's all about this week, our focus and our execution."

A win against LSU wouldn't just end a lengthy losing streak. It would also help prove that Mullen's program can hang with the Western Division's best programs.

His six-year tenure at Mississippi State has been remarkably predictable: The Bulldogs almost always handle the teams they're supposed to beat and almost always lose to the SEC's elite. Mullen has a 1-16 combined record against Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M.

Ending the streak against LSU — especially during a night game in Death Valley — will be a difficult task. But even if that doesn't work out, there are more opportunities on the horizon. The Bulldogs host Texas A&M on Oct. 4 and Auburn on Oct. 11.

Mullen said looking ahead isn't productive.

"I can promise you whoever we are playing in the SEC West is a very good football team, regardless of ranking," Mullen said. "Right now our focus is on this game and this game only. If we win this game we are going to be where we want to be in the SEC race."

Mississippi State appears to have one of its best teams in recent memory and narrowly missed a spot in the national rankings this week. Quarterback Dak Prescott has thrown for 696 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions while also running for 273 yards and two touchdowns.

Josh Robinson's 288 rushing yards rank 5th in the SEC and the Bulldogs have the third-best rushing offense in the league. Preston Smith has been named the SEC's defensive lineman of the week three weeks in a row — a league record.

But the wins over South Alabama, Alabama-Birmingham and Southern Mississippi — along with the gaudy statistics — were expected considering the relatively easy schedule.

This weekend's game will be a much bigger test.

LSU coach Les Miles was surprised the Bulldogs aren't nationally ranked. Last year's game between the two teams in Starkville was tight going into the fourth quarter, but the Tigers pulled away for a 59-26 win.

"We're going to have to earn the victory (on Saturday), and we recognize that," Miles said.

Since falling behind Wisconsin 24-7 of the season opener, the Tigers have outscored their opponents 108 to 0. LSU has a 43-3 record in night games at Tiger Stadium under Miles.

"We have to execute for 60 minutes and maybe beyond that if we have to," Mullen said. "We have to execute every snap of the game to go win."

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