Tigers in Starkville since 1999. MSU reversed those fortunes with one of its most dominant performances in recent memory.
Funny thing was, it wasn't that big of a shock to the Bulldogs themselves.
“Anyone inside that football facility this entire week, they would have never told you this would be called an upset,” Fitzgerald said. “We knew we were going to be able to come out and play with them. We knew we could win if we played our game. We had no doubt in our mind we were going to win this football game.”
While MSU players and staff might not have been surprised, plenty of onlookers were. Victories in this series, particularly lopsided ones in Mississippi State's favor, have been few and far between.
In fact, never before had one been seen like this. The 30-point win for the Bulldogs was their largest margin of victory ever over the Tigers. The previous high was a 25-point, 25-0 win in Baton Rouge back in 1954.
On Saturday, 63 years later, Mississippi State was having its way against LSU all over again.
It all started shortly after kickoff as the Bulldogs began asserting their dominance on the offensive and defensive lines. Though the game was scoreless after a quarter, MSU was sending signs it was in control.
The Bulldogs finally cashed in early in the second quarter. Fitzgerald capped an eight-play, 65-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead.
Though LSU answered right back with a touchdown drive of its own to tie the game, the Bulldogs wouldn't be deterred on this night.
Jace Christmann, who MSU head coach Dan Mullen made his kicker after what Mullen dubbed a great week of practice, hit a 30-yard field goal with 5:04 left in the first half. Fitzgerald had another 3-yard touchdown run just before the intermission. Just like that, State was up 17-7.
The Bulldogs poured on after the break.
Christmann added his second field goal, a 45-yarder, on State's first drive of the third quarter to push MSU's lead to 20-7. Then, 5 minutes later, the Bulldogs delivered what was seemingly the knockout blow.
On a third-down-andone play from the LSU 45yard line, Fitzgerald faked a handoff before hitting a wide-open Keith Mixon for a score. Mixon had nothing but green grass around him as he caught the football and trotted into the end zone.
“It was a great play call by coach Mullen,” Mixon said. “We had been pounding it and pounding it. I knew it was going to be wide open because the safeties were coming down hard.
“I was just trying not to drop the pass I was so wide open.”
Davis Wade Stadium erupted with Mixon's score. The writing looked to be on the wall that a Bulldog win was imminent.
MSU put the game away with another Christmann field goal, this one a 27-yarder late in the third quarter, before Fitzgerald hit Deddrick Thomas on a 20yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter for the icing on the cake.
Fitzgerald finished with an excellent night statistically. He threw for 180 yards and two touchdowns and was 15-of-23 through the air. Fitzgerald also ran for 88 yards and two scores.
Aeris Williams was State's biggest rushing threat. He carried the ball 23 times for 146 yards.
Mixon led all MSU receivers with six catches for 97 yards and a score.
“I thought (the offense) did an excellent job,” Mullen said. “I thought they came out at a pretty high level. (LSU) had great talent on the defensive line. We wanted to make sure we stayed balanced
so execution – being able to run the ball, running the ball on second down and not making it a pass rush, haveto-throw-it game was huge for us.”
While State racked up yardage and points offensively, MSU defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's unit put up its third-straight fantastic performance to open the season. The Bulldogs limited LSU to just 270 total yards. LSU converted on just three of its 13 third-downs.
“(LSU) has skilled players on the outside and I think on our back end, we did a great job of avoiding the big play,” Mullen said. “(LSU is) a run, play-action team and they ran the football with some physicality, but us getting the lead got them out of their game plan.”
With State's offense clicking and its defense dominant, the recipe was in place to cook up a big-time win of historic proportions.
There are more big games to come for MSU starting with next week's tilt at Georgia. That's next week though. In the here and now, the Bulldogs are living large after taming the Tigers.
“It's amazing,” Mixon said. “I'm pretty sure everybody had us down to lose with LSU so highly ranked. We were the underdog.
“This was a great win.”