STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Three weeks into the season, it's hard to find a college football team that looks more impressive than LSU.
The No. 3 Tigers finished off No. 25 Mississippi State 19-6 on Thursday night at Davis Wade Stadium, using its trademark running game and defense to slowly grind the Bulldogs into submission.
This time there was an added twist to LSU's domination - quarterback Jarrett Lee completed 21 of 27 passes for 213 yards and a crucial touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
``I think we did the things we needed to do to win,'' LSU coach Les Miles said. ``I think we throw the football better than we did and I think we have pieces of the offense that are not necessarily visible. At this point, we are kind of playing to the strengths of the defense.''
Lee's emergence makes it even harder to find any LSU (3-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) weaknesses.
The 6-foot-2, 206-pound senior is filling in for expected starter Jordan Jefferson, who was indefinitely suspended following his arrest after a bar fight in August. The Tigers haven't missed a beat - beating Oregon in a high-profile season opener before wins over Northwestern State and now Mississippi State.
Lee hasn't been spectacular, using mostly conservative, high-percentage throws to slowly take the Tigers downfield. But it's been the perfect complement to LSU's solid running game and lockdown defense.
Spencer Ware rushed for 107 yards on 22 carries against the Bulldogs. LSU's defense had 15 tackles for a loss, including four sacks, harassing Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf from the moment the game began.
The big plays came from all over the field. Defensive tackle Bennie Logan led the Tigers with 3 1/2 tackles for loss, but he was hardly the only star. Michael Brockers had three tackles for a loss while Kendrick Adams and Anthony Johnson each added two. Eight LSU defenders had at least one tackle for a loss.
The Bulldogs managed just 193 total yards.
Mississippi State (1-2, 0-2) had rushed for more than 300 yards in its first two games against Memphis and Auburn. Against LSU, the Bulldogs managed just 52. Running back Vick Ballard led the team with 38 yards on 10 carries, while Relf rushed for 10 yards on 16 carries.
Relf was benched for Tyler Russell late in the game, but the sophomore didn't have any success either.
``We knew they had a power running offense,'' LSU safety Eric Reid said. ``We knew they wanted to come out and pound the ball and grind it out and wear us down. We were ready for anything.''
The loss continues a string of frustration for Mississippi State against the SEC Western Division. The Bulldogs have a 2-10 record against the West - and both of those wins have come against rival Ole Miss. Mississippi State has lost 12 straight games to LSU, dating back to 1999.
The Bulldogs' offensive line, which was playing without injured starters James Carmon, Tobias Smith and Quentin Saulsberry for most of the game, struggled to keep LSU out of backfield.
Earlier in the week, Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen had joked that LSU had enough talent to ``win the NFC East.'' His opinion hadn't changed after the game, stating that the Bulldogs had ``just played the best team in the nation.''
It's hard to argue with him. Miles stayed away from the hyperbole, but it's obvious he likes his team. Lee's emergence is just another reason to feel confident.
``We're not playing perfect - there are a number of things we have to do in terms of assignments,'' Miles said. ``But effort, intensity and style of play - we're getting there.''