An important SEC West battle awaits Saturday night when No. 22 Mississippi State visits No. 5 LSU at 7 p.m. ET. Both clubs hope to avoid a letdown following perhaps their biggest wins of the season and need another victory in order to stay alive in the SEC race.

LSU is coming off a dominant performance in a 36-16 win over Georgia as a touchdown home underdog, while Mississippi State returns from a bye week hoping to build on its 23-9 upset of Auburn two weeks ago. The Tigers are 6.5-point sportsbook favorites and the over-under for total points scored is 45 in the latest LSU vs. Mississippi State odds. Before you make any LSU vs. Mississippi State picks, check out what SportsLine senior analyst Josh Nagel has to say.

A Nevada-based expert with 20 years of experience in the sports wagering industry, Nagel specializes in handicapping college athletics. He's having another solid season in college football, hitting on 60 percent of his spread picks for SportsLine members. What's more, he has had a keen eye for the tendencies of the Bulldogs, with a 4-0 record on picks involving their games over the past two seasons.

Last year in this same matchup, Nagel advised SportsLine members that the Bulldogs would be a live home underdog in a potential letdown spot for LSU. The result: Mississippi State rolled to a 37-7 upset, and anyone who followed Nagel's advice booked an easy winner.

Now, Nagel has scrutinized LSU vs. Mississippi State from every possible angle to reveal a strong point-spread pick that he's sharing only at SportsLine.

Nagel knows LSU will be eager to avenge last year's loss to the Bulldogs and take advantage of one of the most difficult environments in the country for visiting teams. Last week, the Tigers held Georgia's powerful offense to 322 total yards while forcing four turnovers. Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm had perhaps the worst start of his college career, going 16-of-34 for 209 yards.

On the offensive side, the Tigers dominated time of possession and moved the ball consistently behind a balanced attack that featured a power run game. They racked up 275 rushing yards, led by Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who had 145 yards on 19 carries. Quarterback Joe Burrow had 66 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Even so, LSU's masterful outing doesn't mean it will cover against a Mississippi State club that has proven to be a difficult matchup for the Tigers.

In last year's blowout of LSU, the Bulldogs tore up the Tigers' defense for 285 rushing yards as part of 465 yards of total offense. Dual-threat quarterback Nick Fitzgerald ran for 88 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw for 180 yards and two more scores. The sloppy Tigers had two touchdowns negated because of penalties and their mostly lifeless offense managed just 270 total yards.

Fitzgerald again was the driving force in Mississippi State's upset of Auburn two weeks ago. He rushed for 195 yards and two touchdowns to offset a modest passing performance with 69 yards and an interception.

We can tell you Nagel is leaning toward the Over, but he also has analyzed all key factors in this matchup and unearthed a crucial X-factor he believes causes one side of the spread to hit hard. He's sharing what it is, and who to back, at SportsLine.

Who covers in LSU vs. Mississippi State? And what crucial X-factor could determine the spread? Visit SportsLine now to see which side you need to jump all over Saturday, all from a senior analyst who's 4-0 on Mississippi State picks.