Gator Bowl Predictions: Michigan Wolverines vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 12/29/2010
After a two-year absence, the Michigan Wolverines (7-5) return to bowl action -- they face the Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-4) in the Gator Bowl. Game time is 1:30 p.m. EST on New Year’s Day in Gainesville, Florida. This is the first time the storied programs will meet.
The lead story here is the coaches. Michigan’s Rich Rodriguez is as unstable in his job as a coach can be. His progress on offense in his three years in the job has been impressive, but defensively the team is an absolute disaster -- worse each year since he took over. With former Michigan QB Jim Harbaugh burning up the coaching world at Stanford -- and former Michigan assistant Brady Hoke working wonders at San Diego State -- Rich Rod is on a burning seat.
A win or loss in this game won’t directly affect his job stability, but a nice win sure would help. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State’s coach, isn’t going anywhere unless he chooses to, and at this point he probably won’t. However, he factored in strongly in Florida’s recent search. There’s a chance that his team could be somewhat disillusioned as a result, though that’s likely not much of a factor.
The biggest thing I know about Mississippi State is that they would likely be in a better game right now if they hadn’t let Auburn outbid them for Cam Newton. Newton would have been a heck of a lot better than QB Chris Reif. The Bulldog signal caller can run the option, but his passing is more than a little suspect. They don’t really need to pass, though -- they accomplish a lot on the ground thanks to Reif and running back Vick Ballard. They will face a run defense that is absolutely brutal -- 94th best in the country. Mississippi State will score some points -- there’s no doubt about that.
Michigan will be able to score some points, too. They are going to run into a very tough defensive line, but their dynamic running game led by the very dangerous Denard Robinson has done well against good running defenses this year. Robinson gets a ton of press for his running, but he’s a very underrated passer as well. Mississippi State’s secondary can be exploited. If Robinson can do that then he’ll open up some room for his running game as well. Michigan’s offense will be fine as long as they don’t have to kick any field goals - they are as bad at kicking as any team in the country (4-for-13 on the season).
Gator Bowl Odds - Michigan Wolverines vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Mississippi State opened as five point favorites, according to college bowl odds, and that has dipped to 4.5 in many spots. The action is evenly split between the two teams. The total opened at 57, and is on the climb since - it’s at 59.5.
Michigan vs. Mississippi State Betting Trends
The ‘over’ is 7-3 in Michigan’s last 10 games. Their last four bowl games have gone ‘over’ the total, and so have six of their last seven games against the SEC. The ‘under’ is 5-1 in Mississippi State’s last six games overall, and 10-4 in their last 14 as favorites.
Michigan is 6-0 ATS in their last six nonconference games, but just 10-26 ATS in their last 36 games overall.
Mississippi State is 6-2 ATS in their last eight games as a favorite.
Gator Bowl Predictions and Betting Picks
If you are looking for an objective analysis, you have probably come to the wrong place. I bleed blue and maize. That being said, I really do think that this is a good spot for Michigan.
Their defense has shown some signs of life late in the season, and they should be improved here thanks to the extra practice. They won’t be particularly challenged by the passing game, and aren’t as bad against the run as the numbers appear (I’m not saying they are good -- it’s all relative). Michigan will be able to score themselves, just like other dynamic offenses have been able to do against the Bulldogs. The players like Rich Rodriguez and will rally around him, and they will be motivated by finally being in a bowl game.
Michigan played in a tougher overall conference than Mississippi State, and will be ready for this one. I’ll take as many points as I can get and happily take the Wolverines.
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