Alabama Crimson Tide at Mississippi State Bulldogs Expert Picks with Odds and Predictions
Alabama Crimson Tide at Mississippi State Bulldogs, Saturday Nov. 11, 7 pm ET
On paper this game isn't very interesting. Alabama is favored by most of two touchdowns , and they have a clear edge in the contest. What makes it worth talking about, though, is that it is the closest thing to a real contest that Alabama has faced. This is only the third line for Alabama that has been below 20 points and the lowest by two field goals that they have faced since that farce of an opening game against Florida State. And seeing that the rest of Alabama's schedule includes a joke of a game against Mercer that the Tide should be completely embarrassed about scheduling and a game against an Auburn squad that could get their third loss in resounding fashion at the hands of Georgia this weekend means this could be as interesting as it gets for an Alabama team which has felt all year like they are on even more of an inevitable march to the playoff than they usually are. When Alabama has so effectively robbed their seasons of drama, we have to take what we can get.
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Alabama at Mississippi State Betting Storylines
Nick Fitzgerald, the helmsman for the Bulldogs' offense, is a pretty solid quarterback, and he is having a strong season. If Mississippi State is going to have any chance of winning this thing then he is going to have to have a big day. Alabama has given up the second fewest yards per game in the country - a puny 77.3 yards. The Bulldogs have an elite running game, and Fitzgerald is their leading rusher. He and his team are going to have to find a way to gain some ground in order to make things happen. Alabama isn't much easier to pass against, and Fitzgerald is leading a sub-average passing offense, so they aren't likely to have a big day there. It's run or bust for the Bulldogs. And here's the problem - last year Fitzgerald was an absolute mess against Alabama. He completed just 10 of 33 passes and ran 11 times for just 15 yards. Fitzgerald is a year older and wiser, but the Alabama defense isn't any weaker - and probably a little better - than last year. I need to try harder to make this matchup interesting, don't I?
Alright, let's try to give Mississippi State a little hope. The Alabama linebacking corps has been hit very hard by injuries -- two players are gone for the year and another is out until the postseason at least. Freshman Dylan Moses has been forced into a heavy role. Moses is a freak, and the depth Alabama has is always ridiculous, but it's not the best they could be at this point. If the Bulldogs can find a way to exploit that weakness - the only weakness this defense probably has - then they could at least make something interesting. Look for Fitzgerald to try to establish an edge running game early. If he can do that then there is perhaps hope. If not then bet the Tide hard in the second half.
Last year Alabama averaged seven yards per carry against a pretty bad Mississippi State defense. Todd Grantham was brought in to overhaul this defense, and he has done a pretty solid job. They aren't an elite defense, but they are in the top 25 in most stats, better than that in some and so much better than last year that it is hard to believe. Alabama has a ruthless run attack, with more weapons than any team deserves. Again, the running game will define things - the Bulldogs need to shut things down if they want to have a chance at all. That's a big ask, but it can be done. LSU allowed Alabama just 3.2 yards per carry last week, and the Bulldogs are a better run defense than the Tigers. Of course, Alabama still won by two touchdowns, so shutting them down here isn't enough.
Alabama at Mississippi State Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Alabama favored by 14.5. It has since moved through the key number of 14, with 13.5 widely available , and 13 in play at some spots. Alabama has drawn nearly 80 percent of all bets, so the line movement suggests that sharp bettors are looking at the home underdog in this one. The line opened at 50.5 or 51, depending on the spot, and has remained stable in early action.
The Tide are 6-1 ATS in their last seven road games. They are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 in November but just 2-5 ATS in their last seven against teams with winning records. The Bulldogs are 21-5 ATS in their last 26 home games against teams with winning road records. The home team is 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings of these teams.
Alabama at Mississippi State Predictions and Picks
I hate betting games like this. Alabama is going to win, and they probably aren't going to struggle too much doing it. But they could win by less than 14 and still play a dominant and just fine game. They have shown time and again that they don't care about rolling over opponents in all games - they leave a lot of points on the table once they have gotten enough. I would obviously have to take Alabama if I was going to take a side - I can't bet good money on Mississippi State's ability to keep it close - but there will be better betting opportunities out there.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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