Mississippi State at Georgia College Football Expert Picks and Betting Predictions
Mississippi State Bulldogs at Georgia Bulldogs, Saturday Sept. 23, 7 p.m. ET
These two teams have been in the SEC since 1932 (yes, it is indeed incredibly stupid that two charter members of a conference had the same name), but they have played each other only 23 times before. And this 24th meeting is the first time that both schools have been ranked when they met. In other words, we have a very unique situation here - a Mississippi State and Georgia game that is actually relevant nationally. Both teams are 3-0, both have a signature win, and both are probably at least a little ahead of schedule in terms of where they could reasonably have been expected to be at this point in the season.
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But only one can keep on rolling, and it's going to be one heck of a battle - quite possibly the best in this not-particularly-intense rivalry. Now, if only the teams were playing for the right to keep the Bulldogs name. Then this would really be good.
Mississippi State at Georgia Betting Storylines
The last game Mississippi State played is, to me, the most shocking result of the entire season so far. They were 7.5-point underdogs at home to LSU, and it wasn't too tough to argue that the Tigers were playable even at that price. So, the Bulldogs went out and won the game by 30. The 37-7 game was a total lopsided domination. The Bulldogs outgained the Tigers by just short of 200 yards and scored the last 30 points. It wasn't just that the Bulldogs won - lots of teams have won this year that didn't necessarily seem likely to. It's that, as an underdog, they completely and utterly broke the spirit of the favorites. The Tigers knew well before the end of the game that they couldn't win. Teams coming off of 6-7 seasons don't do that to teams like LSU too often.
Now, though, the trick for the Bulldogs is to prove that they can do it two weeks in a row. Will they be able to refocus and maintain their momentum for another week? Or will the big win last week have taken too much of an edge off the team's hunger? The Bulldogs have a talent deficit in this game, so their focus and desire are going to be crucial in this one.
The Mississippi State defense has been leading the way for the team, but the offense has been solid as well. QB Nick Fitzgerald is passing better than he was last year, and that was already a strong season for him. He provides an interesting subplot to this game. He grew up in Savannah as a Georgia fan, but the Bulldogs weren't interested in him. So he wound up at Mississippi State where he has become a star. It was a different coaching staff that rejected him, but you can still be sure that Fitzgerald would rather beat Georgia than lose to them.
The Bulldogs earned their impressive win - though one not nearly as surprising as Mississippi State's - in their second game, when they went to Notre Dame, brought thousands of fans with them, and left with a one-point victory. What was striking in that effort, as it has been all season, is the defensive front seven for Georgia. Notre Dame ran for just 55 yards in that loss, and the Bulldogs have allowed just 71 yards per game on the ground this year. It sets up a strength-versus-strength showdown that will likely define the game. Mississippi State has run for 297.7 yards per game - 11th best in the country. They ran for 285 yards against an LSU defense that had held BYU to negative rushing yardage for the game, so they aren't going to be intimidated here - and neither is Georgia.
Mississippi State at Georgia Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Georgia favored by as much as 7.5, with 6.5 the more common opening number. It has now moved widely to 5.5 . About two-thirds of bets have been on Mississippi State, so the line movement makes sense. The total opened at 50 and has since fallen to 48.5.
Mississippi State is 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall and 5-1 ATS in their last six in September. They have carried their momentum forward well - they are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games following a straight up win of 20 or more points. Georgia is just 2-5 ATS in their last seven homes games and 2-7 ATS in their last nine games following a straight up win. The home team is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings between these squads.
Mississippi State at Georgia Predictions and Picks
I will get the hilarious joke out of the way early - the Bulldogs are absolutely going to win this game. I guarantee it. Now, once we get out laughter under control let's get down to business. I like this Mississippi State team far more than I thought I would heading into the season. They are defensively sound and ruthless on the ground, and they are going to find ways to score They should, at least, be able to keep this one close. They are getting enough points here to make them the play.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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