Free Expert NCAA Football Picks: Mississippi State Bulldogs at Alabama Crimson Tide Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 11/12/2014
Mississippi State Bulldogs at Alabama Crimson Tide, Saturday Nov. 15, 3:30 p.m. ET
Beyond anything else, I am going to remember this college football season as the year I got plenty of practice writing the word Mississippi. With both teams from the state tearing it up, it seems like every week I am writing about one of them. Frankly, I'm a bit sick of it. If one state has to be strong next year I hope it is Utah or Texas - much easier states to type out repeatedly.
This game sets up as the marquee matchup for the week. It is just jam-packed with playoff implications. If Alabama loses then their playoff dreams end. If they win then they will almost certainly move up at least one spot from the fifth-place spot in the playoff rankings they currently sit in - the crying hole. Mississippi State has more breathing room thanks to their perfect record, but losing to their best opponent of the year would not help their case at all - especially late in the year. So, while it's not a true playoff elimination game, it comes pretty darned close.
Mississippi State at Alabama Betting Storylines
Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott is viewed as a serious Heisman contender - he sits second in the futures odds, though a long distance behind runaway leader Marcus Mariota. It's no surprise that the leader of a very pleasant surprise team is getting these accolades, but it would be a mistake to get caught up in the hype. Over his last four games he has five interceptions and just five touchdown passes, and he has twice completed less than 55 percent of his passes. In other words, the dangerous quarterback of the first half of the season has become merely a competent one lately - albeit a competent one who hasn't lost. Now he is up against a defense that is Top 4 in the country in both total yards and points allowed. The truth is that the gap between the two starters is far from significant. Alabama's Blake Sims has had some issues with completion percentage lately, but he hasn't thrown an interception in four weeks, and his overall numbers are very similar to Prescott's. Don't let the hype around Prescott mislead you here. That being said, Cam Newton and Johnny Manziel both turned from Heisman contenders to winners largely because of upset wins at Alabama, so this game could change a lot of things.
This game is just massive for both teams. I have more confidence in Alabama's ability to handle that. For them, hosting a top team in a must-win game at home is old hat - they do it all the time. For Mississippi State, though, going on the road with the hopes of a National Championship potentially resting on a single game is entirely new and foreign. They have played some big games already this year - like the win at LSU in September that really launched them into the national consciousness - but this is likely the biggest game, and certainly the biggest road game, that they have played this year and for a lot longer than that. They have shown excellent composure so far, but they haven't been tested in a real way for a month and could have issues here. Alabama hasn't been as ferocious this year as in the past, but their issues - overtime against LSU, a too-close win over Arkansas, the loss against Ole Miss - have all been on the road. At home they have been terrifying, as the 59-0 decimation of Texas A&M last time out proves.
Mississippi State Bulldogs at Alabama Crimson Tide NCAA Football Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Alabama favored by a touchdown , and that quickly climbed to 8.5 points in early action. More than 60 percent of bets have been on the Bulldogs, so the movement is a good indication that sharp money hit the Tide early on. The total opened at 51.5.
The Bulldogs are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 against teams with winning records. The home team is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings between these squads. The "under" has gone 6-0-1 in the last seven meetings.
Mississippi State Bulldogs at Alabama Crimson Tide Expert Predictions and Picks
The line of 8.5 is a lot of points to give up, but I feel like I have no choice but to swallow hard, accept it, and take the Tide. This is the kind of game that just doesn't set up well for an upstart team like the Bulldogs. They are facing a team with much more experience, superior depth, and a defense that can give the Bulldogs' offense serious issues. If the game was elsewhere then I could make an argument that Mississippi State could keep it close, but at Bryant-Denny it just seems reckless to bet against the Crimson Tide.
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