Free Expert NCAA Football Picks: Texas A&M Aggies at Mississippi State Bulldogs Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 9/30/2014
Texas A&M Aggies at Mississippi State Bulldogs, Saturday Oct. 4, Noon ET
It's a strange time in college football indeed when Mississippi State is ranked in the Top 15 and hosting a Top-10, very high-profile squad, yet it is only the second biggest game being played in the state of Mississippi that afternoon. A proud, football-loving state that has gone through some low times is now, for one weekend at least, the epicenter of college football. If both teams were to win these games there is no telling what could happen - it's quite possible that the state would implode.
Given that the Bulldogs haven't exactly been used to the spotlight lately, you can't help but wonder about their mindset here. They earned a high-profile and very impressive win against LSU last time out and then had a bye week to sit back and think about just how good they might be. Luckily for them, Dan Mullen is a more-than-solid coach who has been around the block a few times, so chances are decent that they will be ready for this challenge. Besides, it's not like it's a sure thing that the Aggies are in a great place mentally. Texas A&M found themselves down 28-14 in the third quarter to a really underwhelming Arkansas squad last week and had to launch a fierce rally to win in overtime. We can only speculate whether that near loss was a wakeup call for this team or a reason for real concern as they head into a game against a much tougher opponent. It doesn't make it easier to evaluate that the signature win this year by Texas A&M - their massacre of South Carolina in the opener - doesn't look quite as good now that the Gamecocks have lost again and struggled through their wins.
Texas A&M at Mississippi State Betting Storylines
This game could come down to a quarterback battle, and we have a good one on tap. In a league that is breaking in a lot of new pivots, Mississippi State's Dak Prescott is a grizzled veteran. The junior is in his third year of action and his second as a full-time starter. He's a dual-threat quarterback who was a run-first guy last year, but he has maintained his effectiveness on the ground while improving dramatically as a passer this year. He is the driving force of the offense, and he has been very good in both phases of his game this year. Against LSU, for example, he threw for 268 yards and two scores while scampering for 105 more and another score. In other words, he was the biggest reason his team won.
Kenny Hill has had his share of heroic moments for the Aggies as well, and he has done it despite having far less experience. He only had brief bouts of mop-up duty last year, but he stepped out of Johnny Football's shadow in a big way right out of the gate this year. He broke records in his first game, overcame adversity to spark a comeback last time out, and looked like a guy who has played much, much more than he actually has in between. I've seen several people say that Prescott gets the edge in this matchup because of experience. I'm not sure I buy that. Hill has caught on to starting very quickly, and his overall coaching is better. At best this matchup is a wash - the best man on the day will win.
While I have plenty of respect for Hill, the Bulldogs certainly aren't going to be intimidated by him. After all, they certainly weren't intimidated by the much more famous former quarterback of the Aggies. Johnny Manziel had some rough moments last year. He threw for 446 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-31 win, but those gaudy stats were marred somewhat by the three picks he threw as well. The Bulldogs obviously need to tighten up defensively, but the ball-hawking skills could serve them well here.
Texas A&M Aggies at Mississippi State Bulldogs NCAA Football Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Texas A&M favored by 2.5 points, but that almost instantly fell to a single point and has swung so that the home team is now a two-point favorite. A small majority of bets have been on the Bulldogs, so there is nothing alarming about the movement. It seems quite unlikely that the number will move to or through the key number of three unless betting shifts dramatically. The total is set at 67.5.
The Bulldogs are 5-0 in their last five conference games and 8-1 ATS in their last nine overall, but they haven't covered a spread in their last four games in October. The Aggies have gone "over" the total in their last four October games but "under" in four of their last five against teams with winning records.
Texas A&M Aggies at Mississippi State Bulldogs College Football Predictions and Expert Picks
I respect Dan Mullen and like a lot about his team, but when you let me have the Aggies and some points I have no choice but to take them. The overall coaching talent is deeper with the Aggies, and so is their talent on the field - especially in terms of depth. I think that the QB matchup is pretty much a wash, and I'd even lean towards Hill in terms of potential for explosiveness. This is going to be a raucous, entertaining game, but I expect the visitors to come out on top.
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