Mississippi State Bulldogs Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
The Bulldogs face a change after Dan Mullen headed to Florida after nine years in Starkville. It's a step up the ladder for him, but if I was a Mississippi State fan I wouldn't shed any tears. He finished better than fourth in the conference only once, he wasn't building or moving forward, and his message was surely getting old. Recruiting to Mississippi State is tough, but he wasn't massively exceeding a base level. Mullen improved the team significantly from when he took it over, but the progress had stalled. And the team did very well in hiring a replacement. It's quite possible that this is a rare case that a team moves forward by having their head coach hired away.
2017 in a Nutshell
The team made an early statement, beating No. 12 LSU - albeit a highly-overrated LSU - by 30 points to move to 3-0. But the high didn't last. In the next two weeks they lost by 28 at Georgia then by 39 at Auburn. They had four easier games after that, and they took care of business properly in all four. But then they lost to Alabama at home. They played them tight and lost by only a touchdown, but close doesn't get you anything. They won at Arkansas, but then in the only inexcusable result of the year, they lost the Egg Bowl to hated Ole Miss, and they let the struggling Rebels finish at .500 with the win. It was ugly. A record of 8-4 earned them a berth in the TaxSlayer Bowl against Louisville, and they won that for running back coach Greg Knox because Mullen had already headed to Florida.
Key Additions and Departures
Joe Moorhead can coach. He took over a 1-11 Fordham team and had them at 12-2 in his second season. From there he went to Penn State, where he ran a very productive offense for two years. He's easy to like and a breath of fresh air for a program that needs one. Young offensive coordinator Luke Getsy worked under P.J. Fleck at Western Michigan before becoming wide receiver coach for the Packers when he was just 32. He has talent. Moorhead went the other way at DC, hiring veteran, proven Bob Shoop, who had worked for Moorhead's most recent boss James Franklin at two stops.
Nick Fitzgerald is a very good quarterback and is smart and mobile, so he should thrive under Moorhead. Senior Aeris Williams is a very good back, and the next two most productive backs from last year are back as well. Those guys know that Moorhead and Saquon Barkley made magic together, so they will be happy to listen to what he says. But receiver is a problem. Their top receiver last year had only 276 receiving yards. How is that even possible? He's back, but so what? They have good options, though, and Moorhead will take more passing risks in the season opener than Mullen did all year last year. They lost tackle Martinas Rankin to the draft, but four starters return, plus a fifth guy who started four times when Rankin was hurt. The line should be a strength, which will help Moorhead make some of the changes he surely wants to.
The team returns three strong starters on the defensive line and has plenty of intriguing depth as well. They should be in good shape up front, and in the SEC is that is a necessity. Dez Harris is gone at linebacker, but he had torn his ACL three different times, so the team is used to playing without him despite his strong play when he was healthy. The depth is solid up front, and the front seven is really quite good. The team has both starting safeties back, and three corners have played significantly. They have depth, but the secondary isn't quite as good as what is up front.
Biggest Area of Concern
Receiver could be a real problem. Moorhead likes to chase big plays through the air, and this group is not used to being productive.
Mississippi State Bulldogs Schedule Analysis
Moorhead couldn't have a much nicer first month to work out the kinks. Stephen F. Austin in Week 1 and Louisiana in Week 3 are very likely wins. And while the second and fourth games are on the road they are at Kansas State and Kentucky, so they could certainly be tougher. Next up is Florida, so Mullen's old team gets an early shot at revenge against his new one. Things then get rougher when they host Auburn and then go to LSU, but neither team is anywhere close to perfect this year, so there is at least a little hope to be had. Same goes for Texas A&M, which is going through a big transition. Louisiana Tech should be a win, but at Alabama is a sure loss. Then Arkansas and Ole Miss are winnable games with new coaches in worse positions than Moorhead. It's a reasonable schedule all in all.
2018-19 Mississippi State Bulldogs Betting Odds and Trends
Mississippi State is at +8500 to win the national title at Bovada , so they are certainly not seen as a viable contender by oddsmakers. They are the third choice to win the SEC West at +950 and the fourth choice to win the SEC at +1500. In both cases, though, they are far, far behind the favorites. Nick Fitzgerald is a Heisman long shot at +3300. The season win total sits at 8.5, with the "under" quite solidly favored.
2018-19 Mississippi State Bulldogs Predictions and College Football Picks
I am strangely optimistic. I believe in Moorhead and like the staff he assembled. They have a QB, a running back, and a line to work with, and decent defensive talent. They have a manageable schedule, with only one game I can't at all imagine them winning. I'd take a shot at the "over" in the season win total if I was looking for a fun gamble to keep things interesting all season.
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