Mississippi State vs. Alabama (10/22 @ 7:00 p.m. EST.)
Line: Alabama -21
Mississippi State vs Alabama Breakdown and Betting Odds
The No. 24 Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-2) are heading to Tuscaloosa for a matchup with the No. 6 Alabama Crimson Tide (6-1) on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. ET. The Crimson Tide are 21-point favorites over the Bulldogs. The over/under is set at 61 points.
Alabama has a lifetime .814 win percentage against Mississippi State, going 84-18-3. They have won the last 14 matchups, beating the Bulldogs yearly since 2008. In this streak of dominance, only two games were decided by fewer than 13 points. Mississippi State has been particularly inept in many of these games, scoring more than 10 points just twice. They have scored 16 points in the last four matchups combined. They have not won in Tuscaloosa since 2006.
Mississippi State Overview
Mississippi State began the season unranked, but they hopped into the rankings after beating then-No. 17 Texas A&M at home to open October. The Bulldogs’ pair of losses have come in road games against SEC teams in LSU and Kentucky. Mike Leach’s offense has been boisterous in wins scoring 39 or more in all five games. However, when the offense has not been elite, the Bulldogs have lost.
As is usual in a Leach offense, the goal is to pass, pass, and pass the football. Will Rogers has 320 pass attempts in seven games, tossing 23 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Nine different Bulldogs have at least 100 receiving yards. Caleb Ducking leads the team with seven receiving touchdowns while Rara Thomas leads the team with 383 yards. On the ground, Dillon Johnson has run for 407 yards at a healthy 6.0 yards per carry clip. Jo’quavious Marks leads the team with five rushing touchdowns.
Unlike some past Leach teams, Mississippi State has one of the better defenses in the country. They are allowing 21.9 points per game, good for 35th in FBS. They have been gashed on the ground to the tune of 152.9 yards per game, but they have forced 14 turnovers to aid. Nathaniel Watson and Tyrus Wheat have 3.0 sacks each, and Emmanuel Forbes has five interceptions.
Mississippi State is 2-2-1 in their last five games ATS. While this does include a pair of impressive wins over SEC teams, it also includes a pair of straight-up losses to Kentucky and LSU. The over is 3-2, hitting in all three of Mississippi State’s wins. When the offense is firing on all cylinders, the Bulldogs can cover the over by themselves. When it is not, the over has no hope.
The question for Alabama all season has been Bryce Young’s health. The 2021 Heisman winner has only missed one full game, but he is leading a will-he, won’t-he saga weekly. Jalen Milroe is a capable backup, but Young is one of the top players in the country. Even working through an injury, he has 1,657 yards and 16 touchdowns through six games. He also has three rushing touchdowns. Jahmyr Gibbs has carried the Tide’s ground attack, averaging 7.2 yards per carry and scoring five times. The motley cast of receivers features six players with 200 receiving yards including Gibbs.
All told, the Tide have the No. 5 scoring offense and No. 20 scoring defense. They opened the season as the No. 1 ranked team in the country, but two ugly wins dropped them to No. 3 before last week’s loss at No. 6 Tennessee. They have scored 49 points in five of seven games, including last week’s loss. The defense had been one of the best statistical units in the country before Tennessee scored 52.
Alabama is allowing under 300 yards per game. They have stifled passing offenses to just a 54.6% completion rate while the rushing attacks have averaged under 3.0 yards per carry. The Crimson Tide’s Achilles heel is their negative turnover differential, strange for Alabama under Nick Saban. They have only forced seven turnovers in seven games. The defense is led by a bevy of future NFL players including Will Anderson Jr. who could be the first player taken in next year’s draft. Anderson also has one of the team’s three interceptions.
Alabama is 3-2 ATS in their last five games, losing the last two weeks. However, they have been covered large numbers including -17.5 against Arkansas and -40 against Vanderbilt. The over is 3-2, alternating weeks.
Free Pick: Under 61
History is the guide here. Since Leach took over in Starkville, the Bulldogs have scored nine total points in two games against Alabama. Alabama’s defense might not have the same depth of demigods as it has had in the past, but they are incredibly effective at shutting down Mississippi State’s passing attack. A fired-up Alabama might cover the number themselves, but they could also take their feet off the gas after going up 30 or 40 points. Under 61 accounts for Mississippi State’s futility against Alabama while leaning on Gibbs to run the clock down.
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