Game Time: Saturday, November 10th, 3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. local
Odds: Alabama (-24), -1900 (Alabama Moneyline), +1550 (Mississippi State Moneyline), O/U (53)
Las Vegas certainly knew something the rest of us didn’t last week when they made LSU a 14.5-point home underdog against Alabama. Turns out the Tide doubled that going away and the game most thought was going to be competitive turned out to be a 29-0 drubbing.
I illustrate last week’s game to ask this: what reasons do you think Vegas has to make Alabama a 24-point favorite (at home, granted) against the No. 2 scoring defense in the FBS?
Mississippi State is a sneaky three-loss team, y’all. The offense wasn’t all that competitive against LSU a few weeks ago, but their defense did hold the Tigers in Baton Rouge to one touchdown and four field goals. They lost to Florida by a touchdown in a low-scoring affair. And although they went into Lexington and lost handily, it turns out the Wildcats are not typical Wildcats in 2018.
It’s wins against Kansas State (away) and Auburn and A&M (home) that show how good the Bulldogs can be, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Through nine games, they’ve held opponents to an average 12.3 points and 278 yards per game. They’re ninth in the FBS in 3rd down defense, probably owing much of its success to all-world defensive end Montez Sweat who has 9.5 sacks so far.
Offensively, the Bulldogs are a little less impressive. While they currently sit at 20th in the FBS in rushing offense (231 yards per game), their passing game offers little to be desired ranking 105th with 187 yards per game. This team’s offensive identity is all about quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and running back Kylin Hill’s wheels.
If Alabama’s defense, which has improved drastically over the last three games against the run, even moderately shuts down the run, then this game’s over by halftime and I don’t care how well State’s defense plays. I do think they’re capable of putting a dent in Tua and the Alabama offense’s production, but just how much they do and for how long will dictate how long this game is a “game.”
Since the beginning of the week, Alabama coach Nick Saban has talked about how much he’s trying to get his team to refocus on the rest of the season after the big win last week and I wonder if we’re going to be seeing a sleepy team on Saturday. The week after LSU is always a tester for the Tide because of the physicality of the last game and if State brings everything they have, I can see this one being a lot closer than most think.
I have no way of predicting how the Tide defense will do on Saturday, but I think ultimately they hold the key to how this game’s going to unfold. Again, if they shut down the Bulldog run game then it’s over. I think it’s going to be somewhere in the middle, though.
Prediction: Alabama 31 Mississippi State 17