MISSISSIPPI STATE VS. KANSAS STATE PREVIEW
Rankings: Mississippi State (#18 AP, Coaches, #6 S&P+)
Kansas State (RV AP, RV Coaches, #74 S&P+)
Head 2 Head History: These two teams have met only twice before, with Mississippi State holding a 2-0 edge over K-State. The first meeting came back in 1974, when the Bulldogs triumphed 21-16. Three years later, in 1977, they again beat the Wildcats, 24-21.
Time: Noon ET/11 a.m. CT
Commentators: Mark Jones, Dusty Dvoracek, Molly McGrath
Spread: The Bulldogs are currently favored by 7 points in most locales. The line was, at one point, as big as 10 and hovered around 7.5-9.5 for most of the week.
Total: The O/U is currently around 52.5-54, depending on where you look.
Week 1 is in the books, and for Mississippi State, it’s hard to have imagined things going better. Okay, so Nick Fitzgerald could’ve not been suspended for the opener. But considering they still beat the tar out of Stephen F. Austin, it’s fair to say that things went swimmingly. Keytaon Thompson looked as good as ever, and thus, the Joe Moorhead Era began with victory.
Kansas State, meanwhile, was sluggish out of the gate. They came away with a victory as well, but it was a close one. They nicked by South Dakota 27-24, and it took a 15-point 4th quarter to dig them out of a 27-12 hole. Alex Delton and Skylar Thompson looked serviceable enough under center, but still weren’t able to amass 100 yards by either throwing OR running the ball. Alex Barnes was stout enough, going for 103 yards on the ground on 21 carries. But it’s certainly concerning that they struggled so mightily against a lesser opponent.
That might cause for some more concern this week. K-State’s offense scraped together 27 points, to be sure. But they only picked up ONE offensive touchdown all game, a Thompson TD pass to Isaiah Zuber, who also had a punt return TD, as well. The gaudy offense of Mississippi State put up over 60 points last week... with the backup under center. Considering that Nick Fitzgerald is an All-SEC caliber quarterback... well, Bill Snyder’s boys might be in for some trouble.
That’s not to say that K-State had everything going badly for them. They did pitch a shutout in the 2nd half and held South Dakota to 154 yards. Then again... it’s South Dakota, and that type of performance should be expected. In their defense, many of their top defenders from a season ago are gone, and they’re playing under a new defensive coordinator in Blake Seiler. Duke Shelley had a standout game with eight tackles and Reggie Walker had a sack. But apart from that, the effort was more pedestrian than optimism-inducing against such a lesser opponent.
So, what does this amount to? Well, State’s a solid 6- to 7.5-point favorite right now, depending on where you look. That about checks out, especially in a road matchup. Manhattan can be a tough place to play, and there might be some rain in the forecast, as well. However, talent disparity and this clashing of styles certainly favors the high-powered offense over the slower, more plodding one. And hey, it’s not like Mississippi State doesn’t have an excellent defense. ‘Cause... ya know, they do.
Mississippi State 27, Kansas State 14