Game Time: Saturday, October 27th, 7 pm ET/6 pm local
Odds: Mississippi State (-1.5), -118 (Mississippi State Moneyline), +140 (Texas A&M Moneyline), O/U (44)
One of the lesser stories of the 2018 season to this point is how far the Aggies (5-2) have come under The $75 Million Man, Jimbo Fisher. They’re a very good team. They had No. 2 Clemson on the ropes in College Station and have, so far, been Alabama’s stoutest competition.
Their run defense is one of the best in the FBS, holding the aforementioned Crimson Tide run game to just 109 yards. Quarterback Kellen Mond continues to make strides in Fisher’s schematic-heavy offense. And punter Braden Mann is rendering returners moot with a FBS-best 54.5 yards per punt.
The Aggies’ two losses are really good losses and if enough things fall their way (this includes winning out the rest of the year and Alabama losing two conference games) they could make a trip to Atlanta for the first time since entering the SEC in 2012.
What’s most dangerous, though, about this weekend for A&M is the fact that they have to go to Starkville to play the Bulldogs (4-3). The Bulldogs are a very strange team this season. First year head coach Joe Moorhead and his staff have done an admirable job in some areas and are lacking in others.
Nick Fitzgerald, who most felt would be an even more dangerous QB with Moorhead than with Dan Mullen, has struggled to help the Bulldogs establish a proper passing attack. To this point, he’s passed for 768 yards, 4 touchdowns to SEVEN picks with a 47% completion percentage. It’s very bad.
This MSU offense’s identity is absolutely reliant upon the ground game. Fitzgerald is the de facto second string running back to the electric starter Kylin Hill. Moorhead is living and dying by running the ball and it hasn’t been successful against good-to-great defenses.
Speaking of great defenses, the Bulldogs have one of the best in the FBS. They’re in the top five in scoring and total defense and are tenth in 3rd down defense. Bob Shoop’s squad led by all-world defensive end Montez Sweat is helps hide some of the overall deficiencies of the team.
This game doesn’t really seem like a logical one. You have one of the best rushing defenses going up against one of the best rushing offenses and you have one of the best overall defenses yard-wise going up against one of the best overall offenses yard-wise. This is a special teams kind of game and even though it’s in Starkville and the Bulldogs are a slight favorite, Braden Mann is going to constantly flip the field making it difficult for Mississippi State to do anything offensively.
Prediction: Texas A&M 17 Mississippi State 13