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SEC Football Pick
Mississippi State hosts Tennessee in SEC football action on Saturday night at 9 pm est. on ESPN2. Miss State is a -3 point favorite at SBG Global and has been as high as -4. The total is 57.5 and the early betting action at sportsbook.ag favor the Vols with 63% of the wagers coming in on their side.
Mississippi State is hoping to continue their impressive start by winning the first six games of the season. Tennessee is in a much different situation as they are just trying to keep confidence at this point. The Volunteers already have two losses, but those were against Florida and Georgia. After playing Miss. State this weekend, their next two games are against Alabama and South Carolina. It's quite possibly the hardest four game stretch of any team in the country. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, are coasting through average opponents. Their two SEC wins have come against 1-4 Auburn and 1-5 Kentucky. They are slight favorites in this one mainly because they are at home.
The last time these teams played was back in 2008 so that doesn't mean too much. Tennessee has won six straight games and covered four straight in this meeting, though.
Offensively, the Volunteers haven't had a problem this season. They are scoring close to 40 points per game including 44 points in their last game at Georgia and 20 points against Florida, the most the Gators have allowed this year. Tyler Bray is at the helm, tossing at least two touchdowns in every game. His three interceptions against Georgia were what hurt the team. In five games, Bray has 1,582 yards and 14 TDs. Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson are his top options in the passing game as the two have combined for 54 receptions, 746 yards and six touchdowns. Their running game is steady behind RB Rajion Neal. He has at least 22 carries in four of five games, and the game he didn't reach that mark was in a blowout win.
Statistically, the Bulldogs have been great on defense allowing just 13.4 points per game. Those numbers will change this weekend as they haven't faced anyone with the speed and firepower that Tennessee has. The Volunteers problem lies in their defense which has allowed 88 points in two SEC games.
Quarterback Tyler Russell will have to continue his impressive start for Mississippi State to grab their sixth win of the season. Russell isn't completing a great amount of his passes (56.6%), but he hasn't been turning the ball over. He has 1,091 yards to go with a 10-1 TD to INT ratio. Senior wide out Chad Bumphis has helped in the passing game with 375 yards and six touchdowns. The Bulldogs will look to pound running back LaDarius Perkins all day against the weak Tennessee defensive front. Perkins has 82 carries for 499 yards and six TDs this year.
Neither team has been great against the spread this year, but the over/under for each team is something to notice. The over has hit in every game for the Volunteers this year while the under has won every game for the Bulldogs this year. Unfortunately, those numbers don't help much. Tennessee is 1-6-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record while Mississippi State is 6-1 in their last seven conference games and 6-2 ATS in their last eight home games.
Schedule strength is always very important to consider when handicapping college sports. Mississippi State has some awesome numbers thus far. Their defensive yards per point numbers place them at 10th best in the nation and their numbers on the offensive side are 26th best. But you have to take into consideration that these numbers were achieved against a schedule than ranks 114th out of 124 teams as far as strength.
Now, just because a team puts up fantastic numbers against a weak schedule, it doesn't mean they really aren't that good. It simply means, we just don't know for sure. Good teams are supposed to put up great numbers against weak opposition. All indications point towards Miss State as being a very good football team this year. But they have also had close games against Troy and Kentucky with Auburn being the best team they have beaten. The Vols on the other hand have taken on two SEC monsters in Georgia and Florida as well as a good NC State team. Playing stronger opposition tends to prepare a team better than playing cupcakes. The Vols are battle tested.
This is a pass for us. The Vols schedule has been about two touchdowns more difficult than Miss States. We'd prefer to sit back and watch this one so we can learn a little more about Miss State. That being said, for those interested, our numbers and our model take into account schedule strength and still show Miss State on top by 5.
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