Pick with Analysis
This is the first Game for Mississippi State since being given the No. 1 ranking in the AP Polls. Are they ready to live up to the expectation? The Bulldogs travel to Kentucky as a -13.5 point favorite at sportsbook.ag.
Kentucky is coming off an ugly 41-3 loss and they may have even been single-digit underdogs had they competed in that Game. The Wildcats haven’t lost at home this season, with SEC wins over Vanderbilt and South Carolina. The defeat at LSU exploited their issues, which the Bulldogs should capitalize on.
Mississippi State is coming off a bye, but before that was on an incredible run of three straight wins over (former) Top 10 teams. They won at LSU 34-29 and then took out Texas A&M and Auburn at home. The win over Auburn may have been the best one, as a lot of the ‘experts’ were labeling Auburn as the best team in the country.
This matchup has been close in recent history, with the average margin of defeat being just eight points in the past nine Games. The Bulldogs have the edge, winning the last five Games and covering in Four of those. In 2013, the Bulldogs snuck away with a 28-22 win as 12-point favorites. The Wildcats played tough in that Game, stopping Dak Prescott to 33 rushing yards on 16 carries, and holding the Miss. State run Game in check for most of the way. To keep it close this year, they’ll need to play even better defense.
The Wildcats were beat up for 303 yards on the ground last week at LSU and that’s going to be their first task at hand in this one, stopping the run Game.
Mississippi State has been able to move the ball on every defense so far. Running back Josh Robinson (689 yards, 8 TDs) is averaging 7.0 yards per carry, while Dak Prescott (576 rushing yards, 8 TDs) is having his best overall season as the Bulldogs quarterback. In addition to his running, Prescott already has a career high 14 passing TDs and is at an astounding 9.47 yards per attempt, two yards above last year’s number.
If the Kentucky defense can’t at least somewhat keep that running Game in check, it could be another long day for them. On the other end, the Bulldogs post a solid defense, but they can be beat. Keep in mind, the Bulldogs gave up 29 points to a weak LSU offense in their last road Game, with 21 of those coming in the Fourth quarter.
against better defenses, Kentucky’s offense struggles, as seen last week. It’ll be up to quarterback Patrick Towles to get something going. He’s been off-and-on in SEC play, tossing 369 yards and 3 TDs in the loss to Florida, but only having two passing TDs in his other three Conference matchups. If Jojo Kemp or someone can get going in the running Game, that would help.
The Bulldogs have covered seven straight SEC Games and are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 Games overall. The Wildcats are 4-1 ATS in their last five home Games, but haven’t covered in their last Four following a straight up loss. The road team is 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings between these schools.
If you take away the cupcakes Kentucky has played this year, you’re left with a 36-30 loss to Florida, a 45-38 shootout win over a defenseless South Carolina team and the blowout 41-3 loss to LSU. Not very impressive. We’d expect a much better Kentucky effort this week however the feeling here is that Miss State is the way to go. One of the things we do with Our model is to run it using only the last 4 Games worth of data, to ferret out early season mismatches and get an idea of where teams are headed. When we do that with this Game, it comes up Miss State by a score of 43-20. That sounds about right to us. Miss State -13.5