Belk Bowl Pick
Mississippi State had a drop off in 2015 and it wasn’t all that surprising considering they overachieved in 2014. The Bulldogs still finished with eight wins and competed in the daunted SEC West. They’ll take on an NC State team that finished 3-5 in ACC play. The Bulldogs are a -5.5 point favorite (as seen at 5 Dimes Sportsbook) for the Belk Bowl.
The immediate advantage for NC State is that this Game is played in Charlotte, only a couple hOurs away from its campus. But how much will that mean going against an SEC team that finished 4-1 on the road this season?
Mississippi State lost Four Games this year, but can’t really be faulted for any of them as they were underdogs in all of those Games. Their two best wins of the year did come on the road at Auburn and Arkansas, both as underdogs. Other than that, nothing too outlandish happened for the Bulldogs this year.
The same can be said for the Wolfpack too, although that’s not really a good thing. They won all Four non-Conference Games against weak opponents, but don’t have any quality wins in the ACC with wins against Wake Forest, Boston College and Syracuse. Sure, they lost to the three best teams in the conference, but also lost at home to Louisville and weren’t even close at Virginia Tech in a winnable Game.
At the end of the day, these teams are quite similar, both with solid defenses and senior quarterbacks that can do it all.
Mississippi State gets the edge because Dak Prescott is the better quarterback. Prescott had a great 2014, but is even better this season with a lesser supporting cast. He has tossed 25 TDs to just 4 INTs to go with a team-high 541 rushing yards and 10 more touchdowns. If the Bulldogs were a better team, he’d be in the Heisman conversation. against non-elite defenses, Prescott shined and that should be the case here.
NC State has stopped bad offenses, but allowed 56 points to Clemson and 45 to North Carolina. Mississippi State doesn’t have the same level of offense as those teams, but have a better one than Boston College. Prescott should find receivers Fred Ross (933 yards) and De’Runnya Wilson (9 TDs) plenty en route to a solid final send off for the quarterback.
The Wolfpack can Scoreas well, but maybe not at the same levels and that was seen in back-to-back 13-point outings earlier in the year.
Jacoby Brissett does everything for this offense like Prescott, although to a lesser degree in the running Game. His passing numbers are solid with 19 TDs and 4 INTs, and he has ran for another 303 yards and 5 TDs. NC State’s ground Game is more spread out than Miss. State’s, but they will still be without leading running back Matthew Dayes, who had foot surgery a month ago.
Brissett and Prescott will go toe-to-toe, but the Bulldogs are favored because Prescott is the better quarterback. Will that be enough? In the end, it may go to which team has the better defense and at this point, neither one looks to have a major advantage.
The Wolfpack are 0-6 ATS in their last six on grass, but have covered in seven straight non-Conference Games. The Bulldogs have failed to cover in their last Four against the ACC.
Our Pick – Miss State -5.5