Mississippi State almost knocked off Alabama last weekend, but lost it late and now has to come back and travel to Arkansas. While that’s a tough ask, the Bulldogs at least get a team that looks to have given up on the season. Because of that, the Bulldogs were -11.5 point road favorites early in the week at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
The motivation and mindset of Mississippi State will be the biggest thing for this Game, but the fact that Arkansas has to win its last two Games to become bowl eligible also stands out. Then again, there’s a question if the Hogs even want to reach a bowl with how they’re playing. Their last two wins have been sketchy, one-point victories against Ole Miss and Coastal Carolina. All Four of their losses surrounding those wins were by at least 26 points. They showed little fight at LSU last weekend in a 33-10 loss.
Mississippi State is still plenty motivated and has a good shot to end the regular season with nine wins and get a decent bowl Game. That should be good enough for this team after finishing with a losing record in 2016. The selling point for the Bulldogs is that they have the best quarterback in this Game in Nick Fitzgerald. He was the reason they had a chance last week, keeping drives going with his legs. And while he only had 66 rushing yards against ‘Bama, had reached at least 100 in the prior Four Games. That could be the case in this one against a Razorbacks defense giving up 5.3 yards per carry and almost 200 rushing yards per contest. Look for Fitzgerald and top running back Aeris Williams to get plenty of work and that will probably be enough to reach at least 30 points and control the clock.
The other side is a bigger unknown for a few reasons. Arkansas just suspended former starting QB Cole Kelley for getting into trouble with the law. Austin Allen started against LSU, but was eventually benched for Kelley. Neither performed well, but that goes without say as they scored just 10 points. But when these teams met last year, it was a scoring fest with Arkansas winning 58-42 on the road. These teams are clearly different, but that’s still something to consider even if Miss. State is only allowing 305 yards and 19.3 points per Game.
Arkansas will likely turn to Allen again at quarterback, who’s been a disappointment after a promising 2016 campaign. Completing just 56.4% of his passes on 7.07 yards per attempt, Allen will be hard to trust. Because of that, the Hogs will lean on the running Game as much as possible between David Williams and Devwah Whaley. But if the Bulldogs put in the same performance they had against Alabama last week, that running Game won’t work.
In a similar matchup, Mississippi State dealt easily with Texas A&M a few weeks ago in a 35-14 road win and for any backers, that’s a result to turn to. The Bulldogs are 5-2 ATS in their last seven SEC Games, while the Razorbacks are 2-9-1 ATS in their last 12 overall and 0-6-1 ATS In their last seven at home. The over is 8-2 in the last 10 meetings between these schools with the favorite 6-2 ATS in the last eight.
Our Pick – Miss St -13