Arkansas Mississippi State Odds

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The Mississippi State Bulldogs are 4-6 overall this season and have a 1-5 record in SEC play.  Their lone conference win came against conference cellar dwelling Kentucky.  The past three weeks they have faced three teams ranked in the Top 15, and have seen mixed results.  All three of those games resulted in losses, but they did managed to stay within 10 points against Texas A&M, and they even gave No. 1 ranked Alabama a small scare in a game that was decided with a 20-7 final score.  In their road game against South Carolina the Bulldogs were torched, indicating consistency is an issue for this team.

The Arkansas Razorbacks will play host to the Bulldogs this weekend when these teams face off in Little Rock.  The Razorbacks are 3-7 overall this year, and have a 0-6 record in the SEC.  They are playing for pride at this point in the season, but  played a great game in their last outing on the road against Ole Miss.  That indicates the Razorbacks have not completely thrown in the towel on their season.  This will be a very winnable game for Arkansas as two of the worst teams in the SEC face off.

Kick-off takes place this Saturday at 12:20 PM ET with television coverage being provided by GamePlan/ESPN3.  The oddsmakers have Mississippi State winning this game in a close one.  The Bulldogs are favored by 1.5-points over the Razorbacks, and the total has been set at 50.5-points.

Why Mississippi State Covers

The Bulldogs are averaging 27.5 points per game this season.  They are a very strong team when running the ball, gaining 194 rushing yards per game on 4.8 yards per carry.  They should have no problem continuing that success against a Razorbacks defense that has given up 182 rushing yards per game on 4.7 yards per carry when they are playing as the home team.    Technically this is a neutral field game since the Razorbacks typically play in Fayetteville, and while the Razorbacks will probably have a slightly larger fan base at this game, I don’t think they will get the full benefit of being the home team.  That is a big reason the Bulldogs are favored over Arkansas in this game.

Arkansas is 4-11 ATS in their last 15 games when coming off a performance in which they allowed more than 450 total yards.

The Bulldogs defense is a lot better than they get credit for.  They are allowing 26.5 points per game, but there schedule features teams that have averaged a combined 33.1 points per game this season.  After holding Alabama to just 20-points last week, it is obvious that this defense is very undervalued.  They are holding opponents under 150 rushing yards per game, and the secondary has allowed just 227 passing yards per game.  The defense as a whole has given up 374 yards per game, while the offensive unit has put up an average of 433 yards per game.

Why Arkansas Covers

The Arkansas Razorbacks are averaging 20.4 points per game overall this season.  A big reason they are not scoring more points is because they have struggled to complete passes.  That should be a non-issue this week against a Bulldogs defense that has allowed a 66.7% pass completion rate for 269 yards per game when they are playing on the road.  Mississippi State is also allowing an average of 32.5 points per game in their four road games this season.  Arkansas is a very strong running team, gaining 210 rushing yards per game on 5.3 yards per carry.  They are completing less than 50% of their pass attempts, but that has not stopped the offense from averaging 397 yards per game when playing as the home team.

The home team is 10-1 ATS in the last 11 head-to-head meetings between these teams.

Defensively the Razorbacks are average across the board.  Luckily they are facing one of the worst teams in the conference this week.  The Razorbacks run defense is allowing 4.5 yards per carry, just one-tenth of a yard more than the Bulldogs have allowed against the run.  The secondary may give up a high pass completion rate, but they are not giving up a lot of yardage along with it.  They have allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 64.8% of their pass attempts, but allow just 228 passing yards per game.  When playing at home Arkansas has allowed a total of just 364 yards per game.

My Pick

Mississippi State is only a mildly better team than the Razorbacks, and with this game being played in Little Rock I have to think the Razorbacks will have the edge.  Technically this is a neutral field game for the Razorbacks, but the will definitely have the larger fan base at this game.  I think this matchup is going to be decided by a late field goal, and I would lean towards the Razorbacks picking up the win.  I think a better play in this game is on the over since neither of these defensive units have played very well this season.

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