The Miami (OH) RedHawks will take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the St. Petersburg Bowl. The game is scheduled for Monday, December 26th. Kickoff is scheduled for 11:00 am EST at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Oddsmakers have the Bulldogs as a 12.5-point favorite with the total at 58 points.

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St. Petersburg Bowl Vegas Odds Preview: Miami (OH) vs Mississippi St

The RedHawks (6-6) surprised a lot of people this season. Miami finished T-1st in the MAC East with a 6-2 record. It was the RedHawks’s first winning season in the MAC since going 8-1 in 2010. The best story with Miami (OH) is how they became bowl eligible. The RedHawks won their final 6 games after starting the season 0-6.

The Bulldogs (5-7) finished just 3-5 in the SEC West and had a losting record at 5-7. However, they were one of 3 teams with a losing record to get a bowl invite. It was Mississippi State’s first losing season since going 5-7 back in 2009. A decent decline for a team that had won 19 games combined the last two years. However, the setback shouldn’t be a huge surprise. The Bulldogs lost star QB Dak Prescott, who is an NFL MVP candidate in his rookie season.

St. Petersburg Bowl Free Pick & Spread Predictions: Miami (OH) +12.5

I’m going to take the points here with the RedHawks. I know teams with losing records went 3-0 SU last year, but this is a big number to be laying. In fact, I have Mississippi State predicted to win outright, I just think it’s going to be a close game. With that said, I wouldn’t be shocked if Miami (OH) won this contest.

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I know the Bulldogs are a young team and could see this game as a building block for next year. However, I just don’t see them being all that excited about playing a sub-par MAC team that hasn’t been relative in years. Keep in mind the RedHawks had gone a mere 13-47 the previous 5 seasons coming into this year.

While Mississippi State figures to struggle to get up for this one, Miami (OH) is going to be motivated. The RedHawks haven’t been to a bowl since 2010 and get to try and prove themselves against a SEC West opponent.

Miami (OH) also has a ton of momentum going into this game, having won their final six to get to a bowl. Keep in mind their 6-game winning streak started with the return of sophomore QB Gus Ragland. He was sensational in those 6 games. Ragland completed 62.4% of his passes for 1,274 yards with 15 TD’s to 0 INT’s. Who knows, maybe this team would have won 10 games with him as the starter for the full season. They did have 4 losses by 10 or less without him.

Ragland should be able to get the RedHawks offense going against the Bulldogs. Mississippi State’s secondary was a major weakness this season. They finished 120th out of 128 FBS teams in pass defense, allowing 283.1 ypg. Let’s also not overlook the fact that this Bulldogs team lost to South Alabama. They also squeaked out a 47-35 win against UMass.

It’s also worth pointing out that the RedHawks can really get after you on defense. They finished 26th in the country in total defense (354.7 ypg). Their 39th ranked run defense (139.8 ypg) is also a key stat against the Bulldogs. Mississippi State was 24th in rushing, compared to just 83rd in passing. The game that really tells me this defense is for real is their non-conference game against WKU. They held a potent Hilltoppers offense to just 31 points and 404 yards of offense.