A Closer Look At The Mississippi State Bulldogs at Alabama Crimson Tide College Football Week 11 Expert PicksWhen: Saturday, November 12
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL
NCAAF Odds: Alabama -15
Bet The Mississippi State Bulldogs at +15 Because…They’re two-touchdown underdogs. The Mississippi State Bulldogs (9-4 SU, 8-5 ATS) are going to have a new look without incomparable quarterback Dak Prescott leading them in 2016, but there is still talent for head coach Dan Mullen to work with. Overcoming the loss of their beloved former signal-caller is a huge blow, but the Bulldogs have plenty of talent at the position, even if they are mostly inexperienced. Right now, it looks like redshirt sophomore Nick Fitzgerald will be the Bulldogs’ starter in 2016, but whoever starts will have some nearly impossible shoes to fill following Prescott’s stellar career.
Not only that, but the Bulldogs have question marks at running back after ranking 102nd in rushing last season that could turn them into the one-dimensional team they were a year ago. The good news is that whoever starts under center will have a solid group of receivers starting with senior Fred Ross who grabbed 88 passes for 1,007 yards last season. The bad news is that Mullen needs to find a pair of new starters for an offensive line that gave up 32 sacks last season including a mind-boggling nine against Alabama in their lone meeting.
Mississippi State will also have a completely new look on defense as a new staff, led by coordinator Peter Sirmon takes over and installs a 3-4 defense. The Bulldogs will also have to overcome the loss of five starters on defense including star linebacker Beniquez Brown and defensive tackle Chris Jones who have both moved on to the NFL. Mississippi State does have another pair of stars in defensive end A.J. Jefferson (13.5 sacks) and linebacker Richie Brown and another blossoming playmaker in sophomore safety Brandon Bryant.
Bet The Alabama Crimson Tide at -15 Because…The best reason to bet on the Crimson Tide is that they’re superior to Mississippi State in all three phases of the game and are playing at home. The Tide need to replace starting quarterback Jake Coker and Heisman Trophy winning running back Derrick Henry, not to mention a slew of elite defensive players that mostly all moved on to the NFL after dominating last season.
The good news is that, whoever starts at quarterback, they’ll have a trio of elite targets in leading receiver Calvin Ridley, No. 2 wideout ArDarius Stewart and big-play threat Robert Foster. The Crimson Tide lost a ton on defense, but they’re well prepared to replace them with a talented rotation of front seven defenders that include Da’Shawn Hand, Da’Ron Payne, Dalvin Tomlinson, Jonathan Allen and Tim Williams.
Still, the Tide ranked a stellar third in total defense (276.2 ypg) and an equally impressive third in points allowed (15.1 ppg) and Nick Saban has fielded an elite defense each and every year of his tenure at Alabama, so don’t expect the reigning national champs to fall far off their stupendous defense from last season.
Expert Pick & Final Score PredictionIt would appear that a whopping 15 points should be enough for Mississippi State to cover, but I don’t think so right now, seeing as how Alabama has won eight straight over their SEC rivals including a convincing 31-6 beatdown as a 7-point road favorite last season.
I know the Bulldogs are 3-2 ATS in their last five meetings against Alabama, but I just don’t see Mississippi State being able to overcome the loss of Dak Prescott. Crimson Tide’s lockdown defense sacked Prescott an insane nine times a year ago and will almost assuredly make life miserable for whoever starts under center for the Bulldogs in this matchup.