The Mississippi State Bulldogs will begin life without Dak Prescott when they host the South Alabama Jaguars in their 2016 regular season opener. While beating their lesser opponents looks like a walk in the park, the big question surrounding this Week 1 mismatch is whether or not the Dogs can cover the college football betting lines as nearly five touchdown favorites. Let’s find out now!
Here’s a Closer Look At The Jaguars at Bulldogs 2016 Week 1 Predictions
When: Saturday, September 3, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Where: Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS
TV: SEC Network
Live Stream: NCAA Live
NCAAF Odds: Mississippi State -32
Bet The South Alabama Jaguars at +32 Because…
Mississippi State will have a new starting quarterback and hey…five touchdowns is a ton! South Alabama Jaguars (5-7 SU, 4-8 ATS) will look to reach the six-win mark in 2016 after falling just short of becoming bowl eligible a year ago. Head coach Joey Jones will lean on running backs Xavier Johnson and Tyreis Thomas to carry an offense that will again, feature the run, first and foremost.
The bad news is that the Jags have question marks at quarterback where three players will duke it out for the starting spot and more questions on the offensive line where their best player decided to transfer and play at NC State for his final season. Defensively, South Alabama will have a new defensive coordinator in Kane Womack and he’ll lean on the Jags’ best two defenders early and often in linebackers, Roman Buchanan and Kalen Jackson.
- The Jaguars are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games in September.
- The Jaguars are 5-15 ATS in their last 20 games overall.
- The Jaguars are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 road games.
- The Jaguars are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games.
Bet The Mississippi State Bulldogs at +15 Because…
They’re two-touchdown underdogs. The 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.
Expert Pick & Final Score Prediction
While I absolutely abhor the insanely high point spreads associated with Week 1 and 2 mismatches, but I’m going with South Alabama to get the ATS cover against a Mississippi State team that will have to find its way without Dak Prescott. The Bulldogs are 5-1 ATS in their last six games in the month of September and 5-2 ATS in their last seven games overall, but I believe the 32-poinspread is both, insane and a few points too high for the ‘Dogs to cover.