Arkansas Razorbacks (4-4 SU, 6-2 ATS) vs. No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-0 SU, 5-2 ATS)
College Football Week 10
Date and Time: Saturday November 1st, 2014. 7:15PM EST
Where: Davis Wade Stadium Starkville, M.S.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ARK +10.5/MSU -10.5
Over/Under Total: 64.5
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The top ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs return to action this week with a home stand against the Arkansas Razorbacks inside Davis Wade Stadium. Dan Mullens Bulldogs continued their torrid run through the SEC last week with a 45-31 victory at Kentucky marking the teams 3rd straight victory over an SEC opponent by at least 14 points. The Bulldogs appear to be on a collision course with Alabama and Ole Miss to ultimately decide the SEC West and possibly clinch a playoff spot. However before the big matchup with Alabama arrives, the Bulldogs must hold off a feisty Arkansas team this Saturday night in Starkville.
The visiting Razorbacks stepped outside the conference last week with a 45-17 victory over UAB. While Arkansas is a perfect 4-0 outside the conference, the Razorbacks luck inside the conference has not been near as good. The Razorbacks have still not won a single conference game going 0-4 SU in the SEC. However I warn folks that this Arkansas team should not be taken lightly. Lets not forget that this years Arkansas team is in the toughest division in college football history and they have still been very competitive. Bret Bielemas team is a far cry better than the 3-9 group he inherited at the end of last year. The Razorbacks went into overtime with a top 10 ranked Texas A&M team and a week later went down to the wire with Alabama in a 14-13 loss. Needless to say, this team has proven they can compete.
One of the main reasons Arkansas remains a threat to Mississippi State this week despite the fact they are 0-4 in SEC play and on the road in Starkville is because of the play of their offense. The Razorbacks have an offense that has posted 39.1 points per game this season which is the 16th best mark in the FBS. More importantly it is how the offense operates that makes Bielemas team a threat in these big games. The Razorbacks are very physical and excel in the running game averaging 258 yards per game on the ground. The team has two elite running backs in Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins who have combined for 1,577 yards and 19 touchdowns. In fact, both backs should easily eclipse the 1,000 yard plateau by the end of the year. Additionally, the offense has a quarterback in Brandon Allen who has been very effective when needed tossing 15 touchdowns with just 4 picks.
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The Razorbacks offense does a great job of wearing teams down with their running attack and their ability to chew up the clock typically puts pressure on opposing offenses. Arkansas actually ranks 5th in the FBS in time of possession as a result of their highly successful rushing attack. Anytime you can keep the ball away from your opponents, you have the opportunity to win football games and that is why this Arkansas team should not be taken lightly. The Bulldogs defense has not been overly impressive this season giving up 28.5 points on average over their last 4 games. The good news for Bulldogs fans is that the offense has been brilliant averaging 42.3 points per contests. Still, the concern lingers for the Mississippi State defense and their ability to make stops if they ever find their selves in a close game late in the 4th quarter. Can Arkansas play keep away and find ways to score to keep this game competitive late?
For that to happen, the Razorbacks defense is going to have to play one of their best games of the year. Mississippi States offense is explosive and very physical upfront. Quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Josh Robinson are at the forefront of a Bulldogs rushing attack that has averaged 273 yards per game (13th in FBS). Prescott and Robinson have each scored 10 rushing touchdowns a piece. Robinson leads the team with 887 yards averaging over 7 yards per touch while Prescott has averaged 5.4 yards per touch for 664 yards on just as many carries. Prescott is a tough runner at the quarterback position but he has also been solid with his arm tossing 15 touchdowns with just 5 picks on the season. Typically Mississippi States relentless ground attack opens up holes in the passing attack and that is a formula that has worked against Arkansass defense this season. If they are able to connect on a few big plays, the Bulldogs may cruise to another convincing victory.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I get the reason why Arkansas is just a 10.5 point underdog, but I just do not think they keep it that close throughout the entire game. Mississippi State is just too strong on both sides of the ball and they pull away late. Take Mississippi State -10.5!