Mississippi State Bulldogs (4-5 SU, 4-5 ATS) vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (9-0 SU, 7-2 ATS)
College Football Week 11
Date/Time: Saturday November 12th, 2016. 12:00PM (EST)
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium Tuscaloosa, A.L.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MSU +28.5/BAMA -28.5
Over/Under Total: TBA
The no. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide overcame one of their biggest challenges of the season last week with a road win over LSU at night in Baton Rouge. It was not pretty at times as quarterback Jalen Hurts gave up a few turnovers early but the Crimson Tide defense showed why they are the #1 defense in America as they shutout LSU as the Tigers continued to struggle at the quarterback position. Now with just a couple of weeks remaining before the prestigious Iron Bowl, Alabama looks to avoid any surprising setbacks as they host the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Tuscaloosa this Saturday.
The Bulldogs are currently listed as 4 touchdown underdogs to the top ranked Crimson Tide. However, Mississippi State proved last week they are worthy of the upset special with a surprising 35-28 victory over no. 4 Texas A&M in Starkville. Now the Bulldogs set their eyes on an even bigger upset as they attempt to do the unthinkable by knocking off this top ranked Alabama team who most think cannot be beaten. The good news for Mississippi State fans is that perhaps last weeks game against LSU shed some light on how to attack this dangerous Crimson Tide offense that has averaged 40.1 points per game on the season.
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LSU proved last week that Jalen Hurts can be rattled with pressure and is not near as dangerous when he has to get rid of the ball quickly. Now I understand Alabama has one of the best offensive lines in the country and LSU has a great pass rush that Mississippi State will not be able to duplicate in terms of talent. However, the Bulldogs can get creative with their coverages and blitz packages to try to get defenders in the backfield quickly. I do not see how anyone, not just Mississippi State, can feel comfortable giving Hurts time to throw the football down the field with guys like Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart on the edges.
Last week the Bulldogs did a good job in coverage against a high powered passing attack from Texas A&M and they will need a similar effort this Saturday. Still with all those defensive concerns, the Bulldogs are going to have to score points to keep this game close. We have seen how dominate this Alabama defense has been all season. Even if you throw out last weeks shutout to an LSU team that could not throw the football, Alabama has still dominated against some of the best offenses around and ranks 2nd in the FBS allowing just 13.2 points per game. Need I remind you they also continue to dominate every other team in terms of non-offensive touchdowns.
Luckily Mississippi State has a quarterback that is a nightmare to defend. Sophomore quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has played really well this season and continues to lead this offense out of the pits of mediocrity. Fitzgerald hit 18 of 31 passing for 209 yards with 2 scores and 2 picks in the win against the Aggies last week and also rushed for 182 yards with 2 additional touchdowns. It was actually the 4th game in a row that Fitzgerald had rushed for multiple touchdowns and the 3rd game in a row he had rushed for more than 100 yards. Therefore, he is the X factor that gives this offense an opportunity even against a defense that is as dangerous as Alabama. Surely Nick Saban will have linebackers following Fitzgeralds every move but a few big plays early could get this defense on their heels. If they can get WR Fred Ross going on the outside and Fitzgerald, the Bulldogs could make a game out of this one.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I hate betting against Alabama. I got burned last week with LSU even though I still feel like that was the right pick. This week I am going against the Crimson Tide once more. The Bulldogs do not give up many big plays and I think they will make enough plays to stay within the number. I do not see any upset happening but 4 touchdowns is a lot to cover against a Mississippi State team that has lost by 1 score or less in 4 of their 5 losses this season. Take Mississippi State +28.5
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