No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs (9-0 SU, 5-4 ATS) vs. No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide (8-1 SU, 3-5-1 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date and Time: Saturday November 15th, 2014. 3:30PM EST
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium Tuscaloosa, A.L.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MSU +7/ALA -7
Over/Under Total: TBA
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Last week the Alabama Crimson Tide survived a road trip at night in Baton Rouge as they pulled out a clutch 20-13 victory over LSU in overtime. The win kept the Crimson Tide alive in the SEC West and the college football playoff race. However the road to a championship gets even tougher this week when the no. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs come into Tuscaloosa for a heavyweight showdown. The top ranked Bulldogs have been the surprise story in the SEC this year and they will have the chance to win the SEC West this Saturday at Alabama.
Despite a perfect 9-0 record and being just one win away from taking down the toughest divisional title in college football, the Bulldogs will enter this Saturdays meeting with Alabama as fairly sizeable underdogs. Mississippi State opened as 7 point underdogs at most online betting shops marking just the 3rd time this season the Bulldogs have not been favored. However the good news for the cowbells is that the Bulldogs have covered the spread in each of their last 5 games as an underdog and won the last 3 outright.
For the Bulldogs to repeat that trend, they will have to snap a 13 game home winning streak by Alabama inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide proved last week that they may be a team of destiny. Down by a field goal, quarterback Blake Sims orchestrated a 55 yard drive with just 50 seconds on the clock to setup a 27 yard Adam Griffith field goal to force the game into overtime. In overtime, Alabamas dynamic defense took over to shutout LSU in 4 straight plays following a Crimson Tide touchdown to seal the win.
Alabamas defense has really played well during the latter part of the season and they will be the key to knocking off the Bulldogs at home this week. Mississippi States offense has been great on the ground averaging 254 yards per game (16th in FBS). Quarterback Dak Prescott is making his case for a Heisman Trophy with 18 touchdowns through the air and an additional 11 scores on the ground. Despite the success throwing the football, Dan Mullens offense relies on the ground game to move the football and set the tone. Prescott and running back Josh Robinson have been incredible in the option-read rushing attack combining for 1,763 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns.
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The Bulldogs have not been slowed by any defenses this season so it will be interesting to see if Alabama has an answer. The Crimson Tide defense owns the 2nd best scoring unit in the FBS holding opponents 13.9 points per game. Rest assured the defense will be ready to battle this option-read rushing attack because not only will they see this offense this week but they will see an offense that runs a very similar style rushing attack in the Iron Bowl against Auburn. This game will come down to Alabamas ability to stop the run and keep their offense on the field.
Alabamas offense has enough weapons to score points even against a rather strong Mississippi State defense. Quarterback Blake Sims has thrown 17 touchdowns with just 3 picks and receiver Amari Cooper is likely the best wideout in the nation. Add a strong rushing attack to the mix and Alabama should be able to move the football to score some points. However, their fate will be decided on the defensive side of the football. Mississippi State has made defenses look silly all season and it will be telling to see if they can sustain their success against their toughest challenge to date.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: At first glance, I was a bit surprised to see Alabama favored by as much as a touchdown. However I believe they will sell out to stop the run and make Prescott throw the football. If the Bulldogs have trouble moving the football, Alabama could easily cover the mark. Consider a small play on Alabama -7