No. 16 Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-3 SU, 7-3 ATS) vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (4-6 SU, 2-7-1 ATS)
College Football Week 14
Date/Time: Saturday November 18th, 2017. 12:00PM (EST)
Where: Razorback Stadium Fayetteville, A.R.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MSST -12/ARK +12
Over/Under Total: 59
Last week the Mississippi State Bulldogs nearly pulled off the seemingly impossible by upsetting undefeated Alabama. Instead, the Bulldogs relinquished a 4th quarter lead and Alabama scored in the final seconds in a 31-24 loss. Still the performance had to be a boost of confidence for Mississippi State as they proved they are among the top teams in the SEC. This week the Bulldogs look to backup last weeks outing as they go on the road as 12 point favorites against the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville.
For Arkansas, they need to rebound after a disappointing 33-10 loss to LSU last week. The loss moved the Razorbacks to 4-6 SU on the year and they have now lost 6 of their last 7 games against conference opponents. With some calling for Bret Bielemas demise, the Razorbacks could use an inspiring performance. To do so, the play on the offensive side of the football must improve. One of the main consistencies through the Razorbacks struggles this year has been the lack of productivity from the offense. The quarterback situation has shifted back and forth between Austin Allen and Cole Kelley. Neither passer has been great struggling with consistency and each own similar touchdown (8) to interception ratios (4).
The Razorbacks have always been a run first program under Bielema and they are averaging 178 yards per game which is a decent mark. However, the total numbers are still less desiring as the unit averages just 381 yards (81st in FBS) and 27 points (70th in FBS) per game. As a group, this offense is still looking for that playmaker to step up and put the team on its back. I believe there was hope that transfer running back David Williams would be that guy, but he has never been used in heavy capacity. Either way, Arkansas needs someone to step up immediately or they are going to miss out on a bowl opportunity for the first time since 2013.
We know that Mississippi State plays solid on both sides of the football. In all honesty, their offense has been problematic for everyone since the early lulls against Auburn and Georgia. Since those losses, Mississippi State has averaged 35 points per game over the last 5 contests. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is given a lot of leeway in this offense. The majority of the play calling for the Bulldogs offense surrounds RPOs (run/pass option) or option reads where Fitzgerald can either hand the ball off to running back Aeris Williams or keep it to run himself. Both Williams and Fitzgerald have the opportunity to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing this season and have combined for 17 touchdowns.
As a group, the Bulldogs average 250 yards per game on the ground which is the 12th best mark in the FBS. However, they are not just a running football team. Despite some turnover concerns, Fitzgerald can also throw the football well. For whatever reason, the passing attack just has not produced big plays down the field. Therefore, that does leave room for opportunity for Arkansas if they can stop the run. Obviously, they have some advantage already with this game being in Fayetteville and perhaps this is a letdown spot for the Bulldogs after last weeks near win against Alabama. For that opportunity to come to fruition, the Razorbacks must stop the run. If that happens, they will have a chance to keep this game close.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: From a matchup standpoint, I clearly like Mississippi State here but I do not like the situation. Its a road game following a big letdown loss last week. It just has the trap feel. I backed the Bulldogs last week as underdogs at home. I will fade them this week as favorites on the road. Take Arkansas +12. - Move the line on this game up to 20 points by inserting it into a 20 point football teaser at the web’s best sportsbook: 5dimes!