No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-0 SU, 5-1 ATS) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (5-2 SU, 5-2 ATS)
College Football Week 9
Date and Time: Saturday October 25th, 2014. 3:30PM EST
Where: Commonwealth Stadium Lexington, K.Y.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MSST -14/UK +14
Over/Under Total: TBA
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Who would have thought a game between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Kentucky Wildcats would be one of the premier games in the SEC this week? Yet, that is exactly what will transpire this Saturday when two of the surprise teams in the SEC square off at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington. The top ranked Bulldogs have been unstoppable this season and are coming off a stretch where they defeated 3 straight top 10 opponents including LSU, Texas A&M, and Auburn. Dan Mullen has the Bulldogs ranked No.1 for the first time in program history and they look to keep things rolling when they go on the road this Saturday to Kentucky.
However the Wildcats at 5-2 SU are one of the surprise stories in the SEC as well this season. The Wildcats were expected to be with Vanderbilt as the worse teams in the conference but they have proved that they can compete. Before last weeks blowout loss to LSU, Kentucky took Florida into 3 overtimes before suffering a loss but bounced back with wins over Vanderbilt and a big upset over South Carolina. The Wildcats have also covered the spread for bettors in 5 of their 7 games this season which confirms their somewhat breakout success thus far in 2014.
Still, the Wildcats had a reality check last week when they were blown out 41-3 in Baton Rouge against an LSU team that was in desperate need of a big statement victory. So what makes this Kentucky team, fresh off a big blowout loss, a threat to knock off the top ranked Bulldogs this week? Well Mark Stoops has this Kentucky team doing a lot of things well. Kentuckys defense is solid giving up just 21 points per game, have some explosive playmakers on offense, and most importantly they typically play well at home. For such reasons, the Wildcats are only 14 point underdogs for this Saturdays matchup against a Bulldogs team that has completely manhandled opponents this season.
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The Bulldogs are one of two teams that currently have a top 20 scoring offense and defense. The Bulldogs defense has received a ton of the credit this season and rightfully so as they put the clamps on two of the best offenses in the country in back to back weeks against Texas A&M and Auburn. However, it is the Mississippi State running attack and Dak Prescott that makes them a legitimate threat towards the National Championship this season. The Bulldogs are averaging 264 yards per game on the ground and Prescott has been perfect in the read-option style Dan Mullen offense.
For those that have not seen Prescott in action, he is a big body quarterback that is tough to bring down when he runs the football. The Bulldogs quarterback has already racked up 576 yards and 8 touchdowns on the ground this season. Leading running back Josh Robinson has bested that mark slightly with 689 yards on the ground and 8 touchdowns. Still, Prescott is the center piece for the offense as defenses must respect his running ability which often opens things up in the passing game. On the season, the Bulldogs quarterback has hit 61% of his passes for 1,478 yards with 14 touchdowns and 4 picks. To stop Mississippi States offense, defenses must first shut down the run and try to put Prescott in pure passing situations. The problem is that defenses have been unable to do that this year. The Bulldogs have too many talented rushers and play the option read offense to perfection which has allowed their ground game to average an incredible 264 yards per contest. This week we keep an eye on the Mississippi State offense as they try to remain hot against a pretty solid Mark Stoops coached Kentucky defense.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Kentucky has vastly improved this year but they are still not talented enough to compete with this Bulldogs team. Expect Mississippi State to continue their run of dominance and win this one going away. Take Mississippi State -14