Mississippi State vs. Arizona Point Spread Pick
Mississippi State Bulldogs (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. Arizona Wildcats (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS)
When: Saturday, September 10, 11 p.m.
Where: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz.
Point Spread: MSST -11.5/ARIZ +11.5 (Make AZ a +31.5 underdog by inserting them into a massive 20 point college football teaser at Wagerweb!)
Total: O/U 59.5
Was Arizona’s performance against San Diego State for real? If it was, this might be a trouble spot for Mississippi State because Mike Leach never does anything different, and Arizona has an excellent secondary. The Bulldogs had no problem throwing all over Memphis, but the Wildcats completely shut down anything resembling a passing game for San Diego State last week and could present a stiff challenge for the Mississippi State aerial attack in the desert.
But on the other side of the coin, Arizona doesn’t exactly have experience stopping the air raid. Jedd Fisch was an offensive coach as an assistant before taking the job in Tucson, and defensive coordinator Johnny Nansen didn’t really have a ton of success slowing down Washington State when he was an assistant at USC. Then again, Nansen wasn’t calling plays in Los Angeles; he was the defensive line coach before making the move to Tucson this season. How the Wildcats choose to defend the Bulldogs will go a long way toward deciding if they can pull the upset.
How the Public is Betting the Mississippi State/Arizona Game
The public seems to be divided on this one, as 54% of tickets have come in on Mississippi State. The sharps are not, as the line has jumped three points from Mississippi State -8.5 to -11.5. The total has gone down from 61.5 to 59.5.
Mississippi State reports no injuries.
Cornerback Treydan Stukes (lower body) is questionable. Quarterback Will Plummer (shoulder) is out.
When Mississippi State Has the Ball
There are no secrets with a Mike Leach team. The Bulldogs will throw it a lot and try to get as many plays in as possible. Will Rogers is going to try to throw the ball to any open space that he can find, but that might be a tough ask against an Arizona squad that looked very good on defense against San Diego State. The jury is still out on the Aztecs, but the Wildcats’ defense held them to 13 points on offense and just seven completions for the game.
The way you attack Arizona is either with the run game or the short pass. The Wildcats have all of their starters back in the secondary from last year, and they’ve brought in several new faces to help shore things up on the defensive side of the ball. Mississippi State really doesn’t have the strategy to attack Arizona’s weaknesses, even if it does have the personnel. Jo’quavious Marks can probably find some holes in the Wildcats’ front seven, but Leach is so resistant to running the football that the Bulldogs will probably try to go to the air even if it’s not the most effective way to attack.
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When Arizona Has the Ball
D.J. Williams got more of a chance in Tucson than he ever got in Tallahassee. The ex-Florida State back responded by going for 88 yards and a score in a comfortable win over San Diego State, and having Williams handle the ground game allowed Jayden de Laura to get comfortable in the pocket and throw for four touchdowns and 299 yards, serving as notice that this isn’t the same Arizona team that went 1-11 a season ago.
But can the Wildcats build on it? The win over San Diego State snapped a three-game losing streak, but Arizona’s problems have stretched long beyond that. The Wildcats are 1-22 against Power 5 opponents over the past three years, with a win over California being the only thing that saved Arizona from a 24-game losing streak. This team has really struggled in the past, but they’ve made a lot of changes with both Williams and de Laura — the latter of whom initially committed to Leach at Washington State before Leach fled for Starkville.
One of the interesting things with Mississippi State is how often the Bulldogs play to the over in the non-conference compared to in SEC play. In the SEC (before in the Pac-12, when Leach was at Washington State), teams regularly see the air raid and can prepare for it year after year, knowing Leach will show up on their schedule. Once you know how to stop Leach’s attack, you have the Bulldogs stopped, as they never make any changes. And that’s why Mississippi State does so much scoring early in the year: the Bulldogs are playing teams who don’t regularly face them. In their past 13 non-conference games, they’ve hit the over nine times.
That might change here because Tucson is not an offense-friendly place. The under has cashed in four of five Arizona home games, and the Wildcats are 11-4-1 to the under in their past 16 games on grass. Arizona has also been a fine bet ATS as of late; the Wildcats have covered in five of their past seven games.
This game kicks off at 11 p.m. for a reason: the heat of Tucson. There’s also a thunderstorm coming in the afternoon, so hopefully, the worst of the weather will be out of the way by the time we hit kickoff at 8 p.m. local time. Temperatures will hit around 73 degrees, with the wind blowing at six miles per hour north-northwest.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
This feels like too many points for a team that has an excellent secondary and at least some understanding of how to defend the air raid. Arizona did run the air raid itself under Kevin Sumlin before Fisch’s arrival (granted, the Wildcats ran it poorly), so there should still be a bit of knowledge about how to slow the offense down.
If that’s the case, the Wildcats should be able to hang around, and 11.5 points seem too much. Give me Arizona. Bet your Week 2 college football predictions for FREE by scoring a 50% real cash bonus up to $250 (no bonus code needed) at the sportsbook that offers the largest wagering menu on the web and that offers the best live wagering platform on the planet —> Bovada Sportsbook