Ole Miss Rebels (5-6 SU, 3-7-1 ATS) vs. No. 16 Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-3 SU, 7-4 ATS)
College Football Week 13
Date/Time: Thursday November 23rd, 2017. 7:30PM (EST)
Where: Davis Wade Stadium Starkville, M.S.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MISS +16.5/MSST -16.5
Over/Under Total: 62.5
The 2017 version of the Egg Bowl will take place this Thursday on Thanksgiving Day when the Ole Miss Rebels collide with the no. 16 Mississippi State Bulldogs inside Davis Wade Stadium. The tale of the tape for both teams entering this Thursdays meeting is a stark contrast to what most people expected entering the season. The Bulldogs have surpassed expectations in route to an 8-3 record and 7-4 mark against the spread. The Bulldogs did not get any of the quality wins they were hoping against the top teams in the SEC but they did win the games they were expected. Not only did they win every game they were favored but they also covered the mark in 5 of 7 games this season as favorites. Meanwhile, the Rebels have failed to improve on last years 5-7 record and are on the verge of failing to become bowl eligible for the 2nd season in a row.
The Rebels were dealt a tough hand before the year began when Head Coach Hugh Freeze was let go and it would be impossible to claim that situation did not affect the Rebels season. However, I still believe this team has a lot of talent which has shown throughout the year. The major problems have been defense and a host of injuries. Quarterback Shea Patterson was leading the SEC in passing yards when he went down for the year and there have been several other critical injuries that have played an impact on this season.
However, the biggest negative impact from the season has been the play of the defense which has been atrocious giving up 455 yards (113th in FBS) and 35.2 points (111th in the FBS) per game. Despite the loss of Patterson, backup Jordan Taamu has been very solid hitting 70% passing with 9 scores and 3 picks. Running back Jordan Wilkins has been solid with 901 rushing yards and AJ. Brown has led the receiving crops with 69 catches for 1,085 yards with 10 touchdowns. The offense has found ways to remain productive but the defense remains the biggest concern especially on Thursday against a very dangerous Mississippi State offense.
The Bulldogs are not only talented on the offensive side of the ball but they are also very physical. They have the size and strength to dominate the Rebels with their offensive line and that bodes well for quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and running back Aeris Williams who are both closing in on the 1,000 yard mark. Fitzgerald actually leads the team with 968 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. Meanwhile, Williams has added another 944 yards with 5 scores. This Bulldogs offense does not throw the ball very often but honestly they have not needed to in most games.
From a matchup standpoint, I am not sure how this Rebels defense is going to get the stops on defense to keep Mississippi State from moving the chains. The only positive aspect that comes to mind is the fact this is a rivalry game and often teams elevate their play in rivalry matchups. For that to be true, Ole Miss will have to play much better on the defensive side of the ball than they have this year. I believe they have enough firepower to make some things happen offensively but I am just worried about the defense withstanding 60 full minutes of play at the hands of a physical running offense.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: In the last 20 meetings, this rivalry has been split right down the middle with both Ole Miss and Mississippi State owning 10 victories. While the rivalry has been back and forth, the outcomes haven not been as close. The final score has been decided by at least two touchdowns in 5 of the last 6 meetings. I mentioned earlier that the Bulldogs have covered the mark in 5 of the last 7 games and I think that trend continues. The Bulldogs rushing offense is too consistent and their defense is solid. Take Mississippi State -16. – If you went to the store and on the shelf was the exact same product, one for $110 and one for $105 which would you buy? The cheaper one of course! So why would you pay -110 odds on your bets instead of -105? Start betting at discounted odds today at 5Dimes!