Texas A&M Aggies vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs Pick
Texas A&M Aggies (5-2 SU, 6-1 ATS) vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs (4-3 SU, 4-3 ATS)
When: Saturday, October 27th, 2018 - 7:00 EST
Where: Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS
TV: SEC Network
By: Keith Franks, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TAMU -2.5 / MISS STATE +2.5
Poll Rankings: Texas A&M (17) / Mississippi State (NR)
Takeaways From Week 8
The Aggies come in off their third straight win earned two weeks ago on the road in the hostile confines of Columbia, South Carolina when they defeated the Gamecocks by a score of 26-23 to generate a small cover against a -2.5 line. Many argue that A&M could very well be the best two-loss team in America as their defeats came against the top two teams in the land Alabama and Clemson. In both affairs, Texas A&M looked far better against their counterparts than the line forecasted going 2-0 ATS against the Tigers and Tide.
Mississippi State enters off a nasty 19-3 loss suffered on the road in Death Valley against the No. 4 LSU Tigers. Bulldogs Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald looked lost throwing the football as he completed just 33% of his passes for 59 yards and threw four interceptions. That was the ultimate difference maker. However, when it came to running the ball the Bulldogs were able to generate 201 yards on the ground which is certainly a positive.
How the Public is Betting the Texas A&M-Mississippi State Game
The market is right down Broadway as the public is literally down the middle about this game. 50% of the consensus like either side in this contest.
The Bulldogs hold the upper hand in this divisional series as they have won three of the preceding four clashes between both outfits. Last year, Mississippi State smoked A&M in Aggieland by a score of 35-14 but this was of course before previous Head Coach Dan Mullen left and present Aggie skipper Jimbo Fisher came to town.
Bulldogs running back Kylin Hill remains a question mark for this pivotal SEC West contest. Hill has served as a great complement to quarterback Nick Fitzgerald when it comes to the Bulldogs’ two-pronged rushing attack. If Hill is unavailable, Aeris Williams will see an expanded role and this is no issue for Mississippi State as he was their bell-cow in 2017.
When Texas A&M Has the Ball
The Aggies are a balanced offense that enjoy both passing and running the football. On the year, the Aggies stand 14th nationally in total offense with 486.7 yards per game. This is a team that features an 1,800-yard passer in Kellen Mond who spearheads a 24th-ranked passing attack that compiles 282.4 yards through the air per game. To complement this, Texas A&M generates over 200 yards of rushing per game and they have a monster at half-back in Traveon Williams who leads the team with eight touchdowns and 798 yards on the ground. The good news is that Mississippi State’s defense is stingy. They allow a mere 13.6 points per game (4th in the nation) an a sixth-ranked 282.4 yards of total offense per game.
When Mississippi State Has the Ball
The anchor of this offense is Nick Fitzgerald as he can hurt opposing defenses with both his arms and legs. Combining his exploits through the air and on the ground, Fitzgerald would be a great advocate for FedEx as he has accumulated 11 scores on 1,400-plus yards (throwing and running). Against Texas A&M’s 91st ranked passing defense, he has a good match-up there and will also be able to loosen up an Aggies front that stands second in the nation against the run (78.4 yards per game) through effective use of run-pass options.
There are two noteworthy trends that get our attention. First, the Road Team is 9-2 ATS in the past 11 games. Secondly, the favorite is 8-1 ATS in the last nine meetings. While these trends area not a reflection of the teams taking the field on Saturday they can nonetheless steer plenty of action toward Texas especially with the low-hanging fruit.
The forecast calls for a cloudy and humid day in Starkville. Temperatures are expected to land in the mid-50’s.
Keith Pick to Cover the Spread: Mississippi State +125
Buying low and selling high is a key principle of handicapping games. The stock on the Aggies is high enough that they are spotting points to a team that has a notorious reputation of raising Hell for any opponents that come into Starkville through the use of a cowbell. Still, Mississippi State looked awful last week and this impression will encourage many perhaps to ride the team with the hot hand. However, Mississippi State lost two in a row against both Kentucky and Florida before they played host to a then top-10 ranked Auburn. In that situation, there was a bigger lean on the Tigers but this game has a similar feel in that we saw a ranked opponent laying a small number on the road. Long story, short Auburn was pummeled by the Bulldogs 23-9. We like them here off-the-radar with an opportunity to up-end the Aggies. Dogs outright get the call.
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