Vanderbilt Commodores (3-7 SU, 5-5 ATS) vs. No. 4 Mississippi State Bulldogs (9-1 SU, 6-4 ATS)
College Football Week 13
Date and Time: Saturday November 22nd, 2014. 7:30PM EST
Where: Davis Wade Stadium Starkville, M.S.
TV: SEC Network
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: VANDY +29/MSU -29
Mississippi States Cinderella season struck midnight last week as the Bulldogs suffered their first loss of the year in a 25-20 defeat at Alabama. However the season has not been lost for Dan Mullens Bulldogs as they currently occupy the 4th and final spot in the college football playoffs if the season ended today. Therefore the 4th ranked Bulldogs still control their own destiny with two games to go in the regular season and a big anticipated Egg Bowl on the horizon. Before we prepare for an enormous Egg Bowl, Mississippi State must first take care of business this week as large favorites over the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Mississippi State is currently listed as 29 point favorites at most betting shops marking the first time the Bulldogs have been favored by more than 14 points in SEC competition since 2011. Perhaps the line is justified considering the Bulldogs overwhelmingly outclass the Commodores on both sides of the ball in terms of both production and talent. After nearly being in the hot seat just a year ago, Mullen has propelled the Bulldogs to one of the top programs in the country throughout 2014 and it has been largely due to the fact they have played so well on both sides of the pigskin. The defense has given up just 20.2 points per game (17th best in the FBS) and the offense is averaging 37.8 points per game as the 15th best scoring unit in college football.
If you compare those stats against a team like Vanderbilt, you can quickly see why the spread is so high in favor of the Bulldogs entering this Saturdays matchup. Vanderbilt has yet to win a game this year in SEC competition and they have been really bad against ranked teams. In fact, the Commodores have lost their 3 matchups against ranked teams by an average of 26 points per contest. On paper, things get even worse as Vanderbilt ranks towards the bottom of the FBS in nearly every major category. The Commodores are currently listed 107th in passing, 113th in rushing, 119th in scoring, and 101st in scoring defense.
However the Commodores have a great situational matchup this week where they get Mississippi State coming off a big time loss and possibly looking ahead to next weeks big showdown with Ole Miss. Last week everyone witnessed how LSU responded to their hard fought loss to Alabama as they were shutout against Arkansas who snapped a 17 game losing streak in conference play. Obviously, Vanderbilt does not have the team to pull off any shocking type of shutout like the Razorbacks did last week. However, they are in good position to catch a vulnerable Mississippi State team given the circumstances and perhaps they can keep it within the number at the very least.
Defensively the Commodores will need to sell out on the run to stop Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Josh Robinson who both have 11 touchdowns each on the ground this season. Mississippi States offense strives through their ground attack with Prescott and Robinson. Not only are those guys tough to start when they get rolling but the passing game often opens up when they are moving the chains. Therefore Vanderbilt has to sellout the stop the run and put the Bulldogs into passing situations often to sustain success in this matchup. If Vanderbilt fails to stop the run and allows Mississippi States offense to gain momentum, they will likely just be the victim of another blowout loss in SEC competition.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I know Mississippi State is in a letdown situation this week but that is just circumstantial. I have not seen anything from this Bulldogs team this season that would make me think that Dan Mullen would not have them ready to play well this Saturday. I like Mississippi State to take care of business and like the fact they are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 matchups with Vanderbilt. Take MSU -29>