Alabama-Mississippi State Betting Guide: Are Bulldogs Still Being Undervalued?
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Nick Fitzgerald, Tua Tagovailoa
Alabama-Mississippi State Betting Odds, Pick
- Spread: Alabama -23.5
- Over/Under: 53.5
- Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS
We saw what Alabama can do against a quality defense last week, when it put up 576 yards on LSU. Now the Tide gets what might be an even stiffer test from Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs have been anemic on offense at times this season, but boast one of the nation’s best defenses. Mississippi State ranks fifth overall, eighth against the pass and 25th against the run, per the advanced metrics from S&P+, and 22nd in havoc. The defensive line is a major strength, led by Montez Sweat (9.5 sacks) and Jeffery Simmons (12.5 tackles for loss).
But this is Alabama’s offense we’re talking about. Can the Bulldogs hang inside this big number, maybe even give the Tide a scare?
>> All odds as of noon ET on Friday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets.
Market Moves for Alabama-Mississippi State
After opening at -24, Alabama reached as high as -26 before big bettors started to bring this line down. Mississippi State’s 22% of bets have accounted for 30% of dollars wagered as of writing (see live data here), which has brought this line back down to -23.5 — even past its opener.
The over/under has risen from its opening number for the same reason. While the over is getting 46% of bets, those have accounted for 52% of the money, moving this total from 51.5 to 53.5.
Alabama’s Defense Making Strides vs. the Run
While Alabama’s offense was going scorched Earth on everyone, the Tide’s defense showed some cracks. It was giving up big plays and getting run on: Arkansas put up 172 yards at 5.5 yards per carry in Week 6 and Louisiana-Lafayette rushed for 200-plus on 5.3 per touch in Week 5.
Since then, Bama has cleaned it up. It’s given up a combined 113 yards on 90 carries in its past three games against Missouri, Tennessee and LSU. Last week, the Tigers carried 25 times for 12 yards.
That run defense will be imperative against a Mississippi State team that ranks seventh nationally in yards per carry (6.04) and top 10 in a host of advanced metrics.
Has Nick Fitzgerald Really Improved?
Mississippi State’s senior quarterback hit a low point this season against LSU (8-of-24 passing for 59 yards and four interceptions) before bouncing back over the past two weeks.
Is it real, or is it a mirage?
Fitzgerald went 31-of-50 for 484 yards with four touchdowns against Texas A&M and Louisiana Tech. He’s always been a run-first guy, and he’s continued to do that well, but the passing game needed major improvements if the Bulldogs wanted to hang with the likes of Alabama.
While I like Mississippi State to cover this big number, I certainly have my doubts that Fitzgerald can be effective against a Tide defense that showed its best self against LSU last week. Last season, Fitzgerald went 13-of-24 for 158 yards with 66 rushing yards against Bama in a 31-24 loss.
The Bulldogs did control the ball for almost 39 minutes in that game. Alabama had only 10 possessions, and Mississippi State had a touchdown-lead in the fourth quarter.
Bet to Watch
After the threat of losing the starting job, Mississippi State’s Fitzgerald has been on a tear in his past two games. The same could be said about the Bulldogs as a whole, ranking fifth overall in defensive S&P+ and 23rd in passing explosiveness while owning the trenches with top 15 rankings on both sides of the ball in stuff rate.
Senior safeties Johnathan Abram and Mark McLaurin combined with sophomore corner Cameron Dantzler make it one of the toughest pass defenses in the nation. That will be key against an Alabama offense that throws the ball better than any team, besides maybe Oklahoma.
LSU had the defense to take Alabama out of fifth gear, but could not produce on the offensive end in last week’s 29-0 loss. The Crimson Tide might have come away from the game a little beat up, specifically Tua Tagovailoa having a noticeable limp after running for touchdown.
With Jalen Hurts is questionable this week, any further injury to Tagovailoa could result in third-string Mac Jones getting snaps. Alabama is laying too many points here. The Action Network’s power ratings and S&P+ both have this game under three touchdowns.
The number has lost a little value since coming down from +26, but I’m on the Bulldogs.
Trends to Know
By John Ewing
Alabama rolled past LSU last week. Since 2005, teams that decisively beat a top 10 opponent by double-digits have struggled to cover in their next game, going 66-94-3 (41%) against the spread.
But it’s Nick Saban and Bama, you might say.
Like other coaches, Saban has struggled in this situation, going 4-12 ATS.
By Evan Abrams
A popular sentiment could be that the Crimson Tide could have a few issues covering such a high spread this week after drubbing LSU.
Under Saban, Alabama is 36-26 ATS (+8.8 units) the week after winning by four or more touchdowns, making the Tide the third-most profitable team in FBS since hiring Saban in 2007.
Alabama is also 18-12 ATS (+5.5 units) when playing at home the week after a 28-plus point win.
Saban and Alabama haven’t faced this good of a defense since 2012.
The Bulldogs are allowing 12.3 points per game, tied for second in the country. This will be the ninth time Saban and Alabama face a team in November or later that’s allowing 14 or fewer points per game.
Saban is 6-2 straight-up and ATS in that spot, but has not faced an SEC team in this spot during the regular season since November 2011, which was at home against LSU. Alabama lost 9-6.
Three of the past four games played by Alabama in this spot have been in the College Football Playoff or national championship.