Arizona vs Mississippi State Odds & Picks: Can Bulldogs Down Wildcats?

Arizona vs Mississippi State Odds & Picks: Can Bulldogs Down Wildcats? article feature image

Photo by Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jo’Quavious Marks (Mississippi State)

Arizona vs Mississippi State Odds

Sept. 9
7:30 p.m. ET
SEC Network
Arizona Odds
-105o / -115u
Mississippi State Odds
-105o / -115u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAF odds here.

Arizona travels to Starkville looking for revenge after last season's 39-17 beatdown in Tucson.

The Wildcats took care of business in their opening game and beat Northern Arizona, 38-3.

Arizona narrowly missed out on a bowl game last year, but winning just three games in the Pac 12 is cause for concern.

The offense will again be dynamic with Jayden de Laura at quarterback, but can the defense stop anybody?

Zach Arnett is the new head coach at Mississippi State after Mike Leach tragically passed away last year. Arnett was previously defensive coordinator and oversaw a lot of improvement from the Bulldogs' defense.

Offensively, Mississippi State will be making a pretty drastic change, going away from the Air Raid in favor of a more balanced attack.

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Arizona Wildcats

De Laura is back at quarterback and remains extremely erratic. He had 29 total touchdowns last year, but threw 13 interceptions and fumbled 13 times.

He also really struggled against Mississippi State last season, going 23-for-45 for 220 yards with three interceptions.

He averaged 8.4 yards per attempt, but put up a PFF passing grade of just 72.7 because of all the turnovers.

Seven other offensive starters return, including most of the skill-position players. Top back Michael Wiley, who averaged a whopping 6.8 yards per carry, returns alongside five of the top six pass catchers.

The only problem with the offense is it brings back just three starters on an offensive line that struggled and ranked outside the top 70 in both PFF run blocking and pass blocking grades.

Arizona couldn't stop anybody last season. The Wildcats allowed 6.5 yards per play while ranking 130th in Success Rate Allowed, 129th in EPA/Play Allowed and 123rd in Finishing Drives Allowed.

The Wildcats bring back just three starters on defense, and even though they brought in a few transfers, I don't know how they're going to stop Mississippi State's offense.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

Mississippi State is going through a transition period on offense as it shifts to a more balanced attack.

Offensive coordinator Kevin Barbay comes over from Appalachian State, where he had a run rate over 55%. It will also be a new system for quarterback Will Rogers, but that may be a benefit.

Rogers posted a 72.5 PFF passing grade last year, but threw the ball over 40 times per game. Meanwhile, Barbay's App State offense ranked top-25 in both Rushing Success Rate and EPA/Rush last season.

Top running back Jo'Quavious Marks returns after averaging 5.2 yards per carry and helping Mississippi State rank in the top 50 in Rushing Success Rate last year.

In addition to Marks, 113 starts return on the offensive line. So, although this offense will look different, it should be pretty solid.

Arnett turned Mississippi State into a formidable defense last year — the Bulldogs finished top-40 in Success Rate Allowed, EPA/Play Allowed and Finishing Drives Allowed. They return only four starters, but their top three tacklers and most experienced defenders are back, which is huge when there are a lot of new faces.

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Arizona vs Mississippi State

Betting Pick & Prediction

Arizona may have the better quarterback in this matchup, but given how unbelievably awful the Wildcats were defensively last season, I don't have much confidence in them hanging with Mississippi State.

Mississippi State is going through an offensive transition, but I think that will benefit Rogers as he gets more help from the rushing attack.

I have Mississippi State projected as a -17.3 favorite, so I like the value on the Bulldogs at -9 (BetMGM), and I would play it up to -13.

Pick: Mississippi State -9 (Play to -13)

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