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Arkansas at Mississippi State Updated Odds & Pick: Run it Back with the Razorbacks (Saturday, Oct. 3)

Arkansas at Mississippi State Updated Odds & Pick: Run it Back with the Razorbacks (Saturday, Oct. 3) article feature image

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Feleipe Franks.

  • Mike Leach and the Mississippi State Bulldogs are getting plenty of acclaim after their season-opening upset of the reigning national champion LSU Tigers.
  • However, Our college football betting expert Collin Wilson thinks this 17.5-point spread and the 68.5-point total are both too high.
  • Wilson details how the Arkansas Razorbacks should be able to slow down Leach's air raid defense on Saturday and how you can still invest in a high-scoring matchup.

Arkansas at Mississippi State Betting Odds

Arkansas Odds +16.5 [BET NOW]
Mississippi State Odds -16.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +490/-750 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 68.5 [BET NOW]
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
TV SEC Network

Odds updated as of Saturday at 4 p.m. ET and via FanDuel. Get up to a $1,000 risk-free bet at FanDuel today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

One of the biggest questions coming into the Razorbacks’ season was tempo. The transfer of quarterback Feleipe Franks along with the hiring of offensive coordinator Kendal Briles led to the expectation of a quick pace. Well, Arkansas clocked in at 22.3 seconds per play in its season debut — one of the quickest times in the nation.

When asked directly about slowing down to beat Mississippi State, head coach Sam Pittman told local media, “No, we don’t need to slow down … this is what we do.”

One change for new Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach has been pace — his offenses at Washington State would accumulate plenty of plays per game, but generally didn’t press the play clock. But in his debut at the helm for the Bulldogs, they came in at 24 seconds per play with 81 plays against LSU. Running 10 personnel, Mississippi State threw 84% of the time, including 33 times on first down.

Arkansas had seven passes defensed (out of 47 attempts) last week against Georgia, but will have to be much better against Mississippi State quarterback K.J. Costello, who should be able to find his receivers on Saturday.

One key to stopping Leach’s air raid offense is to backload the defense and disguise coverage. So while the Razorbacks lined up in a 4-2-5 with a bit of 3-3-5 mixed against Georgia last week, expect their defensive package to go full 3-3-5 against the Bulldogs.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Washington head coach Jimmy Lake has proven it’s possible to stop the Mike Leach air raid — in fact, Lake never had a problem doing it. Lake’s Huskies ran primarily 2-4-5 in a defensive domination against the Cougars in the Apple Cup each season.

.@UW_Football co-DC Jimmy Lake after shutting down Mike Leach and the Air Raid for a fifth straight season:

— Adam Jude (@A_Jude) November 24, 2018

The key to stopping Mississippi State is to look for defenses that float from the 3-3-5 to the 2-4-5, have two excellent edge rushers while the remaining defense goes into “drop 8.” Taking away the deep routes and punishing the cross routes will be a tall task for a young Razorbacks defense, but Arkansas showed plenty of guts on defense against Georgia last week, holding its offense in check for a full half.

While there should still be plenty of scoring, this 68.5-point total has gone far past any mathematical equations — oddsmakers may not be able to properly adjust for Mississippi State’s fire power or Arkansas’ new pace of play on offense. But one way to invest in a high-scoring game is the first-half over, as it may take the Razorback defense a bit to adjust against the air raid.

There’s also value on the current point spread, which is far beyond my projection.

The Bet: Arkansas +17.5, First Half Over 34.5

[Bet Arkansas +17.5 at FanDuel completely risk-free for $1,000]

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