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New Mexico State vs Missouri Odds, Picks | Spread Too High?

New Mexico State vs Missouri Odds, Picks | Spread Too High? article feature image

Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Missouri players run onto the field.

New Mexico State vs Missouri Odds

Saturday, Nov. 19
7:30 p.m. ET
New Mexico State Odds
-110o / -110u
Missouri Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

SoCon Saturday arrives in the SEC, but Missouri will stick with an FBS school for their Week 12 tune-up and take on the Aggies.

Both teams sit at four wins and in the hunt for bowl eligibility. The task is more urgent for Eli Drinkwitz and his new contract extension than it is for Jerry Kill in his first year in Las Cruces.

The Tigers have an excellent defense, and are favored by a large spread at home. Should you back the home team to cover the number, or is there another angle to play? Let’s look at the numbers.

New Mexico State's Turnaround Impressive

Make no mistake – this is one of the toughest jobs in FBS. That Kill has won four games and has the Aggies somewhat competent on defense is incredible, and testament to his ability as a coach.

His rebuild has started by improving the defense, which is now 72nd in the country in SP+. The team has improved drastically from the one that was blown out by Minnesota and Wisconsin in September, and the Aggies are now 58th in EPA/defense.

The pass defense is the strong suit, ranking 45th in success rate and 70th in explosive plays. The Aggies also prevent big plays on the ground — ranking 46th in FBS against explosive rushes.

This is not a good sign for a Missouri offense that has struggled to put up points. The Tigers' offense scored only 17 apiece against both the Florida and Vanderbilt defenses, which are SP+ peers of this NMSU unit. Missouri’s thin offensive line has been pushed around by everyone, even FCS Abilene Christian.

On offense, the Aggies will turn to Diego Pavia as starting quarterback against Missouri, as they search for consistency at the position. Pavia has played his best ball in recent weeks, connecting on 20 of 32 passes for 340 yards and four touchdowns in the Aggies’ last two wins.

He is also productive with his legs, and Missouri has had trouble containing mobile quarterbacks like Adrian Martinez and Anthony Richardson. Against Vanderbilt, the Commodores had their most offensive success in the second half when dual-threat Mike Wright replaced pocket passer AJ Swann.

The Aggies play slow, ranking 110th in pace of play, and will keep the ball on the ground against Missouri. If they are able to extend drives with Pavia’s legs, they can play keep away and shorten the number of possessions in this game.

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Missouri Built Around Defense

But that style of play will be exactly how Missouri plays, too. With a poor offense and stellar defense, former offensive wunderkind Drinkwitz now plays things slow (96th in pace) and conservative (44th in rush rate).

The offense has cratered in Columbia. Despite the presence of two talented youngsters at receiver — freshman Luther Burden and sophomore Dominic Lovett — Missouri’s passing attack is 103rd in EPA.

Quarterback Brady Cook has 2,012 yards on the season, 72nd in FBS, and has thrown eight touchdowns to his seven interceptions. The Tigers' only passing metric that is even average is explosive passes, where they rank 65th. Lovett and Burden have been able to wriggle free for the occasional big shot.

The rushing offense is even worse; D-II transfer Cody Schrader is the leading rusher with 534 yards at 4.4 yards per carry. They don’t run efficiently (102nd in rushing success rate) or for chunk yardage (95th in explosive rushes).

The defense is the bread and butter. Coordinator Blake Baker has engineered a remarkable turnaround from 2021 when the Tigers had one of the worst defenses in the Power Five under Steve Wilks. Baker's new scheme is fast and aggressive; the Tigers rank eighth in Havoc. It’s difficult to have a long, steady drive against this defense — the Tigers are 20th in success rate allowed.

The secondary is excellent; cornerbacks Ennis Rakestraw and Kris Abrams-Draine are both Sunday prospects. They were beat up last week against Tennessee, but the Volunteers have done that to everyone not coached by Kirby Smart.

New Mexico State vs Missouri Matchup Analysis

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New Mexico State vs Missouri Betting Pick

Missouri is a large favorite in this game, and for obvious reasons. The Tigers have an excellent defense, and they are an SEC team hosting one of the worst FBS outfits in recent history.

But Missouri’s offense isn’t good enough right now to cover a four-touchdown spread against an FBS defense that is improving each time out.

The Tigers' defense is good enough to seal a comfortable win, but if the margin starts to spread, the Tigers will let backups play during senior day. They will try to escape healthy and turn their attention to beating Arkansas for bowl eligibility.

This will keep the backdoor open for Kill’s team, which is playing hard and playing its best ball of the season. And that is if it gets ugly: it’s possible Missouri’s offense isn’t good enough for them to ever put the Aggies away.

I’ll take the Aggies and the points, especially on the right side of four touchdowns.

Pick: New Mexico State +29.5

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