Florida-Mississippi State Betting Guide: Familiarity Will Help Each Defense

Florida-Mississippi State Betting Guide: Familiarity Will Help Each Defense article feature image

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Joe Moorhead and Dan Mullen

Florida-Mississippi State Betting Pick, Odds

  • Odds: Mississippi State -7
  • Over/Under: 50
  • Time: 6 p.m. ET, Saturday
  • TV Channel: ESPN

>> All odds as of 10 a.m. ET on Friday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets.

Believe it or not, these two programs will meet for the first time since 2010, and it couldn’t come at a better time from an entertainment perspective.

Head coach Dan Mullen and his staff return to Starkville on the other sideline after jumping to Florida this winter. The cow bells should be louder than usual this weekend.

Market Moves for Florida-Mississippi State

By Danny Donahue

Florida has been the more popular side in this one, attracting 57% of bets and 74% of dollars. The line has moved up and down, but it settled at Gators +7 after opening there.

Bettors are also taking a liking to the under, which has drawn 72% of bets and 60% of dollars. Still, the total has fallen from 52.5 to 50.

Trends to Know

By John Ewing

Mississippi State’s surprising loss to Kentucky as a 9.5-point favorite dropped the Bulldogs from 14th to 23rd in the AP Poll. Since 2005, ranked teams that lost their previous game have struggled to cover the next week going 231-277-15 (45.5%) ATS.

By Evan Abrams

Mississippi State scored just seven points in a 28-7 road loss to Kentucky last week. Many are expecting the Bulldogs to bounce back as touchdown favorites at home vs. Florida this week.

Bettors watch out. Since 2005, teams that score 10 points or fewer as a favorite in their previous game and play at home the next week are just 76-97-3 ATS (-25.1 units), including 69-86-2 ATS (-20.6 units) in that spot coming off a straight-up loss, too.

Discipline, Discipline, Discipline 

By Stuckey

Can Mississippi State be more disciplined?

Penalties have killed the Bulldogs so far this year, especially in their loss in Lexington. They have committed 37 penalties for 318 yards — an average of 79.5 yards per game (117th in nation).

Can Florida Get Off the Field?

By Stuckey

Florida has played some horrible offenses to start the year (Charleston Southern, Tennessee, Colorado State and even Kentucky doesn’t have an elite offense).

Yet, its defense ranks 104th in third-down conversion rate (28-of-65, .431). That could be potentially lethal against a Mississippi State offense that ranks 10th in third-down conversion percentage at .547.

Bet to Watch: Points at a Premium?

By Stuckey

First, the bad. Even after an absolutely abysmal performance against Kentucky in which the Bulldogs had 56 rushing yards on 28 attempts, Mississippi State still ranks second in the nation in rush yards per attempt at 6.6 yards per carry. On the surface, that’s not good news for a Florida team that is tied for 72nd in rush D (4.17 yards per rush allowed) even after playing a relatively easy schedule.

But why did the Mississippi State offense fail so miserably against Kentucky? Well, it’s a spread based, run-focused offense under Joe Moorhead that attacks the edges. Kentucky simply did not allow Miss State to get to the edges as its defensive line dominated the game, especially against the tackles (a key cog of the RPO offense and potentially the weak link of the MSU offense).

Remember that Mississippi State lost left tackle Martinas Rankin to the NFL. His replacement, Greg Eiland, was routinely abused by the ‘Cats’ front last Saturday. The Bulldogs’ other tackle, Stewart Reese, has more experience but also had a poor showing and is listed as questionable for this week’s SEC showdown.

Mississippi State got away with it out of conference to start the year, but you can’t mask offensive tackle issues against SEC pass rushes. Every team, including Florida, will have a number of rushers who can collapse the edge against subpar tackles.

Mississippi State is much better than it showed last week. Kentucky has a great defense and is much better than the market anticipated, but MSU was flat and it was doomed by 16 PENALTIES FOR 139 YARDS. However, the Bulldogs’ offense might struggle once again against a Florida team that:

  • Has a head coach and defensive coordinator who know Nick Fitzgerald and their offense maybe more than the current staff does.
  • Has a defense that practices against a similar offense.
  • Has SEC-caliber defensive ends who can exploit MSU’s issues at tackle.

As I mentioned, Florida runs a very similar run-focused attack, which ranks in the top 20 nationally (5.8 ypc). However, the Mississippi State defense plays the run extremely well (top 25 in ypc at 3.25). The Bulldogs also have one of the best defensive lines in the country, which should have its way against an unproven Florida offensive front. Florida’s passing attack, which ranks tied for 105th in completion percentage (54.5%) and 96th (194.5) in yards per game, also won’t be able to exploit a potentially undermanned Mississippi State secondary.

I think both defensive lines can dominate in the trenches, and the familiarity with practicing against similar schemes will only help. Both defenses match up very well with the opposing offenses.

The pick: Points should be at a premium here, so I’m on under 51.

Because of that familiarity and my projection of a lower-scoring game, I’d also lean toward taking the 7.5.

The “Spot” Is Overrated

By Ken Barkley

I think the “Trends” section above is spot on and should almost be required reading for bettors in this situation. There are a lot of “spot” narratives that tend to really confuse people into making bad decisions.

You’re going to hear a lot of “these players will really get up to face their former coach” and “this team is going to bounce back in a big way after getting humiliated last week.” While those types of narratives are excellent for television and social media to generate conversations among sports fans, it’s all noise, none of which is profitable long-term.

If Mississippi State covers this number, it won’t be because Florida “left it all on the field against Tennessee last week.” Don’t buy into the lies.

As for the game itself, I think this number is about right and maybe even slightly high. The overall talent is actually pretty even on the field (although the Bulldogs have more experienced players.) The units match up fairly well, and Florida has an advantage in special teams — and possibly in the coaching staff.

Against Kansas State, Mississippi State had dumb mistake after dumb mistake — missed tackles, penalties on third down that extended drives — but it was masked by the final score because of the Wildcats’ ineptitude.

Against Kentucky? Sixteen penalties for 139 yards. Whoopsies. Why is that the type of team that deserves attention with the number already this high? 7.5 looks pretty correct to me.


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