Mississippi State vs. Memphis Odds, Prediction, Pick: How to Bet 2 High-Flying Offenses (Sept. 18)

Mississippi State vs. Memphis Odds, Prediction, Pick: How to Bet 2 High-Flying Offenses (Sept. 18) article feature image
Credit:

Justin Ford/Getty Images. Pictured: Mike Leach and Will Rogers.

Mississippi State vs. Memphis Odds

Saturday, Sept. 18
4 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Mississippi State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-3.5
+100
63
-110o / -110u
-160
Memphis Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+3.5
-120
63
-110o / -110u
+140
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

If you like points, Mike Leach offenses and Memphis tend to deliver.

And with both teams off to a 2-0 start, albeit against drastically different levels of competition, at least one of these teams is primed for an offensive display.

The Bulldogs travel to Memphis’ Liberty Bowl Stadium, where the Tigers have not lost in 16 straight home games, dating back to Oct. 13, 2018.

Will the home-field advantage be enough to keep Memphis’ record pristine, or are we in for another aerial display by the Pirate’s Mississippi State team?


Mississippi State Bulldogs

It’s a cliche that teams make the biggest improvement from Week 1 to Week 2, but that was the case for Mississippi State in its 24-10 win over a talented NC State squad.

The Bulldogs previously overcame a 34-14, fourth-quarter deficit against Louisiana Tech in the opener for the biggest comeback in program history.

Leach’s team now has a prime opportunity to pick up one more win and flirt with a top-25 ranking before the start of SEC play.


Bulldogs Offense

It’s no secret that Leach loves to use the Air Raid, and when it clicks, it’s a sight to behold.

It’s an obvious statement, but the success of the scheme comes down to how well the quarterback is playing, and Will Rogers has been inconsistent in this short season and over nine games as a backup and starter in his freshman season last year.

Rogers and the Bulldogs were slow to start against the Wolfpack in Week 2 before the sophomore finally hit his stride at the end of the first half.

Much of the same was true in Week 1, as Rogers struggled until the fourth quarter. And if Rogers struggles when a team drops eight in coverage, Mississippi State doesn’t score.

Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they have one of the better talents at the receiver position in Jaden Walley, and despite Leach not starting Walley this season, apparently due to issues at practice, Walley has continued to be Rogers’ favorite wideout. He’s totaled 108 yards on the season and scoring a touchdown in both games, already matching his scoring total from 2020.

As part of the Air Raid, the Bulldogs won’t run it much, but Jo’quavious Marks and Dillon Johnson will still combine for about 30 touches a game and are serious threats catching passes out of the backfield.

Mississippi State’s pass blocking has been great this season, ranking 16th in the country. Rogers was sacked only once last week by a normally ferocious NC State front seven.


Bulldogs Defense

Leach teams always receive a lot of love for the offense, but Mississippi State’s defense is no joke.

The defense has made big strides this year, particularly on the defensive line, where it went from recording just a single sack against Louisiana Tech to bringing down NC State’s Devin Leary four times and frequently hurrying the passer.

The Wolfpack were also just a week removed from rushing for 293 yards on 7.3 yards a carry against South Florida, only to be held to 29 total yards on 1.1 yards per attempt by a Bulldogs defense that ranks 19th in Run Success.

Mississippi State ranks 38th in Defensive Pass Success, but most of the damage has been done by a few explosive plays and not a consistent scheme breakdown. Its ninth-ranked coverage by PFF only further reinforces that point.

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Memphis Tigers

Memphis and its offense have left teams in a cloud of dust this season, averaging 48.5 points per game against Nicholls State (FCS) and Arkansas State (Sun Belt).

The going gets much tougher in Week 3 as the Tigers welcome an SEC team to town with a formidable offense and one of the better front sevens in the conference.


Tigers Offense

Make no bones about it, this Memphis team can score.

The Tigers have scored 42 and 55 points in their first two wins, all while working in true freshman Seth Henigan at the quarterback position.

After posting just 265 yards and a single touchdown against Nicholls State, Henigan and the rest of the offense combined for 417 passing yards and five touchdowns in Week 2.

Sean Dykes and Calvin Austin III are a fearsome and experienced two-headed monster at the receiver position. The duo combined for over 1,600 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns in 10 games last season and is already off to a blistering pace, combining for 434 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

Mississippi State also won’t only be able to lock in on slowing Memphis’ passing game, as running back Brandon Thomas has run for at least 150 yards in each game this season.

Memphis has struck gold in the big-play department as well. The Tigers’ seven plays of at least 40 yards in length in bettered by only Fresno State, and their three plays of at least 70 yards are tied for the most in the country.


Tigers Defense

The defense, however, is of grave concern.

Allowing 50 points to a Sun Belt team is alarming, considering Leach’s Air Raid is coming to town. The Red Wolves passed for a staggering 582 yards on 66 pass attempts last week, something the Bulldogs are likely to try and replicate with Rogers dropping back to pass no fewer than 50 times.

Memphis will also need to improve at disrupting the quarterback’s timing, as the Tigers rank just 88th in Havoc and have generated only two total sacks against less talented offensive lines than Mississippi State.

Memphis allows 6.12 yards per play, the 102nd-best mark in the country, and its 489.5 total yards allowed per game fares even worse, ranking 122nd of 130 teams.


Mississippi State vs. Memphis Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Mississippi State and Memphis match up statistically:

Mississippi State Offense vs. Memphis Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success
35
62
Line Yards
99
98
Pass Success
37
89
Pass Blocking*
16
122
Big Play
61
79
Havoc
43
88
Finishing Drives
33
100
* Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Memphis Offense vs. Mississippi State Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success
64
19
Line Yards
38
71
Pass Success
42
38
Pass Blocking*
36
110
Big Play
11
59
Havoc
6
37
Finishing Drives
68
33
* Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling
13
80
PFF Coverage
9
36
Middle 8
76
41
SP+ Special Teams
101
29
Plays per Minute
114
6
Rush Rate
26.2% (127)
58.1% (52)

Data via College Football Data (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF & SportSource Analytics.


Mississippi State vs. Memphis Betting Pick

The initial instinct here is to look at the total (64) with two offenses that historically put up points.

I, however, think the Tigers are a bit of a paper shark at this point in the season as they prepare to face a major upgrade in quality of opponent.

Henigan was pushed into the deep end very quickly when Grant Gunnell became unavailable late in the summer, and to Henigan’s credit, he’s flourished … so far.

He’s never faced the type of athletes Mississippi State has on defense, nor has he played in front of an electric atmosphere like he’ll have at home (which might be close to a 50/50 fan split), which could cause some adverse effects from too much excitement early on.

I know the Bulldogs will score on this defense, but Henigan and company are still in a bit of a prove-it mode against a quality opponent.

Thus, I am more inclined to focus only on Mississippi State’s team total.

Pick: Mississippi State Team Total Over 33.5 (-115)

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