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AP Top 25 against the spread: Can Texas A&M exploit Mississippi State’s flaw?

The Mississippi State football team has lost three games to squads currently ranked among the 12 best in the nation and No. 16 Texas A&M comes to Starkville for a 6 p.m. kickoff on Saturday.

A quick look at the numbers reveals the main problem for the Bulldogs (4-3, 1-3). In those three losses, senior quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has thrown for five interceptions, no touchdowns, an average of 100.6 yards and completed 42.6 percent of his passes.

The good news for MSU is that the Texas A&M defense has been somewhat vulnerable to the pass this season, allowing 241.7 yards a game through the air. It’s a different story on the ground with the Aggies allowing just 81.6 yards.

It seems that LSU, Kentucky and Florida have exposed MSU’s flaws on offense and Texas A&M should be able to use that to its advantage on Saturday. If the Aggies can limit MSU’s ground attack, they’ll be in great shape.

MSU is considered a 2-point favorite entering the game.

My pick: MSU doesn’t cover — Texas A&M 24, Mississippi State 17.

Here’s how I see the rest of this week’s games playing out:

6 p.m., Thursday — Baylor at No. 13 West Virginia (-13.5) — Baylor hasn’t had much luck slowing down talented offenses this season and the Mountaineers have plenty to work with. My pick: WVU covers — West Virginia 41, Baylor 24.

6:30 p.m., Thursday — No. 25 Appalachian State at Georgia Southern (+10.0) — Ever since falling 45-38 at Penn State in the season opener, App State hasn’t really faced a stiff challenge. My pick: Mountaineers cover — Appalachian State 38, Georgia Southern 24.

9:30 p.m., Friday — No. 23 Utah at UCLA (+10.5) — With back to back wins, folks in L.A. are no longer hitting the panic button over first-year head coach Chip Kelly and his young Bruins (2-5, 2-2). My pick — Utah doesn’t cover — Utah 30, UCLA 21.

11 a.m., Saturday — No. 2 Clemson at Florida State (+17.0) — After Syracuse put a scare in Clemson in a 27-23 game, Clemson has beaten its last two opponents by the combined score of 104-10. My pick: Tigers cover — Clemson 42, Florida State 21.

2:30 p.m., Saturday — No. 9 Florida vs. No. 7 Georgia (-6.5) — The Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1) are in position to end a five-game winning streak for the Gators (6-1, 4-1). My pick: Bulldogs cover — Georgia 31, Florida 20.

2:30 p.m., Saturday — Kansas State at No. 8 Oklahoma (-24.5) — The Wildcats came to life with a 31-12 win over Oklahoma State last week, but the Sooners will likely halt that momentum. My pick: Sooners cover — Oklahoma 45, Kansas State 17.

2:30 p.m., Saturday — No. 21 South Florida at Houston (-7.5) — The Bulls’ undefeated run seems sure to come to an end on the road Saturday. My pick: Cougars cover — Houston 35, South Florida 27.

3 p.m., Saturday — No. 12 Kentucky at Missouri (-7.0) — The oddsmakers continue to have little faith in the Wildcats (6-1, 4-1). My pick: Kentucky covers — Missouri 30, Kentucky 27.

5:30 p.m., Saturday — No. 15 Washington at California (+12.0) — Cal (4-3) has been inconsistent since winning at BYU in the second games of the season. My pick: Huskies cover — Washington 35, California 20.

6 p.m., Saturday — No. 14 Washington State at No. 24 Stanford (-3.0)Washington State QB Gardner Minshew, a native of Brandon, Mississippi, has thrown for 2,745 yards, 23 touchdowns and six interceptions. The Cougars are 6-1 and have a legit chance at 10 wins if they take this one. My pick: Stanford doesn’t cover cover — Washington State 34, Stanford 28.

6 p.m., Saturday — No. 22 N.C. State at Syracuse (+2.0) — This game is a little more interesting after Tommy DeVito came off the bench at QB and led ‘Cuse to a 40-37 win over North Carolina last week. My pick: Wolfpack cover — N.C. State 34, Syracuse 27.

7 p.m., Saturday — No. 3 Notre Dame at Navy (+24.0) — I have a hard time seeing this being competitive. My pick: Irish cover — Notre Dame 42, Navy 17.

7 p.m., Saturday — No. 6 Texas at Oklahoma State (+3.5) — Oklahoma State (4-3) is turning into a big bust. My pick: Texas covers — Texas 42, Oklahoma State 24.

9:30 p.m., Saturday — No. 19 Oregon at Arizona (+9.5) — Oregon (5-2) lost its shot at joining the playoff discussion last week in a 34-20 loss at Washington State. My pick: Oregon covers — Oregon 41, Arizona 21.

Other games

1 p.m., Saturday — Southern Miss at Charlotte (+7.5) — USM (3-3) found its ground game last week in a 27-17 win over UTSA.. Freshman running back Trivenskey Mosley rushed for 142 yards against the Roadrunners and is averaging 5.6 yards a carry against Conference USA competition. Charlotte (3-4) should make this game a tight one due to a strong defense against the ground game. My pick: USM doesn’t cover — Southern Miss 28, Charlotte 24.

6 p.m., Saturday — Tulane at Tulsa (-1.5) — The Golden Hurricane (1-6) have mostly been competitive during their six-game losing streak. My pick: Tulsa covers — Tulsa 23, Tulane 20.

Patrick Magee: 228-896-2333, @Patrick_Magee.
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