Entering the final month of college football’s regular season, head coaches of both Mississippi schools in the Southeastern Conference find themselves on the hot seat.
Betting markets historically do a good job of anticipating coaching changes. Game-by-game point spreads reflect reasonable expectations. It’s hard for coaches in any sport to keep their jobs if they’re not meeting reasonable expectations.
VSiN isn’t saying that coaches are worrying about covering the spread every week. It’s just that consistently NOT covering the spread is a red flag for underachievement.
Let’s see what against-the-spread performances are suggesting about future headlines...
▪ Joe Moorhead, Mississippi State
The Bulldogs are a very disappointing 2-6 ATS this season. They’ve missed the spread in their last four games by 25.5, 15, 5.5, and 8.5 points. You can see the market slowly adjusting to poor play. It’s not dropping State’s Power Ratings quickly enough.
Mississippi State began the season on the fringe of the top 25, even temporarily cracking the coach’s poll. Now sitting at 3-5 straight up, State is in danger of not even earning bowl eligibility. If you pencil in a likely loss to No. 2 Alabama, the Bulldogs will have to sweep Arkansas (Saturday, SEC Network, 3 p.m.), Abilene Christian, and Ole Miss to earn a bid.
State will be favored against everyone but Alabama. But, they were favored vs. Kansas State and at Tennessee before losing both.
It might take a 6-6 record for the second-year coach to keep his position. Falling from 8-5 to 5-7 (or worse) is clearly moving in the wrong direction at an impatient program.
▪ Matt Luke, Ole Miss
Speaking of moving in the wrong direction, Luke’s third year looks to be continuing a march to oblivion. His first two straight-up records were 6-6 and 5-7. The Rebels are currently looking at 4-8 in 2019 unless they upset No. 11 Auburn (Saturday, ESPN, 6 p.m.), No. 1 LSU or Mississippi State. That’s penciling in a win vs. New Mexico State November 9.
At 4-4 ATS, the Rebels aren’t suffering the same pointspread woes as the Bulldogs. Expectations were lower to begin the season. Ole Miss does have impressive win/covers over SEC cellar dwellers Arkansas (31-17 as a five-point favorite) and Vanderbilt (31-6 as a seven-point favorite). But, recent losses to California and Missouri look worse now than they did at the time. Cal is 0-4 straight up since, Mizzou 0-2 (missing the spread by 28 and 31.5 in shocking losses to Vandy and Kentucky!).
Fans and bettors have noticed flashes of brilliance. Assuming no bowl eligibility, it might take an upset in the Egg Bowl to save Luke’s job even if he can cover a few more spreads.
▪ This Saturday’s marquee betting attraction in the SEC and all of college football is No. 6 Florida vs. No. 8 Georgia in the annual “cocktail party” in Jacksonville, Florida (CBS, 2:30).
The winner will be in the driver’s seat to win the East division (granting that Georgia still has challenges ahead vs. Auburn and Texas A&M). Though Florida is ranked higher in the AP poll, Georgia will likely close as the market favorite in the -5 to -6 range because of lingering respect from preseason talent evaluations.
The Gators will be an appealing underdog if +6 comes into play. Georgia is 1-3 ATS its last four games after coasting past early cupcakes. That includes a 20-17 outright loss at home to South Carolina. Florida has covered three straight, with impressive wins over Auburn and S.C.
▪ Both No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama are off this week to prepare for their epic clash on Nov. 9. Many in college football were shocked that LSU leapfrogged Alabama in the polls after sneaking by Auburn 23-20. The eye test was more impressive than the score in that victory. LSU won total yardage 508-287, yards-per-play 5.8 to 4.2, and third down conversions 47% to 28%.
Early indicators suggest that oddsmakers will likely have Alabama favored in Tuscaloosa a week from Saturday, even if Tua Tagovailoa is unable to return for the Tide. Many creative investors thinking “upset” bet on LSU quarterback Joe Burrow to win the Heisman Trophy at nice returns. He’s fallen to even-money this week at sports books around the globe.