Oddsmakers and professional bettors have been stunned by Mississippi State’s poor start in SEC play. Not just the 0-2 record out of the gate with losses to Kentucky and Florida, but the utter ineptitude of the offense.
Not long ago, Mississippi State was highly ranked, and coming off a dominating 31-10 win at Kansas state. The Bulldogs rushed for 384 yards that day, on the way to a 538-213 total yardage rout.
Turned out Kansas State isn’t very good this season!
In SEC play, the Mississippi State offense has been shut down completely. The Bulldogs couldn’t even score the point spread vs. either Kentucky or Florida. Mississippi State (-10) lost at Kentucky 28-7, and lost 13-6 to Florida as seven-point favorites. You don’t have to be an experienced football bettor to know it’s a bad sign when a team can’t even score the point spread.
If you watched on TV, you know those two games were virtual clones of each other. Mississippi State was supposed to be the superior team both times. Yet, they were outclassed in total yardage (Kentucky won 300-201, Florida 357-202) and yards-per-play (Kentucky won 4.9 to 3.4, Florida 5.4 to 3.5). That’s right, MSU gained 201 and 202 yards on 3.4 and 3.5 yards-per-play!
Backers in Las Vegas were decrying the lack of offensive adjustments made by new head coach Joe Moorhead. His reputation as an offensive guru earned in the northeast has taken an immediate hit now that he’s facing SEC-caliber defenses.
When not facing the SEC, Mississippi State has posted impressive numbers. Moorhead’s attack will still rack up yards and points vs. the unprepared or undersized. Look at these extremes so far through 2018.
Mississippi State Offensive Yards and YPP vs.:
- Stephen F. Austin 618 and 8.7
- Kansas State: 537 and 8.2
- Louisiana: 607 and 8.6
- Kentucky: 202 and 3.4
- Florida: 302 and 3.5
That’s at least 8.2 yards-per-play vs. outsiders (including one from a major conference), but 3.5 or less as favorites vs. Kentucky and Florida.
When handicapping MSU the rest of this season, evaluate the defensive athleticism, speed, and overall quality of Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M, Louisiana Tech, Alabama, Arkansas, and Ole Miss. There may be some offensive explosions left on the board in a few spots.
Other results this past Saturday for Mississippi schools …
▪ Ole Miss (+12) lost at LSU 45-16, getting outgained 573-328. Most of the second half was garbage time, with the Rebels already down 28-6 at the break. Ole Miss committed an amazing 17 penalties for 167 yards. All six LSU touchdowns were on long drives of 64 yards or more. Ole Miss only managed one TD. Poor showings vs. top five national powers Alabama and LSU the last two weeks. The good news … those teams are now in the rear view mirror! Ole Miss fell to 2-3 against the spread this season.
▪ Southern Miss (+27.5) hung tough at Auburn in a 24-13 loss. Opposite of Mississippi State in that Southern held Auburn’s offense below the point spread, while allowing just 341 yards on 4.9 yards-per-play. The market continues to underrate the Golden Eagles. Southern Miss is 3-1 against the spread.
Early lines for this week’s action …
▪ Mississippi State (+3.5) hosts Auburn, with kickoff moved to 6:30 p.m. for a national telecast on ESPN2. Bulldogs better figure out how to move the ball QUICK! Both of these offenses have underachieved market expectations. Each is 2-3 against the spread. Mississippi State is 1-3 to the Under on their totals, Auburn 1-4 to the Under. That’s why the first number up for this Over/Under was 44.5. That’s very low for a college game.
▪ Ole Miss (-22) hosts Louisiana-Monroe. Kickoff has been moved to 3 p.m. Monroe is 1-3 straight up and to the Under this season. Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu has continued the trend we discussed earlier this season. Big numbers vs. soft defenses (336, 448, and 442 passing yards vs. Texas Tech, Southern Illinois, and Kent State), but trouble vs. good defenses (133 and 178 passing yards vs. Alabama and LSU, completing just 43% of his throws with three interceptions).
▪ Southern Miss is off this week before resuming Conference USA action October 13 in a much-anticipated showdown at North Texas. Great to have a week to recover from a bruising battle vs. an SEC opponent.
Back with you Saturday to talk NFL. The New Orleans Saints have won three straight, and are still on the market short list for Super Bowl glory. They highlight this week’s Monday Night showcase on ESPN from the Superdome.