Alabama vs. Mississippi State: Betting Odds, Picks, and Predictions (10/16/21)

Alabama vs. Mississippi State Betting Odds

Alabama went down last week, leaving a new No. 1 team in the nation.

Considering what we all know about Nick Saban, the public is likely to be all over the Crimson Tide in this spot. The narrative will be that Saban is going to “motivate” his team following the pathetic loss.

However, are we sure we want to bet that narrative? Especially considering Alabama is laying a whopping 17 points on the road against a Mike Leach-coached team.

There’s plenty of value to be found in this SEC matchup. The question is: Where?

Alabama Crimson Tide Odds

Alabama dominated their game against the Aggies. The Crimson Tide outgained the Aggies 522 total yards to 379, and the Crimson Tide had possession for about 34 minutes.

However, the efficiency slightly favored Texas A&M. The Crimson Tide turned the ball over twice, and the Aggies held the edge in Standard Downs Success Rate (TAMU 54%, BAMA 47%) and Points Per Opportunity (TAMU 5.17, BAMA 3.33).

A big part of those statistics hinged on one play:

A red-zone turnover is a death sentence when you’re playing on the road in College Station.

Up until that point, Bryce Young had been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the nation. Well, he still is one of the best in the nation, as he grades out as PFF’s sixth-best college quarterback and has posted a 19:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

It must be nice when you can throw to Jameson Williams all night. The Junior receiver caught 10 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns last Saturday, leading all Alabama players in Predicted Points Added.

Williams transferred from Ohio State because he was, essentially, fourth on the receiver depth chart in Columbus. Now, he’s Young’s first or second read on every play.

The Alabama defense needs work. Zach Calzada was horrific before last Saturday, and Saban allowed the Florida offense to carve him up for 29 points and 250 rushing yards. All-in-all, the Alabama defense ranks outside the top-50 in Success Rate, which isn’t characteristic of an Alabama team.

Mississippi State Bulldogs Odds

The Bulldogs are coming off a bye week, so Leach’s team should be fresh and rested for their huge home matchup against Alabama. They’re also coming off a victory, beating Texas A&M back in Week 5.

The Bulldogs haven’t beaten Alabama in 10 straight meetings. So, why now?

As we know, Mike Leach loves to throw the ball. In fact, the Bulldogs drop back on over 75% of their offensive plays, which is by far the most in the nation. Will Rogers and Co. have been very successful doing so, as the team ranks 11th in Passing Success Rate, and he grades out as PFF’s eighth-best quarterback.

Meanwhile, Alabama hasn’t been that successful in the secondary this season. They rank 60th in PFF’s coverage grades and 68th in Defensive Passing Success Rate. There are six Crimson Tide defenders that have been targeted at least 10 times in coverage this season (three CBs, two LBs, one S), and they’ve combined to allow a 74% reception rate and committed 10 total penalties.

So, the Bulldogs’ air-raid offense can exploit Alabama’s flaws, similarly to how Calzada did last week.

Meanwhile, the Mississippi State defense has taken a massive step forward this season. The Bulldog defense ranks 21st in Bill Connelly’s SP+ rankings and 19th in Success Rate. State’s defense has held opposing quarterbacks to less than 60% completion rate and opposing running backs to less than 3.5 yards per carry.

Leach has built an impressive, well-rounded defense that can stand toe-to-toe with any SEC team (except Georgia).

Prediction and Pick 

My pick: Mississippi State +17 (-110 on DraftKings)

Moreover, the Bulldog defense can stand toe-to-toe with Alabama’s offense, which ranks outside the top-25 in both Passing and Rushing Success Rate.

So, if the Bulldog offense can exploit the Alabama defense, and the Bulldog defense can keep up with the Alabama offense, I got to bet Mississippi State here.

However, while I do like the matchup, I love the number. Mississippi is simply catching too many points at home, as I’ve seen projections in the +13 to +14 range.

Moreover, while the public is on the Crimson Tide, the smart money is not. At the time of this writing, Alabama is pulling 77% of the tickets but only 23% of the handle.

While most teams would be undervalued following a loss, I believe Saban’s reputation makes him overvalued here. I love the Bulldogs to cover a big number at home on Saturday night.

Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

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