Illinois vs Mississippi State Odds, Picks, Predictions Reliaquest Bowl (1/2/23)
Illinois is playing Mississippi State in the Reliaquest Bowl to start the New Year off in College Football. Illinois was a surprise in the Big Ten this year and finished the year off with a blowout win against Northwestern on the road. Mississippi State was decent all year in the SEC and finished the year with a close win over Ole Miss on the road. This should be an interesting matchup between to decent teams in their respective conferences. let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks and predictions for this game!
Illinois vs. Mississippi State Odds
Mississippi State is a 1.5-point favorite in Tampa Bay against Illinois and is at -115 on the money line. The over/under is also at 46. Mississippi State being slightly favored here makes sense because they have the better quarterback which is tipping the scales slightly towards the Bulldogs. The over/under also makes sense because both of these teams are very good on defense and can score on offense too. Expect the Bulldogs to stay a slight favorite until kick-off too.
Illinois vs. Mississippi State Prediction & Pick
The pick: Mississippi State -1.5
Mississippi State has slightly more to like than Illinois here. It’s a closer game to Mississippi State than Illinois which will affect the fan support which is a factor. The Bulldogs also have the better quarterback in this matchup with Will Rogers being a very good quarterback and being the best overall player on this offense too. With the Bulldogs using the Air Raid, Rogers has been great at getting the ball out fast to all his receivers. The offense overall, averages 33 points and 393 total yards a game for the year. Another huge factor in this game is how motivated Mississippi State should be for this game. Tragedy struck the Bulldogs suddenly a few weeks ago when their Head Coach, Mike Leach, passed away due to a medical emergency. Zach Arnett is now the head coach, and is a great candidate to keep Mike Leach’s legacy alive in Starkville, Mississippi.
They had the opportunity to bow out of the bowl game, but they decided to play and wanted to honor Coach Leach’s legacy in the process, which is a huge motivating factor for the Bulldogs. On the other side, Illinois has been a great story this year. The offense has been based around their running game and with efficient passes from Chase Brown and Tommy DeVito. The difference maker for the Illini has been their defense. They allowed 12 points and 264 total yards a game for the year. In this game, however, their defensive coordinator, Ryan Walters, won’t be calling the plays because he’s now the head coach at Purdue. Take the Bulldogs to cover here because they have the better offense and will have no shortage of motivation in this game over Illinois.
Illinois vs. Mississippi State Key Matchups
Can the Illinois secondary contain Will Rogers? Can the Mississippi State secondary slow down Tommy DeVito?
Will Rogers vs the Illinois Secondary
Will Rogers has been great for Mississippi State this year at quarterback. He has 3,713 passing yards, 34 passing touchdowns, six interceptions, and he has a 68% completion percentage on the year. He’s been the catalyst for the Bulldogs’ Air Raid attack and he’s been nearly perfect in that system. Illinois allows 165 passing yards a game for the year, which will be a a very tough matchup for Rogers. He needs to have a big game for the Bulldogs here because of how much they pass the ball, especially against a tough defense like the Illini’s.
Tommy DeVito vs the Mississippi State Secondary
Tommy DeVito has been solid for the Illini this year, but he hasn’t been the focal point of the offense. He has 2,397 passing yards, 15 passing touchdowns, four interceptions, and he has a 70% completion percentage on the year. DeVito has been inconsistent throughout his college career and this was his best year for consistency. Mississippi State allows 207 passing yards a game for the year, which will be a tough matchup for DeVito. With Chase Brown not playing, DeVito is going to have more pressure on him to play well and he can do it based on what he’s shown so far this year.