NCAAF Week 8: Odds and Betting Picks for Mississippi St. vs. Alabama

emmanuel forbes mississippi state bulldogs ncaaf
Emmanuel Forbes #13 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs intercepts a pass to J.J. Sparkman #84 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Justin Ford/Getty Images/AFP

Alabama’s SEC and national title hopes aren’t over after an upset loss last week, but they will be if the No. 6 Tide lose at home to No. 24 Mississippi State on Saturday.

Which way to lean at OddsTrader’s top-rated sportsbooks

Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

Saturday, October 22, 2022 – 07:00 PM EDT at Bryant-Denny Stadium

ESPN has this prime-time SEC matchup, and I love it when these teams play simply because jovial Bulldogs coach Mike Leach and grumpy Tide counterpart Nick Saban couldn’t be more different. It’s big in the SEC West with Alabama at 3-1 in league play and tied for second in the division and Mississippi State 2-2 and in fourth. 

Last year in Starkville, Alabama was a 17.5-point favorite on the NCAAF odds and rolled to a 49-9 win – that also happened to follow the Tide’s lone regular-season defeat in 2021.

Bryce Young threw for 348 yards and four scores, and Brian Robinson Jr. (now in NFL) rushed for two TDs and caught a TD pass. Bama had 543 yards to MSU’s 299. Bulldogs QB Will Rogers threw for 300 yards, but it took him 55 attempts and he was picked off three times. 

Alabama leads the all-time series 86-17-3 and has won 14 in a row. The Bulldogs have failed to cover the spread in the past four.

Bulldogs Good In Red Zone

Mississippi State (5-2) was a short favorite last week at No. 22 Kentucky, but lost 27-17 as UK’s Chris Rodriguez Jr. rushed for 196 yards and two fourth-quarter scores and QB Will Levis returned from a one-game absence to throw a go-ahead touchdown pass. MSU, usually a pretty good defense, was outgained 478-225

Bulldog quarterback Will Rogers was held to 203 yards passing but tied Dak Prescott’s MSU record with the 70th touchdown pass of his career. He needs 337 yards to match Prescott’s career passing yards record (9,376). Mississippi State has now scored on 18 consecutive red zone opportunities with a touchdown on each of its last 15. MSU is 21-for-22 in the red zone this season (95.5 percent), with 20 touchdowns. 

Coach Mike Leach likes to throw but it was too one-sided, as the Bulldogs’ 10 rushing attempts were their fewest under Leach and tied for the fourth-fewest by any Leach-coached team. MSU did score first and is outscoring opponents 66-7 in the first quarter. The Bulldogs are 12-4 when scoring first under Leach. 

Mississippi State’s Defense

Defensively, cornerback Emmanuel Forbes tied the SEC record with his fifth career pick-six. Forbes leads the SEC with five interceptions and 11 total passes defended. He boasts the No. 4 coverage grade (85.5) in the conference per PFF.  

The Bulldogs have a takeaway in every game of 2022 and their seven-game streak is tied for their longest under defensive coordinator Zach Arnett. They lead the SEC with nine interceptions, which is tied for 14th in the nation.

MSU is 9-4-1 against the spread in its past 14 games overall. 

Tide Fall Out Of Top 5

I picked Tennessee at +7.5 last week at home against Alabama (6-1), and the Vols ended a 15-game losing streak in the series with a wild 52-49 victory on a 40-yard field goal as time expired – the most points a Nick Saban-coached team has ever allowed. It was the most allowed by Alabama since 1907 against something called Sewanee (54 points).

Tide QB Bryce Young returned from a one-game injury absence and threw for 455 yards and two scores. Jahmyr Gibbs had three rushing TDs. The offense obviously wasn’t the problem. Alabama was flagged for a school-record 17 penalties for 130 yards.

“We can accomplish every goal that we had at the start of the season,” Saban said after. “There’s no room for error in the West. We have to win out in the West … and we still have a chance to go to the SEC championship. But the key to the drill is you have to learn from these experiences. You have to learn from the mistakes you make.” Saban said it was “obvious” the team has a lot of work to do.

Georgia Took Tennessee’s Place

Bama fell from No. 3 to No. 6 in the new AP Poll, snapping its string of 40 straight appearances in the Top 5. It was the longest such active streak in the country. Georgia now has the longest run of top-five appearances with 24.  The Tide are still +450 third favorites to win the national title at OddsTrader’s top-rated books but now a -195 favorite to miss the College Football Playoff with yes at +160.

The last time Alabama lost consecutive games was 2013, when it lost the Iron Bowl to Auburn and then the Sugar Bowl vs. to Oklahoma. Saban hasn’t lost two consecutive regular-season games since his inaugural season in 2007.

No way the Tide lose this game, but the spread feels a bit too high. BetMGM is a rare book offering +21.5 so we’ll go there.

NCAAF Pick: Mississippi State +21.5 (-110) at BetMGM is your sports betting command center. Read featured betting strategy compiled from a panel of leading sports betting experts.

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