Mississippi St With Value In St. Petersburg Bowl Despite Being Heavy Favorites

Mississippi St Bulldogs Players

Thursday, December 8, 2016 8:49 PM GMT

Should you take the double-digit underdog, or lay the large number in the St. Petersburg Bowl game between Miami-Ohio and Mississippi State? Professional sports handicapper Ross Benjamin provides the answer in his breakdown of this great matchup.

Ross Benjamin's SBR 2016 College Football Record: 48-24 (66.7%) ATS

College Football Bowl Game Odds: Miami-Ohio vs, Mississippi State

The Miami-Ohio Redhawks (6-6) and Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-7) will meet in a St. Petersburg Bowl matchup on Monday 12/26. The opening kickoff from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida is slated for 11:00 AM ET. If this isn't the most unappealing bowl game of the season, it certainly ranks right up there. These two bowl participants have combined to go an uninspiring 11-13 this year.

At the time of this writing (12/8), college football betting odds at Bookmaker.com has Mississippi State as a 12.0-point favorite, and there's a posted total of 58.0.

Rising from the Ashes of Futility

If there's any .500 team that's ecstatic to be playing in a bowl game, Miami-Ohio surely would be first to come into mind. After all, the Redhawks had combined to go 5-49 (.093) during a 54-game stretch since 2012, and includes an 0-6 start to 2016. Nonetheless, they finished the regular season by winning 6 straight, and became bowl eligible for a first time since 2010.

Bowl Teams Possessing Losing Records

Due to the increase in bowl games annually, NCAA rules have allowed teams sporting a losing record to qualify for a bowl game under specific guidelines. Such was the case for Mississippi State, Hawaii, and North Texas this bowl season. All of whom went 5-7 during regular season action. There were 5 bowl games involving teams with losing records in 2015, and they went 5-0 against the spread, while also going an impressive 4-1 straight up.

Strength of Schedule Disparity

Kudos to Miami-Ohio for their fantastic turnaround this season. Nevertheless, all 6 of their wins came against Mid-America Conference opponents, and those teams had a cumulative 2016 record of 26-46 (.361). The Redhawks lone win this season over a team with a winning record came against Eastern Michigan (7-5). Miami also has a loss against a FCS team on their 2016 resume. They were beaten 21-17 as a 10.0-point home favorite by Eastern Illinois

The Southeastern Conference from top to bottom wasn't nearly as strong this season as it's been in recent years. Nonetheless, the disparity between the SEC and MAC is a huge one. Mississippi State did capture quality wins over SEC bowl bound teams South Carolina (6-6) and Texas A&M (8-4). They also sustained narrow defeats at the hands of LSU (7-4) by 3 and Kentucky (7-5) by 2. Additionally, they lost 28-21 in overtime during non-conference game at BYU (8-4). Putting the Bulldogs strength of schedule into perspective, 9 of their 11 FBS games this season came against teams that will play in a bowl game.

Final Take and Prediction

I've very rarely sided with double-digit favorites in bowl games throughout my career. However, this will be an exception to the rule, and one of my college football bowl game predictions will reflect just that.

Free College Pick: Mississippi State -12.0

Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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