It is a Battle of the Bulldogs from two totally different conferences, but Mississippi State of the SEC could have a tougher time than expected vs. Louisiana Tech of Conference USA.
There is a non-conference Battle of Bulldogs down south on Saturday and the underdogs may be able to hang inside the nearly two-touchdown spread when the Louisiana State Bulldogs (4-2, 3-3 ATS) out of Conference USA pay a visit to the Mississippi State Bulldogs (4-2, 3-3 ATS) out of the mighty SEC at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, MS at 12:00 Noon ET in a game televised nationally on SEC Network.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Louisiana Tech as a double-digit underdog for this contest with the current line at +13½ with odds of -106.
Familiar Face at Quarterback
Louisiana Tech as a whole may be an unfamiliar foe for Mississippi State, but the quarterback is not as former Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel has taken over the reins in Ruston and he has flourished in a more pass-happy system, passing for 1812 yards already in just six games while leading his Bulldogs to a 4-2 record. Comparatively, Driskel had 1140 passing yards all season at Florida last year.
Driskel now returns to SEC territory for the first time with his new team, visiting a Mississippi State team that lost a lot since it was a College Football Playoff contender late in the season last year. This year’s team has been the losing college football pick in two of its three conference games, and it is now playing its second straight non-conference contest after failing to cover the point spread last week.
While Louisiana Tech has not exactly faced SEC competition, the team is very nearly undefeated as its first loss was just 41-38 to Western Kentucky inside of Conference USA, but it was the team’s second loss that gave an indication that it can be a very dangerous underdog getting this many points here.
That is because the second loss came on the road in Big 12 territory vs. a very good Kansas State team in Manhattan, and Louisiana Tech took the Wildcats to overtime before succumbing 39-33 while winning the yardage battle with 451 total yards. And you could probably bet that Driskel will be anxious to continue his newfound success vs. an SEC opponent after being practically booed out of Gainesville.
The other Bulldogs from Mississippi State cruised though a non-covering 45-17 win over Troy last week, and the fact that these Bulldogs still won that game so easily on the scoreboard could quite possibly mean another rather lethargic effort this week in what is their final non-conference game of the year, as they have nothing but SEC wars left on the schedule after this beginning with a visit to an improved 4-1 Kentucky team next week.
Granted quarterback Dak Prescott did return from last year’s team and he has been solid completing 64.8 percent of his passes for 1353 yards while averaging 7.4 yards per attempt with eight touchdown passes and not a single interception as of yet, but MSU has not gotten much from a 91st ranked running game and while the Bulldogs rank a commendable 47th in total defense, even that unit is not as strong as it was last year.
So while Mississippi State may not have too much to worry about in regards to winning this game on the field, we could easily see a less than inspiring effort allowing a Louisiana Tech team that is much better than the Troy squad that MSU failed to cover against last week to hang around inside of two touchdowns, especially vs. a quarterback that was in the SEC last season.
Stepping Up vs. SEC
Finally, Louisiana has relished these opportunities vs. the big boys of the SEC, going 5-0 ATS in its last five meetings with teams from that conference. Louisiana Tech is also 5-0 ATS in its last five non-conference games overall and 8-3 ATS in its last 11 road games, while Mississippi State is 1-4 ATS in its last five non-conference affairs.
So while the talent edge lies with Mississippi State, the motivational edge lies with a Louisiana Tech team that has shown to be talented in its own right, so grab the big points with the underdogs at Starkville on Saturday.
College Football Pick: Louisiana Tech +13½ (-106)