College Football Picks: Alabama vs. Mississippi State

Willie Bee

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 1:25 PM UTC

Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 1:25 PM UTC

Free college football picks for Week 12's matchup between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Mississippi State Bulldogs. We examine the current betting lines, hoping to find an edge for our sports picks.

Boring. That's what the Alabama Crimson Tide have become, Nick Saban's program so strong that winning is simply expected, ho-hum. It's probably the same way it felt some 60 years ago when Bud Wilkinson and the Oklahoma Sooners were dominating collegiate gridirons.

The winning is certainly expected to continue Saturday when the Crimson Tide take a short trek to Starkville to meet the Mississippi State Bulldogs. ESPN will televise the clash of longtime SEC rivals beginning at 7:45 PM (ET), and 'Bama is holding steady as 25.5 point chalk, exactly where online sportsbooks first started the spread.

SBR's live college football odds listed an opening total of 52, most of those points obviously expected to be on the visitors' side of the scoreboard with a spread approaching four touchdowns.

Most of the scoring has indeed been by Alabama in recent meetings. The Tide brings a 5-game win streak into this year's tangle, those victories by a combined 155-34 margin. The series has been all 'Bama over the years with the Crimson Tide boasting a 75-18-3 advantage.

Alabama has won six of its last seven trips to Starkville, the last eight games at Davis Wade Stadium/Scott Field failing to reach the total.

Be sure to check out our College Football Picks: Week 12 Betting Odds Report.

Tide Tows 13-Game Win Streak To Starkville

There's still a long way to go for Alabama to reach OU's record 47-game win streak back in 1953-57, but 13 straight victories by the Crimson Tide is certainly impressive enough. If not for that one bad quarter vs. Texas A&M last November, 'Bama would be sitting at 27.

The Alabama Crimson Tide (9-0 straight up, 6-3 against the spread) also covered the last four wins, three of those with lines in the 26.5 to 29.5 range. The latest victory was at LSU's expense, a 38-17 decision that cashed a 14-point spread, the second-smallest chalk of the season.

Defense has once again been a key with 'Bama sixth overall, fifth against the run and tied with Louisville allowing the fewest points per game (10.6). But it has been the almost machine-like efficiency of the offensive unit that has the Tide in position for a third consecutive national championship. AJ McCarron is certainly the chief cog in the wheel, though you can't always tell that when looking at ESPN highlight reels that highlight other QBs such as Johnny Manziel, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and several others over the Alabama senior.

McCarron has thrown just three interceptions to 19 TDs this year, and was last picked off in the fourth quarter of a 25-0 win over Ole Miss on Sept. 28, a span of 122 attempts. A very strong offensive line in front of him has allowed McCarron to be sacked only eight times, all while opening huge holes for tailbacks TJ Yeldon, Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry, that trio combining for over 1,600 yards rushing at nearly seven yards a clip.

Bulldogs Facing 3rd-Straight Ranked Opponent

Dan Mullen's Mississippi State squad has been on the road against top teams the past two weeks, and fell both times to South Carolina and Texas A&M. Mistakes killed the Bulldogs in the 34-16 setback to the Gamecocks, and they just didn't have enough offense to stay with Manziel and the Aggies last Saturday in College Station in a 51-41 defeat.

Mississippi State (4-5 SU & ATS) has been able to move the ball on offense for nearly 460 yards per game, but it hasn't translated into enough points (29.8 ppg) to get into the winner's circle. More than a third of the points this season came in last week's loss to A&M and a blowout win over FCS Alcorn State way back in early September. 

There is a 20% chance of rain in Starkville's Saturday forecast, but the rest of the report looks pretty good right now (low-60s at kickoff, 5-8 mph SE breeze). Be sure to confirm that before making your wager. 

Dak Prescott and the MSU offense can forget about rolling up 556 yards of offense as they did at Texas A&M. Saban can also forget about pulling his 1st-stringers early with Chattanooga on deck in Tuscaloosa. As for me, I'll forget about the spread and focus my college football picks on the total instead, and I like the 'under.'

My pick: Alabama-Mississippi State Under 52

Season record: 21-8 (+12.2); three picks pending


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