College Football Picks: Go Against the Public & Bet Mississippi State +2.5 vs. Auburn

Doug Upstone

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 6:19 PM GMT

If you had Auburn for futures bet as SEC champion at the sportsbook of your choice, you are very much aware you face a Mt. Everest battle against the betting odds to cash that ticket as a winner.

In retrospect, we had a clue in the opener the Tigers might not be all they were cracked up to be. This was written off a first game jitters and just getting started, along with Louisville supposedly a pretty good club, which has turned out not to be true. The lucky Jacksonville State OT win was cause for concern for many football handicappers and those placing college football picks, but others made the excuse Auburn was looking ahead to LSU.

The Tigers from the bayou put an end to that thought process in destroying Auburn. Gus Malzahn's troops are dazed and if they don't bounce back against a treacherous Mississippi State club, a minor bowl bid is in Auburn's future.

 

When Mississippi State Has the Ball
The Bulldogs arrive on the Plains of Alabama, bursting with confidence, having set a school record 647 yards of total offense against an obviously overmatched Northwestern State crew in the 73-14 thumping. Mississippi State has the best quarterback in the SEC in Dak Prescott, who has learned to add touch to his passes and become complete quarterback.

The Bulldogs also have a good rushing attack at 5.7 yards per carry and they will no doubt test Auburn up front, seeing they are allowing 5.7 YPC, which is 119th in college football.

 

When Auburn Has the Ball
Coach Malzahn is between a rock and a hard place with his normally potent offensive schemes. QB Jeremy Johnson has more interceptions than touchdown passes (6 vs. 5) and with the offensive line, quarterback and running backs not in harmony, Auburn is averaging 172 yards per game on the ground at only 4.4 YPC. (Update 9/22 - Johnson benched, Sean White new starting quarterback)

Auburn has been a fast-paced high volume play offense, but because they not clicking and the defense cannot get off the field, the Tigers are slowing the pace and averaging only 59 plays a game.

 

What the Bulldogs Have to do on Defense
Defensively, Mississippi State has mostly faced one dimensional offenses and done a pretty good job, holding teams to 16.7 PPG compared to their average of 29.6. The Bulldogs have held far better Auburn offenses to 19 PPG the past three seasons, but they have to expect Auburn to come out playing fast to get off to a quick start.

For those making sports picks, this could mean the first quarter could be important; for both teams. If the Mississippi State defense can survive the initial thrust from the Tigers, they should stay in the game.

 

What the Tigers Have to do on Defense
The Auburn hype-machine was saying in the Louisville opener, this defense has more talent than the one that one the national championship in 2010, which clearly has been shown to be a fallacy.

The Tigers will need to play with greater toughness in this matchup upfront by fighting harder to get into gaps to slow running plays. Linebackers have to play smarter to shed blocks and be very alert because Prescott is an excellent runner when passing plays break down.

Lastly, the secondary must rally to the ball and take better angles on perimeter running plays, with the cornerbacks playing closer to wide receivers in their area. Auburn can turn the college football odds in their favor if they do this.

 

Oddsmakers Numbers and Outcome
Sportsbooks like Heritage are telling bettors how little they think of Auburn right now in making them a three-point home favorite compared to their regular home number of -4.5, with the total at 56.

The Tigers can win and cover if they start fast to build confidence and get the crowd on their side. Truthfully, Auburn cannot even commit one turnover, because besides creating opportunity for the other team, the Tigers squad starts to think "Here we go again!"

Because Prescott is a savvy veteran quarterback, who has been a part of two victories over the Tigers (3-0 ATS), as long as Mississippi State is receiving at least a field goal, sure seems like a good wager.

College Football Pick: Mississippi State +2.5 at Bookmaker

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