SEC Week 9 College Football Picks: Texas A&M-Mississippi State to Fly Over the Total

Jay Pryce

Tuesday, October 23, 2018 12:54 PM UTC

Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018 12:54 PM UTC

Bet on the Mississippi State offense rebooting as it hosts No. 24 Texas A&M Saturday night. Our free college football pick on this matchup, as well as a look at opening lines and some situational trends for all the Week 9 SEC action here. 

SEC Spotlight: No. 16 Texas A&M at Mississippi State (-2.5)Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, on ESPNFree NCAAF Pick: ‘Over’Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

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Mississippi State (4-3 SU, 4-3 ATS) is in a funk, losing three of its last four games. The defeats came against ranked opponents (Kentucky, Florida, and LSU), which is forgivable, but the fact the Bulldogs have mustered just a trio of touchdowns in four SEC games is troublesome. This is beyond poor production for a unit returning nine starters from a year ago—and first-year head coach Jay Moorhead is considered an “offensive guru.”

Senior QB Nick Fitzgerald is particularly reeling. He threw four interceptions for 59 yards on 8-of-24 passes in last week’s 19-3 loss in Baton Rouge. Fitzgerald has registered an 81.8, 74.0, 75.3, and 20.6 passer rating over the last four games. The Bulldogs rank 124th in passing efficiency nationally.

No. 16 Texas A&M (5-2 SU, 6-1 ATS) have won three straight and are coming off a bye. New head coach Jimbo Fisher has the Aggies defense rolling. Toss out the 45-23 defeat at top-ranked Alabama, and the team is surrendering 16.5 points on 287.5 yards per game.

Offensively, Texas A&M struggles to establish a rushing attack, which may be a blessing against a stout Mississippi State front. The passing game is highly effective, picking up 8.3 yards per attempt. The secret weapon for Fisher’s squad is its ability to control the game. The Aggies possess the ball on offense 59.6 percent of the time, the third highest rate in the country.

Look for the Bulldogs offense to bounce back in this matchup. When tossing 10 passes or more in a contest, Fitzgerald, in his collegiate career, leads the Mississippi State unit to 37.1 points per game against defenses allowing more than 17 points on the season. The Aggies enter yielding 20.6 overall. This scenario triggered once in 2018, a 31-10 romp over Kansas State in Week 2. Against squads surrendering fewer points, the Bulldogs limp to 14.8 per contest behind Fitzgerald. We’re not sure Hail State will see out a victory, but there will be points for the first time in a while. Pick ‘over’ as your best bet.

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Back at home vs Texas A&M.

Saturday | 6 PM | @espn #HailState🐶 pic.twitter.com/h4d6fSUhPt

— MSU Football 🏈 (@HailStateFB) October 22, 2018
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Around the SEC (All Games Saturday)

Vanderbilt (-1.5) at Arkansas, noon ET, on SEC Network
One has to go back to 2012 to uncover the last time Vanderbilt (3-5 SU, 4-4 ATS) laid points on the road in an SEC matchup (Kentucky). Arkansas (2-6 SU, 5-3 ATS), meanwhile, has covered nine of its last 13 at home as a single-digit pup.

No. 7 Georgia (-7) vs. No. 9 Florida, at Jacksonville, FL; 3:30 p.m. ET, on CBS
Since 1980, when the favorite lays a touchdown or more in the famed Georgia (6-1 SU, 3-4 ATS)-Florida (6-1 SU, 6-1 ATS) rivalry, it is 16-3 SU and 12-7 ATS (63.2 percent).

No. 12 Kentucky at Missouri (-7), 4 p.m. ET, on SEC Network
Ranked SEC underdogs catching points to unranked conference rivals are 27-17 ATS (61.4 percent) since 1994. Kentucky (6-1 SU, 3-4 ATS), which is 3-3 SU and 2-4 ATS head to head verses Missouri (4-3 SU, 4-3 ATS), is getting a touchdown on the college football oddsboard. This situation also applies to the A&M-Mississippi St. feature game above.

Tennessee at South Carolina (-7.5), 7:30 p.m. ET, on SEC Network
Including his time coaching at Florida, South Carolina’a (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS) Wil Muschamp is 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS against Tennessee (3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS), covering a -0.5 average line by 8.0 points per game. The Vols have never scored more than 23 points in any matchup.

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