Tide to Cover 8.5 as Mississippi State Battles Alabama

Matthew Jordan

Monday, November 10, 2014 8:18 PM GMT

Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 8:18 PM GMT

It's the game of the year in the SEC as top-ranked Mississippi State looks to all but clinch the SEC West Title.

SEC West There for Taking
Technically Mississippi State can't clinch the SEC West with a win here, but it would take losses in the final two games, against Vanderbilt and Ole Miss for the Bulldogs to not play in the SEC Championship Game. Sure, they could lose in the Egg Bowl, but MSU isn't going to lose at home to Vanderbilt even if it is a potential letdown game. Mississippi State improved to 9-0 for the first time in school history with a 45-16 win over Tennessee-Martin in Week 11. Only SEC teams schedule such weak non-conference opponents this late in the season, but it's hard to give the schools too much grief considering how tough conference play is. But take a look at MSU's non-conference schedule: Southern Miss, UAB, South Alabama and then UT-Martin. That's a joke.

MSU quarterback Dak Prescott, who is second on all Heisman odds at sportsbooks behind Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, had 206 yards passing and two touchdowns while rushing for another score in the win against UT-Martin, making this his school-record ninth 200-yard passing game of the season. Prescott has been responsible for an SEC-high 27 touchdowns this season; and the most important thing was he got out of the game uninjured, as he had been battling an ankle problem of late but was pulled in the third quarter Saturday to assure health for this one.

 

Tide Escape LSU Upset Bid
Alabama had no such luxury of taking it easy in Week 11 as the Tide beat rival LSU 20-13  in overtime in Baton Rouge. I hit on the 'under' total there as well as Bama covering the 6.5-point spread at sportsbooks. Senior quarterback Blake Sims drove Alabama 55 yards in the final 50 seconds of regulation for a tying field goal and then threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to DeAndrew White in the OT. Sims completed just 20 of 45 passes (44.4 percent), the lowest completion percentage by an Alabama quarterback in an SEC game in the last five seasons (with a minimum 10 pass attempts). Sims passed for 80 yards on Alabama's tying and winning possessions after passing for 129 yards on the all of the team's previous possessions.

Frankly, Alabama was a bit lucky to win. Running back T.J. Yeldon fumbled deep in Alabama territory with under two minutes left and LSU recovered. However, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Tigers guard Vadal Alexander ended up forcing LSU to kick a field goal. "The penalty changed the complexion of the game," LSU coach Les Miles said, and he was correct. Yeldon also suffered an ankle injury in the game but should be able to go in this one.

Alabama could control its own destiny to win the SEC West and reach the College Football Playoff with a victory. The Tide have a cupcake game next week against Western Carolina and close the regular season with the Iron Bowl showdown at home against Auburn, which was upset on Saturday. Alabama is the national championship NCAAF Pick at +350 at sportsbooks. It is +130 to win the SEC title on College Football Odds with Mississippi State at +300. MSU hasn't won the SEC since 1941.

The Tide beat Mississippi State 20-7 last year in Starkville, but Prescott missed it with an injury; and of course, Sims wasn't playing back then.

NCAAF Free Pick: This line is at +8.5 at Bet365. At that number, go with Alabama to cover. The home team has covered in the past four meetings between these teams. 

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