(4-4, 5-3 ATS)
Mississippi State Bulldogs
(6-2, 4-4 ATS)
The Mississippi State Bulldogs have only played one game since gaining a Top 25 ranking, and this will be the second when they welcome the Kentucky Wildcats to Starkville.
The Cats haven’t really had any success on the road this year, though the opening weekend victory against the Louisville Cardinals is looking better and better by the week. With RB Derrick Locke out of the lineup, there really hasn’t been anyone else step up to take over on the ground. Instead, it is going to be up to QB Mike Hartline to once again carry this team one step closer to bowl eligibility. Hartline has completed 67.4 percent of his passes this year for 2,144 yards with 17 TDs and four picks. WR Chris Matthews and WR Randall Cobb both have over 500 yards in receiving this year, and if you add WR La’Rod King to the bunch, you have 17 TD receptions. The defense hasn’t given up all that many yards this year at 352.9 yards per game, but scoring is a different story. Four teams have scored at least 37 points in the L/5 games for Kentucky, and to no surprise, all four of those games have resulted in losses. This isn’t an absolute must win for the Wildcats, but a ‘W’ for HC Joker Phillips and company will probably guarantee that coveted trip to a December bowl game.
The Bulldogs are really beating teams on the line of scrimmage this year on both sides of the ball, and it’s really showing in the rushing category both offensively and defensively. They really did a fine number on the Florida Gators in the biggest upset of the season in the SEC and are now allowing just 118.5 yards per game, No. 27 in the nation. On the other side of the ball, RB Vick Ballard is leading the way with 529 yards and 12 TDs. QB Chris Relf has 416 yards on the ground to go with his 802 through the air. RB LaDarius Perkins had a bust out week last week, running for 131 yards to give him 366 on the year. It’s hard to believe that Mississippi State has won five straight games, and its only two losses of the season have come against the Auburn Tigers and LSU Tigers, two very respectable losses. Is HC Dan Mullen the national Coach of the Year? It’d be hard to argue the fact if he ultimately goes 8-4 or 9-3 on the season.
The Wildcats are just becoming too much of a one dimensional team to be able to come on the road against a solid team and notch a victory. The NCAA football spread has really come down in this one from what it should be after the Bulldogs’ close call against the UAB Blazers. MSU is the right side in this one, as it should win by at least a TD.
College Football Free Pick: Mississippi State Bulldogs -6