October 13, 2016

College Football Betting: Mississippi State at BYU

College Football Betting:  Mississippi State at BYU&h=253&w=372&zc=1

Friday night action serves up a somewhat awkward matchup between BYU and SEC entrant Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are 2-3 on the season and neither of their wins are particularly impressive. They’ve won against struggling South Carolina who have the worst scoring offense in FBS football (14.0 PPG, a full 1.2 points less per game than #127 ranked Buffalo at 15.2 PPG) and on the road against overmatched Massachusetts but came nowhere near covering against the Minutemen winning by 12 as -23 point favorites. Now they’ve got to make the long trip to Provo in between SEC conference games. Given the way that they were physically manhandled by Auburn on 10/8 they can’t be exciting about facing a rugged BYU team.

The Cougars are just 3-3 on the season but make no mistake–first year head coach Kalani Sitake is doing a phenomenal job keeping BYU competitive. Facing one of the toughest early schedules in college football it appeared inevitable that they would ‘wear down’ and be easy prey for some of their tougher opponents. Throw in the fact that the Cougars have only played two true home games this year and they faced an even tougher challenge. Instead, they’ve turned in a tough, gutsy effort week after week which is reflected in their 5-1 ATS record. Their only pointspread loss was on 9/30 at home against Toledo–BYU won by 2 as -3 favorites meaning that they’re 1.5 points shy of running the table ATS this year.

Just not a lot working in Mississippi State’s favor here. Despite their SEC affiliation the Cougars have faced a significantly tougher schedule. The Bulldogs have been a decent underdog in recent years (7-4 ATS) but they’re just 1-1 in that role this year. Just an awkward trip to play a tough though unfamiliar opponent at 4,555 feet above sea level only to turn around and resume SEC play next Saturday. Cougars do have a big game on deck against Boise State but given what we’ve seen out of BYU so far this season that doesn’t mean the effort won’t be present against Mississippi State. That’s what has been most impressive about Sitake’s coaching job this year–he’s instilled a high level of toughness in this mature, experienced team laden with returned missionaries. The Bulldogs haven’t ventured West of the Rockies in fifteen years and certainly nowhere near this altitude since their last trip to Provo in 2000.