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Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs Point Spread - Pick

Alabama Crimson Tide (9-0 SU, 4-5 ATS) vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-2 SU, 6-3 ATS)
College Football Week 11
Date/Time: Saturday, November 11, 2017 at 7PM EST
Where: Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, Mississippi
TV: ESPN

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: ALA -14.5/MSST +14.5
Over/Under Total: 50

The Alabama Crimson Tide come to Starkville for a big SEC matchup with the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have been impressive lately, beating Massachusetts on Saturday for their fourth straight win to go to 7-2 on the season. They look for a season-defining win this week against an incoming Tide group that is riding high at 9-0, coming off a 24-10 win over LSU. Once again, their tough defense held another SEC team to very little, something they hope they can repeat again this week.

Mississippi State started off the season 3-0, before losing ugly in back-to-back defeats to Georgia and Auburn. But they have bounced back nicely with four straight wins, showing some nice things along the way. They can really run the ball well and play good, balanced defense. That alone will have them in a lot of games. They've been scoring between 34-45 points in their last 4 games, allowing less than 14 per game in that stretch. But with their best win coming against LSU, they have shown they are not up-to-snuff against the best of the SEC and will need to show otherwise against a tough Alabama bunch.

The Mississippi State offense is heavily-reliant on QB Nick Fitzgerald. The whole offense wasn't at their best on Saturday, with the game being only 27-23 until a late Deddrick Thomas punt return for a TD gave the Bulldogs a little cushion. A little more was expected against the 2-7 Minutemen, as the Bulldogs didn't come close to covering the spread, only the third time that has happened this season. Fitzgerald threw two picks and it was an uneven day for this side of the ball. He has just 13 touchdowns through the air with ten picks, but he can really put his nimble feet to use, with over 800 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. RB Aeris Williams is right behind him with 776 yards, with several others who chip in with production. Through the air, they use a cabaret approach, led by Keith Mixon, Donald Gray, Jesse Jackson, and whoever happens to step up on a given week. But at its roots, this is a team that relies on the run and a good defense. Still, with a defensive score and punt return for a TD on Saturday, their offense was pretty lackluster and will have to be a lot better this week.

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The Mississippi State defense also wasn't at its best on Saturday. Still, even with the 23 they gave up to UMass and the 80 combined points given up to Georgia and Auburn, they are still giving up an average of just 18 points a game. Other than those opponents, they've given up very little. Top pass-rusher Montez Sweat had a sack, but they were otherwise quiet on the pass-rush front. JT Gray was big with a TD returned for a touchdown. For the most part this season, they've done pretty well against most offenses they've seen. But unproven at this level, we'll see what they come up with on Saturday. Against two of the better running offenses they faced this season, they didn't really get it done.

The Crimson Tide's win over LSU on Saturday was a tough game, bruising and punishing. Alabama wasn't able to get much going on offense, particularly with their run-game not getting untracked. Their defense was able to step up once again. There wasn't much to separate the two teams, but in the crucial moments on both sides of the ball, Alabama was able to come up with the right answers.

Alabama's offense was not on fire against LSU, but a two-touchdown win is the bottom-line. They haven't been great against the spread, covering just four spreads on the season despite a 9-0 mark. 116 rushing yards on 36 attempts is very uncharacteristic for the Tide and they look for better this week. Irv Smith, Jr. caught a Jalen Hurts touchdown and Henry Ruggs, III. hauled in a big reception. Calvin Ridley had some nice grabs, but it was a relatively sedate game by Alabama's standards. Expecting a repeat of that this week could be a mistake.

The LSU win was taxing for the Alabama defense. This week, we will see how linebackers Mack Wilson and Shaun Dion Hamilton look, as they left the game, with secondary playmaker Minkah Fitzpatrick also banged up. It looks like Hamilton might be out for a while, which is a bad loss. To hold LSU to ten points was still a victory for this side of the ball. Ronnie Harrison picked off his third pass of the season. Getting after the quarterback was Dylan Moses, Quinnen Williams, Raekwon Davis, Rashaan Evans, and Harrison. This defense is stout, makes plays, rushes the passer, and is balanced across all areas. Nick Fitzgerald and Company really have their work cut out. Texas A&M is the only SEC team this season to top ten points in scoring against the Tide.

Mississippi State has done well to right the ship and get ranked, putting themselves in a spot to make some big things happen for the program. And with their win over LSU, they showed they can beat a certain level of team. At the same time, to question their overall viability at this altitude seems like a fair position to take. While their defense could conceivably prevent Alabama from running up and down the field, it's hard to see how they're going to score enough points. And after an uneven performance on offense for Alabama last week, look for that to be an area of increased focus this week. I'm taking the Tide.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Alabama Crimson Tide minus 14.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Crimson Tide vs. Bulldogs game by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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