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Mississippi Rebels vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs Point Spread - Pick

Mississippi Rebels (5-6 SU, 3-7-1 ATS) vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-3 SU, 7-4 ATS)
College Football Week 13
Date/Time: Thursday, November 23, 2017 at 7:30PM EST
Where: Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, Mississippi
TV: ESPN

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: MISS +15.5/MSST -15.5
Over/Under Total: 62.5

The Ole Miss Rebels come to Starkville on Thursday for an SEC in-state showdown with the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Bulldogs had quite a game on their hands last week, needing a late TD to get past Arkansas on Saturday, 28-21. The win pushed their mark to 8-3 and they look to beat a Rebels team they smashed almost a year ago to the day, 55-20. The Rebels, meanwhile, carried a 24-21 lead into the second half on Saturday over Texas A&M, going scoreless in the second half and losing, 31-24. The loss dropped them to 5-6 on the season and they look to salvage the season somewhat this week against their in-state rival.

Mississippi St. is pretty dangerous and after losing their 4th and 5th games of the season in road losses to Georgia and Auburn, they've been pretty good. Their only loss since was a 31-24 loss to the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. They've also been a reliable wagering proposition of late, with their non-cover of Arkansas on Saturday only the second time they failed to cover since September. They have been able to parlay a strong running game and a balanced and playmaking defense into nice things this season. They may have fallen short of becoming a true SEC elite team, but not by much. And while they're coming off a loss to 'Bama and a too-close-for-comfort win over Arkansas, they've gotten better over the course of the season.

The Mississippi State offense does rely a lot on the run. They get really good play from a blossoming quarterback in Nick Fitzgerald. His passing stats might not excite, but he can make a lot happen in a variety of ways. With his arm he can do damage, but he is one of the best running quarterbacks in the nation with nearly 1000 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is very quick and not the easiest guy to bring down. Also on the ground, they get good work from Aeris Williams, who is also nearing 1000 yards on the ground. With a cabaret of other backs who can also spring forth with production, they can really wear out defenses on the ground.

The Mississippi State defense is also pretty good; relying on a lot of balance, including what has been really strong pass-defense this season. Helping in that regard is Mark McLaurin, JT Gray, Brandon Bryant (questionable), Jonathan Abram, and Jamal Peters. At linebacker, they really get after it, led by Dezmond Harris (questionable), Leo Lewis, and JT Gray. Up-front, guys like Jeffrey Simmons are a handful, as is pass-rusher Montez Sweat. Over the second-half of the season, they have become more-adept at containing opposing offenses and look for more of the same this week.

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After two straight wins, Ole Miss looked pretty good in the first half against Texas A&M as they tried to make it three in a row, with a bad second-half on offense spoiling their winning bid. Their only conference wins this season came against Vandy and Kentucky. Their other SEC games, other than a one-point loss to Arkansas, were pretty lopsided losses. It's been a rough season for Ole Miss, one that they might be eager to see come to and end. At the same time, putting up two straight wins before losing to A&M on Saturday shows they are still into it mentally. They have some pop aerially on offense and put up 34 points a game. Alas, they cannot run the ball with much effectiveness and their defense has been massively exploited by the better SEC teams they have taken on this season.

Ole Miss junior quarterback Jordan Ta'amu hasn't been too bad filling in for injured Shea Patterson. He has been putting up big numbers, especially in Ole Miss' two most-recent wins. On Saturday, he threw for only 189 yards, with two touchdowns and a pick. Still, in limited time, he has 9 TD throws and three interceptions. Wide receiver AJ Brown has been good and has 1090 yards receiving with 10 touchdowns. DeMarkus Lodge and DK Metcalf have also been reliable aerial targets. On Saturday, Jordan Wilkins ran for 147 yards and a TD, as he is nearing 1000 yards on the ground this season. They can get some things done on this side of the ball. Still, in a game they really could have used on Saturday, putting up a goose-egg in the second half is discouraging to say the least.

Any chance Ole Miss had at salvaging a respectable season this year was dashed on this side of the ball, as they allow an average of nearly 36 points a game. Last season, they were terrible in this particular matchup. They've been slightly more-rigid in recent games, though the quality of the offenses they have faced has decreased. And with the way Mississippi State has been running the ball, the god-awful Rebels' run-defense will really be put to the test this week in Starkville.

It's not that hard to envision a revved-up Ole Miss team playing well in a rivalry spot. Mississippi State isn't invulnerable to the point where they can be totally counted on to smash up teams like Ole Miss. Be that as it may, Mississippi State is a better team and by a pretty considerable margin. And that's especially true on defense. It just seems unlikely that Ole Miss can avoid getting a bunch of points stuck on them on Saturday. Can they put up enough to cover the spread? Sure, but in the three main scenarios I see playing out, the Bulldogs cover in two of them.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Mississippi State Rebels minus 15.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State Thanksgiving 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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