Mississippi State (4-2 SU, 4-2 ATS) has hit the skids offensively. After exploding for 150 points through the first three games, the Bulldogs have put up 7, 6, and 23 since. QB Nick Fitzgerald can’t generate much of a passing attack, the offense throwing for just 5.9 yards per attempt against FBS opponents (113th nationally). The passing woes have led to an unhealthy play calling balance. The Bulldogs rush the ball on 59.7 percent of plays.
LSU’s stats do not justify how good the defense is, allowing 0.276 points per play (22nd). Nearly half the unit is comprised of NFL-caliber talent. One of the unsung advantages the unit holds over opponents is its ability to draw penalties. The fast, physical group overmatches foes, drawing 9.7 penalties (third) for 91.0 yards per game (fourth). This aids in stalling drives and preventing first downs.
The betting market can’t catch up to the Tigers since Ed Orgeron took over for former head coach Les Miles. In this span, they are 19-9 ATS, yielding a paltry 17.7 points per game. Against SEC opponents, the record is 14-4 ATS overall. LSU is covering a -3.9 average line by 5.3 points per game in the latter situation.
Despite the Bulldogs sporting a one-dimensional offense, they are the type of team that gives LSU trouble in the SEC. Their 3.4 opponent yards per rushing attempt make it one of the more efficient run-stopping teams in the conference. When Orgeron faces off against a rival allowing less than 3.8 per carry, LSU sputters for 16.9 points per game. It is 3-4 SU in this span, losing twice as a favorite of more than a touchdown (Florida, 2016; Mississippi State, 2017). We’re not sure they fall this time, but either team reaching 20 points is far-fetched. Pick ‘under.’
Around the SEC (All Games Saturday)
Auburn (-4) at Ole Miss, noon ET, on ESPN: Ole Miss (5-2 SU, 3-4 ATS) is 1-6 SU and ATS in its last seven hosting SEC rivals at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Each visitor eclipsed 30 points, posting 43.0 per game. The ‘under,’ on the other hand, has cashed in all four follow-up efforts for Auburn (4-3 SU, 2-5 ATS) after losing as home chalk under head coach Gus Malzahn. The final score (41.3) is coming up 15.7 points shy of a 57 average total.
Tulsa at Arkansas (-6), noon ET, on SEC Network: In the last four decades, Arkansas (1-6 SU, 4-3 ATS) is 7-0 SU and 5-2 ATS when kicking off with a line in-between two touchdowns in its series with Tulsa (1-5 SU, 3-3 ATS). The Golden Hurricanes average 10.7 points per game under these conditions.
No. 1 Alabama (-29) at Tennessee, 3:30 p.m. ET, on CBS: Since Oct. 2010, Tennessee (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS) is 1-15 SU and 3-12-1 ATS facing off against ranked SEC West foes. The Volunteers are losing by a 24.4 average margin. In eight matchups versus Alabama (7-0 SU, 4-3 ATS), the average score is 39.2 to 11.2 for the Crimson Tide.
Memphis at Missouri (-9.5), 4 p.m. ET, on SEC Network: The ‘under’ is 9-2 all-time when an AAC program faces off against an SEC opponent on the road. The visitors average 18.2 points per game, and only one has reached 30 points. The over-under 74 points is a bit step, even for these tow up-tempo, pass-happy squads.
Vanderbilt at No.14 Kentucky (-11), 7:30 p.m. ET, on SEC Network: Behind head coach Derek Mason, Vanderbilt (3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS) has put up 7, 21, 13, and 21 points in four matchups against Kentucky (5-1 SU, 3-3 ATS). The Commodores are coming up an average 6.4 points shy of their projected team total. The ‘under’ has cashed in all but one with the Wildcats exploding for 44 point last year.