Oklahoma State Cowboys Vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs Free Pick 8/31/13
Mississippi State Bulldogs (0-0) at Oklahoma State Cowboys (0-0)
College Football: Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 3:30 pm (Reliant Stadium)
The Line: Oklahoma State Cowboys -13 --- Over/Under: 66 See the Latest Odds
TV: ABC, ESPN 2
The Oklahoma State Cowboys travel to Houston to take on the SEC’s Mississippi State Bulldog’s in the Texas Kickoff Classic Saturday.
The Cowboys are loaded on both sides of the ball and after a mediocre 8-5 (5-4) showing last season and lots of retooling, the time is now for head coach Mike Gundy and his troops to return to their rightful place atop the Big 12.
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Last season’s QB by committee situation did produce the 7th best passing attack in the nation at 331.7 yards a game, but the flip-flopping between Cint Chelf, J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt ultimately resulted in a 4th place Big 12 finish so a more stable situation here has to be a high priority. Chelf will get the start, but should he falter, look for the more mobile, athletic Walsh to get under center. Oklahoma State does return a little bit of depth at RB in Sr. Jeremy Smith (371 YDS, 8 TDS last season), but this is a pass first offense from a pass first conference and without a proven workhorse, the running game probably won’t see much light initially. Especially considering the return of All-Big 12 WR Josh Stewart (101 REC, 1,210 YDS, 7 TDS in 2012).
Defensively, the Cowboys will need a standout to emerge from a unit that surrendered far too many points last season (28.2 per game) and far too many yards (421.6 per). The Oklahoma State secondary is rife with athletes and could be one of the nation’s best.
Mississippi State has been steadily emerging from the SEC basement, going bowling the past three years in a row and actually becoming less of a cakewalk for the powers that be down south. The trouble is, the SEC West, the toughest conference in the land, is where they reside and playing Alabama and LSU, not to mention Auburn and Ole Miss, every season is about as tough an annual slate as there is in college football. Now add Texas A&M to the mix and most teams would be headed for the door. The Bulldogs continue to show steady improvement, though, and wins against Arkansas, Kentucky Tennessee and Auburn last season provided some short-lived oohs and ahhs on their way to seven straight until the grown folks (Alabama, Texas A&M, LSU) came to town and literally knocked the Bulldogs back into real time by a combined score of 113-37.
The Bulldogs seem to live and die by the arm of Sr. QB Tyler Rusell, an NFL prospect with prototype size (6-5, 230) and arm strength, who passed for 2,897 YDS and 10 TDS on 58.6% passing last season. Russell put up solid numbers during MSU’s seven-game win streak, passing for 1,573 yards and 15 TDs, then went to sleep against the big boys, with two TDS and three INTs combined against Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M. The Bulldogs also return a bit of workhorse in Sr. RB Ladarius Perkins, who rushed for 1,024 YDS and 8 TDS in 2012.
On the defensive side, MSU finished 2012 somewhere in the middle of the pack, ranked 34th in the nation at 23.3 points allowed per contest and showed some holes against the pass with little success in getting to the QB, which doesn’t bode well for a matchup with Oklahoma State.
MSU is 1-4 against the spread in its last five neutral site games and 1-5 against the spread in its last six games. The Cowboys have covered the spread in four of their last five games and 7-3 against the spread in their last ten non-conference games.
This game promises to be a contrast in styles, but it just doesn’t look like a good matchup for a Mississippi State squad that struggled against strong opponents last season, particularly against teams that like to put the ball up. And there aren’t many teams outside of the Big 12 as pass happy as Oklahoma State. Giving essentially two touchdowns to an SEC team, is a tall order though, especially to open the season. I’ll take Mississippi State and the points.
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