Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State Prediction, Pick Against the Spread, and Latest Odds
Ole Miss Rebels vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Spread: Mississippi State -1
Game time: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Where to Watch: ESPN
Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State Prediction
The most underrated rivalry in college football returns to Thanksgiving night, full of multiple levels of intrigue.
With a win, Ole Miss reaches 10 wins in the regular season for the first time in school history. A win also moves the Rebels closer to a New Year’s Six bowl game – and a win there would give them 11 wins for the first time in school history.
Then there’s the Lane Kiffin factor. The Ole Miss coach already is a hot coaching candidate for numerous major Power 5 jobs, including LSU and Miami. He would only strengthen a resume already significantly improved since arriving in Oxford.
Finally, there’s Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral, who continues to rise on NFL draft boards and could be the first quarterback selected next year. He only has two more games to bolster his resume, and both – because of their importance – will be viewed with a critical eye.
With a win, Mississippi State will double its wins from 2020 and move the Bulldogs closer to stealing recruiting momentum from Ole Miss – and give the Bulldogs four wins over ranked teams in coach Mike Leach’s second season.
Ole Miss Preview - When Ole Miss has the ball
Corral has been playing for the last month while dinged with various injuries. An ankle injury has been the most bothersome, but still hasn’t really impacted the run game.
As accurate as Corral is as a thrower, his numbers have significantly decreased from last year because of a multitude of injuries in the Ole Miss receiving corps. This has led to more quarterback-specific runs within the offense, and more runs from Corral on scrambles.
In 11 games in 2020, Corral had 28 TD passes, and has 19 after 11 games this season. He has 21 more carries this season than last year, and though the yards are similar (506 in 2020; 552 this season), he has 10 TDs this season and has become the team’s short yardage option.
For all the hype around Kiffin’s pass-happy offense, the Rebels are based on the power run game. They run the ball nearly 6 out of 10 plays, and the tempo offense wears down defenses.
Ole Miss has four players (including Corral) with at least 500 yards rushing, and they lead the SEC with 30 rushing touchdowns. The ability to run the ball with power and explosion plays sets up Corral in the passing game.
That style of play will be tested against a Mississippi State run defense that’s third in the SEC, giving up 96.6 yards per game.
The loss of WR Jonathan Mingo in the first month of the season eliminated an elite, dependable deep threat. WRs Dontario Drummond, Braylon Sanders are solid, but they’re not Mingo – and the passing game has been hampered because of it.
Mississippi State Preview - When Mississippi State has the ball
It’s Year 2 in coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid system, and QB Will Rogers has been spectacular.
If it weren’t for the huge season of Alabama QB Bryce Young, Rogers would be the talk of the SEC. His numbers across the board are significantly better than his freshman season.
Leach says he typically sees the biggest jump with his quarterbacks in their second season in the system. From Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech to Luke Falk at Washington State – and now to Rogers.
He has 4,113 yards passing (1,976 last season), 34 TDs (11 last year), and is completing 76 percent of his passes (69 last year). His average yards per attempt has increased by 1.5 yards – a huge jump in a statistic that is measured in moves of tenths of a yard.
Leach’s offense hasn’t changed since he and Hal Mumme concocted the system three decades ago in the NCAA lower divisions. There’s nothing fancy: crossing routes and vertical shots and everyone doing their job to the step, and to the block, and to the timed throw – and everything works.
Unlike Ole Miss, the Mississippi State receiving corps is deep, led by Makai Polk (88 catches, 9 TDs) and Jaden Walley (47 catches, 5 TDs). One of the most important developments of the season, though, has been the solid work of the run game.
It’s nothing overwhelming, but Dillon Johnson (5.3 ypc. 4 TD) and Jo’quavious Marks (352 yards, 5 TD) have at least given the Bulldogs the ability to run consistently and prevent defenses from dropping seven and eight in coverage and flooding zones.
Ole Miss has given up 19.6 points per game over the last five games, and its defense – the worst in Power 5 football in 2020 – has become a strength in the second half of this season.
Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State Pick
The last thing Mississippi State needs is for this to become a one-score game – and that one score is a field goal. The kicking game has been atrocious (12-of-21 FGs, 2-of-9 from beyond 40 yards), and already has cost the Bulldogs a win over Arkansas.
- Prediction: Mississippi State, 27-23
- Pick: Mississippi State -1 @ -108