Last year, it was an eight-win regular season under the late Mike Leach for Mississippi State Football. Now Zach Arnett takes over, hoping to continue the momentum Coach Leach started. It is time to continue our college football odds series with a Mississippi State football over/under win total prediction and pick.
Last year was a great year on the field, but a difficult year off the field for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. On the field, it was eight wins including an upset of Texas A&M and over their rival Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl on the road. They capped off the season with a 19-10 ReliaQuest Bowl victory that saw a touchdown on the last play of the game. Off the field, tragedy started in October, as freshman offensive lineman Samuel Westmoreland passed away. Then in December, head coach Mike Leach died and Zach Arnett was promoted to lead the team.
Now Zach Arnett will lead for a full season and hope to continue to positive momentum of the program. Will Rogers is back for the Bulldogs, as are his top-four wide receivers. Both featured running backs return for an offense that was solid last year. The Bulldogs lose a lot on defense though. Emmanuel Forbes and Cameron Young are off to the NFL, leaving huge holes in a defense that was not always the best.
Here are the College Football Odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
College Football Odds: Over/Under Win Total Odds
Over 6.5 wins: +115
Under 6.5 wins: -135
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Why Mississippi State Can Win 6.5 Games
Despite winning eight games in the regular season last year, the Bulldogs are projected to win less this year. Part of that is the schedule they face. According to ESPN FPI, they face the 23rd hardest schedule in the nation this year. To get to the over 6.5 win total, it will take a perfect non-conference schedule, while also pulling a few upsets.
To open the season, Mississippi State football hosts Southeastern Louisiana. That should be a win, but then an improved Arizona squad will be coming to town. The Bulldogs should be favored in the game, but this is not a spot they can slip up. Later in the season, they face Western Michigan and Southern Miss, both of which should also have Mississippi State as favorites. With a 4-0 non-conference schedule, the Bulldogs will be in a position where they only need three wins in conference play to get the over.
There are three games in which the Bulldogs may be favored to win. They are South Carolina, Arkansas, and Auburn. The problem is that all three games are on the road this year. Two of the three teams currently rank below Mississippi in FPI, while Arkansas is slightly above. Winning on the road is difficult in the SEC, but for the over to hit, the Bulldogs must win two of those games. Their other game on the road is Texas A&M. They pulled the upset last year, and with it being later in the season, if the season has already gone south for Jimbo Fisher's squad, they may be able to do it again, but that is unlikely.
The home slat is very difficult for the Bulldogs this year. Their first two conference home games are LSU and Alabama, most likely both losses. They get Kentucky and Ole Miss at home. They might be favored or just slight underdogs to Kentucky, but they will not be against Ole Miss. With this schedule, win number seven may come down to the Egg Bowl.
Why Mississippi State Can Not Win 6.5 Games
The schedule for Mississippi State football is brutal and cannot have a slip-up if they are to cover 6.5 wins. Zach Arnett is a first-time head coach, and before 2020 had not even coached at the power five level. Mississippi State is also sitting 91st in returning production. Mississippi State ranked 40th in the NCAA in opposing scoring, but they return only 43% of their production on defense last year. With a quarterback in Will Rogers that is prone to mistakes, they have to be able to defend.
When looking at the schedule, finding seven wins is difficult. The non-conference schedule should provide three, but Arizona has improved every year under Jedd Fisch. Arizona improved overall via recruiting and the transfer portal and should not be taken lightly. With that being an early season game with a new head coach, it is a spot primed for an upset. At a 3-1 record, Mississippi State would need to win four SEC games to hit seven.
There are not four SEC games to win though. The Bulldogs will be heavy underdogs to LSU and Alabama. LSU is returning a ton of production and Brian Kelly has done a great job recruiting. Alabama is still coached by Nick Saban, and as long as he is running the program, that is a loss for Mississippi State football. Texas A&M should be better than last year, and as for as much hate that Jimbo Fisher gets, he is a solid coach. That is a loss. Speaking of solid coaches, Hugh Freeze is one of them and he is inheriting a lot of talent at Auburn. Ole Miss will be roaring for revenge for last year's Egg Bowl and is ahead of Mississippi State in terms of returning production this year. That there gives the Bulldogs five SEC losses.
Final Mississippi State Over/Under Win Total Prediction & Pick
Mississippi State football is looking to take a step forward. At the same time, so is just about every other program in the SEC. Week one should provide a win, but Arizona will challenge the Bulldogs. Even with a win against Arizona, they will lose to LSU and Alabama in two of the next three weeks. After the Western Michigan game, Mississippi State will sit at 4-2. With much of the remaining schedule on the road, the Bulldogs will lose to Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, and Texas A&M before getting their next victory over Southern Miss. This means the Egg Bowl is just a fight for bowl eligibility and not to his the over. Mississippi State finishes a disappointing 5-7 on the year.
Final Mississippi State Over/Under Win Total Prediction & Pick: Under 6.5 (-135)