The Mississippi State Bulldogs look for their 12th straight win over Memphis when the two former rivals square off Thursday night. These schools used to play every year, but did not meet at all from 2004 to 2009. The spread is so big because the Bulldogs are the darkhorse in the SEC West, while the Tigers are 3-21 in the past two seasons. NFL betting lines.
MSU had a great finish to last year, ending the season on an 8-2 run highlighted by wins over Florida, Georgia and Michigan in the Gator Bowl. Memphis, on the other hand, lost its final nine games by an average of 27.6 PPG, failing to reach 20 points in any of the nine contests. And that doesn’t even include the meeting between these teams to open the 2010 season when MSU outgained Memphis 570 to 237 en route to a 49-7 blowout. The biggest difference in these teams is the rushing offense. MSU averaged 215 rush YPG (16th in nation) while the Tigers had the fifth-worst ground game in the land (92 rush YPG). Although this is a hefty spread for a road team, expect MISSISSIPPI STATE to cover.
MEMPHIS is 4-15 ATS (21.1%, -12.5 Units) in games played on a grass field over the last 3 seasons. The average score was MEMPHIS 18.3, OPPONENT 39.4 – (Rating = 2*). Football odds.
MSU scrambling QB Chris Relf has developed into a pretty good passer, throwing for 569 yards and six touchdowns in the final two games of 2010. His development is aided by WR Chad Bumphis, who led the team in all receiving categories (44 rec, 634 yds, 5 TD). Senior RB Vick Ballard is the key to this offense. He had six multi-touchdown games and finished with 20 scores on the season. The Bulldogs held opponents to under 20 PPG and should still be a strong defensive team in 2011. However, they did lose their three best players in the front seven in DE Pernell McPhee and LBs Chris White and K.J. Wright.
The Tigers offense had the second-fewest points scored (14.4 PPG) partly because the offensive line surrendered 37 sacks and 87 tackles for losses. Despite the lack of protection, QB Ryan Williams still had a decent freshman season with 2,075 passing yards, 13 TD and 10 INT. He worked very well with top WR Marcus Rucker who scored eight of the team’s 14 receiving TD. The defense only forced 13 turnovers all season (5 fumbles, 8 INT), with a paltry 14 sacks. This led to the fourth-most points allowed in the nation (39.8 PPG). With seven defensive starters returning, much more will be expected from this defense in 2011. Football spreads.
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