Mississippi State has few stronger supporters than the Predictalator. Before the season started, the Bulldogs ranked within the top 15 in our College Football Power Rankings. They made the top 10 before heading to Baton Rouge and winning at LSU. Unfortunately for Dan Mullen's team, in what is one of the more compelling matchups of the season to-date and in what should be one of the highest scoring and most exciting games of the weekend, Kevin Sumlin's Texas A&M Aggies appear likely to pull off the mild upset in Starkville to stay undefeated atop the SEC West.
After needing overtime to top Arkansas in a neutral field game last week, Texas A&M ranks sixth in our updated College Football Power Rankings. The Aggies have the nation's third best offense behind Baylor and Oregon (respectively) with the fourth most efficient passing attack and a defense that is vastly improved from last season. Texas A&M is 5-0 straight-up and 2-2 against-the-spread versus the 70th ranked schedule in FBS this season. The Aggies are winning games by an average of 45.8 to 18.0. Over this two-plus seasons as head coach, Kevin Sumlin's team is 11-2 straight-up on the road, including two outright wins as a double-digit road underdog. On the season, the Aggies are gaining 3.1 yards-per-play more than their opponents, the fifth best mark in the country and the top figure from any team that has played a top 100 schedule thus far. The team's defense, which returned nine starters from last season, has benefited from its experience, allowing teams to complete just 51.1% of their passes and holding opponents to 3.8 yards-per-rush.
Mississippi State is 4-0 straight-up, 3-1 against-the-spread and ranks eighth in our power rankings and has a top 25 offense and defense. The Bulldogs are in the top 15 in both run and pass efficiency offense and have a top five run defense. They rank just 47th in pass defense and have given up 7.6 yards-per-pass to opponents despite playing just the 120th ranked division one schedule in 2014 and taking on only one opponent that ranks better than 95th in our power rankings. Though playing a markedly easier schedule, Mississippi State's efficiency numbers fall well short of Texas A&M. The Bulldogs out-gain opponents by 1.8 yards-per-play and have won by an average margin of 41.3 to 16.5.
Whereas we loved Mississippi State against LSU due to the Bulldogs strength against the run and LSU's inability (at the time) to throw the ball effectively, this game represents the opposite type of matchup for the home team. Both teams run more than 75 plays-per-game on average so expect fast tempo and high scoring, but also look for Kenny Hill and the Aggies' offense to make the most of an exploitable matchup through the air en route to besting Dak Prescott and the Bulldogs for the upset win.
According to 50,000 games played by the Predictalator, Texas A&M wins on average 52% of the time and by an average score of 40-38. As two point underdogs winning straight-up, the Aggies cover the spread 54.6% of the time, which would warrant a $23 wager from a normal $50 player. Both teams have averaged over 40 points-per-game on the season. The OVER (67.5) covers 59% of the time, enough to justify a $69 play from a normal $50 bettor. There are five other "upset watch" picks in which the underdog is projected to win outright this week and four stronger totals on Saturday.