After falling to Texas and not blowing out USF, it looked like Alabama might be in for a rough season by Nick Saban’s standards, but then they handled business against Ole Miss in a game many were picking the Rebels to win.
Tonight, the Crimson Tide get to face the other half of the Egg Bowl in a game that probably isn’t making many headlines across the country given some of the matchups and college football odds that are set for Week 5. However, this showdown at Davis Wade Stadium is the perfect opportunity for Saban’s crew to build momentum.
Find out where my best bets lie in our college football picks and predictions for Alabama vs. Mississippi State on Saturday, September 30.
Alabama vs Mississippi State best odds
Alabama vs Mississippi State picks and predictions
It’s been a tough start to the season for first-year Mississippi State head coach Zach Arnett, who took over the program after the death of Mike Leach.
Not only has Arnett been tasked with trying to rebuild a program that lost one of the most beloved, and influential, coaches in college football history, but he’s trying to do it in an SEC that takes no prisoners.
In both the first two conference games of the season, the Bulldogs defense got beat up by LSU and South Carolina. Arnett’s defense gave up a combined 78 points and things won’t be any easier against Alabama.
Obviously, the story of Alabama's season has been quarterback play, but after renaming Jalen Milroe the starter against Ole Miss, Tommy Rees’ offense appeared to find its identity.
With Milore’s big arm, aggressive downfield passing style, and the athleticism of Alabama’s pass catchers, the Tide quarterback could really have his breakout game against the Bulldogs and Arnett knows it.
“He can launch it over your head in the secondary. At some point, far enough down the field, pretty much all coverages turn to man-to-man at that point,” Arnett said Wednesday. “They have great speed. (Jermaine) Burton, No. 3, has tremendous speed so he can take the top of the coverage. There are quite a few other receivers who can too. Milroe can let it fly.”
While Arnett is known for his defense, his group this year has taken a step back. They head into the Bama game ranked 97th in EPA per play, 110th in EPA per pass, and 61st in EPA per rush on defense.
This all while Milroe is coming off the most impressive game of his career having completed 81% of his passes and averaging 10.7 YPA against the Rebels. With Milroe building confidence, Alabama should be able to put up enough points to cover the -14.5-point spread.
Helping Milroe will be the Crimson Tide’s two-headed rushing attack of Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams (combined 461 rushing and 5.1 average per carry), who have Alabama ranked a respectable 46th in EPA per rush on offense.
Scoring points will be the tougher part for Alabama, but stopping the Rebels offensive attack should be a piece of cake.
Even when Saban’s team is labeled as having a “down year,” they’re still one of the best defenses in the country. They’re allowing just 13.5 points per game, 18th out of 133 programs, and they’re 28th in EPA per play, 39th in EPA per pass, and 32nd in EPA per rush on defense.
The group is littered with future NFL stars like Dallas Turner, Kool-Aid McKinstry, and Caleb Downs and they’re taking on a Bulldogs offense that’s been grasping at straws since hiring Kevin Barbay as offensive coordinator to move away from Leach’s air raid.
Offensively, Mississippi State is 64th in EPA per play and a grim 77th in EPA per pass despite having the SEC’s third all-time passing leader (11,668) in Will Rogers. Rogers has struggled since shifting from the air raid and is completing a career-low 60.7% of his passes this season.
Against a comparable LSU team this year, Rogers turned in arguably the worst game of his career throwing for just 103 yards with a 39.3% completion rate. If the Alabama pass rush can bother him like the Tigers did, he’s not going to be able to get into a rhythm.
My best bet: Alabama -14.5 (-110 at bet365)
Picks made at time of writing may not reflect live odds.
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Alabama vs Mississippi State same-game parlay
If Milroe continues to play as he did against Ole Miss, it will open things up for the running game, which in turn will set up the play-action pass to hit big plays deep.
Big plays tend to mean points, and Alabama could go after the Rebels secondary early to build a quick first-quarter lead.
Mississippi State hasn’t been able to stop quarterbacks all season against Power Five opponents. Spencer Rattler threw for 288 and three scores, Jayden Daniels went for 361 with two touchdowns through the air and two more on the ground, and Jayden de Laura had 342 yards and two touchdowns.
Arnett’s defense is ranked 91st in the country in points per game, allowing 27.2 with Power Five programs averaging 34.
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Alabama vs Mississippi State spread and Over/Under analysis
It’s been Alabama by more than two touchdowns since opening with the Tide as 14.5 to 15.5-point road favorites at most books. Although there has been some slight shifting, Alabama is -14.5 pretty much everywhere.
This season Alabama is 2-2 against the spread and easily covered the seven points they were favored by against Ole Miss.
As for Mississippi State, they’ve gone just 1-3 against the spread and are 0-2 against it in SEC games this season.
The game total opened between 48 and 48.5, depending on the book, and has slowly moved down to between 46 and 47 at most books.
While both Alabama and Mississippi State are 2-2 against when taking the Over this season, the Crimson Tide have hit the game total Over in four of their last six away games (+1.80 Units / 27% ROI).
Alabama vs Mississippi State betting trend to know
Mississippi State has hit the Game Total Over in 6 of their last 8 games at home (+3.80 Units / 43% ROI). Find more college football betting trends for Alabama vs Mississippi State.
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Alabama vs Mississippi State game info
|Location:||Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS|
|Date:||Saturday, September 30, 2023|
|Kickoff:||9:00 p.m. ET|
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