Mississippi State vs Kentucky Odds, Picks and Predictions: Levis' Return Sends SEC Showdown Over the Total

In an effort to avoid some of the crazy point spread swings for this SEC matchup, our NCAAF picks are instead targeting the Over. With Kentucky QB Will Levis expected to return, these two squads should have no problem clearing the sub-50-point total.

Chris Hatfield - Betting Analyst at Covers.com
Chris Hatfield • Betting Analyst
Oct 15, 2022 • 07:48 ET • 4 min read
Will Levis Kentucky Wildcats SEC college football
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Kentucky and Mississippi State meet up for an SEC clash in a game that features two teams going in opposite directions.

The Wildcats came into this season with aspirations of competing for an SEC East title, only to have those hopes dashed five games into the season. They arrive to this one off back-to-back losses: a heartbreaker at Ole Miss and a loss at home to South Carolina without star QB Will Levis.

They'll be looking to avoid what happened a season ago when they suffered a three-game losing streak. That season followed an eerily similar pattern of opening the season with several consecutive wins.

Mississippi State is an impressive 5-1, with a lone loss coming at LSU. Since that defeat, they have blown out three straight opponents, including last week's 40-17 win against Arkansas.

Who pulls this one? Find out in our college football picks and predictions for Kentucky vs. Mississippi State.

Mississippi State vs Kentucky best odds

Mississippi State vs Kentucky picks and predictions

This game has seen one of the most significant line movements of any college football game this weekend, opening around -3 in favor of Mississippi State, moving all the way to -7, and now sitting at -4.5 on FanDuel at the time of writing.

The majority of that movement has to do with the status of Kentucky QB Will Levis. The projected Top-10 pick was out last week with an undisclosed injury. That left his status for this week up in the air. However, sources around the program are expecting him to play this week, and public comments from the coaching staff have said he's back in practice. His status is a pivotal component to handicapping this game, and we'll proceed like he's a go. 

With that in mind, we're getting some value on the total of 48.5, and I'm looking at the Over. The cat and mouse part of this game will be Kentucky looking to avoid the Mississippi State pass rush by getting athletic, fast receivers in space off quick passes.

Kentucky's offensive line has been graded as one of the worst this season. The Wildcats have the worst sack rate allowed among Power Five schools, with opposing teams getting home on over 15% of plays.

That battered offensive front – that may or may not have some key players OUT – will go up against a defensive line that has produced one of the better sack percentages in the SEC over the past three games. Kentucky will avoid that pass rush, and they'll do that by putting players with elite speed, like WR Barion Brown, in space. Those are the type of players that have given Mississippi State issues this season. I expect that to continue. 

In addition, something else that's in favor of the Wildcats' scoring is Kentucky's rushing offense vs. the Bulldogs' porous run defense. Mississippi State has one of the worst rushing defenses in the SEC, ranking third-to-last in the SEC in rushing defense, according to EPA.

Kentucky's rushing offense hasn't been good this season, but it's something you'd expect to improve. It's been the staple of Mark Stoops's tenure, and they just got star running back Chris Rodriguez back from suspension a few weeks ago. There have been whispers around the program that he hasn't gotten enough carries since his return, and this looks like an excellent spot for him to become more of a focal point of the offense.

I haven't mentioned the Mississippi State offense much, but they're going to score. If you haven't heard, Mike Leach is pretty good at this offensive thing, and the Bulldogs haven't been held to less than 30 points just once this season. That came against LSU, and Mississippi State didn't have the advantages they'll have in this one.

The most notable comes in the form of the big play. The Kentucky defense continues to take tons of strategic risk and is giving up the big play at an alarming rate because of it. They rank seventh in the SEC in plays of 20 yards or more, 10th in the SEC in plays of 40 yards or more, and 11th in the SEC in plays of 60 yards or more.

Mississippi State will seize on this and do a terrific job in the 20-30-yard passing range, ranking second in the SEC in most plays over 20. Additionally, the strong suit of their offense is first down, and Kentucky ranks fourth to last in the SEC in first down defense by EPA.

I think this number could be off by a total touchdown. Will Levis' return to the lineup is just one part of why we love points, but it's the part that's given us a number that's far too long.

My best bet: Over 48.5 (-115 at FanDuel)

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Mississippi State vs Kentucky spread analysis

After seeing how these teams look, I'd jump in on the live number rather than play something pregame. 

If Kentucky QB Will Levis is at his best, Mississippi State could go home with an L. This is an easy look-ahead spot for the Bulldogs, with Alabama waiting for them next week.

In addition, their best two blowouts of conference foes have been misleading box scores. In those games, they've held a combined +6 turnover ratio. I have a hard time seeing that happening this weekend in Lexington, given that Kentucky has done a pretty good job holding on to the ball this season. 

The other side in backing Kentucky means trusting a defense prone to the big play to win a game against Mike Leach. I don't want to do that; I don't want to even back that team to cover the spread before watching how the game plays out.

The Kentucky defense is capable of making some big plays, and culturally, they've got a repetition for being stout under Mike Stoops. However, I need to see how things look before I place a wager on it.

One massive trend in this series heavily favors the Wildcats: The home team has been 8-0 ATS since 2014. Kentucky will be looking to make that 9-0.

Mississippi State vs Kentucky Over/Under analysis

We're on the Over. The market still hasn't fully accounted for Will Levis being in the lineup, and that's a mistake. 

Both of these offenses have nice advantages at spots they already want to attack. In addition, both of these teams are capable of extensive play. As I've previously outlined, Kentucky will be forced into a little more than Mississippi State. The Wildcats' team speed should give the Bulldogs plenty of issues, and the Mississippi State overall offense should be able to attack Kentucky repeatedly.

The Over is 4-0 in Mississippi State's last four games after allowing 200 yards rushing in the previous game. Another way to put that is once a team shows they can run on the Bulldogs, teams pick up on it and run with success too. Kentucky will do that, and Mississippi State will do its part offensively to get this one Over. Back points.

Mississippi State vs Kentucky betting trend to know

[Stat]. Find more NCAA betting trends for Mississippi State vs. Kentucky.

Mississippi State vs Kentucky game info

Location: Kroger Field, Lexington, KY
Date: Saturday, October 15, 2022
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: SEC Network

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