Free College Football Bowl Picks and Spreads: Mississippi St vs Wake Forest 2011 Music City Bowl Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions on ESPN 12/30/11: After being the upstart team of the SEC last season, the Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-6) came back down to earth this year. Still, they managed to make a bowl game despite playing in the toughest division of the toughest conference in the nation, and Mississippi State will face Wake Forest (6-6) in the Music City Bowl Friday night. The Demon Deacons struggled down the stretch, but a fast start allowed them to make it to the postseason. That being said, Wake Forest is a seven-point underdog in this matchup.
Both sides had their highlight moments throughout the year. Wake Forest knocked off a Florida State team ranked inside the top 25 at the time, and the Demon Deacons nearly did the same to the eventual ACC champion Clemson Tigers. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs gave the top-ranked LSU Tigers a serious scare. In fact, only Alabama came closer to knocking of LSU. Although inconsistency ultimately got the better of both teams, the ceiling is high when either side is playing at its best.
Offensively, the two teams are nearly identical when it comes to productivity, but their styles are completely different. Wake Forest is a pass-first team, lead by quarterback Tanner Price. The sophomore completed more than 60 percent of his passes this season, throwing 20 touchdowns to just six interceptions. The Bulldogs on the other hand are power running team, with running back Vick Ballard shouldering much of the load. He topped 1,000 yards this season and has 27 rushing scores combined the last two years. Ballard is helped by Mississippi State QB Chris Relf, who can hurt defenses with both his arm and his legs.
With the Demon Deacons looking to stretch the field and push the tempo and the Bulldogs trying to slow things down and control the clock, the team that controls the style of play will have the definitive edge. Thanks to their superior defense, the Bulldogs may have the upper hand. Mississippi State is giving up less than 20 points a game on the year, and the unit has been playing well for the last two seasons. In addition to holding LSU to just 19 points, the Bulldogs held Michigan and dynamic QB Denard Robinson to just 14 points in last season’s bowl game. Wake Forest has a solid but not spectacular offense, and the Bulldogs defense could certainly hold the Demon Deacons in check.
The X-factor in the game could be Wake Forest receiver Chris Givens. The Junior topped 1,200 yards this season, and he is probably the most explosive player for either team. If Givens can create a few big plays for the Demon Deacons offense, it could force the Bulldogs to abandon their ground game in order to catch up. Mississippi State can run the ball and play solid defense, but Relf isn’t the type of QB that can thrive if he has to throw the ball every down. If the Demon Deacons jump on top early, they could bury the Bulldogs.
In the end, Wake Forest could be in for a serious wake-up call Friday. The Bulldogs may have finished 6-6, but that record is all that bad for a team in the SEC West. Mississippi State has a legitimate top 25 defense, and the Demon Deacons are going to have trouble putting up a lot of points. Meanwhile, Ballard and Relf should be able to wear down the suspect Wake Forest defense with their power running. The Bulldogs should control the tempo and the outcome in this one.
Prediction: Mississippi State Bulldogs (-7) Cover the Spread
Free College Football Picks and NCAAF Predictions: Miss St -7 to cover the spread
|Music City Bowl: Miss St vs Wake Forest
Time: 6:40 PM EST on ESPN
Vegas Odds – Favorite: Miss St -7 Total: Over/Under 48
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