Louisville vs. Miss State Bowl Pick
Is Mississippi State a good play as an underdog on Saturday when the Bulldogs take on the Louisville Cardinals at 12:00 p.m. ET in the Taxslayer Bowl?
ODDSMAKERS LIKE: Louisville. According to oddsmakers from online sports book Bovada.lv, the Cardinals are 7-point favorites to beat the Bulldogs, who opened as 4.5-point underdogs before the line jumped. The total, meanwhile, sits at 63 points after hitting the board at that same number.
THE PUBLIC LIKES: As of Saturday morning, 77% of betting tickets were on the Cardinals to cover the spread and 83% of the money was also on Louisville.
INJURY REPORT: The biggest injury of note in this matchup is quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, who suffered a nasty leg injury in Mississippi State's loss to Ole Miss on Thanksgiving night. He was ruled out for the season. Cory Thomas (foot), Keith Mixon (ankle) and Dezmond Harris (thigh) are all probable for the Bulldogs, while Jamal Peters (personal) is out.
For the Cardinals, Micky Crum (shoulder), James Hearns (personal) and Jaire Alexander (none) are all out. Jeremy Smith is also out after suffering a toe injury back in November.
WHO WE LIKE: Mississippi State. Even though the Bulldogs will be without Fitzgerald this is a lot of points to lay against a roster full of SEC talent. Freshman Keytaon Thompson totaled 316 yards and two touchdowns after Fitzgerald went down against Ole Miss so he's not incapable of moving the offense. Besides, the Bulldogs defense has been outstanding this season, allowing just 302 yards per game (10th in the nation) and 20.4 points per contest (25th in the nation).
The Cardinals, meanwhile, are just 1-6-1 against the spread in their last eight non-conference games. They're also 2-7 at the betting window in their last nine games versus an opponent with a winning record and have dropped all four of their last four games against the spread after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
I'll take the team that plays better defense that is also getting a touchdown at the betting window, especially considering the Bulldogs have the defensive front to give Lamar Jackson fits.
TAXSLAYER BOWL PREDICTION: MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS +7