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College Football Handicapping Information With In-Depth Analysis-Week 1 Picks
Well tonight is the big night or what we all in the professional handicapping business call “Christmas in August.” Its officially the beginning of the NCAA college football season tonight at 8 PM on ESPN as the LSU Tigers get set to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogz in a nationally televised game. The game currently carries a spread of 17 1/2 to the road team(MS) and this game figures on becoming a showcase to the national championship hopes of LSU. While I have a strong preferance with this pick, I will save my analysis for later in the article.
As the title of this article states, I am here to offer some specific handicapping advice for Week 1 of the college football season. Now our professional handicappers have been at work all spring and summer long breaking down every team in D-1 with the express purpose of being ready to successfully handicap our games from the get-go like always. For those who aren’t familiar with us, we our currently in our tenth year of professional existence and our website can be accessed by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page. We offer deep analysis and handicapping info on NFL and NCAA football, MLB, NHL, and NCAA b-ball. Out ten year cumulative handicapping record puts us at the 59 percent success mark and has made us a source of trust for many in this line of recreation. What us so good at what we do is that we don’t make boastful claims of pickign at 80 percent(which no one possibly do). We are realistic when it comes to this game as our nearly 60 percent mark is genuinely legit and has allowed us to bring in hundreds of loyal subscribers each year. We have over 4 dozen time-tested game scenarios and trends that we specifically look out for and that have been proven to be big winners. This has enabled us to have great success in this very unpredictable game. So enough with the preaching. Lets look at a few of the trends we like to look at when evaluating Week 1 games specifically.
Now week 1 in any sport is a very difficult time for almost all handicappers. The new season brings lots of questions about a team’s legitimacy and whether a team really is as good as they look to be in their press clippings. So you must tread with great caution in week 1. Since this article is about college football, we will stick with this sport in discussing potential pitfalls.
One thing linesmakers like to do in Week 1 is overinflate the betting lines when a big name, championship caliber team is involved. No one knows before Week 1 whether these so-called “Big Time” teams really do have what it takes to succeed and whether they are fraudulent contenders. Many a team has come into the year with big plans and hype, only to fall flat on their faces. So what you see many a time are these teams giving a bigger than usual amount of points to their underdog opponents and thus in turn make these underdogs live bets. Looking at the lines heading into week 1, we see this scenario unfolding in a bunch of games. Here are some games where a much hyped team is giving a ton of points to its opponent without having anything to show for warranting such favoritism.
WEST VIRGINIA 24 W. Michigan
VIRGINIA TECH 24 East Carolina
MIAMI 18 Marshall
NEBRASKA 21 Nevada
UCLA 17 Stanford
TCU 21 Baylor
OKLAHOMA 40 1/2 North Texas
TEXAS 38 1/2 Arkansas State
PENN STATE 38 Fla. International
ARKANSAS 24 Troy
These are just some of those type of games mentioned above. Now we don’t feel that all of these favorites won’t cover the spread! We are just simply pointing out how these numbers are so large with no games being played to warrant this type of line. Week 1 historically has seen underdogs dominate the covers and so you must be on the lookout for these types of LIVE PLAYS in order to maximize your intake. Now we like a number of the underdogs listed above along with some of the favorites but since we are a business, I can’t simply give them to you on here. I have broken down two of these games for free on the website but the others are part of our Week 1 subscription package which includes between 15-18 games each week with 5 BEST BETS that have come in successfully at around 65%!
So hence we have our first lesson for college football 2007. I have dozens of more game-winning trends like this that I will periodically share from time to time so make sure you check us out.
BIG 12 Conference:
IOWA STATE(-3 1/2) VS. Kent State: This will make the first game of new Iowa State head coach Gene Chizik and figure on the Cyclones to come out flying in front of the home fans on Thursday night. Chizik is a very detail oriented, disciplined coach, which was lacking under the previous coaching regime and so expect Iowa State to show a great deal of spark and determination as they look to impress their new leader. Iowa State should be able to put up points as Chizik inherits talented QB Bret Meyer and WR Todd Blythe and this matchup is key since Kent State struggled all last season stopping the opposing teams passing offense. Kent State is also adept at putting up points however as QB Julian Edelman is a big time passer who always gives his team a chance. RB Eugene Jarvis should also have a big year running behind the mammoth Kent State offensive line. When you break it down, this game should be a shootout and in that type of scenario, you go with the points when it’s more than 3. THE PICK: KENT STATE(+3 1/2)
Colorado(2 1/2) VS. Colorado State(In Denver): What a way to start the season for both clubs as Denver will host these historic rivals in a battle for ultimate state bragging rights. Was a mild surprise to see Dan Hawkins’ listed as the favorite year due to the fact they struggled mightily in 2006 finishing off games. Hawkins was the right hire for this team in more ways than just game preparation but this team still needs to infuse itself with more talent and less me-first players that marred the previous regimes. This will take time and thus 2007 figures to be another year of struggle for the Buffaloes. As far as Colorado State is concerned, this team definitely can get into the bowl picture as RB Kyle Bell is back healthy after a torn ACL hurt his 2006 production. Any team that can run the ball in the Big 12 is a plus and Colorado State should be able to control the game with its running back and open it up with the occasional big pass from QB Caleb Hanie. Colorado State returns 20 starters altogether and this veteran presence should allow it to deal with the opening game jitters much better than their younger counterparts in the high altitude community. THE PICK: Colorado State(+2 1/2)
*************GEORGIA(-6 1/2) VS. Oklahoma State: *********THIS GAME IS CURRENTLY PART OF OUR WEEK 1 PICKS PACKAGE AS WE HAVE A STRONG OPINION ON IT!
Missouri(-5) VS. Illinois: This game is one of the toughest on the schedule to handicap as its being played at a neutral site in St. Louis and also due to the fact that both teams can go either way as we enter the 2007 season. Illinois looks to be a team on the rise as all of fantastic recruiting that head coach Ron Zook has done over the years should pay great dividends this year. Missouri on the other hand has the looks of a potent offense as they return 9 starters from that unit. The Tigers are led by QB Chase Daniel who made great strides in 2006 and who will have two star TE’s in Chase Coffman and Martin Rucker. These two will be incredibly tough matchups all season to opponents as their speed and pass-catching ability will make it tough for most defenses. On the other side of the ball is where the problems lie as the Tigers were atrocious at stopping both the pass and the run last season. So winnings shootouts might be the way this team gets itself into bowl contention. As far as Illinois is concerned, the defense returns fifth-year senior J Leman who racks up tackles by the boatload while also adding three top-100 recruits. The offense also returns QB Juice Williams and RB Rashard Mendenhall. So the pieces are in place for a step up in level of play. This game however will be won with the offense as Missouri’s largely intact unit should put up a ton of points on a talented but green Illinois defense. Illinois QB Williams is a great runner but struggles with his accuracy and so a weak Missouri D should not be pressured as much as they would with a more high powered offensive opponent. Give Illinois time and they will be good to possibly great. This is the season opener however and so go with the more experienced, game-ready squad. THE PICK: Missouri(-5)
OKLAHOMA(-40 1/2) North Texas: The Oklahoma Sooners once again come into a season as one of a handful of teams with a realistic shot at a National Championship. Despite losing RB Adrian Pederson to the NFL, Bob Stoops’ squad expects nothing less than perfection. Sam Bradford is the new QB as he replaces Paul Thompson and his 22 touchdown passes last year. So there is a good chance that the Sooners will struggle some coming out of the gate with all the young guys getting their first chance to play. Looking at the history of their meetings, North Texas and Oklahoma have played four previous times in the first week of the season with Oklahoma winning each one(all in Norman). On top of that, Oklahoma has scored exactly 37 points in the last three meetings. Figure on the Sooners winning yet again and possibly going above the 37-point mark. North Texas showcases QB Daniel Meager who has struggled the last two years(8 TD’s/14 INT’s) while not being able to pass for over 155 yards in a game in his career. The running game is also off and on as RB Jamario Thomas showed flashes of brilliance while also vanishing from the game entirely. The 40 1/2 spread is a very high number due to the inexperience Oklahoma has at the key offensive positions. This is a case of the oddsmakers giving too much love to an established powerhouse. Oklahoma will be good and maybe even great but the transitions away from Adrian Pederson will take a few games so look for a backdoor cover by North Texas. THE PICK: North Texas(+40 1/2)
*********KANSAS(-7 1/2) Central Michigan:********* THIS GAME IS CURRENTLY PART OF OUR WEEK 1 PICKS PACKAGE AND IS ONE OF OUR 5 BEST BETS FOR WEEK 1!
TEXAS(-38 1/2) Arkansas St.: Heisman Trophy candidate Colt McCoy and his Texas Longhorns come into the 2007 season with the mantra of National Championship or Bust. This team is loaded and McCoy already is a truly remarkable passer who will surely be a top five pick in the NFL draft. First however there is the matter of the season opener against Arkansas St. who have finished 6-6 in each oft he last two seasons. This team is no pushover as they registered those 6 wins against D-I A foes last season. They are led by RB Reggie Arnold who ran for 1,076 yards in 2006 and figures to see the ball a ton in this contest. Texas however truly has the look of a champion in the making and if not for an injured neck, it is entirely possible that we could be talking about back-to-back champs as we write this. The fact of the matter however is that Texas fell short of their goal last season and so look for both McCoy and the Longhorns to come out with the feeling that they have something prove. The home crowd will fire them up even more and this one will surely be over before the half. Only worry here is a backdoor cover since Texas’ starters will be out of the game as early as the third quarter so this one could be wallet buster in that regard. This line is very high and is a product of the oddmakers going overboard with a prominent title contender. Sure Texas is very good but the possibility of a backdoor cover with such a large number makes this a game to avoid. Holding a gun to my head, go with Arkansas St. to lose by 35. THE PICK: Arkansas St.(+38 1/2)
***********AUBURN(-13 1/2) Kansas State: ***********THIS GAME IS CURRENTLY PART OF OUR WEEK 1 PICKS PACKAGE AS WE HAVE A STRONG OPINION ON IT!
Texas Tech(-9 1/2) SMU: The high powered Texas Tech Red Raiders begin the season on the road against Southern Methodist. QB Graham Harrell returns for another year and looks to continue to pile up the points as only Texas Tech can with their pass first, pass second, pass third philosophy. There are many holes to contend with unfortunately for TT as three wide receivers from last year have graduated and the offensive line has only one returning starter. This will lead to timing issues between Harrell and his new crop of receivers and could allow SMU to stay in this one. SMU has 16 starters returning this season and are rallying around the idea that they can be the first team to finish over .500 since 1984. The continuity of having so many starters returning is a definite plus in SMU’s favor but Tech should come into this game firing all day long. Having Harrell back is huge for Tech and his calm demeanor will help sooth the nerves of his young wideouts. Figure on a 10-14 point Tech defeat of SMU. THE PICK: Texas Tech(-9 1/2)
*********VIRGINIA TECH(-27 1/2) VS. East Carolina:********* THIS GAME IS CURRENTLY PART OF OUR WEEK 1 PICKS PACKAGE AND IS ONE OF OUR FIVE BEST BETS FOR WEEK 1!
Virginia(-3.5) VS. WYOMING: This is an intriguing matchup between two teams looking to rebound after an off year for both. Virginia head coach Al Groh is feeling the heat and must win games in order to keep his job. This team has talent as they return 9 starters on offense and another 10 on defense. Offense however is where the problems and lie and Virginia will have to do much better than 2006 in order to have a shot at a bowl game. QB Jameel Sewell is very shift and is a running threat but his passing average was an awful 4.4 yppl last season. The offensive line took much of the blame for not keeping defenders off of him and the WR corps failed to get open consistently. The same issues look to plague them again this year so look for more struggles on that side of the ball out of the gates. Wyoming on the other hand has a very good defense that figures to cause more problems for the Cavaliers. The also should be better offensively as QB Karsten Sween and RB Devin Moore return to build on decent year’s in 2006. This discrepancy in offensive efficiency should tilt this matchup in Wyoming’s favor and could possibly allow them to win the game outright. THE PICK: Wyoming(+3.5)
UCONN(-4.5) VS. Duke: This battle between two of college basketball’s best teams should be much more low key on the football side as the Huskies and Blue Devils look to make progress on becoming a big time program in the gridiron world. UCONN has shown glimpses of success during the Dan Orlovsky ere, while Duke has been one of the worst teams in NCAA D-I A for awhile. UCONN was absolutely horrendous passing the ball last season and I don’t see an improvement on the horizon. What they can do is run the football and the combo of Terry Cauley and Donald Brown should help them grind out yards and move the chains. The same can’t be said of Duke who come into the season on a 20-game losing streak and who look to add to that number. They do return a decent amount of starters however and QB Thaddeus Lewis does have some ability. The rest of the offense is weak however and Lewis won’t be able to carry the team on his shoulders. Look for UCONN to control the game with their runners and get on the board with the win. THE PICK: UCONN(-4.5)
NOTRE DAME(-2) VS. Georgia Tech: The always-hyped Notre Dame Fighting Irish begin at home against a perennially tough Georgia Tech squad. Questions about the Irish QB situation have become ridiculous as coach Charlie Weis has continued to keep silent about who the starter will be(bet on Jimmy Clausen). The loss of Brady Quinn to the NFL is huge however and ND’s poor record in big games leave them full of question marks coming into this campaign. However the defense is where Notre Dame will again have trouble as there are only five returning starters to a unit that struggled mightily during crunch time all year in 2006. Georgia Tech will look to exploit this weakness with talented QB Taylor Bennett who played great in his one start last year in place of a suspended Reggie Ball as the Jackets almost upset West Virginia in the Gator Bowl. Bennett has a great arm and can make plays that Ball never could. So expect more out of the Tech passing game which should have a big advantage over a suspect ND secondary. Tech also returns 4 of 5 starters on the O-line and RB Tashard Choice should build on a solid campaign last year. Look for Tech to win this game outright. THE PICK: Georgia Tech(+2)
BOSTON COLLEGE(-6) VS. Wake Forest: One of the biggest surprises in the 2006 college football season was the 11-3 record posted by Wake Forest as they rode freshman QB Riley Skinner to great success. Whether Wake can duplicate that success remains to be seen but figure on Skinner improving even more as he enters his sophomore year. The passing offense is looking promising and the O-line returns 4 of 5 starters which is huge for the running game. I think Wake will continue to be a better than average offensive team and should be able to move the ball against BC in this one. Boston College also looks good on offense as ALL-ACC QB Matt Ryan returns and the defense looks to be even better as 9 starters return from a unit that was fantastic against the run in 2006. I believe Wake will have a tough time running the ball and so Skinner will be asked to air it out all day long. This one has the look of a defensive battle and one that will come down to a field goal. Wake is also very profitable as an underdog as evidenced by their 29-14-1 ATS record in that scenario. THE PICK: Wake Forest(+6)
NC STATE(-8) VS. Central Florida: Central Florida is a team on the rise with head coach George O’Leary leading the way! Conference USA has always been a tough non-BCS conference for the Big Boys and NC State ranks as one of the worst, if not THE WORST team in the ACC. New Wolfpack coach Tom O’Brien is a smart tactician who will one day get this team turned around. However the culture of this club is buried in a sea of selfishness and negativity and it will take most of this season and maybe even into next year before O’Brien can snuff this out. Central Florida on the other hand has a core of solid impact players, led by CB Joe Burnett and RB Kevin Smith. Burnett is a true shutdown corner who takes away half of the field and will make things difficult on NC State QB Daniel Evans(who threw 11 INT’s last season) Smith is a slashing runner who excelled when healthy last season as he ran for 964 yards in nine games. NC State struggled to stop the run last season, so look for Central Florida to run all day. This will be a close game throughout since both teams are flawed but Central Florida has a big advantage in the battles at the line of scrimmage and should be able to spring an upset in this one. THE PICK: Central Florida(+8)
Florida State(-3.5) VS. CLEMSON: In the battle between father and son, both Bobby and Tommy Bowden head into the season with their job security in less than ideal condition. Elder Bobby finally did the right thing by firing his son Jeff as offensive coordinator and brought in respected guru Jimbo Fisher. This move should do wonder to the stagnant 2006 Seminole attack and help QB Drew Weatherford rebound from an ugly campaign last season. Florida State will most likely need a few games to get on track offensively as the running game also looks to get a semblance of balance after being almost non-existent the last few years. Of course when discussing Florida State, you always start with the defense, which has always been a strength. 2007 should be no different as the Seminoles are coming off a great effort in 2006 as they held opposing rushers to only 3.7 ypr and only 5.4 ypp. Things might even better this season as a number of blue-chip recruits are ready to join in and make this a truly dominant unit. Clemson on the other hand is also coming off an underachieving 2006 and also figure to play hard for their embattled coach in 2007. This team was a mystery in that the offense put up big numbers all year and the defense played well for large stretches, yet finished only 8-5. With both star RB’s CJ Spiller and James Davis returning, this sets up a nice matchup against the stout Seminole D. One key here is that Clemson only returns 2 starters to the offensive line and so things might be a little rocky to begin the year with that aspect of the attack. I think this will be a low scoring defensive battle as both teams struggle to get going with new personnel all around. Son Tommy has beaten his father the last two seasons as an underdog and Clemson is a home underdog, which will get the disrespect card out for the Clemson players. However Florida State’s D could control this game and I do expect the offense to be better. My ratings say to take Clemson and the 3.5 but if it were up to me, I would suggest staying away from this game. THE PICK: Clemson(+3.5)
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