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  • With one of the nation's best defenses and an elite rushing attack on offense, Mississippi State is favored by double digits over its erratic rival.
By Zachary Cohen
November 19, 2018

Mississippi State (-10.5) at Ole Miss

Thu. 11/22, 7:30 p.m. ET

Three things you need to know before betting on Mississippi State-Ole Miss:

1. Ole Miss has gotten the best of Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl more often than not in recent years, as the Rebels have won and covered in four of the past six meetings between the teams. Last season, the Bulldogs were 14-point favorites in Starkville but a gruesome leg injury ended Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald’s season in the first half. Then-head coach Dan Mullen was never able to quite get his team to regroup, and Ole Miss pulled off the 31-28 upset.

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This year's Rebels team, though, has some real issues. One of those is an inability to perform against conference rivals, as Ole Miss is a miserable 0-7 against the spread versus SEC opponents. The Rebels are also 0-4 ATS when facing teams that allow 3.25 or fewer rushing yards per carry since the start of the 2016 season, and two of those games came this season. Meanwhile, Mississippi State is 3-0 against the spread when facing teams that allow 250 or more passing yards per game over that same stretch.

2. The Rebels' struggles against teams that can stop the run will be on full display when they line up across from Mississippi State defense. On the year, the Bulldogs have the 15th-ranked rushing defense in all of college football. Mississippi State has allowed just 1,214 yards on the ground all season, and the team has also given up a total of seven rushing touchdowns as well—that number is good for a tie with Clemson for fifth lowest in the nation. This Bulldogs defense simply knows how to stuff opposing offenses in the trenches, and that will make it difficult for Ole Miss to find its rhythm here. Mississippi State also has a top-10 passing defense, which should come in handy against an Ole Miss team that throws for more yards per game than only one team in the country. Overall, the Bulldogs match up perfectly against this year's Rebels, and it could be a long day for Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta’amu.

3. While Nick Fitzgerald was badly injured the last time these teams played, the senior will be ready to go in this one. Last week, Fitzgerald threw for four touchdowns with no picks in a 52-6 win over Arkansas. He also added 85 yards and a touchdown on the ground. At 6'5", 230, the senior has the size to punish opposing defenders when he decides to use his legs. But he also has the ability to hit the open receiver when he needs to, and he should have his chances in this one. Two years ago, Fitzgerald threw for 109 yards with three touchdowns and no picks in a 55-20 win over Ole Miss. But he also gashed the Rebels for 258 yards with two touchdowns on the ground. Considering this Ole Miss team is ranked 122nd in the nation in total defense, it seems probable that Fitzgerald will dominate the Egg Bowl once again.

Pick: Mississippi State (-10.5)

Confidence Level: Moderate (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)

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