November 26, 2013
The NFL takes the spotlight on Thanksgiving, but the Thursday Night college football schedule features two nationally televised major conference games this week, with both games having meaning in the bowl picture. Here is a brief look at the matchups for Thursday college football this week with Texas Tech heading to Texas and Mississippi visiting Mississippi State.
Texas Tech Red Raiders (+4½) at Texas Longhorns (66) 7:30 PM ET (FS1)
With Baylor losing last week, there are still scenarios for Texas to win the Big XII. They will need Oklahoma to beat Oklahoma State next week and Texas will have to beat Baylor next week in addition to surviving this home game. Incredibly, the Longhorns have lost 11 home games since 2010 including two home losses this season, losing by 21 against Mississippi early in the season and falling in the last game two weeks ago hosting Oklahoma State in a 25-point defeat.
It has been a hard fall for Texas Tech with four straight losses after a 7-0 start, but all things considered it could end up a respectable season for first year head coach Kilff Kingsbury, who took over after the surprise departure of Tommy Tuberville. A win this week would certainly solidify that that program is in good hands, but either way the Red Raiders will get a bowl opportunity.
Statistically these teams are pretty close on both sides of the ball and while Texas has won four in a row S/U in this series, there have been many close games. On a yards per play basis, Texas Tech actually has edges on both sides of the ball compared with Texas, but the schedule for the Longhorns has been much more difficult. The Red Raiders have been exploited on the ground in Big XII play, out-rushed by at least 150 yards in all four losses and a Texas attack posting 192 yards per game on the ground could have some opportunities.
Last season, Texas won 31-22 in Lubbock as the Red Raiders were a 6 ½-point favorite and ranked in the top 25 at the time. The yardage was nearly even with Texas Tech posting 441 yards and Texas finishing with 427, but Texas controlled the game on the ground. It was a two-point game after the Red Raiders failed on a two-point conversion attempt late in the third quarter, but David Ash hit Mike Davis for a 25-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter and the defense held the rest of the way.
Texas is has won S/U in 12 of the last 14 meetings in this series including winning in each of the last four seasons, with ATS wins in nine of the last 14 meetings. Texas has been a suspect home favorite in recent years, however, going just 9-18 ATS in the last 27 games laying points in Austin. Texas Tech is just 12-17 ATS as an underdog since 2007.
Mississippi Rebels (-3) at Mississippi State Bulldogs (52) 7:30 PM ET (ESPN)
With the win over Arkansas last week, this is a huge game for the Bulldogs with a chance to get to a bowl game by reaching 6-6 this week. Mississippi State trailed most of the way in Little Rock, but rallied to tie the game and then won in overtime. The Bulldogs plays two quarterbacks, but with Dak Prescott injured, senior Tyler Russell has carried the load. Prescott is doubtful again this week and while Russell has certainly had some ups-and-downs in his career, he has played well the last two weeks and has completed over 65 percent of his passes on the season.
Ole Miss came up short in a big game last week at home against Missouri and while this is a big rivalry, there will be less at stake for the Rebels. With elevated expectations after a bowl season last year under Hugh Freeze in his first season in Oxford and a highly regarded recruiting class, things seemed to come together early this season with a 44-23 thrashing of highly-ranked Texas. After the 3-0 start, Ole Miss was quickly 3-3 with three consecutive losses, however. After rallying to win four in a row including a marquee win over LSU, last week’s defeat ended the run and the Rebels are locked into a solid but not overly satisfying bowl position.
Mississippi State had won three in a row in the Egg Bowl series before losing 41-24 last season in Oxford with the Rebels posting 527 yards. Historically, Mississippi has had a slight edge going 18-15 S/U and 19-13-1 ATS in this series since 1980, but the Rebels have not won S/U in Starkville since 2003, losing the last four trips. The home team has won S/U in eight of the last nine meetings between these state rivals.
Ole Miss has been stronger on both sides of the ball statistically overall this season, but the Rebels have been out-rushed by at least 90 yards in five of the last eight games as there could be opportunities for the Bulldogs on the ground, averaging 4.9 yards per rush and 194 yards per game this season. Without Prescott, that presence is not as great, but the Rebels are also allowing almost 64 percent completions from opposing quarterbacks. Mississippi State has faced one of the toughest schedules in the nation with a game against Oklahoma State added to a tough SEC slate and the season numbers can probably be thrown out in this rivalry game.
The trends are concerning for both teams with Mississippi going just 6-15 ATS as a road favorite since 2001, but Mississippi State is just 16-24 ATS as a home underdog since 2002. The Bulldogs are 10-3 S/U at home the last two seasons with the losses coming against Texas A&M, LSU, and Alabama so this is still a tough place to play despite the close of another marginal season for Dan Mullen in his fifth year at Mississippi State.