MISSISSIPPI ST. (-2.0) 37 Houston 34
We found out last week that Houston wasn't as good as close wins over Oklahoma State and Texas Tech made them out to be. The Cougars let up and allowed a previously dormant UTEP offense to explode for 58 points on 582 yards at 8.4 yards per play. The Cougars have one of the nation's best offensive teams, averaging 6.7 yppl (against a schedule of teams that would allow 5.7 yppl to an average team) and 42.5 points per game, but their defense has been 1.0 yppl worse than average by allowing 6.0 ypl to teams that would combine to average 5.0 yppl against an average team.
I actually don't think the Cougars' defense is that bad, as that unit was only 0.4 yppl worse than average against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech (allowed 6.2 yppl in those games and those teams would average 5.8 yppl against an average team). But, it's pretty clear that Houston doesn't defend the run at all, as even pass-heavy Texas Tech ran for 191 yards at 6.4 yards per rushing play against them. That's where Mississippi State has an advantage in this game, as the Bulldogs like to run the ball and should have a lot of success doing so today.
Unfortunately, Miss State doesn't defend the pass well, as they're allowing 7.4 yards per pass play to quarterbacks that would average 5.6 yppp against an average team. That's a bad omen for them against Case Keenum and the potent Houston aerial attack. However, my math model favors Miss State by 3 points in this game even if I assume last week's bad defense by Houston was an aberration.
I'll lean with Mississippi State in what should be a very high scoring game in which both teams will be able to do what they like to do offensively.
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