TaxSlayer Bowl Odds: Louisville vs. Mississippi State Betting Pick, Analysis

OddsShark.com@@OddsSharkFeatured ColumnistDecember 27, 2017

Mississippi State quarterback Keytaon Thompson throws a pass against Mississippi during the second half of their NCAA college football game in Starkville, Miss., Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. Mississippi won 31-28. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

The Mississippi State Bulldogs are 8-2 over their last 10 bowl game appearances, while the Louisville Cardinals are 5-3 over their last eight bowls.

So two teams enjoying recent bowl success meet when MSU takes on Louisville in the TaxSlayer Bowl on Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville, Florida.

           

College football point spread: The Cardinals opened as 5.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)

College football betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 40.1-29.5 Cardinals (College football picks on every game)

Check out the OddsShark podcast on iTunes or at OddsShark.libsyn.com for more picks and a breakdown of this week's top sports betting news.

                 

Why the Louisville Cardinals can cover the spread

The Cardinals started 4-1 this season, the only loss over that span coming against College Football Playoff qualifier Clemson.

Louisville then struggled through a 1-3 stretch but finished with three straight convincing win/covers, capped off by a 44-17 romp over rival Kentucky in the season finale. So the Cardinals are playing in a bowl for the eighth straight season.

Louisville outgained the Wildcats in that season-ending victory 562-338, piling up 346 yards on the ground.

On the season, the Cardinals outgained and outrushed 10 of their 12 opponents. Also, while the Louisville defense allowed 39 points per game during its 1-3 stretch through October, it held its last three opponents to 16 points per game.

                

Why the Mississippi State Bulldogs can cover the spread

The Bulldogs started 7-2 this season, with wins over LSU and Texas A&M, the only losses coming against CFP qualifier Georgia and SEC West champion Auburn.

Mississippi State then led another CFP qualifier, Alabama, 24-17 in the fourth quarter before falling 31-24 on a Tide touchdown in the last minute. The Bulldogs then beat Arkansas but finished with a 31-28 loss to Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl.

Nonetheless Mississippi State is also playing in a bowl for the eighth straight season.

The Bulldogs outgained the Rebels in that season finale 501-355 and won time of possession by a 37-23 split. But five MSU turnovers cost them 13 points. The Bulldogs outgained and outrushed six of their last seven opponents.

Mississippi State lost starting quarterback Nick Fitzgerald for the season to an ankle injury in that Egg Bowl defeat, but backup Keytaon Thompson threw for 195 yards and one touchdown and ran for 121 yards and another score. So perhaps the Bulldogs will be fine at that spot.

                 

Smart pick

MSU is playing this bowl under an interim coaching regime, following the departure of head man Dan Mullen, and without its starting quarterback.

Meanwhile, after laying an egg in its bowl game last year, Louisville might see this as a chance at redemption. Smart money sides with the Cardinals.

          

College football betting trends

Mississippi State is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games in December.

The total has gone under in five of Mississippi State's last seven games.

Louisville is 1-4 ATS in its last five games after consecutive wins.

                 

All college football odds and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report's official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.

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