Memphis Tigers vs. Mississippi St. Bulldogs
The Memphis Tigers and the Mississippi State Bulldogs kick off their 2011 College Football seasons as they meet in Memphis. The Bulldogs are -27.5 favorites over the Tigers with an over/under point total set at 48.5.
The Memphis Tigers are coming off of their worst season in recent memory as they won just one game a season ago and by looking at their roster and their depth it could be another long year. Larry Porter’s first year as head coach of the Tigers was nothing short of a disaster as the Tigers were 119th in scoring offense and 117th in scoring defense and tied it all together by being 118th in turnover margin at -13 on the year. Andy Summerlin looks to be the QB of the present but Porter’s comments from camp lean towards him liking Taylor Reed, a true freshman who should see some action. Jerrell Rhodes is the top returning running back but Porter also believes Artaves Gibson and Joe Price will see action and contribute. Wide Receiver Marcus Rucker may be the best player on the offense and it should leave lighter coverage on some of the other guys fighting for time. Ron Leary is the one returning starter on the O-Line as Tommie Walker will play defensive line this season. The defense is going to need to improve in a hurry as they were torched by the pass last season giving up nearly 40 points per game but with just four returning starters, it’s going to be rough.
The good news for the Mississippi State Bulldogs is that head coach Dan Mullen stayed after rumors swirled when head coaching positions open at big time programs around the country. The bad news of course is the Bulldogs still play not just in the same conference but the same division as LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, and the defending National Champions Auburn. To help MSU’s cause will be eight returning starters on offense including QB Chris Relf, Running Back Vic Ballard, who had 20 touchdowns last season to lead the SEC, and Wide Receiver Chad Bumphis. Defensively nearly the entire defensive front returns and the secondary making the only real thin part the linebacking corps but the biggest loss here is Defensive Coordinator many Diaz who left for Texas. Geoff Collins takes over the defense and he performed what many call a miracle last season getting FIU to conference title and a bowl win. While many have Mississippi State in the middle of their conference projections, I think they should contend for the conference title game.
Memphis is 1-4 against the spread in their last five home games, 1-8 against the spread in their last nine non-conference games, and 0-5 against the spread in their last five against SEC teams. Mississippi State is 4-1 against the spread in their last five games as a favorite, 4-1 against the spread in their last five conference games, and 1-7 against the spread in their last eight games as a favorite of 10.5 or more points. Mississippi State has covered in the last five meetings of these two.
Memphis is going to try and do all they can do to slow down MSU and at least to hold them to field goals while the Mississippi State defense is still learning a new system, still, with it being early and the first game, a lot of coaches play it close to the vest and we’ll see that here. I’m taking the over 48.5 here.