Week 4 - South Alabama at Mississippi State

Posted Sep 20, 2012

Week 4 CFN Fearless Prediction – South Alabama at Mississippi State

South Alabama (1-2) at Mississippi State (3-0) Sept. 22, 7:00, ESPN3

Here's The Deal: Just when it seemed like Mississippi State was hot with a great win over Auburn, it came back and struggled to get by Troy in a 30-24 victory. The team is playing fine against overmatched teams – and Auburn appears to be one of them – and the fun should continue with Kentucky up next and Middle Tennessee soon to follow. Every game like this against South Alabama is tune-up time for Tennessee in a few weeks, and it's time to sharpen back up after the Troy problems. The Jaguars of South Alabama lost to UTSA to start the season in heartbreaking fashion, beat Nicholls State, and last week was blasted by NC State in s 31-7 loss that wasn't that close. USA has to play the Troy team that MSU just beat, and this will be a measuring stick.

Why South Alabama Might Win: So how did Troy keep it so close last week? The defense did a great job on third downs, and the offense was fantastic at moving the chains with 349 passing yards and 223 on the ground. The Jaguars don't have the same sort of passing game or firepower, but they were able to throw well against NC State last week with 263 yards, even though most of them came in a lost cause. The defense has dialed in over the last two games with six sacks against Nicholls State and four against NC State. However …

Why Mississippi State Might Win: The MSU offense has been terrific allowing just one sack in the first three games. The Troy game got interesting late, but the Bulldogs were in control early in the second half. If they tried and kept focusing, there won't be a problem. Normally, trying against a team like South Alabama would be a problem, but the coaching staff has the team's attention now. MSU isn't making mistakes with just one lost fumble so far while taking the ball away 12 times. South Alabama hasn't been tight with nine turnovers including six fumbles.

What To Watch Out For: There isn't a hotter defensive player in America right now than Mississippi State's Darius Slay. The senior is a big 6-1, 190-pound veteran who came up with a tremendous offseason after jumping in from the JUCO ranks. With size and athleticism, he has all the tools and he's showing them off with four interceptions including two against Troy. He returned one 52 yards for a score against Jackson State, and took one back 72 yards last year for the team's only touchdown against Georgia. The versatile corner has to be avoided, but that's hard with Johnthan Bans on the other side.

What Will Happen: South Alabama isn't awful, and it has a shot to keep this close if MSU plays like it did last week, but Tyler Russell and the Bulldog passing attack will be too sharp for this to be interesting for long.

CFN Prediction: Mississippi State 45 … South Alabama 7
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Mississippi State -34.5 O/U: 51
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ray Lewis: A Football Life, 1 – Frankenweenie): 1.5