Mississippi State vs. Texas Tech Liberty Bowl Odds, Preview, and Picks

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Will Rogers #2 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Wesley Hitt/Getty Images/AFP

Mississippi State gets to play Texas Tech in the Liberty Bowl. Here is betting advice for the game. The top Sportsbooks have released their NCAAF odds for the Liberty Bowl between Mississippi State and Texas Tech. After starting its season 5-2, Texas Tech has limped into bowl season by losing four of its last five games.

Mississippi State, like Texas Tech, finished the season with a loss against a strong opponent. But the Bulldogs had blown out Tennessee State and defeated Auburn in preceding weeks. For reasons that I will explain, you should play the spread for this game.

Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Tuesday, December 28, 2021- 6:45 PM EST at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium 

Texas Tech's Coaching Situation

Texas Tech is currently dealing with an unstable coaching situation that casts doubt on its ability to be prepared for this bowl game. The program hired Joey McGuire to be its new head coach after Matt Wells was fired during the regular season and offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie was named interim head coach.

The plan was for Cumbie to return to Texas Tech as its offensive coordinator next season. However, Cumbie accepted a head coaching gig at Louisiana Tech. While Cumbie will still serve as interim head coach for this bowl game, he will surely be focused on recruiting and otherwise establishing his footing at Louisiana Tech.

The new head coach, McGuire, will retain only a few assistants who served under Wells and Cumbie. The offensive and defensive coordinators will come from outside the program. In sum, this massive shakeup in Texas Tech's coaching staff amounts to the tumult.

Mississippi State Motivation

It is well-known that capping bowl games are largely about assessing the motivational status of each team. I like Mississippi State because, in addition to the Red Raiders coaching staff suffering from transition, the Bulldogs will be the more motivated squad.

Head coach Mike Leach used to coach at Texas Tech. However, Texas Tech fired him in 2009 following an alleged incident with a player. Leach claims that Texas Tech owes him 2.5 million dollars for a breach of contract. Not only does he want the money, but he wants an apologetic admission of wrongdoing. 

He said in 2020 that he will fight this until he dies. Keep in mind for your best bets that his most recent comments indeed indicate that he has not forgotten this matter. Thus, he will be sure to have his players fired up for this game. It also helps that this game takes place in Memphis which is close to Mississippi.

Air Raid vs. Red Raider Pass Defense 

Under Leach, Mississippi State has by far the nation's highest pass-play percentage since it runs its version of the Air Raid. With short passes, including the favored mesh routes, the Bulldogs hardly have a need of running the ball. They will spread out a defense and pass it all over the field.

Given Mississippi State's obvious proclivity to pass the ball, Texas Tech's pass defense will be a crucial factor in this game. Nationally, Texas Tech ranks an abysmal 103rd as measured by its ability to limit opposing pass yards. Quarterbacks are regularly more efficient when facing the Red Raider defense which ranks 119th nationally at limiting opposing completion percentage and 116th nationally at limiting the opponent's passer rating.

It's not like superstar quarterbacks are responsible for Texas Tech's poor pass defense stats. Even Kansas State's Skylar Thompson, for example, was superbly efficient and amassed over 300 passing yards against Texas Tech even though he regularly struggles to reach 200 yards. As measured by passer rating, Thompson only performed better against Southern Illinois and, by a thin margin, Kansas. Expect Will Rogers, therefore, and his Bulldog pass-catchers to have a field day against this Red Raider defense.

Texas Tech Offense vs. Mississippi State Defense 

Know for your sports betting that, as a result of injuries, Texas Tech is riding its third-string backup quarterback, Donovan Smith. Smith is a dual-threat, similar in kind to guys like Kentucky's Will Levis whom the Bulldogs had no problem limiting.  All-SEC Second-Team cornerback Emmanuel Forbes will certainly challenge Smith, although not as strongly as projected first-round cornerback Martin Emerson.

Mississippi State's nationally 10th-ranked run defense, as measured by its ability to limit opposing rushing yards, is equipped to limit Texas Tech's group of running backs. The onus will anyhow primarily be on the third-string quarterback's shoulders to keep pace with the Bulldog pass attack.

The Verdict 

A more motivated and well-organized Mississippi State squad will exploit Texas Tech's awful pass defense with its Air Raid concept, which Texas Tech's limited offense will fail to keep pace with. For the above reasons, invest in Mississippi State with your NCAAF picks.

NCAAF Pick: Bulldogs -9 (-105) with Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Bulldogs -8.5 (-110 )
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.