Free NCAA Football Prediction: Bulldogs vs. Fighting Illini Odds
Looking for Mississippi St. Bulldogs vs. Illinois Fighting Illini free picks? College football betting sees the Bulldogs taking on the Fighting Illini on Monday, January 2nd at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. Cappers Picks provides complimentary handicapping picks all NCAA football season long so stay tuned for more FREE college football bowl game predictions like this Mississippi State Illinois free pick.
College Football Handicapping Analysis: 2023 ReliaQuest Bowl
(8-4) #22 Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (8-4)
Date: Monday, January 2nd, 2022
Time: 12:00 pm EST
Venue: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
NCAA Football ATS Spread Odds: Mississippi State -1.5 | Illinois +1.5 (Bet Now!)
NCAA Football Moneyline Odds: Bulldogs -125 | Fighting Illini +105
NCAA Betting Total Odds: O/U 46
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It is with a heavy heart that Mississippi State (8-4) heads to Tampa on January 2nd just a few short weeks after losing their coach Mike Leach, who passed away on December 12th from health complications.
The Bulldogs should come out very motivated to win one more game for the coach who has been with them the last three seasons, but is an icon in the sport over the last 21 years.
Illinois (8-4) has lost a coach too but in nowhere near the same manner as DC Ryan Walters, the architect of the #2 defense in the country, has taken the head coaching job at Purdue. The Illini are also hit hard by opt-outs prior to his game.
Mississippi St. Bulldogs
Leach will be remembered as quite the character, with his legendary press conferences covering every topic from candy corn to Bigfoot. For as entertaining as he was, Leach was also a brilliant football mind that turned the unconventional Air Raid offense into his standard.
The ReliaQuest Bowl is the ultimate offense vs. defense matchup, with the Bulldogs owning the #11 passing attack in the country behind that Air Raid strategy, but Illinois giving up the 6th fewest pass yards in the country.
Defensive coordinator Zach Arnett will take over for Leach not just in the bowl game, but for the foreseeable future. Arnett always had a tough task trying to coordinate a defense when his team also has a quick strike offense that doesn’t chew up a lot of the clock.
Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois barely missed out on a bowl game going 5-7 in Bret Bielema’s first year at the helm last season, but they are back thanks to an 8-4 record that is kind of a disappointment considering the Illini lost three of their last four games following a 7-1 start.
What Illinois is learning this postseason is that with success comes opt-outs. The face of the Fighting Illini this year was RB Chase Brown and his 1,643 yards that were the 3rd most in the country but he is skipping the bowl gameto prepare for the NFL draft.
Chase isn’t the only Brown that Illinois is missing for the bowl game, as his identical twin brother Sydney is an NFL safety prospect that is opting out as well. With CB Devon Witherspoon also not playing in this game as he’s a likely 1st round draft pick that leaves the Illinois secondary very thin up against a team that loves to throw the football.
NCAA Football Handicapping Trends
- Bulldogs are 3-0-1 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games
- Fighting Illini are 3-0-1 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games
- Fighting Illini are 9-2-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record
- Under is 6-1 in Fighting Illini last 7 neutral site games
Free 2022 ReliaQuest Bowl NCAA Football Final Analysis:
You almost can’t take anything these teams did this season into account when handicapping the ReliaQuest Bowl, as Mississippi State had Leach at the helm all year while Illinois had one of the best RBs in the country as well as a lockdown corner that they’ll be without here.
Illinois doesn’t want to say it, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing if they lost this game. Some things are bigger than football, and Mississippi State winning one last game for their fallen coach would be huge for everybody involved with the Bulldogs program.
4* Free ReliaQuest Bowl NCAA Betting Pick: Mississippi St. -1.5
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