Will Bulldogs Be Distracted Or Charged Up?
The ReliaQuest Bowl – formerly known as the Outback Bowl and played in Tampa, Florida – has a sad story as the backdrop for this season’s edition of a game with a multi-decade postseason history.
This game was the Hall of Fame Bowl before it became the Outback Bowl. It has been around since 1986 and is a core part of the January bowl schedule, making this bowl game is a big deal.
However, the buzz and buildup to this season’s game have been overshadowed by the death of Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach after the end of the 2022 regular season.
Leach will be on everyone’s mind, and that will undeniably be the main topic of conversation throughout the week heading into kickoff on Monday. For wagering, many who bet online are wondering how to handle this matchup.
Let’s check the latest college football odds, stats, injury reports and college football lines for Mississippi State vs Illinois. We’ve plenty of NCAA football odds for you to consider.
The death of Leach hangs heavily over the Bulldogs, but they are going to play this game, so they might as well try to do the best they can.
Zach Arnett, the team’s defensive coordinator under Leach, will coach this team in the bowl game. Arnett has been named the team’s coach going forward.
Arnett did a really good job with this defense, especially in the regular season finale at Ole Miss, a hard-earned 24-22 win over the Rebels which enabled Mississippi State to finish 8-4 for the season.
The Bulldogs lost to three really good teams: LSU, the SEC West champion, Alabama – which won 10 games – and Georgia, the SEC champion which is the favorite to win the national championship.
The one game that got away was a loss to Kentucky, which had a difficult year and endured a lot of injuries this year.
This team has had some games in which the offense scored a lot of points (40 against Arkansas, 42 against Texas A&M, 39 against Auburn), but for the most part, the defense is what this team relies on to win.
If you’re thinking that Mississippi State is the better option for your college football picks, you’re probably looking at an under, low-scoring type of game.
Illinois Fighting Illini
The Illini had a great September and October as they led the Big Ten West Division for most of the season and were in position to make the Big Ten Championship Game for the first time in school history.
Everything was set up to make a big run but then they stumbled in November against Michigan State (a 5-7 team) and Purdue at home. Those two losses knocked the Illini out of the Big Ten title game.
On the year, this team had a great defense. It held Iowa to six points, Nebraska to nine, and Wisconsin to 10. Illinois allowed only one touchdown to Michigan in a narrow loss.
However, defensive coordinator Ryan Walters left to take the head coaching job at Purdue. That will loom over the Illini as they take the field in this game. That’s a huge factor here as you examine the college football odds.
Mississippi State vs Illinois Injuries
Mississippi State vs Illinois Head-to-Head
These teams last met in 1980. Mississippi State won, 28-21. This is the third meeting between the schools. The all-time series is tied, 1-1. Illinois won the first game in 1923.
Mississippi State vs Illinois Game Information
- Game: Mississippi State vs Illinois
- Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
- Day/Time: Monday, Jan 02, 12:00 p.m. ET
- Mississippi State vs Illinois Live Stream: ESPN
Mississippi State vs Illinois Betting Lines
Mississippi State vs Illinois Picks & Prediction
It’s hard to know how to handicap emotions, but it feels like the Bulldogs will be fired up to win this game for Mike Leach. That’s the reasoning if you’re taking them in the sportsbook.
As for Illinois, they won’t have Ryan Walters coaching the defense, which figures to be a big blow. Those two keys should lead to a Mississippi State win.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs are listed at -130 in our Vegas lines. This means that if you wager $100 on the Mississippi State Bulldogs, you have a chance to win $77. The Illinois Fighting Illini are +110, offering a chance to win $110 on a $100 wager.
The implied probability attached to the betting lines gives the Mississippi State Bulldogs a 56.52% chance to win, with the Illinois Fighting Illini at 47.62%.