Why Mississippi State Will Win The Armed Forces Bowl
– The Bulldogs might be as close healthy as they’ve been all year. The problems with COVID and other injuries were entirely to blame for the awful 3-7 record and the broader issues overall, but they certainly were a factor. Tulsa is missing its best player – LB Zaven Collins has opted out to get ready for the NFL – and Miss State is close to having all the parts there as possible.
– The offense started to pick it up a bit. A disaster for a good chunk of the year, the Mike Leach attack was able to come up with well over 400 yards in two of the last three games and wasn’t bad against Georgia. Tulsa’s defense is used to dealing with great offenses, but it’s not used to doing enough when it doesn’t control games. Mississippi State should own the time of possession battle by at least five minutes.
– The Mississippi State defense has been good, all things considered. The help hasn’t been there from the offensive side, but the Bulldog defense front has been terrific against the run and good enough at times to take the ball away.
Tulsa has a wee bit of an issue with turnovers, and it has a bigger problem finding a steady passing game. Zach Smith is a solid senior leader, and he connected on enough deep plays to matter, but he only hit 56% of his throws this season
Why Tulsa Will Win The Armed Forces Bowl
– When this Mississippi State thing is bad, it’s way off. The running game didn’t hit the 100-yard mark until the regular season finale against Missouri, and the passing game that’s supposed to keep everything rolling struggled with its consistency.
Tulsa only game up multiple touchdown passes twice. Mississippi State only threw multiple touchdown passes three times and won two of those games. It went 1-6 when it failed to hit two or more scoring throws.
– Third downs. Mississippi State’s offense is horrible at doing anything on the key down, and Tulsa’s defense is great at coming up with stops. It’s been a key part to the Golden Hurricane season – getting the D off the field. Only East Carolina and Oklahoma State were able to convert more than 38%, and each of them converted exactly 40% of their third down tries.
Mississippi State only converted 32% of the time on third downs – amazingly pathetic for a team built on the short-range passing game.
– Turnovers – Mississippi State can’t stop giving the ball away. The Bulldogs have lost the ball a whopping 25 times, turning it over two times or more in seven games. Tulsa has forced multiple takeaways five times in the eight games. On the other side, the Bulldogs almost need to come up with takeaways to win – 11 of the 16 takeaways came in the three games, and they’re 0-6 when failing to generate more than one turnover.