Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Illinois Fighting Illini: ReliaQuest Bowl Prediction, Preview, Picks & Odds - 1/2/2023

by Chuck Sommers

Friday, Dec 30, 2022
ReliaQuest Bowl

Time: Noon ET
Venue: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Where to watch: ESPN2

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings: Mississippi State -1.5; Mississippi State -125, Illinois +105; O/U 46
FanDuel: Mississippi State -2.5; Mississippi State -138, Illinois +115; O/U 45.5
BetMGM: Mississippi State -1.5; Mississippi State -120, Illinois +100; O/U 46
Caesars: Mississippi State -1.5; Mississippi State -120, Illinois +100; O/U 46

Season record
No. 22 Mississippi State: 8-4
Illinois: 8-4

Bowl season is here! There are 42 games that are going to be determining how this season ends. We appreciate you for hanging with us during this college football season, and you know it’s not over yet. We’re going to keep on rolling and giving your our best picks over the course of the next month. All the way up until the College Football Playoff, which is going to have some incredible games. Do you have the right idea when you head to the books for these important games? Our champion handicappers surely have you covered. Will Rogers is running an impressive 24-11-0 in the last month. Al McMordie has also been cashing in heavily with a 40-29-1 mark in college football over the last 30 days. Our guys here have you ready to go for what should be an exciting week. Be tuned to bigal.com for everything!

Mississippi State - Illinois preview, analysis and prediction

I'm going to tell a story that I couldn't believe with my own eyes. It was a situation where I went to a UNLV football game and I got there fairly early period it's about maybe 2 1/2 hours before kickoff and I was hungry. I was sitting on my spot at the bleachers and decided that I was getting hungry because I hadn't eaten all day. I went to go get my food. And waiting in line to get my food I look up in front about three people in front of me and it was Mike Leach.
The date was September 14th 2012. UNLV was about to face Washington state in a football game. I remember vividly that game came down to the final few possessions in the fourth quarter before Washington state ultimately won that game. Funny enough, the Cougars went on to lose like seven in a row or something like that after winning that game.
But going back to the whole food story. I was waiting to order my chicken fingers when Mike leach is placing an order 2 hours before kickoff. This man literally ordered, from the student concession stands, a thing of chicken fingers, a thing of fries, two cokes, and I think a pretzel. To my knowledge this man ate all of it and did so before the game started and he went on to coach a victory for his team with all that food.
That is my rare story of Mike Leach. I never met the man, I never really knew what he was about. I just knew he was an eccentric personality that always drove ratings for television whenever he was on. And if TV cameras had caught him two hours before the game ordering all that food, best believe that something would have happened. But I only say this story and because that was the kind of hilarious man and coach that he was, and for the Mississippi State Bulldogs to now play their bowl game and first game since Leach died, this is the penultimate game in which you are absolutely guaranteeing the motivational factor of Mississippi State winning this bowl game over the Illinois fighting Illini.
There is no other analysis or anything of the sort that we need to look to in this game period this is fully an emotional based pick because there is no reason why Mississippi State should lose this game. There is no reason why they shouldn't win by at least two touchdowns when they are favored by 1.5. There is no reason why Mississippi State having won three of its last four games to close the regular season, including the win in the egg bowl, should lose this game. This is a team that is playing for its coach and is playing for pure emotion and emotional understanding.
If you're thinking that this is a tough game to bet, don't even bother. The fact that Mississippi State is favored by so little shows that some people think Illinois might take advantage of that. I just don't see it happening that way. Mississippi State 31, Illinois 17

Betting trends

Mississippi State is 15-29 ATS on the road after 2 straight ATS wins since 1992.

Illinois is 23-29 ATS when the line is +3 to -3 since 1992.

Illinois is 6-0 ATS on the road in the second half of the season the last 2 seasons.

Statistical leaders

Mississippi State:
Passing: Will Rogers – 3,713 yards, 34 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Joquavious Marks – 532 yards, 9 TD
Receiving: RaRa Thomas – 626 yards, 7 TD

Passing: Tommy DeVito – 2,397 yards, 15 TD, 4 INT
Rushing: Chase Brown – 1,643 yards, 10 TD
Receiving: Isaiah Williams – 595 yards, 5 TD

Don't miss our champion handicappers' free picks and expert football picks today. And if you enjoyed this Mississippi State - Illinois prediction, be sure to drop by every day for our daily college football projections and previews.

Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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