Mississippi State vs. Texas Tech Prediction: Liberty Bowl picks, betting odds, more

 Brandon Eisenman   in Football

The 2021 AutoZone Liberty Bowl matches up the 7-5 Mississippi State Bulldogs against the 6-6 Texas Tech Red Raiders. The Red Raiders suffered through a coaching change during the regular season but managed to qualify for a bowl. Texas Tech had opportunities during the regular season to finish with a better record,but failed to finish in a few games. As for the Bulldogs, finishing 7-5 and making a bowl game is a huge accomplishment for Mike Leach's program. 

The Bulldogs offense will be led by sophomore quarterback Will Rogers. On the season, Rogers tossed 35 touchdowns and eight interceptions with 4,449 yards. Those are decent stats for a Mississippi State team that throws the ball the majority of the time. In order to take down Texas Tech, Rogers will have to be accurate in the pocket and avoid pressure. Getting chunk plays and utilizing his rushing ability could play a big role in Mississippi State driving down the field. 

The Red Raiders are by no means a high-powered offense and that could be trouble in this game. Running back Tahj Brooks will lead the way in the backfield. He rushed for 461 yards and six touchdowns on 71 attempts this season. Mississippi State allowed 1,209 rushing yards in 12 games, which ranks 10th in rushing defense at the division 1 level. Finding a way to exploit the rush defense will be the key for Brooks in this game. 

Looking to the Mississippi State defense, containing Brooks in the backfield will be the best attempt at holding Texas Tech out of the end zone. The Red Raiders aren't a very prolific passing offense, so the team relies more on the ground game. But again, the Bulldogs have the 10th best rushing defense in the country. If State can hold Brooks to under 4 yards per carry, that would be a huge momentum boost. 

The Texas Tech defense will need to find a way to contain Rogers in the pocket early and force him to make unwanted plays. If the defensive front can get pressure, it could result in turnovers and potentially good field position for the offense to try and reach the end zone against a solid Bulldogs defense. 

Mississippi State vs. Texas Tech Prediction

Nick Cole and Christopher Smith share their Mississippi State vs. Texas Tech prediction and betting picks for the Liberty Bowl.