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College football rankings: Mississippi State drops into The Bottom 25 after Mike Leach’s offense sputters

25. Kentucky 1-2 The Wildcats became the first team in history to hold a Mike Leach-coached offense without a single point. Obviously, the defensive performance the Cats put on against Mississippi State increased their overall rating quite a bit, as did their first win. This week they look for another one at Tennessee. (Last Week: 4) 24. Wake Forest 1-2 The Demon Deacons had the weekend off and are set to play Virginia on Saturday. (23) 23. Temple 0-1 Speaking of one-game teams entering late, hey there, Temple. The Owls didn’t look half-bad considering the delayed start to their season in a 31-29 loss to Navy. Of course, considering how Navy has looked this year, I’m not sure how much stock we should put in it. Maybe this week’s game against No. 5 South Florida will provide more information? (Not Ranked) 22. Missouri 1-2 So how is it that Missouri beat LSU, but remains in The Bottom 25 while — SPOILER ALERT — LSU isn’t ranked? Mostly LSU’s performance against Vandy. Also, the win didn’t wipe out the first two losses. As for Mizzou’s game against Vanderbilt to boost its numbers, that’s become the first SEC game to be postponed. Missouri’s next scheduled game is now at Florida on Oct. 24. (5) 21. UTEP 3-2 This is bittersweet. I’m not thrilled to see UTEP back in The Bottom 25 with a winning record, but at the same time, I’m never unhappy to see our two-time champions coming home to say hello. This week the Miners get No. 9 Southern Miss. (NR) 20. South Alabama 1-2 South Alabama had to postpone its game last week against Troy. It is currently scheduled to return this weekend against No. 16 Texas State. (20) 19. East Carolina 1-2 My Beloved Pirates took care of Chip Patterson’s South Florida Bulls on Saturday to get their first win of the season. Can they pick up a second against Navy? (7) 18. Mississippi State 1-2 We’ve had the whole Mike Leach experience through three weeks. First, there’s the incredible upset that nobody saw coming, and that was followed by a Leach team losing to a team it should beat. Then, to top it off, we got Leach publicly blaming his players for the loss to Kentucky, saying he might need to purge the roster. This week they’ll try to purge their two-game losing streak against Texas A&M. (NR) 17. Ole Miss 1-2 I bet this section of The Bottom 25 won’t show up on any message boards in the state of Mississippi. I’m probably being doxxed as you read this. Anyway, the Rebels are really fun to watch. They’re also 1-2 and allowing 52 points per game. That’s a great way to reach The Bottom 25. This week they get Arkansas. (NR) 16. Texas State 1-4 The Bobcats fell to Troy 37-17. I know I’ve said I like this team and think it’s better than its record, but its record is 1-4, and the lone win came

College football rankings: LSU, Mississippi State losses see SEC West teams tumble in CBS Sports 76

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CBS Sports graphic

One of my favorite parts about the month of October in college football is how quickly the rankings adjust to those initial reactions from the opening weeks of the season. In “normal” seasons this, would still be the point where teams have finally have a couple conference games in the books and whatever kind of overreaction we made from the few September results worth noting has been put to the test by the grind of league play. 

Even in a “normal” year, this is the point where we identify an early-season result that has been proven to be wildly misleading. In 2020, that game is Mississippi State’s 44-34 win at LSU. The biggest game on the SEC’s opening-week schedule had everything fans could want, from the intrigue of seeing how the defending champs would replace Joe Burrow and more than a dozen starters to the SEC debut of Mike Leach. By the time K.J. Costello and the Bulldogs (who entered the game as 18-point underdogs) were done carving up LSU for 623 passing yards in the upset win, a new era was proclaimed in the conference. Mike Leach was here, we thought, and the league would never be the same. 

Well, while we did see scoreboard-breaking totals in the SEC this past weekend, none of it came from Mississippi State. The Bulldogs did not even score an offensive point in a 14-2 loss to Kentucky, a result that was preceded by a 21-14 loss to Arkansas. Ever since the Leach era started with lighting up LSU, Costello has thrown the ball 114 times and the Mississippi State offense has scored just two touchdowns.   

Now at 1-2, Mississippi State finds itself at the bottom of the SEC West standings with LSU. That same LSU team that started in the top 10 and provided the launching point for Mississippi State hype lost to Missouri over the weekend, as its defense has been officially exposed as the team’s major weakness and a hurdle in defending its SEC title in 2020. The Tigers joined the Bulldogs as two of our most notable drops in this week’s update of the CBS Sports 76 (more on that in the Mover’s Report below), as our expectations for both teams have been lowered significantly since that thrilling SEC opener. 

College football experts from CBS Sports and 247Sports contribute ballots each week, which are averaged together for our rankings. You can see the top 25 below and 26-76 on our rankings page. Teams from the five conferences not yet playing in the 2020 college football season will be eligible for the CBS Sports rankings beginning Monday, Oct. 19.

Biggest movers 

  • No. 20 NC State (+17): First, the Wolfpack were winners as two-touchdown underdogs at Pitt and then followed that result up with another win as a two-score underdog at Virginia. NC State is surging with Devin Leary back in his place as the team’s starting quarterback, and it’s all happening at a perfect time with in-state

Mike Leach’s offense shut out for first time in his career as Kentucky routs Mississippi State

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Getty Images

Just two weeks after Mississippi Sate coach Mike Leach burst onto the SEC scene in record-breaking fashion in a win over defending national champion LSU, Leach’s pirate ship hit an iceberg on Saturday in a 24-2 loss at Kentucky. Mississippi State’s two points were the fewest ever scored by one of Leach’s teams in his 19 years as a coach.

Leach’s first team at Washington State in 2012 was held to single-digits four times but always mustered at least six points. His first team at Texas Tech in 2000 scored three points in its lowest output during a loss to No. 1 Nebraska.

Things got so dire for the Bulldogs in the second half that Leach benched Stanford graduate transfer quarterback K.J. Costello, the hero of the of the LSU victory, in favor of true freshman Will Rogers. Neither found any success against the Wildcats, however, as Kentucky intercepted six passes. Costello threw four interceptions while Rogers tossed two as Kentucky followed the blueprint that Arkansas established in a win over Mississippi State last week by frequently dropping eight defenders into zone coverage.

Mississippi State outgained the Wildcats 295-157 for the game as the teams combined for just 452 total yards. By comparison, Alabama and Ole Miss combined for 644 total yards just in the first half of their game Saturday. After consecutive losses to Arkansas and Kentucky, things are set to get even more difficult for Mississippi State. Next up is a game against No. 21 Texas A&M, which beat No. 4 on Florida on Saturday. Then after a bye week, the Bulldogs play No. 2 Alabama on the road.

“We’re going to have to check our group and see who really wants to play here,” Leach told reporters after the game.

If there was a bright spot for the Bulldogs on Saturday, it was the healthy return of star running back Kylin Hill, who missed most of last week’s loss with an injury. Hill ran just seven times for 17 yards but caught 15 passes for 79 yards against Kentucky. The victory was much-needed for the Wildcats, who started 0-2 with frustrating losses to Auburn and Ole Miss. The Wildcats needed the win as they play Tennessee and Georgia in the next two weeks.

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Mississippi State vs. Kentucky odds, line: 2020 college football picks, Week 6 predictions from proven model

An SEC battle is on tap between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Kentucky Wildcats at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday at Kroger Field. Kentucky is 0-2, while MSU is 1-1. Mississippi State has a 24-23 all-time edge in this series and has won nine of the past 11 meetings, including a 28-13 victory in 2019. 

The Wildcats are favored by 2.5 points in the latest Kentucky vs. Mississippi State odds from William Hill. The over-under for total points is set at 58.5. Before entering any Mississippi State vs. Kentucky picks, you’ll want to see the college football predictions from the model at SportsLine.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every FBS college football game 10,000 times. Over the past four-plus years, the proprietary computer model has generated a stunning profit of over $4,200 for $100 players on its top-rated college football picks against the spread. It is a sizzling 20-3 on top-rated picks through five weeks of the 2020 college football season, returning over $1,300 in profit already. Anyone who has followed it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Kentucky vs. Mississippi State. You can head to SportsLine to see its picks. Here are several college football odds for Mississippi State vs. Kentucky:

  • Kentucky vs. Mississippi State spread: Kentucky -2.5
  • Kentucky vs. Mississippi State over-under: 58 points
  • Kentucky vs. Mississippi State money line: Kentucky -135, Mississippi State +115

What you need to know about Kentucky

The Wildcats, now 0-2 against the spread, missed a PAT kick in overtime against the Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday and lost 42-41. A silver lining was the play of quarterback Terry Wilson, who accumulated 151 passing yards in addition to rushing for three TDs and 129 yards. Wilson, who missed most of 2019 with a knee injury, has been extremely efficient thus far, completing 69.1 percent of his passes in 2020.

He also leads the team with 171 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Combined with Asim Rose and Chris Rodriguez Jr., the Wildcats have a tough rushing attack that the Bulldogs could struggle to slow.

What you need to know about Mississippi State

The Bulldogs looked like a surprise contender when they knocked off LSU two weeks ago in Mike Leach’s debut. Quarterback K.J. Costello threw for over 600 yards and five touchdowns against the defending champs. But they got a dose of reality last week when Arkansas upset them, recording its first SEC win since 2017 in the process. Costello took a big step back, throwing just one touchdown and three interceptions. 

MSU running back Kylin Hill was banged up during the loss, but Leach told reporters this week he could return to the lineup this week. Hill ran for 1,350 yards in 2019 and was a huge part of the passing attack against LSU in this year’s opener, making eight catches for 158 yards and a score. 

How to make Kentucky vs. Mississippi State picks

SportsLine’s model has simulated Kentucky vs. Mississippi State 10,000

College football expert picks, predictions for Week 6, 2020: Kentucky covers against Mississippi State

There are multiple games on the Week 6 college football schedule that should not only impact conference races, but also help shape the early-season College Football Playoff picture. The latest Week 6 college football odds from William Hill show top-ranked Clemson as a 14-point home favorite against No. 7 Miami (FL). No. 8 North Carolina is laying 4.5 points at home against No. 19 Virginia Tech.

No. 3 Georgia has a 12.5-point edge against No. 14 Tennessee in the 3:30 p.m. ET SEC on CBS matchup. Where are the best values for Week 6 college football bets in those marquee matchups and others around the nation? Before locking anything in for this weekend’s action, be sure to see the top Week 6 college football expert picks, predictions and best bets from Barrett Sallee.

Sallee is a true insider — a CBS Sports analyst, SiriusXM host, Heisman voter and consistently one of the top CBS Sports experts picking games against the spread — and his best bets have helped bring in huge returns. He debuted with SportsLine in 2017 and has delivered in a big way, posting a winning record in his weekly college football best bets column since that point. 

He went 59-35-2 (63 percent, plus $2,037) on all his college football picks for SportsLine in 2019, and he also enters Week 6 of the 2020 college football season on a 49-28 streak on his best bets since the start of last year. Anybody who has been following him is way up.

Now, he has turned his attention to the Week 6 college football odds from William Hill and is sharing his top three best bets over at SportsLine. Get his top college football picks now. 

Top Week 6 college football expert predictions

One of Sallee’s top college football picks for Week 6: He’s backing Kentucky (-2 at William Hill) to pick up the win and cover at home against Mississippi State in a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff on Saturday. 

The Bulldogs pulled off a stunner in their opener against LSU, but Arkansas spoiled Mike Leach’s home debut last week. Kentucky, meanwhile, is 0-2 with losses to Auburn and Ole Miss. But the Wildcats showed plenty of firepower in their 42-41 loss to the Rebels last week. Sallee also believes the defensive template has been set for slowing down Leach’s offense in the SEC. 

“Arkansas made it clear how to beat Mississippi State last week — lots of zone,” Sallee told SportsLine. “Kentucky coach Mark Stoops is one of the brightest defensive minds in the country, and he’s smart enough to take Arkansas’ game plan and expand on it. What’s more, Kentucky running backs AJ Rose and Chris Rodriguez Jr. will run through the Bulldogs defense.”

How to make Week 6 college football picks 

Sallee has also found two other college football picks he’s high on, including a strong play against a historic power he says “seems to be breaking more and more by the day.” You can only see