(23) California at Mississippi
Time: 11 AM CST Saturday
Spread: MIS -2.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The No. 23 ranked California Golden Bears improved to 3-0 last week with its 23-17 victory over North Texas. This week the Bears travel to face Mississippi as 2.5-point underdogs according to college football oddsmakers. The game will kick off at 11 AM CST on ESPN U. The betting total is set at 44 total points.
Cal thus far has survived two close scares, winning by less than a touchdown over its last two opponents, North Texas and then-No. 14 Washington in Week 2. It handily defeated non-FBS opponent UC Davis by a 27-13 count in week 1.
The Bears have not been entirely pleased with the play of its quarterback Chase Garbers, even so. He has thrown 36 of 68 for 478 yards, but that 52.9 percent completion ratio is less than stellar, and he also only averages 7.0 yards-per-reception. Garbers is a decent rushing threat with 3.8 yards-per-carry on his 38 attempts, and the Bears get even better production from its 1-2 combo at running back.
Chris Brown Jr. has rushed for 324 yards, and Marcel Dancy has been solid in his limited (23 total) carries. The Bears average 4.2 yards-per-attempt as a team, and it has scored four TDs via the rush, compared to just three in the air. Top-receiver Kekoa Crawford has been making big plays, though. Crawford has two of the Bears’ three receiving touchdowns, and he also averages better than 20 yards per catch on his seven receptions.
California has also got 99 yards receiving out of No. 2 WR Nikko Remigio, and Brown Jr. has come out of the backfield to catch six for 39 yards. The Bears are doing a good job of diversifying its offense and have great talent at the skill positions, so with Garbers improving his accuracy the Bears could take another leap in the AP polls if it happens. Currently, the No. 23 spot makes good sense, and Mississippi will be Cal’s first actual test here in Week 5.
Ole Miss is 2-1 after winning back-to-back games against Arkansas and Southeastern Louisiana. It lost Week 1 to Memphis. The Rebels are still slight favorites in Week 5 despite playing a ranked opponent while not possessing a ranking itself.
The Rebels have been led by quarterback Matt Corral and his 578 yards on 63 percent passing. Corral has thrown four TDs and just one interception, but he has been sacked seven times this season already, which must improve. Scottie Phillips is the lead running back with 71 attempts for 308 yards, but Jerrion Ealy has been far more impressive in far fewer (just 17) carries. Ealy is averaging 6.1 yards-per-attempt, and Snoop Conner is good for 5.1 per, as well. Meanwhile, Phillips averages just 4.3 per-attempt, though he has rushed for four of the team’s five rushing touchdowns.
Ole Miss is carried in the passing game by Elijah Moore, who has caught 18 passes (of 46 total Ole Miss receptions) for a far-and-away team-best 278 yards. He has also caught three for touchdowns, while the rest of the team has a grand total of one. Ole Miss is pretty heavily reliant on the trio of Corral, Moore, and Phillips. Getting Phillips more involved in pass plays seems like a logical step to improving the offense, because it is going to take a few surprises to pull off this slight upset over California, even with the Rebels possessing a home-field advantage.
ATS TRENDS (C/O Covers):