Dec 11, 2020
SEC Betting Notebook - Week 15
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Week 15 has arrived in the SEC without much drama. Well, there isn’t any drama in terms of who will collide at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta next weekend.
Florida and Alabama are set to meet in the SEC Championship Game for the 10th time on Dec. 19. As of Friday afternoon, a few spots had Alabama listed as a 12.5-point favorite, while a few others were at -13 or -13.5 The total was anywhere from 72.5 to 73.5 points. The Gators, who have lost six games in a row to the Crimson Tide, were +350 on the money line.
It is the Silly Season and even during a global pandemic, nobody does the Coaching Carousel better than the SEC. Will Muschamp has already been replaced by Shane Beamer at South Carolina. Vanderbilt has already cut ties with Derek Mason, and the school is reportedly interested in Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold, who it can’t talk to until after the MAC Championship Game on Dec. 18.
The Tennessee fan base has been ready to send Jeremy Pruitt packing for over a month now. He was AD Phillip Fulmer’s first hire so dismissing him after three seasons would be an indictment of Fulmer himself. That’s all Pruitt has going for him, though, and this space doesn’t think Fulmer can get away with keeping Pruitt around for another year.
Without a doubt, if a depleted Vanderbilt team hands UT a seventh straight defeat on Saturday, Pruitt will be gone before lunch on Sunday. Get your popcorn ready, folks, because there isn’t a fan base in America that does coaching searches better than the one up on Rocky Top.
Who else? It wouldn’t be December if there wasn’t some debate about Gus Malzahn’s job security at Auburn, would it? Of course not.
My hunch in recent weeks is that Malzahn is going to survive. However, Mike Leach has cleared the bad apples out of his locker room and the players that remain are playing hard for him. Mississippi St. is a single-digit home underdog to Auburn on Saturday.
If the Tigers taste defeat in Starkville to finish 5-5, then all bets (and hunches) are off. We shall see what happens on The Plains in the coming days.
Let’s get to the games…
SEC Week 15 Schedule & Odds
- Alabama (-32, 68) at Arkansas
- Georgia (-13, 54) at Missouri
- Tennessee (-15, 50) at Vanderbilt
- LSU at Florida (-23, 67.5)
- Auburn (-6.5, 49) at Mississippi State
- Ole Miss at Texas A&M (Cancelled)
Odds Subject to Change
How to Handicap SEC Week 15
(Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS)
Scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 12
Alabama at Arkansas
- TV-Time: ESPN, 12:00 p.m. ET
- Venue: Razorback Stadium
- Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas
-- As of early Friday, most shops had Alabama (9-0 SU, 7-2 ATS) installed as a 32-point favorite with a total of 68.5. The Razorbacks were anywhere from +1800 (18/1) to +2500 (25/1) on the money line. The Crimson Tide was favored by 18 to 19 points, depending on the book, for first-half wagers with a total of 37.
-- Alabama dusted LSU early and often in Redstick last Saturday night, easily covering bets for the first quarter, the first half and the game in a 55-17 shellacking as a 29-point favorite. Truth be told, Nick Saban could’ve given it to Ed Orgeron’s bunch a little worse, but he hit the brakes after taking a 45-14 advantage into intermission. Najee Harris added an 11-yard TD run with 3:39 left in the third quarter for a 52-14 lead. The 72 combined points jumped ‘over’ the 64-point total.
-- Alabama QB Mac Jones completed 20-of-28 passes for 385 yards and four TDs without an interception. Harris had 145 rushing yards and three TDs on 21 attempts, while senior WR DeVonta Smith went off with eight receptions for 231 yards and three TDs, including a sick one-handed grab that had pundits chirping about his lack of credit as a viable Heisman Trophy candidate. Smith might not win that hardware or even get invited to NYC, but he and Harris are the best players on yet another juggernaut of a squad directed by Saban.
-- For the season, Jones has connected on an eye-popping 75.7 percent of his passes for 3,113 yards with a 27/3 TD-INT ratio. Smith has 80 receptions for 1,305 yards and 15 TDs. With 50 receiving yards against the Razorbacks, Smith will pass Amari Cooper as the storied program’s all-time leader. He already has more TD catches (38) than any player in SEC history. Cooper finished his ‘Bama career with 3,463 receiving yards, putting him in front of D.J. Hall (2,923) and Calvin Ridley (2,781) in school history. Smith, who had the game-winning TD catch from Tua Tagovailoa to beat Georgia in overtime of the College Football Playoff finals when both players were true freshmen, is poised to go down in the record books ahead of program greats such as Tyrone Prothro, Julio Jones, Henry Ruggs, Freddie Milons, David Palmer and Jerry Jeudy.
-- Harris is currently fourth in school history in rushing yards, but he’s poised to surpass Bobby Humphrey, Shaun Alexander and Derrick Henry if he can hang 177 rushing yards on Arkansas. In his senior campaign this year, Harris has 1,038 rushing yards and 20 TDs this year while averaging 6.1 YPC. He also has 26 catches for 247 yards.
-- With junior WR Jaylen Waddle, perhaps the most explosive playmaker in all of college football, out with an injury sustained at Tennessee, sophomore WR John Metchie has stepped up in the No. 2 receiving role, hauling in 35 receptions for 648 yards and six TDs. Waddle is still hoping he can return if his team advances to the CFP.
-- Speaking of the CFP, Alabama is probably “in” whether it wins or loses against Florida next weekend in Atlanta. The oddsmakers don’t see that happening, though, as multiple books have installed the Tide as a 14.5-point favorite against the Gators.
-- Arkansas (3-6 SU, 7-2 ATS) has split its four home games outright, compiling a 3-1 spread record. The lone non-cover came in a 27-24 loss to LSU as a one-point underdog on Nov. 21. The Hogs own wins over Ole Miss (33-21) and Tennessee (24-13) in Fayetteville, and they took the cash in a 37-10 loss vs. Georgia as 28-point home puppies. Sam Pittman’s team led the Bulldogs or were tied until midway through the third quarter, but Kirby Smart’s club poured it on late.
-- Arkansas is off a backbreaking 50-48 loss at Missouri on a walk-off field goal, but its betting supporters didn’t fret the setback and cashed tickets as a 2.5-point road underdog. When the Razorbacks pulled within one on a 14-yard TD pass from redshirt freshman QB KJ Jefferson to Mike Woods with 43 seconds remaining, Pittman decided to go for two. The move worked as Jefferson hit Woods, who caught the conversion pass after it bounced off Missouri LB Jamal Brooks’s hands, again to take a 48-47 lead. However, Bazelak moved the Tigers into FG range by going 60 yards in seven plays, and Mevis buried the game winner in walk-off fashion.
-- Jefferson got his first career start when senior QB Feleipe Franks, a grad transfer from Florida, was a late scratch due to an injury to his ribs. Jefferson took full advantage, completing 18-of-33 passes for 274 yards and three TDs without an interception. He also ran for 32 yards and one TD on 13 attempts. Sophomore WR Treylon Brooks had 10 receptions for 206 yards and one TD, while RB Trelon Smith ran for 172 yards and three TDs on 26 carries.
-- Franks has shared snaps with Jefferson on the first-team unit at practice this week. He’s officially listed as ‘questionable’ and is expected to be a game-time decision. Franks has enjoyed a helluva year for the Hogs, completing 68.0 percent of his throws for 2,017 yards with a 17/4 TD-INT ratio. The Wakulla County High School (FL.) product also has 229 rushing yards and one T. In seven career games, Jefferson has hit 33-of-66 passes for 474 yards and three TDs without an interception. He has 114 rushing yards and four TDs.
-- The Arkansas defense is led by senior LB Grant Morgan, who leads the nation in tackles with 111. He’s also contributed 5.5 tackles for loss, five passes broken up, two sacks, two QB hurries and a 23-yard interception return for a TD that put a 33-21 home win over Ole Miss on ice. However, Morgan is listed as ‘questionable’ with an undisclosed injury that forced him out of last week’s game at Mizzou.
-- The ‘under’ is 5-4 overall for the Hogs, 4-0 in their home games.
-- The ‘over’ is 6-3 overall for ‘Bama, 3-1 in its four road assignments. This is the Tide’s second-highest total of the season.
Georgia at Missouri
- TV-Time: SEC, 12:00 p.m.
- Venue: Memorial Stadium
- Location: Columbia, Missouri
-- This is an intriguing contest on multiple fronts. Georgia (6-2 straight up, 3-5 against the spread) can still salvage a solid season by winning out, while Missouri can put an exclamation point on what has already been a successful debut campaign for the Eli Drinkwitz Era. The Tigers are at home at Faurot Field, where redshirt freshman quarterback Connor Bazelak has not been intercepted in five games and senior running back Larry Rountree has run for 119, 126, 160 and 185 yards in the last four home outings. UGA has bounced back from a 44-28 loss to Florida with consecutive wins vs. Mississippi St. (31-24) and at South Carolina (45-16).
-- As of early Wednesday, most betting shops had Georgia installed as a 13-point favorite with a total of 53. By Friday morning, the number on the side was the same, but the tally was up to 54.5. Missouri was around +375 on the money line at most spots.
-- Missouri (5-3 SU, 5-3 ATS) is 4-1 both SU and ATS in five home games. The lone outright defeat for the Tigers came in a 38-19 loss to Alabama in the opener for both schools. Their only non-cover came in last week’s 50-48 win over Arkansas as 2.5-point home ‘chalk.’
-- Missouri edged the Razorbacks thanks to a 32-yard, walk-off field goal from true freshman Harrison Mevis, who went 5-for-5 from distances of 51, 29, 37, 40 and 32 yards. The 98 combined points elevated ‘over’ the 55-point total with more than eight minutes remaining in the third quarter. The back-and-forth shootout featured three ties and three lead changes. Missouri led 10-0 early, but Sam Pittman’s squad held two different double-digit leads (33-23 and 40-26) before the Tigers closed the game on a 24-8 run.
-- Bazelak completed 32-of-49 passes for 380 yards vs. the Razorbacks. Rountree produced 185 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries, while junior RB Tyler Badie had 79 rushing yards and two TDs on six attempts. Senior WR Keke Chism caught six balls for 113 yards and Damon Hazelton, the senior grad transfer from Va. Tech, had five receptions for 98 yards.
-- For the season, Bazelak has connected on 69.4 percent of his throws for 2,002 yards with a 5/2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Chism has 26 catches for 369 yards, Hazelton has 25 receptions for 322 yards and one TD and Badie has 23 grabs for 314 yards and two TDs.
-- Rountree, a third-team All-SEC selection in 2019, has 835 rushing yards, 11 TDs and a 4.9 yards-per-carry average. Badie has run for 239 yards and four TDs, averaging 5.1 YPC.
-- Missouri is 3-0 ATS with a pair of outright wins (45-41 vs. LSU and 20-10 vs. Kentucky) in three games as a home underdog this year. The Tigers are 6-2 ATS as home ‘dogs since 2016.
-- Kirby Smart’s team saw its Week 14 home game vs. Vanderbilt cancelled last week due to injuries, positive COVID-19 test results and contact tracing within the Vandy program. The Bulldogs were last in action two weeks ago in the other Columbia, avenging last year’s double-overtime home loss to South Carolina by mauling the Gamecocks 45-16 as 22-point road favorites. Making his second start for UGA, JT Daniels connected on 10-of-16 throws for 139 yards and two TDs with one interception. Junior RB James Cook had 104 rushing yards and two TDs on merely six totes, while Zamir White finished with 84 rushing yards and two TDs on 13 carries.
-- As a road favorite during Smart’s five-year tenure, Georgia has compiled a 13-5 spread record in 18 games as a road favorite.
-- In two starts, Daniels has completed 38-of-54 passes (70.4%) for 540 yards with a 6/1 TD-INT ratio. With redshirt freshman QB D’wan Mathis leaving the program more than a week ago and Stetson Bennett listed as ‘questionable’ with the same shoulder injury sustained vs. Florida, true freshman Carson Beck will most likely get any snaps under center if Daniels gets injured and Bennett is unable to dress out.
-- With the spread cover at South Carolina, UGA snapped out of a 0-4 ATS slide that started with a 41-24 loss at Alabama as a six-point road underdog.
-- White has a team-high 614 rushing yards and nine TDs while averaging 5.1 YPC. Cook has 259 rushing yards, two TDs and a 6.6 YPC average.
-- Sophomore WR Kearis Jackson paces the Bulldogs in catches (32), receiving yards (455) and TD grabs (three). True freshman Jermaine Burton has 21 catches for 360 yards and three TDs, while George Pickens has 24 receptions for 252 yards and three TDs in six games.
-- UGA has won outright in three of four road games this year, but it has limped to a 1-3 spread record.
-- The ‘under’ had cashed in four straight Missouri games until last week’s ‘over’ vs. Arkansas. The ‘under’ is 5-3 overall for the Tigers, 3-2 in their home games.
-- The ‘over’ is on a 5-1 run for UGA to improve to 5-3 overall. Totals have been a wash (2-2) for the Bulldogs in their four road assignments.
Saturday's SEC Best Bets
Tennessee at Vanderbilt
- TV-Time: SEC, 4:00 p.m. ET
- Venue: Vanderbilt Stadium
- Location: Nashville, Tennessee
-- Tennessee (2-6 SU, 2-5-1 ATS) brings a six-game losing streak to Nashville. The Volunteers, who are 1-5 ATS during their slide, haven’t dropped six games in a row since 1988. Vanderbilt is hoping to avoid its first winless season in the program’s history that dates back to 1890. The Commodores have two more chances, with a trip to Athens on deck next weekend.
-- As of Friday afternoon, most books had Tennessee installed as a 15-point favorite with a total of 50. The Commodores were +450 on the money line.
-- Vanderbilt (0-8 SU, 4-4 ATS) has seen its two best defensive players opt out in recent weeks. LB Dimitri Moore entered the transfer portal last month, and senior DE Dayo Odeyingbo opted out this week. Odeyingbo had recorded 32 tackles and a team-best 5.5 sacks.
-- Vanderbilt is 0-4 SU and 1-3 ATS at home. Due to injuries, opt outs and COVID-19, Vandy’s number of scholarship players available is extremely low. In the school-issued depth chart earlier this week, no backup was listed at two defensive positions, and two DBs were listed as backups at linebacker. The Commodores had to postpone last week’s scheduled game at UGA.
-- Tennessee ended a three-game losing streak in this rivalry by beating Vandy 28-10 last year, but the Commodores covered the number as 21.5-point road underdogs for the fourth straight game of this series. RB Eric Gray torched Vandy for 246 rushing yards and three TDs on 25 carries.
-- Gray has been one of the few bright spots for the Vols this year. The sophomore RB has 698 rushing yards, four TDs and a 4.8 YPC average. Ty Chandler has 364 rushing yards, three TDs and a 4.3 YPC average.
-- Pruitt hasn’t named a starter, but he said earlier this week that true freshman QB Harrison Bailey and sophomore JT Shrout will be splitting the first-team reps at practice moving forward. Bailey got his first career start vs. Florida last week. He completed 14-of-21 passes for 111 yards and one TD without an interception. Shrout came on in relief and looked sharp, connecting on 12-of-14 throws for 121 yards and one TD without an interception. His 22-yard TD pass to Velus Jones on a fourth-and-10 play with 27 seconds remaining gave UT supporters a backdoor cover as 18-point underdogs in the 31-19 loss to the Gators.
-- Tennessee is 1-3 SU and 0-3-1 ATS in four road assignments.
-- Vandy had covered the spread in three consecutive games until it got spanked 41-0 at Missouri as a 14-point road underdog two weeks ago.
-- Vandy true freshman QB Ken Seals has completed 65.9 percent of his passes for 1,689 yards with a 10/9 TD-INT ratio. Sophomore WR Cam Johnson has a team-high 49 catches for 481 yards and two TDs, while senior WR Chris Pierce has 22 receptions for 326 yards and five TDs.
-- Vandy sophomore RB Keyon Brooks has missed three games, but he’s still rushed for 438 yards and two TDs with a 4.4 YPC average. Brooks also has 25 catches for 239 yards.
-- Vandy is mired in a 2-11 ATS slump in its last 13 games as a home underdog.
-- As a road favorite during Jeremy Pruitt’s three-year tenure, the Vols have compiled a 0-1-1 ATS record. They pushed in a season-opening 31-27 win at South Carolina and lost outright at Arkansas last month.
-The ‘under’ has cashed in five straight UT games to improve to 6-2 overall. Totals have been a wash (2-2) for the Vols in their road games.
-- The ‘under’ has cashed at a 5-3 overall clip for Vandy, going 2-2 in its home games.
LSU at Florida
- TV-Time: ESPN, 7:00 p.m. ET
- Venue: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
- Location: Gainesville, Florida
-- Since dropping a 41-38 decision at Texas A&M on a walk-off field goal, Florida (SU, ATS) has won six consecutive games while going 3-2-1 ATS.
-- There’s been no line movement at all this week. As of Friday afternoon, most books still had Dan Mullen’s team installed as a 23.5-point home favorite with a total of 68 or 68.5.
-- UF improved to 15-1 in its last 16 meetings against Tennessee in last week’s 31-19 non-covering win as an 18-point road ‘chalk.’ Kyle Trask led the way by completing 35-of-49 passes for 423 yards and four TDs without an interception. Kyle Pitts had seven catches for 128 yards, while Kadarius Toney had eight receptions for 108 yards and one TD. Senior WR Trevon Grimes added six catches for 55 yards and two TDs.
-- Florida is tied with Oregon for the nation’s sixth-longest active winning streak at home with 12 consecutive victories at The Swamp. The Gators are 15-2 SU in 17 home games on Mullen’s watch, going 11-5-1 ATS with a 9-5-1 ATS mark in 15 games as home ‘chalk.’ UF is 4-0 SU and 2-1-1 ATS in four home games this year.
-- Florida senior DE Jeremiah Moon will miss his fifth straight game vs. LSU due to the foot injury sustained in a 44-28 win over Georgia on Nov. 7. At his media scrum on zoom earlier this week, Mullen said that he feels good about Moon’s chances of being ready vs. Alabama next weekend. In four games this year, Moon contributed 14 tackles, one sack, two QB hurries and 0.5 TFL’s.
-- For the season, Trask has completed 71.4 percent of his passes for 3,243 yards with an incredible 38/3 TD-INT ratio. Toney has 53 receptions for 649 yards and eight TDs, while Pitts has caught 36 balls for 641 yards and 11 TDs. Grimes has 30 catches for 413 yards and eight TDs.
-- LSU (3-5 SU, 4-4 ATS) will be without its top two pass catchers at UF. Terrace Marshall opted out on the Sunday after the Tigers’ 20-7 loss at Texas A&M nearly two weeks ago. Then on Monday of this week, true freshman TE Erik Gilbert opted out and reportedly plans on entering the transfer portal. Orgeron confirmed this news but added that he thought there was a chance Gilbert would return next year. The nation’s top prep TE in the 2020 recruiting cycle caught 35 balls for 368 yards and two TDs in eight games. In eight games, Marshall had 48 receptions for 731 yards and 10 TDs.
-- In an in-depth column released by Brooks Kubena of The Advocate late Wednesday afternoon, LSU’s doomed campaign as the reigning national champion was chronicled dating back to a team meeting during the summer. According to multiple players, many left the meeting feeling like Orgeron didn’t have their backs. Some players were also offended by Orgeron’s public support of President Donald Trump. Within a week of that team meeting, star WR Ja’Marr Chase and DT Tyler Shelvin joined Kary Vincent in opting out of the 2020 season. Kubena’s column indicates that lots of other players besides Gilbert are considering transferring and generally paints an ugly picture of a locker room that Orgeron has seemingly lost less than a year after winning it all in New Orleans.
-- LSU posted a backdoor cover two weeks ago in its 20-7 loss at Texas A&M. True freshman QB Max Johnson found Marshall for a three-yard TD pass with 38 ticks remaining to give gamblers on the Tigers a winner as 16-point road underdogs. However, LSU was the team to fade last week in Baton Rouge, where Alabama won for the fifth consecutive time in a 55-17 beatdown that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. The Crimson Tide took the cash as a 29-point road favorite.
-- With starting QB Myles Brennan out for the season, true freshmen TJ Finley has started the last five games with true freshman Max Johnson also seeing playing time in four of those five contests. Finley has completed 57.1 percent of his throws for 941 yards with a 4/5 TD-INT ratio. Johnson has connected on 63.5 percent of his attempts for 395 yards and two TDs without an interception.
-- LSU is 2-3 SU and 3-2 ATS in five road outings.
-- The ‘over’ is 5-4 overall for the Gators, 2-2 in their home games. However, the ‘under’ has been a winner in three straight UF games.
-- Totals have been an overall wash for the Tigers (4-4), but they’ve watched the ‘under’ go 4-1 in their five road assignments.
Auburn at Mississippi State
- TV-Time: SEC, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Venue: Davis Wade Stadium
- Location: Starkville, Mississippi
-- As of Friday afternoon, most books had Auburn (5-4 SU, 4-5 ATS) listed as a 6.5-point favorite with a total of 49.5. The Bulldogs were +200 on the money line. Some shops opened Auburn as a 13.5-point favorite on Sunday, and some spots moved the Tigers all the way up to -15. However, nearly all books moved from around -13.5 to -7 by Monday afternoon.
-- Auburn is 1-3 both SU and ATS in four road games. The Tigers have lost at Georgia (27-6), at South Carolina (30-22) and at Alabama (42-13), but they won a 35-28 decision at Ole Miss.
-- Auburn allowed a 20-14 fourth-quarter lead to get away last week against Texas A&M. The Aggies outscored the Tigers 17-0 in the final stanza to capture a 31-20 win as five-point road ‘chalk.’ Auburn QB Bo Nix had 49 rushing yards and two TDs on 11 attempts, but he threw for only 144 yards.
-- In eight career road starts, Nix has a 3-5 record. In four road assignments this season, the sophomore signal caller has a 2/6 TD-INT ratio. For this season (regardless of the venue), Nix has connected on 61.5 percent of his passes for 1,998 yards with a 10/7 TD-INT ratio. He also has 332 rushing yards and six TDs.
-- Auburn’s top three RBs are likely going to be operating at less than 100-percent health in Starkville. Tank Bigsby sustained a hip pointer last month that isn’t fully healed. Nevertheless, the freshman RB produced 76 rushing yards on just nine carries vs. Texas A&M. Bigsby has 642 rushing yards, five TDs and a 5.7 YPC average. Shaun Shivers has 257 rushing yards, one TD and a 5.0 YPC average. Shivers will play despite getting banged up against the Aggies last week. Finally, DJ Williams has been upgraded to ‘probable.’ Williams has 183 rushing yards and two TDs on 32 carries (5.7 YPC).
-- Auburn has three outstanding WRs in Anthony Schwartz, Seth Williams and Eli Stove. Williams has 39 receptions for 631 yards and three TDs, while Schwartz has 49 catches for 604 yards and three TDs. Stove has 35 grabs for 307 yards and three TDs. Nix missed Stove for what would’ve been an easy TD on a first-half drive vs. Texas A&M last week. The Tigers had to settle for a field goal on that drive, costing them four points.
-- Mississippi St. (2-6 SU, 3-5 ATS) is 1-2 SU and 0-3 ATS at home.
-- Mike Leach has had nearly two dozen players opt out, enter the transfer portal or quit during his first season in Starkville. However, the players left have seemingly bought in because this club has played well over the past month. The Bulldogs took only 49 scholarship players to Athens and easily took the cash in a 31-24 loss at Georgia as 26.5-point road underdogs. MSU held three separate leads, never trailed by more than seven and went into the fourth quarter tied at 24-24 at UGA.
-- Mississippi St. has had two weeks to prepare after losing a 31-24 decision at Ole Miss. The Bulldogs covered the spread as 9.5-point road underdogs. After playing like a true freshman in October, QB Will Rogers has played much better in the last three games, throwing for 1,002 yards and five TDs without an interception. He hit on 45-of-61 throws for 440 yards and three TDs without an interception against the Rebels.
-- Another true freshman, WR Jalen Walley, had a breakout performance at Ole Miss. He had nine catches for 176 yards, including a one-handed grab that made the rounds on highlight clips two weeks ago. Walley has 35 receptions for 462 yards and one TD.
-- The ‘under’ is 7-2 overall for Auburn, 4-0 in its road assignments. However, the Tigers have seen six of their last seven games produce 51 combined points or more. In fact, the lone game out of the last seven that’s been below 49 combined points hit at 47 in a 30-17 home win over Tennessee.
-- The ‘under’ is 6-2 overall for MSU, 3-0 in its home games.