No. 6 Louisiana State Tigers (6-1 SU, 2-5 ATS) vs. No. 18 Texas A&M Aggies (5-1 SU, 3-3 ATS)
College Football Week 8
Date/Time: Saturday, October 20th, 2012, 12:00 p.m. EST
Where: Kyle Field, College Station, Texas
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: LSU -3.5/TX AM +3.5
Over/Under Total: 52
The SEC will get off to an early start on Saturday when the 6th-ranked Louisiana State Tigers travel to College Station and the original home of the 12th Man at Kyle Field when they play 18th-ranked Texas A&M at noon on ESPN.
LSU is coming off a strong bounce-back game with a win over South Carolina in Death Valley last weekend, 23-21. It was an especially good comeback game for the Tigers offense, who went 11-for-19 on third down against the Gamecocks to wrangle control of the game, a factor that helps teams win in SEC play.
But LSU better strap it up, because this is thee game of the year for the Aggies thus far. Texas A&M avoided two possible hiccups the last two weeks on the road (won at Ole Miss 30-27; at La. Tech 59-57 last Saturday) to set up a showdown with LSU at home at Kyle Field in the nationally featured early game on ESPN. This is their chance at a statement game, a chance that everyone in College Station will be amped up and overly excited to try and complete.
Oddsmakers have staked LSU as the favorites in this game on the road, opening the point spread with the Tigers at minus -3 points. With early money siding with the Tigers, the number is up to -3.5 at just about every offshore sportsbook and property in Las Vegas.
The over/under total is open offshore, starting at 52, but the total has yet to get listed in the Vegas books and has yet to move it either direction at the books that are open.
On the surface this matchup looks like a battle of opposites … the all-defense-no-offense Tigers versus the all-offense-no-defense Aggies. If you can figure out which team is going to break the other's strength, well then you have figured out the key.
I have to give an advantage to LSU because Texas A&M's offense is dominated by one player, Johnny Manziel. That player is very dynamic, granted Manziel (676 rush, 1,680 pass, 24 TD) has come from nowhere to enter the Heisman chase, but the LSU front seven is skilled like no other team Manziel has faced this season.
Zach Mettenberger played much better last week, and it's not like the Aggies defense is loaded with talent. They were torched in the passing game last week against Louisiana Tech and are ranked 111th in FBS is pass defense, so if LSU can't get Kenny Hilliard going on early downs I still expect Mettenberger to be able to throw over the top.
Saturday's game will be the first time these two have met since the 2011 Cotton Bowl game in Cowboys Stadium, a 41-24 victory by LSU the year they finished second-fiddle to Auburn. Of course the entire Texas A&M staff has been replaced since then, and most of it's locker room has turned over too, but for the record the Tigers covered as just 1-point favorites.
Historically the Aggies have dominated the series with Louisiana State in the 90s, winning five straight (3-1-1 ATS) from 1991-95, but LSU owned the 80s going 3-1 SU and ATS. Over the decades, the Aggies are dangerous at home, going 4-1 SU and 3-1-1 ATS against the Tigers in head-to-head play at Kyle Field.
Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I think the Aggies defense is better than they played last week against a very good and underrated La. Tech team, good enough to keep them around until late in the fourth quarter. LSU will give Manziel his first hard game this season too, so I just don't see how this game gets over the total. I'm taking the under of 52 in what I think will be a 20-17 or 24-21 type of game. Take the under of 52.
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