No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (8-0 SU, 6-2 ATS) vs. No. 15 LSU Tigers (5-2 SU, 3-4 ATS)
College Football Week 10
Date/Time: Saturday November 5th, 2016. 8:00PM (EST)
Where: Tiger Stadium Baton Rouge, L.A.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ALA -7.5/LSU +7.5
Over/Under Total: 46.5
One of the biggest questions this season is can anyone beat the top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide? Despite challenges from ranked opponents such as USC, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas A&M, the Crimson Tide have remained unchallenged for the most part. Alabamas closest win against those teams was a 19 point victory over Arkansas. The Crimson Tide blew away USC by 46 points, blew out Tennessee by 39 points, and manhandled Texas A&M in a 33-14 victory. However, there is one challenge that they have not conquered this season that may be the biggest test of them all and that is a road trip to Baton Rouge on a Saturday night. We will find out of the top ranked Crimson Tide can remain unbeaten this Saturday when they battle the no. 15 LSU Tigers in Death Valley.
Currently Alabama is listed as 7.5 favorites over an LSU team that has really turned things around in recent weeks. Since the loss to Auburn that caused Les Miles to lose his job, the Tigers have posted 3 straight victories including a 38-21 victory over no. 23 Ole Miss two weeks ago. Ironically, it was the Rebels that gave Alabama their biggest scare of the season earlier this year. Instead the Tigers manhandled Ole Miss holding their potent offense to just 325 total yards while the offense led by Leonard Fournette flourished. Fournette actually had his biggest outing of the year against the Rebels racking up 284 yards and 3 touchdowns on just 16 carries.
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However, this entire LSU team has just played much better since Coach Ed Orgeron took over. Instead of the very conservative rushing approach that the team often abided by under Miles, Orgeron has opened the playbook allowing junior quarterback Danny Etling to go down the field more. Since that Auburn loss, Etling has hit 64% of his passes for more than 700 yards with 4 scores and just 2 picks in the 3 games since. As a trickle-down effect, opposing defenses have not been able to sell out on the run which has allowed guys like Fournette and sophomore running back Derrius Guice big opportunities in the running game.
The question this week becomes can LSUs newfound offensive momentum stay intact against one of the best defenses in the country. Alabama currently ranks 4th overall giving up just 274 yards per game and I have mentioned several times that they lead the entire country by a large margin in non-offensive touchdowns. I think LSUs defense is right there with Alabama in terms of talent. The Tigers have allowed just 317 yards per game this season as the 13th best group overall. While they may not have the same amount of defensive scores to their resume, I would actually give them the edge over Alabamas defense against the pass.
The problem with that statement is that Alabama still has the best offense that will be on the field Saturday night. Quarterback Jalen Hurts is getting better as a passer and is still very dangerous running the football. Hurts actually leads the team with 9 touchdowns on the ground this season. Meanwhile Damien Harris leads the team with 700 yards on the ground. As a unit, Alabama ranked 8th in the FBS averaging 43.9 points per game. While that is very impressive, much of those scoring totals can be accredited to the defense that has continuously come up with big turnovers on the short side of the field and big plays on special teams. For there to be a possibility of an upset this Saturday night, LSU has to avoid those critical turnovers and not give this Alabama offense any short field opportunities.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: For the record, LSU 54-5 SU at Tiger Stadium in night games since 2005. Not only is this one of the biggest games in recent memory but this could win Orgeron the Head Coaching job if he can deliver. I will take my chances with LSU and the points as they will look to pull out all stops in this game.
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