No. 20 Auburn Tigers (5-2 SU, 3-4 ATS) at No. 1 LSU Tigers (7-0 SU, 5-2 ATS)
Saturday October 22nd, 2011. 3:30PM EST, College Football Week 8
Tigers Stadium Baton Rouge, La.
By Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Aub +22/Louisiana St. -22
Over/Under Total: OFF
Every year the SEC produces a team that is just head and shoulders above the competition that goes through a season in unstoppable fashion. As everyone knows, the SEC has won 5 straight BCS National Championships. This year the top ranked LSU Tigers appear to be the team that can make it 6 straight for the SEC. Of course Alabama fans would have something say about that.
However, the Tigers have just been extremely impressive this season knocking off some of the best teams in the country in West Virginia and Oregon. To make matters worse, the Tigers have been walking through SEC competition in a rare destructive style. In fact over the last 3 weeks, LSU has an average margin of victory over 30 points over Kentucky, Florida, and Tennessee. Anyone care to name the last team to beat both Florida and Tennessee by 30 points in the same season?
This Saturday the LSU Tigers put their number 1 ranking on the line when they hosts the defending National Champions by way of the 5-2 no. 20 Auburn Tigers. Auburn was expected to have rebuilding type season and most expected them to struggle heavily. However, Auburn is off to a very respectable start with quality wins over South Carolina and Mississippi State. This week Auburn faces their biggest challenge to date as they travel to Baton Rouge as huge underdogs by more than 3 touchdowns.
In both of Auburn’s losses this season to Clemson and Arkansas, it was the pass defense that struggled to make stops which resulted in giving up 38 points in both of those games. Luckily for Auburn, the Bayou Bengals of LSU do not have a potent passing attack. However, LSU does have a power rushing attack that averages 194 yards per game. Therefore if Auburn can sell out on stopping the run similar to the way the beat South Carolina, they could possibly rattle the LSU offense.
The bigger challenge for the defending National Champions will be finding a way to move the ball on offense. The LSU defense should be credited for doing the most damage over opponents this season. When the LSU defense is not forcing turnovers, they are consistently putting the offense on the short field in scoring opportunities which is the reason the offense has posted so many points this season despite ranking 80th in total offense (369 yards per game).
The Louisiana State defense has simply been incredible ranking 4th overall holding opponents to 251 yards per game and giving up just 11.71 points per game as well. Therefore, the Auburn offense is just going to have their hands full in finding ways to move the football. Still, offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is one of the best in the business at finding ways to move the football. However, Auburn has been fairly one dimensional so far this season in terms of offensive production. QB Barrett Trotter has struggled significantly completing just 54% passing with 10 scores and 6 picks on the season.
With the struggles at the quarterback position and the lack of a true playmaker in the receiving game, the Auburn offense has been forces to stick to their ground attack. The Auburn rushing attack has been successful averaging 197 yards per game and they have one of the best young running backs in the conference in Michael Dyer. Dyer has been solid averaging 5.1 yards per carry totaling 752 on the season with 8 touchdowns. Expect Dyer to get plenty of touches this Saturday as Auburn seeks what would be a huge upset.
On the LSU offensive side of the football, they will stick with their powerful run game as well. As stated before, the Bayou Bengals have not racked up a ton of yards this season but they have rarely been on the long end of the field. Running back Spencer Ware has carried the workload with 512 yards on the season for 6 touchdowns. Backup running back Michael Ford has also contributed nicely off the bench with 359 yards and 6 additional touchdowns. If LSU does happen to go to the air, they have players in the passing game to make big plays as well.
QB Jarrett Lee is having an excellent season completing 61% passing for 1,002 yards with 10 touchdowns and only 1 interception. Lee’s go to guy in the passing game is WR Reuben Randle who has 28 catches for 532 yards and 5 scores. Randle is a tough guy to cover on his own, but even tougher when defenses have to focus on stopping that powerful LSU rushing attack that seems to keep defenses off balance. Still, Coach Les Miles loves to run the ball in effort to wear opposing defenses down throughout the course of the game. Therefore it will be extremely important that the Auburn offense has some type of offensive success, to allow their defense to rest. If that does not happen, Auburn could become another statistic on LSU’s record.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: On paper Auburn does not match-up well in this game. However, this team finds way to stay in ball games and 22 points just may be too large of a number for LSU to cover. I’ll go with Auburn and all the points. Take Auburn +22.
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