No. 10 LSU Tigers (8-2, 4-4-2 ATS) at Mississippi Rebels (7-3, 5-4 ATS)
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Saturday November 21st, 3:30PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Point Spread: LSU +3/Mississippi -3
Over/Under: TBA mid week.
The SEC Championship race may have already been decided, but there are still a lot of other big conference match-ups left on the regular season schedule. One of those big match-ups will occur this Saturday when the No. 10 LSU Tigers takes on the Mississippi Rebels in Oxford, M.S. The Tigers only two losses of the year fell to the likes of Florida and Alabama who will be meeting in the SEC Title Game. Outside of those two brutal opponents, LSU has been perfect. Of course they have not been extremely dominating at times like last week’s squeaker over Louisiana Tech 24-16. However, the Tigers keep winning and they hope to do the same this Saturday when they put the number 2 spot in the SEC West on the line against the Rebels.
Mississippi had waited all season before finally getting the big offensive production they were expected to have all season. The Rebels posted 42 points in their big win last week over Tennessee getting big help from running back Dexter McCluster. McCluster had been held to fairly little success this season exploded carrying the ball 25 times for 282 yards and 4 touchdowns last week. McCluster also caught 4 additional passes for 42 yards to put him over the 300 plus all-purpose stat. McCluster was a big part of the offense a year ago when they exploded the 2nd half of the season and if the Rebels can keep the ball in his hands they will fair well considering his speed that can make things happen in a hurry.
QB Jevan Snead has had a disappointing year as well in 2009 and did not really change those numbers despite the win last week. Snead completed 13 of 20 for 133 yards and 1 interception. Snead still leads the SEC with 14 interceptions on the season and the Rebels offense will not be able to afford any turnovers this week against the Tigers. Despite Mississippi’s solid defense that could keep the LSU offense in check, the Rebels will still have to find a way to move the ball similar to the way they did against Tennessee. The best way to do that will be to get McCluster involved early and if Snead can also hook up with WR Shay Hodge it will really get the offense off to the start that they will need.
Despite the offense’s inconsistency at times this season, the Tigers defense has remained as solid as any allowing just 13 points per game this season. It will be the defense who has to keep the Rebels playmakers under control especially in the running game. LSU has allowed 126 yards per game this season which is pretty solid, but they most focus on stopping McCluster this weekend. The pass defense should be strong as they have been all year long allowing only 184 yards per game. If the LSU secondary can force Snead to make a few mistakes it will also help LSU stay on track for a 10 win regular season.
The offense as stated before has been fairly up and down all year. The Tigers managed just 246 total yards against an inferior Louisiana Tech team last week. Senior running back Keiland Williams rushed for 116 yards in Charles Scott’s absence who was lost for the year from injury. However, Williams has been productive at times all year averaging 5.6 yards per carry and the Tigers will need him to perform as the talent at the tailback position is thin at the moment. QB Jarrett Lee took over duties behind center last week because normal starter Jordan Jefferson was suffering from a sprained ankle. However, Lee didn’t show any improvements from that disastrous season a year ago completing just 7 of 22 passes. Lee and the quarterback issues were a big reason for the Tigers’ disappointing season last year throwing 16 interceptions.
However, Jefferson has been the promising hope completing 64% with 12 scores and 4 picks this season. The main aspect Jefferson has possessed is holding on to the football and not forcing those dreaded mistakes. Of course whoever is behind center must get the ball in the hands of playmakers Brandon LaFell and Terrance Toliver on the outside. Both wide outs are averaging 13 yards per reception and have over 40 catches on the year. It is crucial that these two guys get involved especially since the Rebels offense has shown signs they can put up some points recently. Good news for LSU is that all early week signs indicate Jefferson will start this Saturday.
Jay’s Pick - LSU finds a way as they have most of the year. Take LSU +3.