No 1. LSU Tigers (10-0 SU, 6-3 ATS) at Ole Miss Rebels (2-8 SU, 3-7 ATS)
Saturday November 19th, 2011. 7:00PM EST, College Football Week 12
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Oxford, M.S.
By Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Louisiana State University – 28.5/Mississippi +28.5
Over/Under Total: 46
The top ranked LSU Tigers experienced a little bit of a hang over last week against Western Kentucky. The Tigers who entered as huge 42 point favorites lead by just 7 points at halftime before coming alive in the 2nd half to score still a respectable 42-9 victory. The slow start may have been a hangover from the 9-6 victory over Alabama the week before in a game many labeled as “the game of the century.” The Tigers now have a big showdown with no. 8 Arkansas looming on the horizon that would complete their perfect season and in all likelihood lock down their spot in the National Championship. However, the Tigers must first take care of business on the road this Saturday night when they battle the Ole Miss Rebels in a nationally televised event.
The Rebels may have thought they hit rock bottom two weeks ago when a 30-13 loss to measly Kentucky was followed with the firing of Coach Houston Nutt. However, the Rebels may have hit another low last week when they were blown away by Louisiana Tech 27-7 out of the WAC. The humiliating loss has put the Rebels in a situation where they are quickly becoming an embarrassment to the rest of the SEC. This Saturday night the Rebels will enter by more than 28.5 point underdogs to the top ranked LSU Tigers. This coming from the same program that just 2 years ago reached as high as the number 5 ranking in the country. Oh my! How things have changed.
To make matters worse, the Rebels have problems on both sides as the ball. The offense ranks 113th overall averaging 166 yards per game and 94th in total defense allowing 425 yards per game. On offense, things have been really bad. Despite trying to primarily establish the running game, the Rebels have failed to have any type of success in the passing game. Even strong rushing teams need adequate success in the passing game, but the Rebels have not done so. The main problems have been behind center with both quarterbacks Randall Mackey and Zack Stoudt have juggled playing time. However, neither has been impressive as both players have completed less than 50% passing while combing for 7 touchdowns with 12 picks on the season.
On the ground, running backs Brandon Bolden and Jeff Scott are both solid rushers. However, both guys have been victim to a bad offensive line that has allowed little room to run. Additionally, the passing struggles have allowed defenses to focus solely on stopping the run as well. Scott leads the team with 529 yards on the ground with 6 touchdowns and Bolden has added with 389 rushing yards. Together both backs give the offense the best chance to be successful, but they need a better collective effort from the teammates around them.
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This week the Rebels get the good fortune of trying to sort out their offensive woes against possibly the best defense in America. LSU has shut down every opposing offense this season by allowing only 10.70 points per game (2nd in NCAA). The Tigers also sport the 2nd best defense overall allowing just 253 yards and the 3rd best rushing defense allowing 83 yards per game. If you compare those numbers with how the Rebels have played on offense, there is really no reason not to expect LSU’s defense to have yet another dominating performance.
For the Tigers offense they are led by a power rushing attack that established ball control and ball security. Coach Les Miles knows his defense is not going to get beat so their focus this season has been not to beat themselves. Running backs Spencer Ware and Michael Ford have shared carries in the backfield. Together the two have rushed for 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns.
LSU loves to run the ball and wear down opposing defenses so that will the goal again this Saturday. Still, the offense will take opportune chances down the field in the passing game as well. QB Jarrett Lee has played well completing 62% passing with 14 scores and just 3 picks. WR Reuban Randle has been the primary target for Lee this season catching 38 passes for 733 receiving yards and 8 scores. If the LSU defense has their way like most expect, do not be surprised to see the Lee take more chances down the field this Saturday night.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Tigers may have got caught napping in the first half against Western Kentucky, but I do not expect that this week. More importantly I do not see any way this Rebels offense has any success and the Tigers will stay on the short side of the field. Huge play here on the Tigers to cover!
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