No. 21 LSU Tigers (1-0, 0-1 ATS) at Vanderbilt Commodores (0-1, 1-0 ATS), Week 2 College Football, Saturday September 11th, 7:00PM Eastern Dudley Field Nashville, T.N.
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Louisiana State University -10/Vandy +10
The no. 21 LSU Tigers held off a late rally from the no. 18 North Carolina Tarheels last week at the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic in an exciting 30-24 win. The Tigers actually had the Tarheels dominated leading by as much as 30-10 at the half before being held scoreless in the 2nd half and escaping two North Carolina passing attempts at the end zone in the final plays of the game. This game just confirmed my beliefs on Coach Les Miles as he almost blew another important game late in the 4th quarter by being very conservative on offense. However, the Tigers still prevailed over a depleted North Carolina defense that had over 14 players out due to NCAA rules violations and now look to move forward into SEC action this Saturday.
The Vanderbilt Commodores lost their most important figures over the off-season when Coach Bobby Johnson surprisingly left in the middle of July just 6 weeks shy of the Commodores first game. Now coaching Vanderbilt is Robbie Caldwell who failed at capturing victory in his season debut last week when the Commodores fell to Northwestern 23-21.
One of the highlights from that match-up was a decision by Caldwell to go for a 2 point conversion in the 3rd quarter which failed ultimately coming back to bite the team in the end. Vanderbilt has always been shy of talent in the SEC over the last few years, but Coach Johnson always had his teams prepared and could keep them competitive. With Johnson out of the picture, I am just not convinced that Vanderbilt will stay any bit competitive this season.
One reason is because what Vanderbilt lacked on offense in terms of talent, Johnson made up for with brilliant defensive game plans. Now that the defensive mind is out of Nashville, it’s hard to think the Commodores can accommodate those losses by putting up points against those nasty SEC defenses. Attempting to prove critics like me wrong, the Commodores are led by QB Larry Smith who is a dual threat type player behind center.
Smith’s numbers last week were respectable completing 19 of 33 passing for 240 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 pick. Junior tight end Brandon Barden led all receivers with 4 catches for 63 yards and 1 touchdown. While the passing offense is not too much to get excited about, the Commodores do have the tools needed to provide a solid ground game. Smith carried the ball 14 times for 48 yards. More importantly the Commodores have solid tailbacks in both Zac Stacy and Warren Norman. Both tailbacks combined for 19 carries and 115 yards last week for 2 touchdowns. Both guys have ability to eat up yards which may be the Commodores safest option on offense.
LSU on the other hand has talent all over the field. QB Jordan Jefferson threw for 15 of 21 passing for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns in last week’s win over North Carolina. The passing offense did not rack up a ton of yards, but I still blame that on the conservative play call of Coach Les Miles. Rather the Tigers ran the ball a combined 36 times for 162 yards. Tailback Stevan Ridley carried the ball 19 times for 81 yards to lead the offense. None of those numbers are extremely impressive for a ball club that scored 30 points all of which came in 1 half of football.
However, it was the special teams that provided the sparks last Saturday night. Patrick Peterson returned 4 punts for 157 yards capped by an electrifying 87 yard touchdown run. Patrick’s punt return yardage was the best out of any returner in the nation last week and that is excluding the additional 100 yards on 3 kick returns that the LSU standout also posted on the night as well. If not for all the big plays in the return game, LSU would have likely never escaped the Georgia Dome with a win last Saturday night. However, talented teams find ways to win and that is exactly what they will have to do if they are to compete in the SEC West this season.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Spread: Despite the losses North Carolina had last week, they are still an under rated group and that is why I believe that LSU win was still very solid. I believe the playbook opens up a bit this week and they find many more ways to score. Take LSU -10.
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