North Texas Mean Green (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. No. 1 LSU Tigers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Saturday September 1st, 2012. 7:00PM Eastern
Where: Tiger Stadium Baton Rouge, L.A.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NT +43/Louisiana State Tigers -43
Over/Under Total: OFF
A year after being shut out in the BCS National Championship Game, the LSU Tigers enter 2012 as the preseason top ranked team in the nation. Last season, LSU swept the regular season and then captured an SEC Championship in rout to the Tigers’ first 12-0 start in school history. Yet the perfect season was ended when Alabama dominated the BCS Championship Game 21-0. The LSU offense was just not able to move the football against the Crimson Tide’s dynamic defense and LSU’s run to perfection was ended. However, the Tigers return a ton of talent this season and feel like they have some ‘unfinished business.’ LSU will get their 2012 season underway when they host North Texas inside Death Valley on September 1st.
If the Tigers are going to make another run at a National Championship, they will have one common riddle to solve. That enigma surrounding the quarterback of LSU has plagued the offense over the last few years. QB Jordan Jefferson was blamed primarily for the Tigers collapse in the title game a year ago. Now an inexperienced Zach Mettenberger will get his opportunity to provide some stability in the passing game. The only problem is that Mettenberger has attempted just 11 passes during his tenure in Baton Rouge. Therefore, the question marks still loom behind center as the Tigers embark on the 2012 season.
Luckily the Tigers were able to still capture 12 wins last year without an elite passing attack. Coach Les Miles kept the football on the ground often with the play calling and the Tigers incredible defense kept the offense on the short side of the field. The Tigers defense ranked 2nd overall last year by holding opponents to 261 yards per game. This season the defense returns a ton of talent that could possibly duplicate those numbers. CB Tyrann Mathieu will be missed but his loss may be felt more in the return game than actually on defense. In case you missed it, the ‘Honeybadger’ was kicked off the team for a violation of team rules in early August. Mathieu was a Heisman Trophy Finalist in 2011 after posting an incredible season with spectacular returns and coming up with big plays in some of LSU’s biggest games. Therefore, Mathieu will be missed but the defense will carry on.
In the run game, junior tailbacks Spencer Ware and Michael Ford will once again carry the torch for the offense. Both tailbacks rushed for more than 700 yards while combining for 15 touchdowns in 2011. This year with a veteran offensive line, I would expect both Ford and Ware to really get things done on the ground. I would not be the least bit surprised if each running back hit the 1,000 yard plateau by season’s end. If LSU can run the football well and the defense is as good as advertised, then the Tigers should be a legitimate National Championship contender.
As far as the season opener against North Texas is concerned, book makers do not expect much of a contest from the Mean Green. LSU is currently listed as 43 point favorites. Obviously North Texas will be extremely under matched against LSU, but they did make some improvements in 2011. After several seasons with just 1 or 2 wins, the Mean Green delivered a 5-7 record which equaled their best mark dating back to the 2004 season. The offense returns 9 starters led by QB Derek Thompson. Thompson is a guy that is hot or cold. He can play really well or really bad. The offense definitely hopes for more of the ‘good’ from Thompson this season. Another challenge awaiting the offense is the loss of running back Lance Dunbar. Dunbar carried the offense in 2011 by rushing for more than 1,110 yards and 10 touchdowns. This year running back Brandin Byrd will get the start in the backfield in hopes of a big season. Byrd lacks game time experience but he has some potential. Still, the loss of Dunbar will hurt the offense and 2012 will likely be a work in progress for the Mean Green.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Maybe it is just me, but I think 43 points is too big of a number for a season opener. Sure LSU is by far the superior team on both sides of the ball. However, the Tigers have some offensive kinks to work out as well. Unless the defense created major damage, I like North Texas to cover. Take North Texas +43.
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