Mississippi Rebels (5-5 SU, 7-3 ATS) vs. No. 8 Louisiana State Tigers (8-2 SU, 5-5 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date/Time: Saturday, November 17th, 2012, 3:30 p.m. EST
Where: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, La.
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Mississippi +19/LSU -19
Over/Under Total: OFF
With the door of opportunity starting to creak back open the LSU Tigers will try and kick it open wider and seize some momentum back when they welcome the Mississippi Rebels into Tiger Stadium for another SEC clash this Saturday.
With the upset of Alabama last weekend the Tigers now have a sliver of hope to get back into the SEC West title chase, but it’s a small sliver and LSU can’t afford to toss in the towel now. The Tigers took a little while to get over their Bama hangover last Saturday, but with 17 straight points in the second half LSU was able to drop pesky Mississippi State in Death Valley, 37-17.
They’ll have to handle an Ole Miss team that has made some pretty big strides under first-year head coach Hugh Freeze. After scoring a huge victory on the road at Arkansas (30-27 on Oct. 27) that put the Rebels back on the map in the SEC, Ole Miss has dropped two straight including a heartbreaker to Vanderbilt last Saturday in the final seconds at home in Oxford, 27-26. The Rebels need one more win to become bowl eligible, and even though they have the Egg Bowl against in-state rival Mississippi State next week in Oxford, they would like to take care of it this week with a big upset on the road in Death Valley.
But their chance at an upset appears to be slim if you consider the point spread as a gauge, since oddsmakers opened the game with LSU as large 19-point favorites at home. With most of the early money coming in on the Tigers the number has climbed the hook to minus -19.5 at a few offshore sportsbooks already.
As of press time the over/under total is still off the board.
Even though LSU is known for their defense, with both teams averaging close to 30 points a game (Ole Miss. - 29.5 ppg; LSU - 30.2 ppg) it would not surprise me at all to see the total open in the mid-50s once it’s released.
Ole Miss is led by QB Bo Wallace, who is having a solid season in his first year under the new offensive scheme. Wallace is completing 66 percent of his passes for an average of 247 yards per game, but he still has struggles in his progressions at times as his 12-to-10 TD-to-INT ration would indicate. His main weapons are running back Jeff Scott (680 yards, 6 TD) and receiver Donte Moncrief (13.1 ypc, 5 TD), but a lack of balance between the run and pass at times has made Wallace a moving target as the Rebels have allowed an SEC-high 23 sacks this season.
That of course will play right into the hands of the LSU defense, the 3rd-ranked defense in FBS allowing just 264 yards total and just a miniscule 166 yards passing each game.
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger will try and continue his stellar play of late, as the Tigers first-year starter has played two solid games back-to-back after struggling through the early stages of the season. Mettenberger hasn’t thrown an interception in three straight games, and his improvement has coincided almost directly with the Tiger giving freshman running back Jeremy Hill more of the load out of the backfield (477 yards, 6 TD).
Ole Miss has a decent defense, but they do tend to give up big yardage in the air at times (242 ypg) and also have given up many big plays which has resulted in a rather high 27.7 points allowed per game. The one thing the Rebels do well on defense is pressure the QB ( 29 sacks - 3rd in SEC), so Mettenberger will have to continue to protect the rock in order for LSU to cover the big number on Saturday.
If you follow betting trends then this game is going to be an easy wager, considering that Ole Miss is 8-0 ATS in their last eight trips to Death Valley, 8-3 ATS in the last 11 head-to-head meetings overall, and the road team is also a rock-solid 13-3 ATS in the last 16 games. Heck, the underdog is 10-2 ATS in the last 12 meetings, so if those numbers aren’t enough to sway then I’m not sure what will.
The over has gone 4-1 in the last five head-to-heads, but it’s actually the under that has gone 6-0 in the Rebels last six road games and the under is also 5-2 in LSU’s last seven SEC games.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: LSU has actually looked pretty good on offense lately, but they’re due for a little letdown. Ole Miss has a strong history of playing the Tigers tough, and I’m not sure the Tigers are three scores better then the Rebels even on a good day. I may look hard at an under wager once a total is put on the board, but if you want to take a side I’d have to take the Rebels and the points. Take Mississippi plus the 19 points.
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