Tennessee Volunteers vs. LSU Tigers Preview and Pick

#15 Tennessee Volunteers (9-3) +7.5, 60.5 O/U vs. #7 Louisiana State
Tigers (10-2) -7.5, 60.5 O/U, Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia, 4 PM
Eastern, Saturday

by Badger of Predictem.com

The Southeastern Conference title game between Tennessee and
Louisiana State Saturday in the Georgia Dome will feature teams that
have gone through their fair share of turmoil this season.

Tennessee started the season ranked 15th, lost two of their first
three games (to California and Florida), and were basically forgotten
and dropped out of the rankings entirely. Despite an embarrassing
midseason loss to Alabama, the Volunteers have clawed, kicked and
scratched their way back into the SEC Championship game, clinching
the deal with last weeks 52-50 overtime win against Kentucky.

LSU on the other hand was ranked No. 1 and had the BCS title game
within reach, only to watch it fade away with last weeks triple
overtime loss to Arkansas, 50-48. It was the Tigers second loss in
triple overtime this season (the other to Kentucky), and it all but
killed their chances at playing for another national title.

Oddsmakers opened the SEC title game with LSU as a 6-point favorite,
with a 61-point total.

LSU averages 40.2 points per game (11th in NCAA) on offense, but its
a direct result of the talent pool and not because the Tigers are
efficient with the ball. Quarterback Matt Flynn is not as good as you
would expect (17 TDs, 10 Int) the leader of the former No. 1 team in
the country to be. Also, Flynn hurt his shoulder in the loss last
week and although he is not listed on the injury report, he could be
less than 100 percent for the title game. Running back Jacob Hester
has emerged as the go-to runner for the Tigers with 897 yards, a 5.0
yards per carry average and 11 TDs.

Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge is coming off of a career-best game
versus Kentucky where he threw for 397 yards and a school-record 7
touchdowns. Ainge is poised to break the 3,000-yard mark for the
season (currently at 2,908, 27 TDs), and he provides a solid one-two
punch with running back Arian Foster, the Volunteers 1,000-yard
rusher. Tennessee averages 35 points per game (22nd), which is not
too shabby for a team that most people gave up on following the loss
to Bama.

LSUs defense was supposed to be one of the best in the country, but
Arkansas Darren McFadden made them look silly last week. They are
still 3rd overall in yards allowed (280.1), 7th versus the pass
(176.3 ypg) , and 22nd in points allowed at 20.1 per game.

Tennessees defense has been the reason the Volunteers have
underachieved this season. The unit is just 72nd overall and allows
big yardage (402.8) and high point totals (28.7 71st) on a
consistent basis.

As good as the Tigers have been this season, they sure havent been
that good to sports bettors. LSU is just 5-7 ATS on the season and
have failed to cover in seven of their last nine games. They have
been very good versus the total though, cashing in on the over the
past seven games in a row.

Tennessee has been a much stronger team to bet on this year, going
8-4 ATS including four of their last five. Last weeks four overtime
game versus Kentucky was the first time the Vols have gone over the
total in their last five games, and for the year they are 7-5 versus
the total.

Badgers Pick: Im not ready to just hand this game to LSU like
everyone else seems to be doing. I dont care what they say, the fact
that head coach Les Miles is being rumored to be going to Michigan,
and defensive coordinator Bo Pelini is the hot candidate at Nebraska,
has got to affect the Tigers preparation for this game. Plus, the
Volunteers can take the us against the world approach as motivation
in this one. Tennessee might not win this game, but my gut says they
will cover the spread. Take Tennessee plus the points.