No. 22 West Virginia Mountaineers (3-0, 1-1 ATS) at No. 15 LSU Tigers (3-0, 2-1 ATS), Week 4 College Football, Saturday September 25th, 9:00PM Eastern Death Valley Baton Rouge, L.A
By Jay Horne, Professional College Football Capper of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: WV +7/Louisiana State -7
Over/Under Total: OFF
A battle of unbeaten teams will tangle in the Bayou late Saturday night when the no. 15 LSU Tigers host the no. 22 West Virginia Mountaineers. The Tigers took down Mississippi State last week 29-7 for their second straight cover against the spread. The LSU defense was the story again as they have now held their last two opponents to 10 points combined in SEC action.
However, the Tigers now have to focus on an out of conference visitor in West Virginia this Saturday. The Mountaineers run more a spread rushing offense that is a bit unorthodox to what the Tigers defense typically faces in the SEC. West Virginia held off a late charge against Maryland last week to hold on to a 31-17 victory. The Mountaineers will now put a ton of focus in trying to knock of the Tigers on the road this weekend in what would be a marquee victory for their 2010 campaign.
One of the interesting notes in this ball game is the different style of football both teams play. West Virginia is an offense that likes to run a lot of plays and spread the defense out. LSU is more of a power offense that will line up and try to run over defenses while mixing in a few passes as well. The Tigers defense is the strength of their team and they tend to keep LSU on the right side of the field. The LSU offense has not been extremely impressive in their opening starts, but their running game has been solid all around. The Tigers have rushed for 203 yards per game this season and tailback Stevan Ridley is averaging just over 100 yards per game as well.
QB Jordan Jefferson has remained inconsistent as he was a year ago completing 57% of his passes for 344 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 picks so far in the year. As stated many times previously in regards to the LSU offense, if they are going to have a big season then Jordan Jefferson must play well. So far, Jefferson has not been that impressive with his arm but he also has not needed to be in all fairness. The Tigers trailed for less than a single minute in their opening win against North Carolina and have yet to trail in a game since. Therefore all Jefferson has had to do is manage the game. Now West Virginia will bring a very talented defense into Death Valley and it will be very interesting to see how the LSU offense will responsd especially if the Mountaineers manage to jump out front early in the contest.
West Virginia actually ranks 9th in scoring defense holding opponents to just 12 points per game and 10th in total defense holding opponents to just 255 yards per game. The strength of the Mountaineers defense is up front where their run stop unit is allowing a measly 62 yards per game. If the Mountaineers defense can stop the LSU run game from being consistent throughout the game, there chances may be a lot better than most would expect. Still, the Mountaineers will have to find ways to score despite the level of defensive effort they get.
Tailback Noel Devine gives the West Virginia offense their best chance at moving the football. Devine is most likely the best back in the Big East and has already amassed 354 yards and two touchdowns this season. The Mountaineers tend to run the ball a bit more often than pass but that is simply to control the tempo over their opponents. Both the running and passing game can be equally effective in helping score points.
QB Geno Smith has been very sharp this year completing 70% for 800 yards, 7 scores, and just 1 pick in his first 3 games. Smith is armed with some talent at the wide receiver position. Both wide outs in Tavon Austin and Jock Sanders have over 200 receiving yards. Austin really tends to be the go to guy, but both guys can provide excitement on the outside. Also, do not be surprised if either of the wide outs gets some touches on the end around plays as well. West Virginia loves running the wide receiver end around to get the ball in those two playmakers hands so that is another aspect of their offense to keep an eye on this Saturday.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: It’s hard to pick a winner here. I’m not sold LSU deserves their no. 15 ranking and the same can be said for West Virginia and their no. 22 ranking. However, I do expect both defenses to keep scoring scary low in this one. I know the over/under total has not posted, but I’m expecting a value in the mid-low 40’s range. When that happens, make a play on the under.