LSU TIGERS AT ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (-5.5, 62.5)
Tagovailoa was the Heisman frontrunner before he got injured, passing for 2,166 yards, 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions. But he’s been surpassed by Burrow and the revolutionized Tigers’ attack with the addition of offensive coordinator Joe Brady. Burrow has passed for 2,805 yards, 30 touchdowns and four picks.
However, against elevated competition Burrow and the Tigers have been a little slow to get going. Over the last three games (vs. Florida, at Mississippi State, vs. Auburn) LSU has averaged just 3.3 first quarter points per game.
While Alabama hasn’t played anyone the calibre of LSU yet this season, with them being at home where they average 14.6 first quarter points per game (second best in the country), and Tua close to healthy, we like the Tide to get off to a good start.
Pick: Alabama -0.5 First Quarter Spread (-135)
FIRST HALF BET
While LSU and Alabama are two of the highest scoring first half teams in the country, we don’t necessarily think that will be the case Saturday.
The healthy of Tagovailoa’s ankle is probably the No. 1 storyline in heading into this matchup. So, you can bet Alabama will do all they can to settle him in quickly by feeding the ball to Najee Harris and using some quick screens and slants to get the ball out of Tua’s hand early and get him into a rhythm.
You can expect LSU to also try and establish it’s run game early to try and take the Bama crowd out of it as much as possible. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran for a combined 270 yards and three scores against Auburn and Florida.
Mix in some good and underrated defenses that you know are going to be hitting each other hard out there, and that is a recipe for a low-scoring first half.
Pick: Under 31 First Half Total
Burrow’s development has been one of the biggest surprises in college football this season. His completion percentage is over 20 points higher this year compared to last. That’s insane.
He also has one of the best receiving corps at his disposal. Justin Jefferson has 55 receptions for 891 yards and nine scores, Ja'Marr Chase 43 for 749 and nine, and Terrace Marshall Jr. 22 for 333 and seven. (The only trio that tops them is Alabama).
But Auburn gave Saban the blueprint to at least slow down Burrow and Co. And while this might be the best Alabama defensive unit Saban has ever put together. They might actually be underrated (more on that later) and they make Saban proud by limiting big plays. Something the high-octane LSU excels at. If the Tide can limit those, it will be tough for the Tigers to eclipse their team total. Plus, this will be their first real road test (don’t come at me with Texas) of the season.
Pick: LSU Under 27.5 Team Total
FULL GAME TOTAL
This matchup has gone Under in each of the last five meetings and in nine of the last 10 overall. And over the course of those 10 games the highest total these rivals have seen was 54 back in 2013. Now, thanks to these elite quarterbacks, we get the highest total we have seen over that span at 62.5.
And for good reason. Alabama and LSU rank No. 1 and No. 3 respectively in Football Outsiders Offensive FEI ratings and No. 2 and No. 4 in points per game at 48.6 and 46.8. But you can throw those numbers out the window when these teams meet.
Liek we mentioned before, thanks to turnover and injuries this ins't the best defense ever, but it is still limiting opponents to 15.2 points per game and just 4.4 yards per play. Both top 15 in the country. They also rank ninth in DFEI.
Meanwhile, LSU ranks 23rd in DFEI, and total yards per contest, while being super stingy against the run, allowing just 3.1 yards per carry. If these defense play up to their potential then this one should stay below this big number.
Pick: Under 62.5
FULL GAME SIDE
The last time LSU beat Alabama it was a 9-6 slugfest back in 2011. The Tigers have lost all nine meetings since then. Orgeron thinks he has finally built a team to not only compete with Bama once again, but take them down. We will find out Saturday.
But Saban and the Tide still have the advantage in coaching and defense. It’s hard to figure out just how good this LSU defense is. The Tigers have allowed 23 passing plays of 20 yards or more. That’s not good against Tagovailoa and his elite pass catchers. Jerry Jeudy has 52 catches for 682 yards and eight touchdowns, Devonta Smith 43 for 721 yards and nine scores, and Henry Ruggs III 26 for 513 and six touchdowns.
However, Tua’s health will obviously be the key here. If LSU can get pressure up the middle and he can’t escape the pocket it could be tough sledding for the Tide. But LSU linebacker Michael Divinity Jr. left team this week and he leads the team in sacks and tackles for losses.
We’re betting if Tua is playing, he’ll be effective. And we’re giving the edge to Saban with two weeks to prepare for this one.
Pick: Alabama -5.5