The Big One is here, and Alabama-LSU has been dissected every which way at this point. Here at Betting Man, we need to dissect it from a betting angle, of course. And the hunt for a trend starts by examining the last 11 No. 1 vs. No. 2 regular-season matchups. And boy, do we have a trend for you.
The underdog in the last 11 of these epic encounters is a remarkable 11-0 against the spread and has won the game outright 10 times. The lone exception was when Michigan was getting 6.5 points at Ohio State in 2006 and lost 42-39. Otherwise, the underdogs have pulled off the upset every time.
The biggest No. 1 vs. No. 2 spread was in 1993, when Notre Dame was getting seven points at home against Charlie Ward and Florida State, and beat the Noles 31-24. The smallest was a one-pointer when Michigan was a slight favorite before Rocket Ismail ran back two kickoffs in Michigan Stadium and ND won 24-19.
So if you want to lay out some (pretend) money this weekend, LSU seems to be the choice as a 6.5-point underdog on the road. Yes, Alabama has covered five of the last six against the Tigers, but this is a brand new LSU attack and Coach O seems to have the magic brewing this year.
Hoping to get some magic brewing for the publishers is Neal McCready from RebelGrove.com. With Ole Miss living in the SEC West, his pick carries some weight. For the analysts, who are in a dead heat with yours truly, Josh Helmholdt lends his Midwest/Big Ten expertise with two Big Ten games on the slate.
Off we go.
All games are Saturday and ET. Point spreads are from Covers.com.
Penn State (-7) at Minnesota, noon, ABC
Two teams who have steadily improved as the year has gone on. Penn State was a bit of a surprise at No. 4 in the initial playoff rankings, which is just the type of distraction James Franklin detests. Minnesota has comfortably covered the last five weeks, but this has the makings of one of those reality smackdowns up-and-comers experience. I like the whole ‘rowing the boat’ thing and everything, but Penn State has been under the spotlight before and will handle it well.
Trocchi’s pick: Penn State, $100
McCready: Penn State
Baylor (-1.5) at TCU, noon, FS1
For a surprise undefeated team at 8-0, you would think Baylor's against-the-spread record would be better than 4-4. But the Bears have had to wiggle out of trouble in their last three home games, recording wins by two, three and three points. TCU has been in charge of this rivalry, covering six of the last seven and winning the last four outright. Baylor is clearly having a better season, but give me Gary Patterson as a home dog.
Trocchi’s pick: TCU, $50
LSU (+6.5) at Alabama, 3:30 p.m., CBS
Nick Saban won’t have to worry about students leaving in the third quarter for this one. Unless you have a houndstooth hat in your closet, you’re pulling for LSU, right? Coach O, Alabama fatigue, Joe Burrow’s meteoric rise. The over/under of 65 makes this such a bizarre Tiger-Tide matchup, since the teams have only combined to crack 50 once in the last 12 matchups (three of which had the advantage of overtime). It's going to be punch-counterpunch all afternoon, and I’m sticking with the trend discussed in the intro.
Trocchi’s pick: LSU, $100
Kansas State (+7) at Texas, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
What is with this line? Did we not see Kansas State beat Oklahoma, the same team that beat Texas? Did we not see Kansas State throttle Kansas, the same team that pushed Texas to the last second? Did we not see Kansas State beat TCU, another team that beat Texas? Yes, I’ll take seven points.
Trocchi’s pick: Kansas State, $100
McCready: Kansas State