Something has to give in this battle of Tigers between Auburn and LSU as neither team has covered yet despite not yet losing straight up either. We’ll side with the underdogs.
It is a Battle of the Tigers in the SEC on Saturday and we will side with the 18th ranked underdog Auburn Tigers (2-0, 0-2 ATS) getting more than a touchdown while paying a visit to the 13th ranked LSU Tigers (1-0, 0-1 ATS) at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, LA at 3:30 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Auburn as a decided road underdog for this contest with the current line at +7½ with odds of -106.
Auburn Plummets in Polls
Auburn was ranked sixth in the AP poll last week but plummeted to 18th this week despite improving to 2-0. That is what happens when you are taken to overtime by an FCS opponent in Jacksonville State, as Auburn actually trailed for much of the game and needed to score the tying touchdown with just 39 seconds left to force overtime before prevailing 27-20 in the extra session after closing as a 44-point favorite!
LSU has played just one game as its opener vs. McNeese State two weeks ago was cancelled due to severe thunderstorms, and it held on to be the winning college football pick on the road at Starkville over Mississippi State 21-19 last week to move up one spot on the AP poll from 14th to 13th. LSU failed to cover the point spread though as a three-point favorite, meaning that while these two Tigers are a combined 3-0 straight up, they are also 0-3 ATS.
LSU Held on For Dear Life
And frankly, LSU was not all the impressive in the second half vs. the Bulldogs, nearly blowing a 21-6 lead in the fourth quarter and withstanding a long missed field goal by MSU in the final seconds to just barely hold on. The LSU run defense was stout allowing just 43 yards on the ground on 26 carries (1.7 YPC), but these Tigers had no answer when Mississippi State became a one-dimensional passing offense in the second half.
The Tigers basically knew that the Bulldogs would throw on practically every down in the fourth quarter, and yet Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott still finished 34-for-52 for 335 yards and a touchdown without an interception. And the news was not much better offensively other than Leonard Fournette carrying the ball 28 times for 159 yards and three touchdowns, accounting for all the LSU touchdowns in the game.
LSU got practically nothing from quarterback Brandon Harris, who threw only 14 passes in the game and completed nine of them for 71 yards. The Tigers will probably need a better run/pass balance going forward, as well as another competent rusher to avoid Fournette being severely overworked.
Caught Looking Ahead?
As for the other Tigers from Auburn, what exactly happened last week? After all, this is a team that many expected to compete for the SEC title and even compete for a national title before the season. Well, to quote Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers after a 1-2 start last season, “Relax!”
Remember that Auburn was coming off of a nice, albeit non-covering, win over Louisville to start the year, and we think these Tigers simply got caught in a classic sandwich game look-ahead spot, with Jacksonville State wedged on the schedule between Louisville and this SEC opener vs. a perennial conference power. Yes, there were certainly scary moments, but the bottom line is Auburn found a way to survive in a game where it did not take its outclassed opponent seriously.
That may actually help Auburn going forward as it was not just happenstance that it was ranked sixth before last week, and that stinker could now be setting up a classic “buy low” situation as Auburn probably would not have been this big of an underdog if this game were played last week. Also remember that this is an afternoon game, which takes away somewhat from the home field advantage of LSU as Death Valley can be just that in a nighttime atmosphere.
Bad Pass Defense a Bad Omen
Finally, LSU allowing those 335 passing yards last week to Mississippi State is a bad omen because the Bayou Bengals are 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games after allowing more than 280 passing yards in their previous game. LSU is also just 6-13-1 ATS in its last 20 games following a straight up win.
Despite how unimpressive Auburn looked last week after also failing to cover the opener, it has still found a way to win both games and this seems like a lot of points to give a team that was ranked sixth in the country just last week, so we recommend talking the shade over a touchdown visiting LSU in Baton Rouge on Saturday.
College Football Pick: Auburn +7½ (-106)