The LSU Tigers are not in danger of losing outright to Eastern Michigan, but the humongous points are worth taking with the Eagles in a non-conference affair Saturday.
A dead scheduling spot combined with a huge point spread could give the outclassed underdogs value ATS Saturday night when the Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-3, 2-2 ATS) out of the MAC venture into SEC territory when they pay a visit to the undefeated and ninth ranked LSU Tigers (3-0, 1-2 ATS) at Tiger Stadium, aka “Death Valley”, in Baton Rouge, LA at 7:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPNU.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Eastern Michigan as a humongous underdog for this contest with the current line at +44½ with odds of -106.
Fournette Running Wild
LSU is off to a 3-0 start primarily due to the running of Leonard Fournette, who is currently the Heisman Trophy front-runner coming off of consecutive games of well over 200 rushing yards vs. Auburn and Syracuse, leaving him with 631 yards on 73 carries in three games for 8.6 yards per carry with eight rushing touchdowns. The scary part is that Fournette is still only a sophomore, and he would be a Top 10 pick if he entered the NFL Draft right now!
Eastern Michigan has been a MAC doormat for several years and the Eagles have been losing college football picks in three of their four games so far. The defense remains a mess, but the Eastern Michigan offense has actually made huge strides this season and it is interesting that the one win by the Eagles came in their only road game so far, 48-29 at Wyoming as 13-point underdogs.
Second Straight Non-Conference Game
LSU is playing its second straight non-conference game after starting the season with two SEC wins, opening with a non-covering 21-19 win at Mississippi State and then routing Auburn 45-21 here are Baton Rouge. The Tigers seemingly took a breather in their first game out of conference last week, getting by Syracuse only 34-24 as 23½-point favorites, and there is really no need to blow out this MAC opponent either with a conference game at South Carolina next.
The LSU attack has been very one-dimensional as the Tigers are seventh in the country in rushing offense with 315.0 yards per game on the ground but 124th in passing offense with a mere 100.7 yards per game through the air. Then again, with perhaps a once in a generation talent in Fournette in the backfield, who can blame them?
Look for another relatively conservative game plan here as LSU knows that it can sleepwalk its way to another victory and the Eastern Michigan defense has been atrocious against the run allowing a disgusting 373.2 rushing yards per game, which ranks dead last among the 128 FBS teams. So the Tigers should be able to score with predominantly a running attack here, but it may take a few long drives to do so, which has been the bane of many huge favorites ATS.
Balanced EMU Offense
Besides, Eastern Michigan has shown that it can score this year averaging 33.8 points per game, and that has come on a very good 435.5 total yards per game with nice balance, as the Eagles are averaging 186.0 rushing yards on a nice 5.7 yards per carry and 249.5 passing yards on 7.2 yards per attempt, with quarterback Brogan Roback completing 61.3 percent of his passes for 877 yards and five touchdowns.
No, we are not saying we expect Eastern Michigan to match its scoring average here, but the LSU defense did allow some big plays to a normally pedestrian Syracuse offense last week, so a more legitimate offense like EMU could score a touchdown or two, and when you combine the size of this point spread with LSU expected to run the ball a ton, a touchdown or two by the Eagles might be all that is necessary for an Eastern Michigan cover.
Won 50 Straight Out of Conference, But…
Finally, the win over Syracuse last week gives LSU an amazing 50-game non-conference winning streak during the regular season. However, not all those games have been blowouts as the Tigers are just 6-7 ATS in their last 13 non-conference affairs. LSU is also 1-5 ATS in its last six games vs. teams with losing records overall.
This could be another case of LSU not running up the score vs. an outclassed opponent as the Tigers return to the SEC wars next week, so take this huge bucket-load of points with an Eastern Michigan team that can actually score on Saturday.
College Football Pick: Eastern Michigan +44½ (-106)