It might be getting prime-time attention from ESPN on Thursday, but the sheen is off this week's college football odds matchup between the Texas A&M Aggies and LSU Tigers.
Disappointment has been plenty for both the LSU Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies this year. Preseason top 25 rankings and expectations to contend for the SEC West title have proven incorrect for each school as they prepare for their regular season finale clash in College Station.
The Thanksgiving evening broadcast on ESPN begins at 7:30 PM (ET) with both teams sporting four losses. A bowl invite surely awaits LSU and Texas A&M, but it won't be near the marquee postseason appearance each was hoping for just a few short months ago.
SBR's live College Football odds have LSU at -2½ with the total yet to be released.
There have been several long gaps of inactivity in this series that began in 1906 and finds the Tigers with a 29-19-3 edge all-time. Louisiana State built most of that advantage during the 1960s and early 1970s, and has won each of the last three encounters. The past two have come as conference rivals with the Tigers covering both victories and 'under' bettors cashing as well.
Bayou Bengals Enter Tilt On 2-Game Slide
Les Miles brings the Tigers to Aggieland following back-to-back losses to Alabama and Arkansas and owning a 1-2 road record in SEC play. They put up a good fight three Saturdays back against the Crimson Tide, taking 'Bama into overtime before falling 20-13 to just miss the cover as 6½ point underdogs.
That defeat lingered into Week 12 when LSU traveled to Arkansas getting 2 points from the College Football oddsmakers, coming home with a 17-0 defeat at the hands of the Hogs. It was the first time the Tigers had been shut out since a 21-0 loss to Alabama in the 2011 SEC Championship, and a loss this Thursday would mark the first time since 1998 LSU closed a regular season with at least three consecutive setbacks.
Arkansas limited LSU to just 123 yards of offense in Fayetteville after the Tigers managed only 260 vs. the Crimson Tide. They should find the going a bit easier against an A&M defense that ranks 104th in the country allowing more than 445 yards per game.
The Tigers are in fairly good health for Thursday's affair; they will be without running back Kenny Hilliard once again after the senior suffered a shoulder injury against Alabama, and the status of starting cornerback Rashard Robinson remains up in the air following the sophomore's suspension prior to the battle with the Tide.
Run Defense Remains Aggies' Biggest Weakness
As unkind as the SEC highway has been to the Tigers this year, things have been even worse for Texas A&M at home. The Aggies have dropped both of their games at Kyle Field against conference foes, and are just 3-6 on their own turf vs. SEC teams since joining the conference in 2012.
Several things have gone wrong for Kevin Sumlin's squad this season, but the most glaring weakness has been the run defense. The Aggies have allowed 300+ yards on the ground to each of their last two opponents, and the front 7 completely fell apart in the second half of the 34-27 loss to Missouri two Saturday's ago when Texas A&M backers were giving up 3½ points.
Not only are offenses running the ball down their throat, the Aggies have also found it difficult to stop teams through the air thanks to a leaky secondary, especially on the corners. The stop unit has a few key injuries for this one, most notably to linemen Myles Garrett (concussion) and Ivan Robinson (assorted), plus linebacker Josh Walker (foot) who is out for the rest of the season. Garrett and Robinson are both currently listed as probable.
The weatherman has a nice Turkey Day forecast for College Station with clear skies and temps in the mid-60s are kickoff. I'm counting on the maroon-clad crowd leaving the stadium with frowns on their faces yet again, and will be laying the points on LSU with my free College Football pick.
Free College Football Pick: LSU -2.5 at 5Dimes
Season: 57-37-1 (+16.30)