LSU-Alabama College Football Picks: Strong SEC Defenses Collide

Willie Bee

Thursday, November 5, 2015 9:38 PM UTC

Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015 9:38 PM UTC

If it's the first Saturday in November, then it must be time for LSU and Alabama. Join us for a preview of the Tigers-Tide matchup with a free college football pick.

With all due respect to the rivalry that is the Iron Bowl, it doesn't hold a candle to the enormity of Alabama's matchup with LSU this week. The Crimson Tide and Tigers are not only playing with just the lead in the SEC West at stake, but also with a potential National Championship on the line.

They've been meeting every year since 1965, and the 80th clash in this rivalry pits two of the top 4 teams in the initial College Football Playoff rankings. As you might expect, the duel is getting prime-time attention with CBS owning the broadcast rights for the 8 PM (ET) boot in Tuscaloosa. The spread went out initially with Alabama favored by an even touchdown before that number slipped just a tad to -6½.

The biggest movement on the college football odds has been seen on the total which Bookmaker first introduced at 54; that tally is now six points less at the same sports book.

Four straight wins in the series have given Alabama a 49-25-5 advantage against the Tigers. It was almost exactly four years ago when LSU last tasted victory with a 9-6 decision at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Tide started their current win streak about two months later in the BCS Championship with a 21-0 whitewashing of the Bengals.

Winning in Tuscaloosa hasn't been such a strange occurrence recently for LSU, the Tigers taking six of the last nine on this field. Four of the last six stayed 'under' the total, including last year's 20-13 'Bama win in Baton Rouge. The other two in that stretch pushed 45 and 55 point totals.


O-Line & Fournette Continue To Plow
Louisiana State (7-0 straight up, 4-3 against the spread) got some great news on the injury front this week when a pair of defensive starters were both upgraded to probable for the Alabama game. Tackle Christian LaCouture and cornerback Tre'Davious White both missed the 48-20 victory over Western Kentucky with foot injuries two weeks ago, and that exposed some depth issues for the Tigers who gave up a season-high 428 yards to the Hilltoppers.

Most teams would like 428 yards to be the most they've allowed this season, but LSU entered the game having allowed under 300 per game, so having LaCouture and White back will be a welcome sight for Les Miles and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. The 20 points surrendered were just the second-fewest up to this point, and giving up 20+ has been the death knell for LSU in this series the last four collisions.

Of course, LSU's ground game has been death's scythe for opponents, which means I'm talkin' Leonard Fournette. His numbers have come down a tad since he got off to that insane start that would've been even more insane if he'd gone up against McNeese State in the Tigers' season opener. Among the top 10 teams in rushing this year, LSU is doing it with the fewest carries per game (46.5), a huge tribute to an offensive line, especially the right side where freshman Will Clapp and senior Vadal Alexander reside.


'Bama Defense On Mission
There really should be no doubt by now that the early loss to Ole Miss awakened a sleeping giant. Alabama (7-1 SU, 3-5 ATS) might only be 2-3 ATS since then and there are definitely some issues on offense. The beast has been the defense -- which wins championships, right? -- that even in allowing 284 yards passing against Texas A&M still returned three errant aerials for scores. The Crimson Tide have given up 307+ yard per game since the loss to Mississippi, a little more than 100 of that on the ground.

Known for its depth, Alabama with have some of that tested Saturday when a couple of cogs in the machine are expected to be out of action. Most important is starting right tackle Dominick Jackson who remains questionable with an ankle injury. Backup safety Ronnie Harrison is also expected to miss the game with an ankle injury.

Part of the substantial drop on the total might be due to the weather, Tuscaloosa's forecast calling for a 100% chance of rain during the day and tapering to just 70% in the evening. The total could drop even more given the recent betting trends in this series, and I'm cool with playing the 'under' for my free college football pick down to 46½.

College Football Picks: LSU-Alabama Under 48 at Bookmaker

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