NCAAF Picks: Early Look at Alabama vs. LSU Showdown

Matthew Jordan

Monday, November 3, 2014 8:35 PM GMT

Ever since Nick Saban arrived at Alabama (a 6.5-point favorite at sportsbooks for this week), the Tide's game against LSU -- one of his former head coaching jobs -- has been circled on the calendar by NCAA football fans.

LSU Beastly Under Home Lights
Is there a tougher place to play in the nation than at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge at night? If you have never been to a game there, I highly recommend it. Truly unlike any other experience in sports. LSU almost never loses home night games. The Tigers improved to 46-3 in Saturday night home games under Coach Les Miles with a 10-7 upset of then No. 3 Ole Miss on Oct. 25. The Tigers picked off a Bo Wallace pass at their 1-yard-line with two seconds left. it was a silly pass as Wallace threw into traffic instead of throwing the ball away and allowing Ole Miss to attempt a tying field goal. The Rebels were going to kick a 42-yarder but were called for delay of game. So Coach Hugh Freeze decided to run one more play in the hopes of getting closer. Yet Wallace went deep.

LSU was a 4-point underdog on College Football odds for that one so I'd venture to say this is the first season in a while that the Tigers have been home underdogs in two games. Think Miles might play the "no respect" card this week? LSU is a very young team but does appear to be hitting its stride in winning three straight. Sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings is still pretty raw. LSU doesn't want him throwing much. He hasn't attempted more than 21 passes during this win streak and had two picks against Ole Miss while going 8-for-16 for 142 yards with a touchdown. The Tigers are very ground based. They are averaging 254 yards rushing in the past three games. Running back Leonard Fournette was the No. 1 overall recruit in the nation in this class and he's coming on strong with 100-yard games in two of the past three. There's no doubt that Alabama will stack the box and try and force Jennings to beat it.

The No. 19 Tigers (7-2, 3-2) are +3000 long shots to win the SEC Championship Game on NCAA football odds. It's not impossible for LSU to win the West Division but with two losses it looks rather unlikely. Plus the Tigers still have tough games at Arkansas and Texas A&M. This is the home finale.

 

SEC West Title There for Taking
Saban joined Alabama from the Miami Dolphins in 2007 and that has been the only year that the Tide were sportsbook underdogs in this rivalry. LSU was -6.5 and won that one 41-34. The NCAA football spread for Alabama-LSU has been no more than seven points in seven of the last eight meetings. The only time it wasn't? The Tide were 14-point home favorites last year and rolled 38-17. This is the 63rd straight game that Alabama has been favored. The last time it wasn't was the 2009 SEC title game against Florida.

The No. 6 Tide (7-1, 4-1) are +200 favorites to win the SEC title game this December at sportsbooks and they do control their own destiny. This is Alabama's last true road game of the season, but they still have to host No. 1 Mississippi State and No. 3 Auburn. Certainly Alabama should be a favorite in those barring a major injury.  Rankings are from the College Football Playoff. Alabama will move up at least one spot in the new rankings Tuesday with Ole Miss' loss on Saturday.

Alabama also was off last week and comes off a 34-20 win at Tennessee. It's only the fourth time a team has scored at least 20 points on the Tide this year. They have the No. 2 scoring defense in the nation at 14.0 points per game. Alabama has allowed a national-low 12 touchdowns. You knew the defense was going to be good, but the offense had some questions under new coordinator Lane Kiffin. The main one was replacing the ultra-successful A.J. McCarron at quarterback, but senior Blake Sims has been largely terrific. He's completing 65.5 percent of his throws for 2,034 yards, 15 touchdowns and only three picks. It would seem Alabama has a huge edge there over LSU. Sims also has the luxury of having the nation's top receiver in Amari Cooper. He's No. 2 nationally with 1,132 yards. Cooper is +1500 odds at sportsbooks to win the Heisman Trophy. That's not going to happen, but he has a good shot at getting an invitation to New York.

 

Betting Verdict
The Tide have won three straight in this series and covered seven of their past 10 at LSU on this week's betting odds odds. Alabama will make it four straight wins and add another cover. Jump on that line before it possibly rises to 7. The total hasn't been posted as of this writing but likely will be in the mid-to-high 40s with two very good defenses. It was 54 last year and went over but 38.5 two years ago and went under (21-17 Tide win in Baton Rouge). The 'under' has hit in four of the past five meetings and that should be the choice for your College Football pick.  

Free College Football Pick: Under at SportsInteraction