NCAAF Picks: Mississippi on Upset Alert at LSU on Saturday

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 8:46 PM GMT

Sitting at betting odds of 4-points favorites, this is the toughest true road game remaining for 3rd-ranked Ole Miss as it looks to stay atop the SEC West by winning at No. 23 LSU.

Rebels Have SEC's Best D
Currently Ole Miss is the +700 second-favorite at sportsbooks to win the National Championship, behind only Alabama even though the Rebels beat the Crimson Tide a few weeks ago. It's not often you can call a team's defense better than LSU's, but that will be the case this week. The Rebels are fantastic on that side of the ball, ranking No. 1 nationally in scoring defense (10.6 ppg) and goal-to-go efficiency (25 percent), No. 3 in yards per play allowed (4.15) and red zone efficiency (33.3 percent), and No. 5 in turnover margin (plus-10). There are a handful of future NFL players on that defense, led by tackle Robert Nkemdiche, the former No. 1 overall recruit.

The Rebels' defense has held all seven opponents this season to 20 points or fewer. It has held three opponents to just a field goal, including Tennessee last week in a 34-3 rout. Ole Miss forced four Vols turnovers and a turnover on downs. The Rebels lead the nation with 15 interceptions.

On offense, you often hear about "Good Bo" or "Bad Bo" when it comes to Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace, who is +2500 on 5Dimes' Heisman NCAA football odds. The senior has been good in SEC play with seven touchdowns and no interceptions. There's always the concern about him with bad decisions as Wallace threw three picks in the season opener against Boise State and two more against Memphis. The Rebels like to get ahead and simply run the ball, but they rank just 84th nationally in rushing yards. LSU will want to make Wallace beat it.

The Rebels (7-0, 4-0) are off to their best start since 1962. Ole Miss is 6-0-1 ATS this season at sportsbooks.

 

LSU Young but Improving
This is not your typical LSU team under Les Miles, but that doesn't mean it's not talented. There is a ton of young talent here and the Tigers will be a major force to be reckoned with next season. LSU has played 17 true freshmen through the first eight weeks of the season. Will Miles be around to coach the team in 2015 or might he finally take the job at his alma mater Michigan? I guarantee you that UM will at least reach out to him again.

LSU played its best game of the season last week in a 41-3 home blowout of Kentucky. The Tigers rushed for 303 yards, with Terrence Magee carrying nine times for 127 yards and two scores. LSU appears to have settled on its quarterback as Anthony Jennings played the entire way against UK and will start here. Jennings, a sophomore, is still very raw as evidenced by a completion percentage of just 50 percent on the season. He hasn't completed more than 13 passes in a game this year, but the Tigers don't throw it much. They absolutely want to win it on the ground.

The LSU defense is still excellent, ranking No. 8 nationally in points allowed. It held Kentucky to season lows for points (3), total yards (217), passing yards (146) and rushing yards (71). The Tigers lead the SEC in pass defense (156.2 yards per game).

LSU brings a pretty amazing streak into this game, which is expected to have the biggest crowd in Tiger Stadium history following a renovation. The Tigers have beaten at least one Top-10 team at home each of the past four years. They will get another chance after this game as they host No. 4 Alabama on Nov. 8. LSU was thumped at home by Mississippi State earlier this season, 34-29, in a game that really wasn't that close. MSU wasn't ranked at the time but is of course No. 1 now. LSU has lost just three Saturday night games at home under Miles, and all three were to teams that were No. 1 at the time or would become the nation's top-ranked team at some point that same season.

LSU (6-2, 2-2) has almost zero chance of playing in the SEC title game but still a shot at a major bowl game if it wins out. The Tigers are 6-2 ATS on College Football odds this season, including 5-1 at home.

 

Last Season
Ole Miss ended a three-game losing streak in this series with a 27-24 win in Oxford when the Tigers were No. 6 and the Rebels unranked. Andrew Ritter won it with a 41-yard field goal with two seconds left. Jennings was still on the bench for LSU then. The Rebels picked off Zach Mettenberger three times. Wallace completed 30 of 39 passes for 346 yards, while Jaylen Walton rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Ole Miss had 525 yards of offense. Overall, LSU has won nine of the past meetings. This will be the first time the teams each meet as ranked in 11 years.

 

Free College Football Pick
Take the points at 5Dimes. LSU is still a different animal at home. Yes, it's true that Ole Miss has covered its past nine at sportsbooks at LSU. But the underdog (almost always Ole Miss) has covered 13 of the past 16 in this series. The total hasn't been posted as of this writing, but it will be in low-to-mid 40s. Still go 'under' with your College Football pick. This should be a defensive slugfest.

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