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Can Vanderbilt Cover the Spread at LSU?

9/12/09

Last year was considered a down season for LSU after finishing 8-5 and winning the Chik-fil-A Bowl. Prior to that season they finished 12-2 and won the SEC and National Championships. Fans are expecting big things this year, and 8-5 just wonít do the job. They want another title. Les Milesís team will play their home opener against the Vanderbilt Commodores. Obviously the Tigerís arenít likely to drop this game, but bettors are more considered with another question. Will they cover?

LSU had to shake off a bit of rust to start the year when traveling to play the Washington Huskies; a team that finished 0-12 last year. They won the game by a score of 31-23 although allowing Washington to control the clock and put up 478 yards of total offense. You shouldnít read too much into that because it was the first game of the year, but it certainly would have been nice to see them blow out the Huskies. Sophomore QB Jordan Jefferson played very well, throwing for 172 yards and 3 TDs. RBs Charles Scott and Keiland Williams also looked stellar in LSUís first win of the year.

The LSU Tigers do very well straight up, but are very poor against the spread. They are 0-7 in their last seven games when they were favored by double digits. They are also 1-7 in their last eight games overall. That is one reason why bettors should be wary of making a large wager on them. While it isnít rare for the Tigers to pour it on, they sometimes have problems doing so. One example would be the Troy game last year where they were only able to win by a score of 40-31. The defense has to do a better job of shutting people down.

The Vanderbilt Commodores started 2009 off in a big way after finishing 7-6 last year and winning the Music City Bowl. Although they were playing the lowly Western Carolina Catamounts, they did what they were supposed to by winning the game 45-0. RBs Zac Stacy and Warren Norman became the first freshman to both run for at least 100 yards in the same game in Vanderbilt history. QB Larry Smith was also very solid, completing 10/18 passes for 153 yards and 1 TD. They came up with 4 turnovers in that game and didnít allow Western Carolina to convert even once on third down.

Vanderbilt played relatively well on the road last year. They took down Ole Miss, Kentucky, and won their Bowl game on neutral territory. I have a feeling that if they come up short in this game it wonít be due to the hostile environment. The offensive line will have to protect QB Smith in this game. The defensive line for LSU is shaky, so this is not impossible for them to do. The biggest challenge for Vanderbilt will be stopping the Tigerís offense. Vanderbilt had a tough scoring defense last year, ranking 21st in the country while giving up only 19.6 PPG. The only team that ran the scoreboard up on them was the national champion Florida Gators.

The LSU Tigers are a very solid favorite at -14.5. They are playing their home opener and will be out to impress fans. However, they have played poorly against the spread as I previously noted. They let teams hang around. Vanderbilt looked strong finishing the year in 2008 and came out with a bang to start 2009. They surprised everybody last year by knocking off Ole Miss on the road, and while I donít expect them to win this straight up they certainly can cover. LSU failed to impress last season. We'll take a wait and see approach with the Tigers this year. With that in mind, will grab double digits with an always scrappy Vandy team. Vanderbilt +14.5.

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