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Alabama vs. LSU

College Football Game of the Week

Betting Line: Alabama -6.5 o/u 44.5

11/6/10

 

Saturday's matchup of SEC heavyweights LSU and Alabama will be a game where much is at stake. Both teams can still win the SEC, but the Crimson Tide have a better track at this point. If they drop this one, their hopes will be virtually dashed. They enter this game after reeling off two wins against Ole Miss and Tennessee. Before that they lost to South Carolina. LSU was undefeated until they lost a battle with undefeated Auburn last time out. The Tide took down the Tigers last year 24-15. LSU will have revenge on the brain as they host this year's game. Let's take a look at some key factors in determining the winner.

The Crimson Tide boasts one of the best defenses in the entire nation. They rank 2nd in Points Against behind only TCU at 12.5 PPG. Nick Saban is a defensive mastermind and he has future NFL players scattered all over his defense. They did very well to hold Arkansas to a meager 20 points and made QB Ryan Mallett look silly. That isn't easy to do considering Mallett is the 2nd highest rated QB for the NFL Draft by Mel Kiper. They followed up that spectacular defensive showing by holding the Gators to just 6 points in a rematch of last year's SEC Title game. LSU won't have an easy day offensively.

Alabama has benefitted greatly from the progression of QB Greg McElroy. He looked downright awful at times in 2009, but as the season went on the QB improved vastly. He guided his team to a National Championship in 2009. This year he has continued to play at a high level. In 2010 he has 1,781 yards and 11 TD passes. He isn't the one that makes the offense tick though. That job lies with RBs Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram.

The duo will strike fear into the hearts of even the most hearty defense. Richardson has just 1 more carry this year, but has gained 606 yards and 5 TDs. Ingram has less yards at 544, but more TDs at 8. Regardless of who pounds the rock, the Crimson Tide can score points on the ground. If LSU lets Ingram and Richardson have big days, it will allow McElroy to air the ball out. Any way you slice things, LSU's defense will have its hands full. 

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Just as Alabama can play tough defense so can the home team. LSU ranks 10th in Points Against at 15.6 PPG. Stopping the run was a huge problem for them last week. Auburn ran for an unprecedented 440 yards and 3 TDs. QB Cam Newton had 217 yards on the ground alone. As good as Cam Newton is, the combination of Trent Richardson and Heisman winner Mark Ingram is arguably just as good. Something has to change for them to stop the run. Look for HC Les Miles to focus much of his effort in this area.

Much of LSU's offensive power lies with RB Stevan Ridley. The junior is a work horse that has 723 yards and 6 TDs this year. He hasn't rushed for 100+ yards in three weeks. If LSU is going to win he MUST break that streak. QB Jordan Jefferson is average at best, and he cannot win this game by himself. Jefferson, a junior, is mostly a scrambling QB, but he can pass when he has to. Bottom line is that if the Tigers want to win this game they must rush the ball effectively. It's not likely that last week's total of 17 points can win this thing. They must play smash mouth football. This means they have to play hard on defense, and rush effectively.

We're going to give you our best guess on this one, but we're going to tell you straight up that we are passing the game entirely. It's the biggest game of the week for sure, and it's always nice when we have a strong play on a huge game like this. But sometimes, you simply have to stay away. You can't bet games just because they are on TV and are popular games. If you already have a strong opinion, maybe our take will strengthen it or take you off the game.

Bottom line, Alabama is the better football team. Much better. Our numbers on this game, from a betting standpoint, would favor LSU. In other words, we have a few ways of coming up with our own line on the game. Each method we use, has Alabama winning the game but by less than the current line of 6.5. Something along the line of 17-13 or 20-14. So from that standpoint, it would look like an ideal spot to grab the points with the home dog in such a huge game. The game taking place in prime time with an 8pm est. start and a National TV audience, only adds to the LSU motivation. These are generally great spots for home dogs.

But we just can't figure out how LSU is going to move the ball here. They rank at the bottom of the SEC in total offense, right there with fellow basement dweller Vanderbilt. They rank dead last in passing offense, with two QB's who can't throw a lick. Now they have to face this monster of a defense in Alabama, likely the best in the land. The Tide has more interceptions than any team in the nation and are +10 in turnover margin. So, forget about even thinking about throwing the ball here. Basically, if the best defense in the Nation can shut down the run here, it's check and mate.

Under the total would seem to be worth a look. But there's not much wiggle room there. The only chance LSU has is to shorten this game and hope to have a chance in the 4th quarter. They can't pass as it is, so, run, run, run and keep the clock moving. The LSU defense should have more success against Bama than they did against Auburn because Bama doesn't have a mobile QB like Auburn does. Our score predictions come in around 34 or 35 points here so the lean would be on the under 44.5

Alabama should win this one. They are the better, more complete football team. Our numbers say LSU and Under the total, but other variables keep us off this game here. Might be fun to watch, but not to bet. Good Luck if you do!


 

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