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#1 LSU vs. #2 Alabama Football Pick with Betting Line Analysis

11/5/11

Alabama hosts LSU on Saturday night in a game where the script may as well have been written in Hollywood. If you're a college football fan, who could ask for anything more. This is equivalent to a late October National Championship game. Alabama is a -4.5 point home favorite with a posted total of 43 points at leading sportsbook 5 Dimes.

For LSU, they have scored 35+ points each time out this year with the exception of being held to 19 against Miss St. Defensively, the powerful Oregon offense could only muster 27 points, a season low for them, and the West Virginia offense was held to 21, a season low for them as well. They held every other opponent to 11 points or less.

Alabama has scored 34+ points each time out this year with the exception of being held to 27 by the very good Penn State defense. Defensively, they have held all opponents to 14 points or less for a season average of 7 points per game holding 5 of their 8 opponents to 7 points or less.

It's hard not to take the dog in a game like this. If we take a look at recent history, we see nothing but close games. Last year, LSU won at home 24-21 in a game in which Alabama led 14-10 in the 4th quarter. In 2009 it was Alabama with a 24-15 home win. 2008 saw Alabama win at LSU in overtime, 27-21. In 2007 it was LSU on top 41-34.

Of course, you have the Nick Saban angle here, having coached LSU from 2000-2004 compiling a 48-16 record in the process and if we're going to compare Saban and Les Miles, with all due respect to Miles, we're going to side with Saban.

It would seem to easy to play an under in a spot like this. How often have you looked at a game where a play like the under looks like a no brainer and the final score ends up being 41-38 in a shootout? But these defenses have been playing off the charts. Alabama's defensive yards per point number is a sky high 25.8 while LSU's is almost as impressive at 21. The offensive numbers are equally as good, LSU with a 9.5 and Alabama with an 11.7. A yards per point line prior to factoring in schedule strength would be Alabama by 5 or so. So, right on the posted line. However, you have to consider that LSU has played a more difficult schedule. How much more difficult is open for debate, but even a few points more difficult, would swing the ypp line in favor of the underdog LSU here.

Our score prediction model has a predicted final score of Alabama 17-10, and the model does take into account strength of schedule.

If you're looking for some edge, some match up mismatch, it doesn't exist here. What we do know, is Alabama will have the home field working for them and that in and of itself is significant. Sure, you can give them 3 or 4 points for home field when handicapping the game but in reality it can be much more than that. The crowd noise can cause communication problems, trouble getting plays in, hearing signals, etc.

This is being written first thing Monday morning. There will be developments over the course of the week, and much more to look into as a handicapper. So bookmark and check back here on this page Friday afternoon for our final thoughts and predictions.

That being said, our early week prediction here on Monday morning is Alabama -4 and UNDER the total of 43. Of the two, the total is the more solid play. 21-10, 17-6, even 21-17, those are the type of scores that come to mind. We'll revisit the side prediction on Friday as that's the shakier of the two picks. Hey, we built our success here on live underdogs. We love a solid underdog who can win a game straight up and that certainly applies here. So make sure to check back on Friday. The total play will stand though. We simply can't see it any other way.

FRIDAY - FINAL THOUGHTS

No additional thoughts really. Tough call on the side. You almost HAVE to take the points in a game like this if you're going to play it. Both teams have played Tennessee and Florida and have beaten them by the same large margins. But overall, LSU has played the more difficult schedule and that has to come into play. We'll take Saban any day over Les Miles but this may very well be LSU's year despite Les.

No official play for us. The prediction above is based on our model and it's 17-10 prediction for Alabama to wein. But our gut says LSU is the right side here. As far as the total, we'll stick with the under. Seems logical.

Good Luck if you play. The game should live up to the hype.

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