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SEC Footbll Pick
This game is a prime example of how much difference a season can make. Before the season started, LSU was actually favorites in this game, mainly because they are at home and both schools were viewed as equals. After a loss to Florida and some very close wins, LSU's ranking has taken a nose dive which is why they are currently up to 10-point underdogs (and still changing). On the other side of the field, Alabama has been cruising, stopping any offense that comes in their path on the way to three straight covers. As for the Tigers, they are only 1-4 against the spread in their last five games.
Much like last year's BCS National Championship game, the Crimson Tide could dominate this game. Bama won that game 21-0 while out gaining LSU 384 to 92 in the yardage department. The advantage LSU has in this one is that they are at home. In 2011's regular season game, the Tigers actually went to Tuscaloosa and took out Alabama, 9-6. Expect each team to be focused in this one, in a tough battle won in the trenches.
LSU was supposed to have one of the best defenses in the country, but as seen in their last three games, it's close to being average in the SEC. They gave up 14 points to Florida in a loss, but also 21 and 19 points to South Carolina and Texas A&M, respectively. It will be very hard for them to stop Alabama's offense from getting around that 20-point range, if not more.
AJ McCarron just keeps doing his thing for the Crimson Tide, yet no one is noticing. The most telling stat of his season is 18 touchdowns and zero interceptions. When you don't turn it over, you win games. He's also completing close to 69 percent of his passes which helps. Freshman Amari Cooper has been his favorite target on the year with 32 receptions, but it's a joint effort on the Bama offense. They have six receivers with at least two touchdowns. With one of the best offensive lines in the country, their running game has succeeded as well. Freshman T.J. Yeldon has looked great racking up 649 yards and seven TDs to go with a 7.0 yards per carry average. He's splitting time with Eddie Lacy and the combo works. Lacy has 596 yards and seven TDs.
Even with a younger defense, Alabama is still ranked No. 1 in the country. Nose tackle Jesse Williams leads the line which no one has been able to get by all year. Most recently, they were able to stop previously 7-0 Mississippi State to 21 carries for 47 yards.
The highlight of the LSU offense is their rushing game. Freshman Jeremy Hill has been the lead back in their last two games and will see a good dose in this contest. In those games he has 251 yards and three TDs. As a team on the season the Tigers have totaled 1,667 rushing yards and 20 TDs. Their passing game isn't quite as good. QB Zach Mettenberger, is completing only 56.6% of his passes for only seven TDs and four INTs. Those interceptions won't be very helpful against this Crimson Tide defense. If they can't get their running game going, it will be on the shoulders of Mettenberger who only has one touchdown in four SEC games this season.
Alabama is 7-2 ATS in their last nine meetings in Baton Rouge to go with the favorite being 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 meetings. In addition, the road team is 13-3-1 ATS in their last 17 contests. Those numbers point to Bama, but LSU is coming off a bye and are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games following a bye.
If we go back 10 years in this series and we gave LSU +10 points in each of those games, they would be 9-1 against the spread. In fact, forget the spread, LSU was 7-3 straight up in those games. This is significant as ne of the things we like to do is compare historical talent between two programs. Obviously in this instance, not only has LSU been on par with Alabama, they've been better.
It's early Monday as this is being written, and things can change over the course of a week. But as of this early writing, we have to lean towards LSU getting a boatload of points at home here. When running our model with season to date stats, it comes up with a predicted final of 21-11, Alabama, so, right on the number. However if we only use data from the past 5 weeks, it comes up 19-13, again, Alabama on top. When you add in the revenge angle from last year's title game, you simple have to give LSU, at home, a good hard look. If anything changes, we'll let you know. Otherwise, LSU +10.
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