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Pick with Analysis
At the beginning of the season, not many expected this line to be so close. After a couple poor performances by LSU on the road, they are down to 3.5-point favorites over Texas A&M. Away from Baton Rouge, the Tigers beat a 1-5 Auburn team just 12-10 and their only loss of the season came at Florida, 14-6. That's not the kind of offensive production needed on the road. Texas A&M has squeaked out two straight road wins themselves at Ole Miss and Louisiana Tech. The only loss of their season came at home in their opening game, 20-17, also to Florida.
The Aggies defense as of late is the only hope of LSU getting something going on offense. Texas A&M gave up a ridiculous 57 points to LA Tech last week and 27 to Ole Miss the previous week. A positive is that they held Tyler Wilson and Arkansas to 10 points while at home before those games.
Zach Mettenberger is under a lot of stress leading the Tigers offense. He hasn't been able to complete over 50 percent of his passes in his last two games. Granted, they were against great defenses in Florida and South Carolina, but the SEC is full of tough defenses. Also in those games, Mettenberger was unable to throw for a touchdown while throwing two interceptions (one in each game). Odell Beckham is his top wide out yet is only getting about three receptions per game. LSU pulled out a win against South Carolina on the ground and will likely do the same against the Aggies. Freshman running back Jeremy Hill came through for the Tigers last week with 124 yards, but three other RBs saw at least seven carries. Kenny Hilliard is their leading rusher for the season with 68 carries for 415 yards and six TDs.
Texas A&M's rush defense hasn't been able to stop many teams from running on them so expect LSU to pound the ball once again. Mike Gillislee led Florida with two TDs and a 5.9 yards per carry average in their Week 1 win over the Aggies.
On the offensive end, Texas A&M's work is already cut out for them going against LSU. Johnny Manziel had a career game last week with 395 passing yards, 181 rushing yards and six total TDs, but that was LA Tech. This is the LSU Tigers. Against Florida earlier in the year, Manziel only managed 233 total yards and one TD. He'll face the same kind of problems this week. Freshman Mike Evans is their top receiver, but the Aggies actually have four receivers who have a catch of at least 55 yards. That explosiveness will need to show itself against LSU. Manziel is also the Aggies top rusher. RBs Ben Malena and Christine Michael split the rest of the load combining for 101 carries, 549 yards and seven TDs.
LSU has played a more difficult schedule, though not by much, yet our numbers all suggest that Texas AM plus the points is the side. They have better yards per point numbers and one model we use has the game dead even while the other has LSU by 3. When you combine those numbers with the sheer magnitude of this game for Texas AM, at home, plus the opportunity to go against the public (90% on LSU), it's hard to pass up.
We're a little worried about the Texas AM defense. La Tech hung 57 on them, but La Tech has put up those numbers on everyone they have faced, albeit a fairly weak schedule. But AM has held everyone else they have faced in check, and while LSU scored a bunch against North Texas, Idaho and Washington in their first three games, they have since come back down to earth, True, their last two games were against two of the best defenses in all of college football, but even Auburn held them to just 12 points.
We give Texas AM a shot here. We'll buck the public. Texas AM +3.5
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