West Virginia vs. LSU
Betting Line: LSU -9 o/u 42
Good teams do great things. The West Virginia Mountaineers proved they were a good team by coming back late in the Game against Marshall on the road two weeks ago to Scorean OT win. Marshall was a determined opponent and in state rival. Two weeks later they find themselves traveling to play an SEC team, the LSU Tigers. Both teams enter the Game 3-0. Les Miles’s team dominated Mississippi State in their Game prior to this one. This promises to be a hard fought battle of proud gridiron programs. LSU has opened as a 6.5 point favorite.
This will be the first meeting of these two schools. West Virginia is 10-4 against current SEC teams since 1979. They were 2-1 as a road underdog in 2009 and 2-3 overall on the road. LSU is 1-3 against current Big East members. The Tigers were 3-2-1 as home favorites in 2009.
The West Virginia offense relies heavily on Heisman candidate RB Noel Devine. He rushed for 131 yards a week ago against Maryland. The senior can cut through a hole faster than the blink of an eye. He will make LSU pay if they don’t prepare for him. Sophomore QB Geno Smith had a career Game against the Terps, passing for 268 yards and 4 TDs. In his first year as the starter he has thrown just a single INT. This Game will be the first time he has faced a truly good secondary. We will find out how good he really is playing on the road. His best weapon is slot receiver Jock Sanders. He was 2nd Team All Big East last year with 3 TD catches for 688 yards.
The Mountaineers possess a very strong defense. The line is led by NT Chris Neild. The senior recorded 35 tackles last year. That doesn’t seem like a big number, but he often occupied double teams and plugged space. The LBs are led by JT Thomas. The senior had 76 tackles, 5 passes broken up, and 2 INTs in 2009. Both of West Virginia’s CBs combined for 8 INTs last year. This is going to be the best defense LSU has faced in the early 2010 season. Remember, that UNC was missing many starters when LSU played them and that depleted defense isn’t as good as the Mountaineers at full strength.
LSU is ranked #15 in the nation. Jordan Jefferson isn’t the best QB around, but he can get the job done. So far in 2010 he has passed for 344 yards and 2 TDs. He rushed for an additional TD. RB Steven Ridley has 318 yards on 55 carries and 2 TDs in 2010. The offensive is hardly over powering and have problems putting up points against the Mountaineers. Jefferson can effectively scramble for yardage and will need to make better use of his legs in this Game than he has thus far in 2010.
The LSU Tigers are twice as good on defense as they are on offense. The defense has a 2nd Team SEC member in CB Patrick Peterson. The junior pulled down 3 INTs last year and broke up 13 passes. Top tackler from 2009 was Kelvin Sheppard. The MLB had 110 tackles and 7.5 tackles for a loss. This defense has yet to give up 100 yards to a single RB in 2010, but they have their work cut out for them with Noel Devine. The senior can get yardage against even the stoutest defense.
In the end LSU will probably commit to stopping Devine. That means Geno Smith will have to burn them through the air in his first road start. Is the sophomore capable of doing that?
Truthfully folks, we were hoping to be able to put this Game put at a better number. The Game opened LSU -6.5, and at anything less than a touchdown we like the LSU side. They are a better football team. They are playing some dominant defense, albeit against weak opposition. They have won their last 28 home Games against non Conference opponents and 30 straight of their last non Conference Games overall. West Virginia hasn’t looked good against sub par talent like Maryland and Marshall. We think LSU is the better team here.
But the line has climbed to as high as -9.5 which puts us on shaky ground here. We can’t advise readers go out and wager on Games where lines have moved 3 points. It’s just not wise. If this line should happen to sway back to a touchdown or less (doubtful) then we’d play West Virginia -7 or less.