#1 LSU Tigs (8-0, 4-0 SEC) vs #2 Alabama Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0 SEC)
Saturday, November 9, 2017 @ 3:30 PM EST
Bryant Denny Stadium (Tuscaloosa, AL)
Alabama (-221) LSU (+185), Spread: Alabama -5.5, Over/Under: 62.5
Once the calendar flips to November, the College Football Playoff picture begins to come into focus. The first CFP rankings came out this week, and Ohio State, who has looked like the most complete team in the country to this point, is sitting alone at the top.
Right behind the Buckeyes in the rankings you find #2 LSU and #3 Alabama who just so happen to square off in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. Both the Tigers and Crimson Tide are undefeated on the season, and for the first time in a long time, this showdown in T-Town is once again a marquee matchup.
First thing you should know is that LSU has lost 8 straight games to Alabama; however, this isn’t your typical ground and pound Tiger team. This team gets it done through the air averaging 377 passing yards per game. QB Joe Burrow is a legitimate Heisman contender who completes over 78% of his passes. On the year, Ole Joe has thrown 30 touchdown passes compared to only 4 interceptions.
It is kind of amazing to think how far these teams have come since their 2011 matchup which was dubbed “the game of the century.” That matchup saw LSU win a contest of kickers 9-6 in overtime. This year not only is LSU throwing the ball all over the yard, but Nick Saban (once a very vocal critic of hurry up no huddle offenses) has fully embraced that strategy. Tua Tagovailoa has 27 touchdown passes and just 2 interceptions on the year, and he leads an offense that averages over 500 yards a game.
First let’s take a look at the game line. Depending on where you look, Bama is a 5.5-point favorite at the moment. The last 6 times the Crimson Tide has been less than a touchdown favorite they are 3-3 straight up and 1-5 against the spread. There is another interesting trend to keep in mind considering LSU is ranked #1 in the AP poll and Bama checks in at #2.
If you’re a fan of scoring, this matchup is definitely for you as both teams come in averaging over 45 points a game. Given the history of this rivalry, most people believe that number is too high and an over/under that opened at 65 has been bet down by the public to 62.5.
Going into Saturday, there is a question about the health of Alabama starting QB Tua Tagovailoa, who is expected to return after missing their last game with a high ankle sprain. If Tua is 100%, the Crimson Tide will make this a true heavyweight bout, but if he gets banged up early, and Alabama has to turn to Mac Jones, LSU could run away with it.
Will this game live up to the hype? Hopefully, but in the wild world of College Football, you never can know for sure. Tua could head to the medical tent after the first possession, or he could be completely healthy, come out guns blazing, and throw for 5 TD’s.
Wouldn’t expect much inconsistency from the LSU offense as Joe Burrow has been nothing but white hot all season long. They have been an offensive juggernaut, blowing out nearly everyone on their schedule.
This is almost guaranteed to be an exciting game. A loss this week won’t eliminate either team from the Playoff discussion, but the loser will be left with no margin for error. Is this the LSU team that finally breaks through against the Tide? Or will Alabama remind everyone that the dynasty isn’t over yet? Only time will tell.
If I was a betting man, and I most certainly am, I’d go BIG on the OVER!! LSU gave up 38 points to Vanderbilt, so I’d imagine a healthy Tua and his big play receivers Devonta Smith, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III are licking their chops to face this Tiger defense. Both teams sport a top 25 defense and top 10 offense, so although the defenses are no slouch, I expect the points to come in bunches.