Bayou Battle Royale: Bama/LSU Insights

It’s a Bayou Battle Royale tomorrow night in Baton Rouge.  Say that 10 times as fast as you can.  No. 1 Alabama travels to No. 3 LSU Saturday night for an SEC showdown with major CFP implications. The Crimson Tide has won seven straight in this series, the last five by double-digits. But Alabama is just 1-4 ATS in those five games.  Will we see more of the same tomorrow night?

Oddsmakers expect the Tide to continue their dominance over LSU, making Bama more than a two-touchdown favorite.  The current line at for this game is -14.5 if you’re not in our free league for November, join today!

Oddsmakers appear to be looking at LSU differently than the CFP committee, which ranked LSU as the third best team in the country. However, sportsbooks generally give the Tigers only a 40/1 chance to win the national title.

LSU has lost by more than two touchdowns at home only once in the last four seasons, 31-14 to Arkansas in 2015. Meanwhile, the Tide hasn’t won by 14 or more in Death Valley since 2006.  Seems like this line favors the Tigers based on this historical data.

Line movement: This line has moved both ways since opening Alabama -15 at the Westgate in Las Vegas. Early money came in on LSU, dropping the spread to 14 a few hours after the number was released. The line then moved back to Alabama -15 Thursday night and was at -14.5 Friday morning. Likely to be the most bet game on Saturday, the number appears to have settled here at -14.5.

The total hasn’t moved at all. It opened at 54 at most books and has remained there throughout the week. This appears to be high and there has been  no movement to the UNDER, despite both defenses allowing fewer than 16 PPG.

Alabama overview:  SU record: 8-0 ATS record: 5-3 O/U record: 6-2

Alabama is coming off its bye week and faces by far its toughest test of the season against the 7-1 Tigers. Alabama’s best win so far this season was over No. 25 Texas A&M (5-3), so it’s not like the Tide has played the hardest schedule ever.  In fact, the best defense they have faced this season is ranked 90th in the country.

This is Alabama’s final road game of the year (hopefully the person who makes the Crimson Tide’s schedule gets paid well). Alabama has won its previous three road games, outscoring its opponents 185-59 and going 2-1 ATS. The game the Tide didn’t cover was a 65-31 win at Arkansas as a 35-point favorite, as the Hogs scored a late touchdown.

Alabama’s offense has been scary this season, averaging 54.1 points per game. It’s led by Heisman Trophy favorite Tua Tagovailoa. The sophomore quarterback has thrown for 2,066 yards, with 25 touchdowns and no interceptions, and hasn’t played in the fourth quarter of any game this season.

On defense, the Tide is giving up just 15.9 points per game, which ranks 10th in the nation.

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LSU overview:  SU record: 7-1 ATS record: 5-3 O/U record: 5-3

LSU is also coming off a bye week. After losing to Florida, the Tigers have won back-to-back games over Mississippi State and then-No. 2 Georgia, 36-16. LSU is undefeated at home this season (5-0) with an average winning margin of 22.6.

LSU can’t match Alabama on offense.   This much is clear.  If the Tigers are going to pull off the upset, they’ll need to lean on a defense that’s allowing an average of 15.1 points per game, which is the seventh-fewest in the country. LSU hasn’t given up more than 27 points this season and the 27 came in the Tigers’ lone loss (to Florida), 27-19. LSU’s defense has been opportunistic, leading the nation with 14 picks.

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow will need to play his best game of the year if they’re going to win. Burrow has thrown for more than 200 yards just twice this season and he has only six touchdown passes with three interceptions.  This stat may favor LSU, as they are not a heavy throwing team.  Their run/pass ratio is generally around 80/20.  Senior running back Nick Brossette has scored 10 touchdowns and will need to get some kind of ground game going against the stout Alabama front seven to take pressure off Burrow.

If LSU can’t run the football, it’s going to be a very long night for the Tigers in Baton Rouge.  It seems as though you need strong quarterback play, especially in the 4th quarter, if you’re going to knock off Bama.  They tend to really step up their defense in the 4th quarter of games and expect more of the same tomorrow night.

Alabama vs. LSU trends

-LSU is 10-1 ATS in its last 11 conference games. -The total has gone UNDER in six of Alabama’s last eight games vs LSU (avg. combined score: 31.5). -UNDER is 4-0 in the last four meetings. -Favorite is 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings.

Morris Chambers is a senior analyst.

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