The Battle of the SEC West Giants: LSU at Alabama Odds
|Alabama Crimson Tide|
The Southeastern Conference concludes its three-week hold on seismic college football events with arguably the biggest one of the season Saturday Alabama hosts LSU in a battle of unbeatens that will provide the winner the inside track to the West Division title and the loser a harrowing road to get back into the College Football Playoff picture.
The Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0 SEC West) have a one-half game lead on the Tigers (7-0, 4-0) but are still waiting on whether quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Tua Tagovailoa will be able to play after suffering a high ankle sprain in Alabama’s 35-13 victory over Tennessee on Oct. 19. Tagovailoa underwent a “tightrope” surgical process designed to accelerate the healing process and sat out his team’s 48-7 pasting of Arkansas the following week.
Saban told ESPN on Wednesday “there’s a good chance” Tagovailoa will play, which should at the very least keep the FanDuel Sports Book betting line for this game relatively stable. The Crimson Tide have been established as 6.5-point favorites for this game as they look to beat LSU for the ninth straight year.
Tagovailoa has thrown for 2,166 yards and 27 touchdowns while completing 74.7 percent of his passes. He is second in completion percentage, tied for third nationally in TD passes, and seventh in passing yards per game (309.4).
But the Tigers have climbed atop The Associated Press Top 25 on the strength of their quarterback Joe Burrow, whose numbers eclipse Tagovailoa in all three categfories. Burrow leads the country in completion percentage (78.8), is second in TD tosses (30), and second in yards per game (350.6).
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LSU at Alabama Over/Under: The Quarterbacks are Going to Carry the Action
The prolific nature of both quarterbacks is the primary reason the over/under is set at an impressive total of 63 points – something that goes in stark contrast to some of the defensive wars of attrition these teams have
displayed in recent years.
Despite being 6.5-point underdogs, LSU also has been tested more sternly than Alabama to this point, which is also why the Tigers were narrowly ahead of the Tide in the initial College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday night. Ed Orgeron’s team has already beaten three Top 10 teams, including a 23-20 victory over Auburn on Oct. 26 before going into its bye week.
The winner of this game will strengthen its hold on one of those top four spots that offer entry into the CFP semifinals. In the case of LSU (No. 2 in the CFP), a victory would make it extremely difficult for the Tigers to be denied a spot in the SEC title game – every other team has at least two conference losses, and Auburn still can factor in the division race since it hosts Alabama in the “Iron Bowl” on Nov. 30.
If Saban beats his former team, the Crimson Tide (No. 3 in the CFP) have a direct path to the SEC title game as they would be the only unbeaten team in the West and two victories shy of their sixth division title in eight years.
This is the first AP Top 25 No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown since then-No. 1 LSU emerged with a 9-6 overtime victory over Alabama in Baton Rouge in 2011. That also marks the last time the Tigers won in this series, with the Crimson Tide avenging that defeat in the 2012 BCS title game with a 21-0 victory to cap that season and start the current eight-game run.
Alabama’s dominance is punctuated by the fact that four of the eight victories have come over a top-five LSU team and three of the eight wins have been via shutout. That includes a 29-0 thrashing of the Tigers in Death Valley last season when Tagovailoa – who had 295 passing yards — had two first-half touchdown tosses and ran 44 yards for a third in the third quarter.
The Crimson Tide finished with 576 yards compared to LSU’s 196 and held the Tigers to 12 rushing yards. Burrow played that game despite separating his throwing shoulder two days before the game and still finished with 184 passing yards
This is the 24th regular-season meeting between the AP No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the country, with the No. 1 team victorious in the last three. Overall, the No. 1 team has a 15-6-2 record in these matchups, with the last victory by the No. 2 team coming in 1996 when Florida State toppled Florida 24-21.