Auburn will get revenge against LSU but may not cover spread

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Auburn will get revenge against LSU but may not cover spread

The result was maddening.

An LSU team that lost to Troy two weeks earlier, and should've lost to a bad Florida team the week prior, erased a 23-7 deficit with one tactical change.

LSU brought an extra safety near the line of scrimmage. That's all it took to stop Auburn, which built a huge lead and then couldn't run the ball against the extra man.

Auburn closed last season with five consecutive wins, knocking off two No. 1 teams. It would've won 10 in a row, except for the second-half stumble in Baton Rouge.

Well, this week's game takes place in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Gus Malzahn and the players surely will remember last year's debacle.

The visitor is 2-16 in this series in the last 18 years.

Entering as the healthier team, with the better coach, better defensive line and better quarterback, playing for revenge at home, Auburn is the clear pick to win.

Before the season, I targeted Auburn in this spot. LSU gave a misleading performance against an overrated Hurricanes team in the season opener, beating No. 8 Miami, 33-17, despite getting outgained. Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow drew all sorts of praise for completing 11 of 24 passes for 140 yards and no touchdowns.

Perfect, right?

Maybe. But I don't like that Auburn is a 9.5-point favorite as of Wednesday morning. That's a big number to cover in a game that could be dominated by defense.

LSU's Dave Aranda, the $2.5 million coordinator, will make it difficult.

Lost in Auburn's admirable win against Washington in the season opener? The Tigers ran for 3.3 yards per carry.

Jarrett Stidham is completing 68.1 percent of his passes. But that will be hard to maintain against LSU cornerback Greedy Williams and company. Stidham went 9 of 26 in this game last year.

Malzahn is 11-17-1 ATS as a home favorite, and remarkably, Ed Orgeron has been a cover machine, including seven consecutive against FBS teams in the regular season.

The total in this game is just 45 points, which combined with the spread, translates to a projected final of roughly Auburn 27, LSU 17. The betting result likely will come down to the result of one red-zone drive.

LSU's offensive line is missing some key pieces, and the running backs are solid, but the least promising we've seen in years. Outside of one 50-yard touchdown by Nick Brossette on a busted coverage by Miami, LSU has rushed for 3.9 yards per carry.

As long as Stidham can outplay Burrow, Auburn should win the game. Auburn's defensive line will further exacerbate that advantage.

But I'm hesitant to bet Auburn at -9.5. Maybe that number will fall to Auburn -7.5 by kickoff and look more palatable, allowing bettors to buy a half-point to Auburn -7, but I doubt it.

Stidham's Heisman Trophy odds lengthen

Auburn has become a more likely national champion by starting 2-0, watching its odds shrink from +2500 before the season to +800 at the Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas.

At the same time, Jarrett Stidham's Heisman Trophy odds have gone the opposite direction. Stidham now sits at +3000, up from +2000 to start the season.

He's the 13th-most likely winner right now, well behind Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa (+300). Georgia's Jake Fromm (+2500) and Missouri's Drew Lock (+3000) also are providing competition within the SEC.

I'm not suggesting that anyone rush to Mississippi to slam down a bet on Stidham for Heisman. But Auburn's running game isn't quite as intimidating this year, and the team should reach 5-0 if it beats LSU.

Auburn's defense is going to get a lot of credit for the team success. But if the Tigers can manage to win the SEC West again this year, and he plays well at Georgia and Alabama, don't be surprised if Stidham positions himself for an invite to New York.

Christopher Smith is a professional handicapper. He's the founder of Sports Locksmith and also works full-time for MyBookie out of Costa Rica.

from Auburn Sports Impact

No comments:

Post a Comment