NCAA Match-up of the Year: #1 LSU at #2 Alabama

The biggest game on the NCAA College Football schedule gets underway Saturday evening as the #1 LSU Tigers (8-0, 5-0 SEC) venture to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to take on the Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0 SEC), in what is certain to be a potential showdown for the top team in the SEC as well as the country as a whole. With both teams coming off an off-week and all the hype across sports networks building this game into a match-up of the century, it’s finally time to stop listening to the talking heads and get down to football in this elite match-up that undoubtedly will make for the best option for betting on sports today at one of the best online sportsbooks reviewed here.

In the first meeting between a #1 and #2 ranked team since 2006, this match-up could go a number of different directions with two teams that while having an impressive array of offense, have really thrived on the defensive half of the ball this season. Alabama comes into this home contest as the top team in the FBS in scoring defense, allowing opponents a measly 6.9 points per game, but also impresses when breaking down the other areas, including passing yards allowed (2nd at 135.6 yards/game), rushing yards allowed (1st by a mile at 44.9 yards/game, and have allowed just 6 offensive touchdowns on the season. Led by former LSU head coach Nick Saban, there’s little doubt that the Crimson Tide will set their sights on being the better defensive squad tonight, in order to help take the noise and excitement out of the maximum capacity 101,821 fan base expected for this Battle Royale. If the Tide can help stymie the rushing attack of LSU’s Spencer Ware (512 yards, 6 TDs) and Michael Ford (441 yards, 6 TDs), and break up the rhythm of the Tigers starting QB Jarrett Lee (13:1 TD to INT, 157.4 QB rating), this game at Tuscaloosa could quickly and easily swing to Alabama’s favor tonight. Add into that equation the offensive weaponry available to the A.J. McCarron-led Tide including star running back Trent Richardson (989 yards, 17 TDs), and a host of solid wide receiving targets led by Marquis Maze (39 catches, 482 yards), and Alabama looks very well prepared to stand up at home against the #1 team in the country.

That is however despite recognizing the obvious talents on the defensive side of LSU’s game plan. Head coach Les Miles hasn’t always been known for being a coach that styles his team for flash, offensive-based play, however this season he’s been able to keep an LSU tradition of low scoring defense and has combined that with an offensive that is considerably more potent than has been over the past few seasons. Starting with their 40-27 handling of then #3 Oregon at the beginning of the season, the Tigers have scored less than 35 points in a game only once this year, averaging 39.3 points a game for 13th in the FBS. Though their passing game is certainly not the focus of the Tigers attack, ranking just 98th in the FBS with183.1 yards/game, QB Jarrett Lee has allowed just one interception on the year (Utah St. is the only other team in the NCAA with only 1 pick given up), and has been increasingly protective and smart with his passing decisions. Looking over the past 3 weeks’ worth of performances, Lee has thrown at over a 70 percent completion rate, had a combined passer rating of 202.8, with 6 TDs and no INTS. Though never throwing for more than 165 yards, Jarrett Lee’s calm and poised demeanor in the pocket will be what gets tested most in Saturday night’s game, and will be especially interesting to watch should the Crimson Tide be able to shutdown the Tigers’ running game as they have everyone else’s.

Betting Lines for #1 LSU vs. #2 Alabama at Bodog Sportsbook

Bodog Sportsbook (Bodog.eu) gets our wagers for this epic clash of the top teams in NCAA College Football, and as expected the betting lines for this game lie front and center on the featured betting lines module on the Bodog website. At home, the Crimson Tide get the slight advantage on the money line, coming in at -190 odds, while the visiting LSU Tigers are +165 odds as underdogs. The points spread on this match-up tilts in favor of Alabama, giving the Tigers 5 valuable points to play with in this match-up of two top defenses. Expecting those two defenses to prevail over all in this match-up, the over/under is likely one of the smallest totals you’ll see in NCAA Football this season, with 42 points being the mark for this game (-115 under, -105 over).

Our Pick to Win:

In College Football there really is something to be said for home field advantage, especially when two top teams like this meet up in a big game. Both LSU and Alabama are legitimate national title contenders this year, and both have the two best defenses in the nation, however in a game with two teams that are so well matched in skill, coaching and tradition, the advantage boils down to which offense can keep pushing the ball forward, and which team keeps the mistakes to a minimum. LSU has an uncanny knack for scoring points quickly late in games, and continues to win by not allowing mistakes. If they are to win tonight, they’ll need to crack the Tide’s rushing defense, and avoid turnovers to the capitalistic Alabama defense. Alabama simply needs to stick to its rushing game, but also challenge LSU downfield with their wealth of receiving talent. In the end, the Alabama Tide look best positioned at home to ‘upset’ the #1 LSU Tigers, and for our pick on the biggest game of the year I like Alabama in a close upset 24-20. Roll Tide.

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