The schedule does not get any easier for LSU after their impressive win over SEC-rival Mississippi St. last week, as the 3rd-ranked Tigers (3-0) travel to Morgantown, WV this Saturday (8:00pm ET) to take on the 16th-ranked Mountaineers of West Virginia (3-0) out of the Big East in a primetime, non-conference matchup. The Tigers have a pair of impressive wins in their repertoire this season, defeating defending National runner-up Oregon 40-27 in week one and their 19-6 win on the road against Miss. St. last week in which they covered the 3.5 point line as I correctly predicted. West Virginia covered last week as well, as they covered a 1 point line in a 37-31 shootout over Maryland on the road.
The LSU defense has been more impressive in each successive week, holding Miss. St. to 193 total yards and an average of 1.5 yards per rush last week. The Tigers rank 6th among FBS teams in yards allowed with an average of 207.7 per game, and 14th in points allowed with an average of 12 per game. The Tiger offense under much-maligned QB Jarrett Lee has averaged 36 points per game, and has been efficient if not explosive. WVU quarterback Geno Smith has been outstanding this season for the Mountaineers, compiling 7 touchdowns and over 1,000 yards on a 69.5 % completion percentage while compiling a 42 point per game scoring average (15t best in the nation). Defensively WVU runs an unorthodox 3-3-5 scheme that attacks the offense from a variety of different angles. The Mountaineers rank 41st in the country with 18.7 PPG allowed and 40th in total defense with 316.3 YPG allowed.
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LSU vs. West Virginia Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
LSU Tigers -6
@West Virginia Mountaineers +6
Over 48 (-110)
Under 48 (-110)
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LSU vs. West Virginia Pick:
The Tigers upset a West Virginia team that was favored by 9.5 points last season by a score of 20-14 in Baton Rouge. The under is 7-3 in LSU’s last 10 games as a favorite. West Virginia is 8-2 ATS in their last 10 game against teams with winning records and the over is 9-2 in their last 11 games as an underdog. LSU has won 35 straight non-conference games in the regular season, the longest streak in the nation, since losing to Virginia Tech in its 2002 season opener.
The most interesting, and pivotal matchup in this game will be the swarming LSU defense against the explosive West Virginia offense. The Tiger defense is nearly impossible to run against with an average of 47.7 YPG (3rd best in the nation) allowed, and they have shut down two very strong running teams in Oregon and Miss. St. The Mountaineers do not run the football much, averaging only 78.7 YPG on the ground, LSU knows this and will be able to pin their ears back and come after Smith with their best pass rushers. The LSU secondary has only given up 160 yards per game passing, but this will be their biggest test to date and they should be up to the task of holding Coach Dana Holgorsen’s offense in check as much as any team can. Smith was held to 119 yards passing and a 48% completion percentage in last season’s meeting, and if the Tigers can hold him to less than 250 yards through the air they should win going away. LSU should be able to run the ball effectively with Spencer Ware and Michael Ford, who have combined for 444 yards and seven TDs on the ground, and control the clock keeping the WVU offense on the sidelines. Lee should be able to put enough points on the board to cover the spread with the help of maybe the top overall defensive unit in the country right now.