Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, November 8, 2013 at 10:00 AM
Blockbuster Weekend continues Saturday Night when the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide face what is likely to be their toughest test before the BCS championship game (if they make it) when they host the LSU Tigers in a game that will be televised nationally by CBS.
Sure, they may end up facing teams higher than LSU in the BCS Standings after this. But, that’s because the BCS Standings are kind of INSANE once you get past the top few spots. Most respected Power Ratings have LSU higher than Auburn (still on the Alabama schedule) and Missouri (a likely opponent in the SEC Championship game). Any good team is a threat on any given day. On paper, LSU is the starkest SEC threat Alabama will be dealing with from this point forward.
Let’s review what each team has done so far this season. Pay special attention to what’s been happening lately…because both teams have been drifting in opposite directions the past few weeks.
LSU (-4) beat TCU 37-27 (winning yardage 448-259)
LSU (-35) beat UAB 56-17 (losing yardage 445-296)
LSU (-36) beat Kent State 45-13 (winning yardage 571-248)
LSU (-17) beat Auburn 35-21 (winning yardage 456-437)
LSU (+3) lost at Georgia 44-41 (losing yardage 449-494)
LSU (-7) won at Mississippi State 59-26 (winning yardage 566-468)
LSU (-8) beat Florida 17-6 (winning yardage 327-240)
LSU (-10) lost at Ole Miss 27-24 (losing yardage 388-522)
LSU (-47) beat Furman 48-16 (winning yardage 672-198)
LSU had the look of a top five team through the first month of the season. And, a 3-point road loss to Georgia wasn’t necessarily a strike against that because Georgia was also seen as a top five caliber team at the time! But, the two game stretch involving Florida and Ole Miss raised some serious doubts about LSU…as did the subsequent slump of Georgia.
*Struggling to get past Florida looked really bad when Missouri absolutely crushed the Gators statistically with their backup quarterback. True powers should beat Florida by a lot more than 17-6, even if that was a covered spread against a Vegas line that was also overrating Florida.
*Losing to Ole Miss, particularly with such horrible yardage, was a huge strike against the Tigers. Ole Miss had been outclassed all season by the best in the SEC, and should have been worn down by the time that game showed up on the calendar. Instead, it was LSU who looked tired and out of sorts.
Now…LSU is going to bring peak intensity and energy into the Alabama game. They won’t be tired, or distracted, or overconfident. But, there are now questions about how well their talent will match up given the general fade of the LSU/Georgia combo in recent weeks. Note that LSU is 2-4-1 ATS last seven games, with one of the covers arguably coming because Florida was overrated at the time.
Alabama (-21) beat Virginia Tech 35-10 (losing yardage 206-212)
Alabama (-9) won at Texas A&M 49-42 (losing yardage 568-628)
Alabama (-38) beat Colorado State 31-6 (winning yardage 338-279)
Alabama (-16) beat Ole Miss 25-0 (winning yardage 434-205)
Alabama (-55) beat Georgia State 45-3 (winning yardage 477-175)
Alabama (-26) won at Kentucky 48-7 (winning yardage 668-170)
Alabama (-29) beat Arkansas 52-0 (winning yardage 532-256)
Alabama (-28) beat Tennessee 45-10 (winning yardage 479-322)
Alabama was clearly not playing at a championship level in their first three games. Their yardage numbers against Virginia Tech and Colorado State were a joke. And, even though they won at Texas A&M (which Auburn subsequently did also), they were outgained significantly. Legitimate questions were being raised about whether or not Alabama was truly destined for another championship run.
They answered those questions EMPHATICALLY with a devastating run through outmatched SEC opponents (and Georgia State). Alabama began playing like a champion against Ole Miss, and has yet to take its foot off the gas. They are 4-1 ATS their last five, with the only non-cover coming with backups in the garbage game against a Sun Belt opponent.
Current Vegas Line: Alabama by 12, total of 55
It’s very clear that the market is being strongly influenced by recent trends. No way Alabama is -12 at home if this game is being played in late September or early October. But, NOW, they’re seen as a juggernaut while LSU is seen as inconsistent and untrustworthy.
Has the market overreacted? Note that oddsmakers opened the line at -9 and sharps bet it up to -12 (mostly sharps and some public). Are the sharps overreacting after oddsmakers were more on the money?
JIM HURLEY always has this game on his mind when studying the SEC. That’s been true for a few years now. Whenever each team took the field in the two months prior, he was analyzing play-by-play data with an eye towards this game. IT’S FINALLY HERE!
Maybe LSU/Alabama is going to show up as a major “Game of the Year” caliber release. Maybe it’s going to be part of a TV TRIPLE CROWN. The only way to find out for sure is to purchase the Saturday slate right here at the website with your credit card. If you preferring doing business over the phone with a representative, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155.
Our next NOTEBOOK entry will be Sunday when we preview Dallas/New Orleans for you in NBC’s prime time NFL matchup (as a great football weekend continues!) Don’t make a move in LSU/Alabama UNTIL YOU HEAR WHAT JIM HURLEY HAS TO SAY!