Why wouldn’t I want seven points in my pocket with LSU?

The more time I’ve invested in studying this Saturday night’s marquee college football showdown between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the LSU Tigers, the more I find myself circling back to the same question I’ve been asking since the beginning of the week.

Why wouldn’t I want seven points in my pocket with LSU?

Since Nick Saban left the Miami Dolphins to take the reins at Alabama, the Tide and Tigers have squared off against one another eight times during the regular season, with Alabama holding a 5-3 edge. But here’s the kicker: Those eight games have been decided by an average of just 4.2 points per game, with six of those showdowns resulting in a margin of victory of seven points or less.

So, again, I ask myself, why wouldn’t I want seven points in my pocket with LSU? After all, the Tigers, like the Crimson Tide, are coming off a bye week. But Les Miles and LSU are 6-2 against the spread over their last eight games when coming off a bye while Saban is a career 12-16-1 against the number when coming off a week of rest.  

But it doesn’t end there when it comes to trends pointing in the direction of the Tigers.

Louisiana State is 6-2-1 ATS in its last nine trips to Tuscaloosa while Alabama is 0-5 ATS over its last five home dates.

One way or another, I’ll get the answer to my question once the dust settles at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday night. All that’s left to ponder between now and then is whether or not I’m making the correct decision by supporting the Tigers.

SHARP VS. PUBLIC: BEHIND THE COUNTER

Each and every week this column will converse with a Las Vegas insider in an effort to provide you, our loyal and dedicated readers, with enough inside information possible to make more educated and informed wagers. This week we speak with Randy Blum, one of the highly respected members of the sportsbook team at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

*Point spreads current as of Thursday evening.

Sharp sides: Illinois (-5, at Purdue) and Georgia State (+2, vs. UL Lafayette)

Purdue-Illinois was as low as a pick ‘em earlier this week before sharp action hit the books Thursday, steaming the line all the way north to Illinois -5. The Fighting Illini are just 1-4 ATS in their last five trips to Purdue, but the Boilermakers are just 3-7 ATS over their last 10 games following a win and 0-4 ATS over their last four outings after scoring more than 40 points in the previous game. 

This is an interesting move until you consider the fact that Purdue hasn’t notched back-to-back victories since 2012. Additionally, Illinois running back Josh Ferguson could return to action this Saturday for the first time since sustaining a shoulder injury on October 3 against Nebraska.  

Despite an overall record of just 2-5, Georgia State is 4-2 ATS over its last six games while UL Lafayette has covered just one spread in its last five contests.

Public sides: Georgia (-14, vs. Kentucky)

Having dropped three of their last four games, Georgia head coach Mark Richt now finds himself fighting for job security in the wake of a humiliating 27-3 defeat against Florida last Saturday in “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.”  

The Bulldogs are 0-4 ATS over their last four home games and 8-20 ATS over their last 28 contests when scoring less than 20 points in the previous game. But Kentucky hasn’t faired much better, as the Wildcats are 8-22 ATS over their last 30 conference games and 0-4 ATS over their last four games overall.

Sharp totals: Kansas-Texas Under 53

The winless Jayhawks are averaging just 16.5 points per game this season with 10 or fewer points scored in three of the program’s last four outings. However, Charlie Strong’s Longhorns haven’t faired much better on the offensive side of the football in 2015.

Texas is averaging just 21.3 points per game on the year with 24 or fewer points recorded in four consecutive outings. Note that the Under is 12-3 in the Jayhawks’ last 15 road games and 22-6 in the Longhorns’ last 28 conference matchups.

Public totals: Iowa State-Oklahoma Over 61

Be careful here as this game opened with a total of 63 before being bet down to its current number of 61, so while the public may be pounding the Iowa State-Oklahoma Over at the Westgate SuperBook, sharper money could be hitting the Under someplace else. 

Since falling 24-17 against Texas back on October 10, Oklahoma has scored 55, 63 and 62 points, respectively, over its last three outings. Additionally, the Over is 5-1 in Oklahoma’s last six games overall and 5-0-1 in Iowa State’s last six showdowns following a victory.

Games experiencing the most action: Alabama Crimson Tide (-7) vs. LSU Tigers and Clemson Tigers (-11) vs. Florida State Seminoles.

BONER OF THE WEEK AWARD

If a Power Five conference program averaged 47.3 points per game through their first nine contests of the season, what would you expect their overall record to be?

If you answered 5-4, you’d be right.

This week’s “Boner of the Week Award” isn’t so much a focus on one particular instance of bad play from last Saturday, but rather, a scorching indictment of the defense that is played in the Big 12 Conference. How in the hell can Texas Tech average damn near 50 points per game on the season but already have four losses?

It’s simple, really. Kliff Kingsbury’s Red Raiders have already surrendered 50 points to the opposition four times this season, 60 points three times and 70 points once. That’s embarrassing for a defense that spends every single day of the summer and fall practicing against an offense that, again, is scoring damn near 50 points per game this season!

This leads me to the question that so many of us have asked countless times over the last decade: How is it possible for schools like Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma State to recruit such tremendous offensive talent while at the same time putting 11 clueless defenders on the field each and every week with little to no semblance of how to generate a stop on third down? 

This is just one of the many reasons why the cries and complaints of schools like Baylor and TCU regarding their respective positions in the college football playoff rankings so often fall on deaf ears.

MIND-BLOWING TREND OF THE WEEK

The TCU Horned Frogs are just 1-14 against the spread over their last 15 games when allowing 20 or more points as road favorites.

Texas Christian is currently a 4.5-point road favorite for Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. ET showdown at Oklahoma State against a Cowboys team that has scored 24 or more points in all eight contests this season while averaging a staggering 44.0 points per game.  

On the flip side, TCU’s defense has surrendered 20 or more points in four of its last six outings while permitting an average of 24.5 points per game on the season.

BIGGEST LINE MOVES OF THE WEEK

Georgia State Panthers (from +6.5 to +2) vs. UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns: Two programs trending in opposite directions here as Georgia State has covered the number in four of its last six outings – despite losing four of those games – while the Ragin’ Cajuns have turned a profit just once over the school’s last five contests. Note that UL Lafayette is just 4-10-1 ATS over its last 15 games against teams with a losing record while Georgia State is 5-2 ATS over its last seven matchups after surrendering more than 450 total yards in the previous game.

Texas State Bobcats (from -14 to -17) vs. New Mexico State Aggies: Classic letdown spot for New Mexico State, who commenced their 2015 campaign with seven consecutive losses by an average of 18.0 points per game before finally breaking through with a 55-48 victory last Saturday against Idaho. Now that a winless season is out of play, look for New Mexico State to revert back to its losing ways, as the Aggies are 3-11 ATS over their last 14 games overall while Texas State is 4-1 ATS over its last five home dates.

Tulsa Golden Hurricane (from -14 to -17) vs. Central Florida Knights: Tulsa has topped the 40-point mark in each of its last two outings and is averaging a healthy 35.3 points per game this season, which should pose a big problem for a Central Florida defense that is surrendering an average of 38.3 points per game in 2015. In addition, the Knights are a pathetic 1-9 ATS over their last 10 games overall while the home team in this series is 6-1 ATS over the last seven meetings between these two schools.

South Alabama Jaguars (from -7 to -10) vs. Idaho Vandals: South Alabama has dropped three of its last four outings, but the Jaguars are coming off a bye week to play host to an Idaho team that just fell 55-48 last Saturday to a previously winless New Mexico State Aggies program. But the big reason for this line move lies in the fact that while Idaho is 3-5 on the season, all five of those defeats came on the road by an average of 22.6 points per game. Additionally, Idaho’s five road losses featured 10 turnovers and 11 sacks sustained by the Vandals.

California Golden Bears (from +6 to +4) at Oregon Ducks: Interesting line move here as California’s impressive 5-0 start to the season quickly turned into a three-game losing streak at the hands of Utah, UCLA and USC, respectively. Granted, this Oregon squad is a far cry from what we’re used to seeing with Chip Kelly at the helm, but the Ducks did bounce back from a 45-38 home loss to Washington State on October 10 to notch road wins at Washington (26-20) and Arizona State (61-55) in their two outings since. For those of you still interested in following the line move, be advised that California is just 1-5 ATS in its last six trips to Eugene.

DAILY FANTASY VALUE PLAY OF THE WEEK

Skyler Howard, QB, West Virginia Mountaineers ($7,700 on FanDuel): Howard is the 13th-ranked quarterback for FanDuel’s early college football games, but by the time the dust settles Saturday evening, the junior signal-caller should far exceed those expectations.  

Howard’s numbers on the season have been respectable, but it’s his matchup we’re most interested in here, as the Texas Tech defense has allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 65.0 percent of their passes this season with a grand total of 15 aerial touchdowns surrendered to TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.  

In addition, note that Vegas has this game posted with a total of 80 points, not to mention the fact that the Mountaineers are currently 8.5-point favorites. Enjoy both the shootout and the value that comes with backing Howard against a leaky Texas Tech secondary Saturday afternoon.

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