Alabama Vs. LSU Odds, Picks, Predictions (11/5/22)

Every few years, it feels like Alabama and LSU football excel to the point where the entire nation’s eyes are on their annual clash. That won’t be the case this weekend- there’s a #1 vs. #2 (AP Poll) matchup in Athens on Saturday. But this game is still going to be excellent, as both teams sit in the top-10 of this season’s first CFP rankings, and while they’re the less talented side, LSU are coming in hot, and they’re the home team; nobody envies the task of road teams in Baton Rouge. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks for what should be an epic SEC rivalry clash.

Alabama Vs. LSU Odds

Alabama is favored by an eye-catching 13.5 points on the road; but that’s a significant half-point, if you’re betting LSU certainly look out for +14, or even consider buying that half point to protect against a two-touchdown margin. The points total is set at a less-shocking 56.5, relatively par for the course for offenses of this caliber in this defense-free era of SEC football.

Alabama Vs. LSU Prediction & Pick

I don’t know what the opposite of a wake-up call is, but that’s what the first CFP rankings were for these two teams. Alabama was the highest-ranked team with a loss, over undefeated TCU, and LSU was the highest-ranked team with 2 losses, most notably over Ole Miss- who, to be fair, the Tigers did beat- and Illinois. Both teams are clearly being given a chance by the committee, but neither has much margin for error; a loss could effectively end either team’s chances to be National Champions, although this is much more true for LSU.

That being said, it’s definitely easy to believe that at this moment, these teams are the 6th and 10th best in the country, if not better. Alabama is, well, Alabama; they may have more holes than usual, but their one loss was a very close one on the road against a great team, and they have the reigning Heisman Trophy winner under center. LSU have taken awhile to gel under new coach Brian Kelly, but they’ve hit their stride with big wins over Florida and then-undefeated Ole Miss. The ascendance of ASU transfer QB Jayden Daniels has been a massive theme across the past couple of games; he has racked up just short of 600 yards and 5 touchdowns through the air, while adding 165 and 6 on the ground over just those two games against quality competition. Slowing him down is going to be key to Alabama’s success, and it’s going to be a tall task in Death Valley.

I absolutely love LSU to cover in this one; the Tigers have improved as the season has progressed, and they have become underrated by Vegas, and just about everyone outside of the CFP committee. The spread is enormous for a top-10 showdown, and in a tough road game I don’t see Alabama being able to truly put away until the very end, I frankly would not be stunned if LSU won outright. In terms of the points total, I’m taking the over. LSU’s route to a win is a shootout, not to shut down Bryce Young, and frankly both teams have given up big totals to good teams, ones like each other.

Alabama vs LSU Key Matchups

Will this Alabama be able to slow down Jayden Daniels? Check out the key matchups for Alabama vs LSU below.

Jayden Daniels vs. Alabama Defense

Last time I previewed LSU, I picked Daniels against the entire Ole Miss defense as one of my key matchups. It may have seemed lazy, or at least too high-level, but I think it proved apt; he crushed them on the ground and in the air alike, and his dominance did turn out to be the key to the Tigers’ comeback win. It truly would have been a defense-wide effort to slow him down, and the Rebels didn’t do it; but can the Tide turn the…tide?

Well, if Alabama isn’t up to the task, I’m not sure anyone will be. According to PFF, they’re tied with Michigan as the third-best defense in all of FBS football, with a team grade of 93.6. They’re led by Will Anderson, a possible top-3 or so pick in the NFL draft, who hasn’t quite achieved the heights he did a year ago as a sophomore, but he does lead the team with 6 sacks, just a couple off of the national lead, and he even scored his first touchdown this year on a pick six. Anderson is far from alone, but if he’s at his best, he’s exactly the type of tremendous edge talent that can be key in limiting a dual-threat QB. He’s supported by a secondary headlined by shutdown corner and all-time CFB name Kool-Aid McKinstry, who has allowed an NFL passer rating just over 60 when targeted. Over the top is versatile safety, and owner of a less incredible but still solid name, Jordan Battle, who hasn’t given up a pass longer than 16 yards when targeted, pretty impressive for someone who’s generally going to be defending long passes. These stars and others will all need to be firing on all cylinders to slow down Daniels; as we’ve been quickly learning over the past few weeks, he can exploit any weaknesses a defense exhibits at any level.

Bryce Young vs. LSU Defense

Fine, I’ll do it for both teams- but is it really so shocking that LSU’s success would be inherently tied to how they’re able to defend perhaps the best quarterback in the nation? Young has shown the ability to perform in hostile environments- he was highly productive (455 yards on 67.3% completion) in the loss to Tennessee, even if the team overall came up just short. The current holder of the most prestigious individual honor in sports hasn’t been as prolific as he was in his award-winning season, but he’s still been efficient and excellent. PFF gives him the highest passing grade of any player with over 10 attempts, and he’s 10th in adjusted completion percentage amongst qualified passers. He also only allows 10.5% of pressures to turn into sacks, far better than the national average, and an enormously important trend to watch against LSU’s top-25 pass rush- we’ll get to them in a moment. Overall, Young has led ‘Bama to be the 9th-most explosive team in the country, and they’ve racked up the 4th-most points per game of any team in FBS. He’s done it all without the elite receiving group of Crimson Tides past; they have just the 54th best receiving score from PFF, and the team’s highest-rated receiver is actually starting halfback Jahmyr Gibbs. These wideouts are just not a highly talented bunch, they lack a true #1 guy and accordingly, Young has done a great job of evenly distributing the ball to keep defenses guessing.

LSU’s defense is in that tier of “very good” that sits just below the very top, and they’ll hope that the home crowd will make communication tough enough for Alabama that it feels like the Tigers defense is one of those genuinely elite groups. PFF has them at 28th in overall defense, and 6th against the run; they’re going to dare Young to beat them all by himself. The Tigers are led by that pair of star defensive linemen, interior man Mekhi Wingo and edge rusher BJ Ojulari, who have combined for 6 sacks and a forced fumble each. Ojulari has particularly excelled in pass rush, so he’ll be a key performer against Young, while Wingo has been a bit more of a run-stopper. Their secondary is a bit less impressive, the best PFF coverage grade belongs to Mekhi Garner, and it’s 72.7, which is more “just okay” than elite. They’ve only picked off 5 passes as a team this year, tied for the worst total in all of FBS. Safety Jay Ward and cornerback Colby Richardson have been downright liabilities while playing a ton of coverage snaps, so watch out for Young to go after them. LSU’s best route to success in this game is making sure their pass rush gets to Young early and often, but with his ability to avoid pressure, that task is far easier said than done.

From starting my own blog in Middle School, to working on a friend’s in college, and finally joining the Lineups team this year, I’ve been writing about sports for over a decade. I graduated from the University of Michigan last year, where I took sports journalism classes alongside my business major. Having played and watched sports for almost my whole life, I aim to provide insight and entertainment in my writing about professional and collegiate leagues.

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