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  • Alabama’s offense is the best unit in college football, but LSU’s defense is in the discussion for second place. The gap between the two will determine the outcome for bettors.
By Ed McGrogan
October 31, 2018

Alabama Crimson Tide at LSU Tigers (+14.5)

Sat. 11/3, 3:30 pm ET

Three things you need to know before betting on Alabama-LSU:

1. When unbeaten Georgia came to Death Valley two weeks ago, the Tigers—and the points—were the smart bet because of LSU’s body of work and the Bulldogs’ unimpressive schedule. This is a very talented and continually undervalued LSU team. The Tigers have hammered their opponents and Vegas of late, covering 10 of their past 11 conference games, including their showdown at Alabama last season.

The key for LSU is its defense. Before its bye, the Tigers held high-powered Mississippi State—which scored 28 against Texas A&M last weekend—to a microscopic 59 yards passing and three points. It also inspired Georgia fans to call for Jake Fromm’s benching, which seems absurd after the quarterback’s play last weekend against Florida. Alabama’s offense may be the best unit in college football, but LSU’s defense is in the discussion for second place.

LSU's standout linebacker Devin White will miss the first half of this divisional clash because of a targeting penalty, but the defense should still be able to disrupt Bama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Alabama hasn’t faced a defense better than 90th in yards per play this season. LSU is 24th.

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2. Of course, Alabama’s defense is pretty good, too. Though overshadowed by the prolific offense, the Tide defense is surrendering just 118.3 rushing yards and 194.5 passing yards per game. That presents a particularly intimidating challenge for LSU, which doesn’t have an aerial attack of note. If Alabama is able to establish a lead in the second half of this game, the Tigers game-managing QB Joe Burrow will have to do more than he’s comfortable with through the air. In that way, Alabama’s offense has been so good that it’s actually forced the hand of opposing offenses.

Regardless of whether LSU throws or runs the ball, it is averaging just 5.33 yards per play—last in the entire SEC. (Alabama accrues 8.3 yards per play, second in the country.) Keeping pace with Alabama will be the Tigers’ greatest challenge of their season. Getting back in a game it is trailing will be nearly impossible.

3. The last time Alabama beat LSU by more than 14.5 points in Baton Rouge was in 2002, when Nick Saban coached the Tigers. Since then, the Tide is 4-3 straight up at LSU, and 3-3-1 against the spread. One of the SEC’s best rivalries is renewed on Saturday with immense stakes, which might make it tempting to throw out the numbers when these two teams meet. But with an Alabama offense that might be its best yet under Saban, the Tide should continue to roll, and cover, against LSU.

Pick: Alabama -14.5

Confidence Level: High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)

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