It was a tough call this week in picking the marquee Saturday game to preview.
No. 2 Southern Cal could have a bit of a test traveling cross country to face Syracuse at MetLife Stadium. No. 19 Michigan looks to bounce back from being embarrassed by Alabama and has to deal with an Air Force attack that is dangerous with only a week to prepare. And Texas A&M and Missouri make their SEC debuts vs. Florida and Georgia, respectively.
But in my mind the best overall matchup has to be when Washington, which is just outside the Top 25 in both polls, visits No. 3 LSU on Saturday night. How rare is this for the Huskies? It will be their first road game in an SEC stadium since last visiting Baton Rouge in 1983. The two teams did play in Seattle in 2009 in Steve Sarkisian’s debut at UW. And Washington, which had been 0-12 the season before, gave the No. 11 Tigers all they could handle before falling 31-23.
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Washington at LSU Betting Storylines
Washington opened the season with a not-so-impressive 21-12 home victory over San Diego State. QB Keith Price, who will have to carry the offense with star running back Chris Polk having moved on, was 24-of-34 passing for 213 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He also rushed six times for 17 yards. The Huskies had a pretty vanilla game plan. The UW defense was one of the worst in the nation a year ago and was just mediocre under new coordinator Justin Wilcox. The Aztecs did rush for a concerning 199 yards, but Washington forced three turnovers. The last time the Huskies were on the field, against Baylor in the Alamo Bowl, they gave up 67 points.
The win was very costly for Washington as two offensive starters, running back Jesse Callier and right tackle Ben Riva, were injured. Callier tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and will miss the season. That means sophomore Bishop Sankey, who had 22 carries for 66 yards and a score in the opener, will get the bulk of carries. Riva fractured his forearm and will be out several weeks. He likely will be replaced by junior Erik Kohler, who will move from right guard to right tackle, where he started last season. Sophomore James Atoe would then move into Kohler's spot at right guard. The Huskies’ offensive line already was a pretty big question mark before Riva’s injury, and LSU might have the best defensive line in the nation.
LSU, meanwhile, beat North Texas 41-14 in its opener. Kenny Hilliard led a 316-yard rushing attack with 141 yards and two scores. QB Zach Mettenberger, the former Georgia transfer, made his first start and was solid in going 19-for-26 for 192 yards with a TD and a pick. The Tigers didn’t really let Mettenberger take many risks with the running game so dominant. LSU had two backs go over 100 yards for the first time in 30 years. Odell Beckham Jr., taking over punt return duties for the dismissed Tyrann Mathieu, ran one back 70 yards for a score. Beckham actually had a 76-yard return for a score as well but it came back due to a penalty. LSU is 16-1 under coach Les Miles when scoring a special teams touchdown.
LSU has now won a national-best 38 consecutive regular season nonconference games dating to 2002 – one shy of the FBS record -- and 18 straight games at home overall, also currently No. 1 in the country and one victory shy of the school record.
Washington at LSU Betting Odds and Trends
LSU is currently a 23.5-point favorite, according to college football odds, with the total at 53 on BookMaker. LSU was 10-4 ATS last season and 5-4 ATS at home. UW as 7-6 ATS in 2011 and 2-4 on road. Last year’s “over/under” records: UW 6-5-1, LSU 7-5-1.
UW is 1-5 ATS in its past six games overall and 0-4 ATS in its past four vs. teams with a winning record. LSU is 4-0 ATS in its past four games after an ATS loss. The Tigers are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games following a win of more than 20 points. The over is 8-3 in Washington’s past 11 nonconference games. The over is 5-1 in LSU’s past six nonconference games.
College Football Picks: Washington at LSU Predictions
On the bright side, Pac-12 teams are 12-11 against the SEC this century. But that record is 5-8 during the past six seasons when the SEC has won the national title in each. And Washington is just 2-9 all-time vs. current members of the SEC. When LSU wins it generally does so convincingly. Fourteen of the Tigers’ past 15 wins have come by double digits. The only one that didn’t was the regular-season overtime ugly victory at Alabama last season. LSU is 21-4 all-time against current members of the Pac-12, which includes a 4-0 record under Miles.
You know the Tigers aren’t going to lose at home at night because they rarely do, going 32-2 under the home lights under Miles. Plus, LSU has won 22 straight games overall in September. Can the Huskies cover? Both Huskies lines will be overmatched, so essentially Price will have to keep UW close by himself. I think he does a decent enough job, with UW losing by 21. That said, I would hold off as there is a heavy lean on LSU right now so you might get Washington at plus-24-24.5 later in the week. Take the under regardless.
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