Oregon vs. LSU Predictions and College Football Picks
by Alan Matthews - 8/31/2011
With all due respect to Boise State and Georgia – which unfortunately is on television at the same time so get those picture-in-picture directions back out or head to your local watering hole – the game of college football’s opening weekend is Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium outside Dallas when No. 3 Oregon and No. 4 LSU face off in what could conceivably be a National Championship preview. It’s the first time that two preseason Top-5 teams have opened against each other in a nonconference game since 1984.
The Ducks, of course, lost on the game’s final play in last season’s national title game vs. Auburn for their only loss of the year. They are two-time Pac-10 Champions and are the 5/2 favorites to win the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game this year at Bodog.
LSU has a double bit of irony for this game. The Tigers are playing for the second game in a row at Cowboys Stadium as they beat Texas A&M, 41-24, in the Cotton Bowl to close last year at 11-2. And, of course, Texas A&M now will be LSU’s conference foe in the SEC West next year after Wednesday’s A&M official announcement that it’s leaving the Big 12.
Both Oregon and LSU are 14/1 to win the national title.
Oregon vs. LSU Betting Storylines
Oregon had one of the most powerful and exciting offenses in college football history last year in leading the country in points at 47 points per game and as well in scoring drives of less than two minutes by more than a mile over anyone else – the Ducks had 45 of them, the next highest was Boise State with 36. Both QB Darron Thomas and RB LaMichael James are back and are Heisman Trophy candidates, with James a finalist last year after leading the nation in rushing.
However, did Auburn provide an SEC-type blueprint on how to slow the Ducks? Those Tigers held Oregon to just 19 points in the title game. After averaging 304 yards per game on the ground, Oregon was held to 81 yards by the Auburn defense. James was held to just 49 yards on 13 carries. That was the only game all season that Oregon didn’t score in the third quarter and the second time last season it was shutout in two quarters of a game. LSU’s defense was better than Auburn’s last year, ranking 11th nationally in scoring defense and leading the SEC in forced turnovers (32), but that unit did lose a few stars in DT Drake Nevis, LB Kelvin Sheppard and all-world cornerback Patrick Patterson. It will be still be top-notch.
And really this game has become about who isn’t playing. Both LSU starting QB Jordan Jefferson and stud WR Russell Shepard are out of this one for separate NCAA issues. Starting in place of Jefferson will be senior Jarrett Lee. Lee has made nine career starts, eight as a redshirt freshman in 2008 when he threw a whopping seven interceptions that were returned for scores. He has thrown for 2,643 yards with 18 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in his very up-and-down career. Lee played in 12 games last season and led the Tigers on a game-winning drive at Florida. However, LSU’s passing offense was lousy last year at No. 107 in the nation as it was so without Jefferson and Shepard it’s hard to see it being much better. Also out for LSU is guard Josh Dworaczyk (knee injury).
The good news for Lee is that Oregon’s own all-world cornerback and return man, all-American Cliff Harris, also is suspended for this game. He led the country with 23 passes defended and the Pac-10 with six interceptions last season.
LSU and Oregon have met three times, but not since 1977. OU has won three of its past four vs. the SEC, with that loss obviously to Auburn.
Oregon vs. LSU Betting Odds and Trends
Oregon opened as a one-point favorite on NCAA football odds with the total at 55. The Ducks were 7-5-1 ATS last year and 3-4 away (this is technically a neutral site). LSU was 6-7 ATS and 2-3 away.
LSU has covered just once in its past six as a dog of three points or less. Oregon closed last year covering just one of its final five games. And the ‘under’ hit in three of the final four for the Ducks.
Oregon vs. LSU Predictions and College Football Picks
The Ducks are a very good 3-2 vs. Top 10 teams under Chip Kelly, with both losses coming in BCS bowl games the past two seasons. Those also happened to be Oregon’s past two neutral-site games. Still, I just don’t think LSU can score enough without Jefferson and Shepard around. It’s not like Oregon was a bad defensive team last year, either. Definitely take the Ducks here but also the ‘under’ – hard to see how Oregon puts up some 40-spot on that LSU defense that had all offseason to prepare.
Doc’s Sports is set to embark on their 40th year in the sports handicapping business this football season. Yes, Doc started the company back in 1971 and still spends his weekends in front of the TV watching numerous games throughout the day. We are again expecting a monster season in college football anchored by our weekly selections from the Big Ten Conference. Our main office is located right in the heart of Big Ten Country and each year we fully expect to hit 2 out of every 3 college football picks we release from this conference. Jump on board now with a full season football picks package from Doc’s Sports!
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