LSU Tigers vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders, Tuesday Dec. 29, 9 p.m. ET
A few weeks ago I was sure that the preview of LSU's bowl game that I wrote would definitely include a discussion of how the school had made a horrible decision by firing Les Miles. It seemed inevitable. Instead, I am writing about how bizarre it was that they made everyone think they were firing him, neutered his recruiting efforts, and then announced they were keeping him as if was the plan all along. Very odd. Relevant to this game, though? Probably not as much as the betting public will assume it to be.
Texas Bowl Betting Storylines
There's one thing I know without question about this game. If it becomes a passing battle then the Tigers are in a whole lot of trouble. It would get really, really ugly in a hurry. Texas Tech is, as you would expect from Kliff Kingsbury, an aerial wonder. Behind the arm of surprising sophomore Patrick Mahomes, the Red Raiders have the No. 2 passing game in the country by yards, and that has driven the second-best scoring offense in the nation. LSU, by stark contrast, averages more than 216 fewer yards per game through the air than Texas Tech - they rank 110th in the country. What balances things out somewhat, though, are the defenses. LSU is not a great pass defense - they are 47th in the country against the pass. Texas Tech should be able to move the ball. My five-year-old son could move the ball against Texas Tech, though - they are one awful defense. Of course they are - an offense this good wouldn't be just 7-5 otherwise. They are 127th in the country in total yards allowed and 114th against the pass. Brandon Harris is not a particularly good passing quarterback, but he could have a solid day in this one - and that could make things interesting.
Of course, it is on the ground and not through the air that LSU will be looking to do their damage. They have a Top 10 rushing offense, with Leonard Fournette leading the way with 1,741 yards and 18 touchdowns. The last month of Fournette's season wasn't ideal - he went from Heisman favorite to also-ran with three rough games in a row, and he only really looked close to himself in the final against Texas A&M. If anything can get Fournette back on track and in his ultimate form, though, it is playing against Texas Tech. You thought they were bad against the pass? Their run defense ranks 126th in the country, allowing 271.8 yards per game. It's all but a certainty that Fournette is going to have a massive day in this one. That will also slow down the game somewhat - something that could be an issue for the Red Raiders. This is not an ideal matchup at all - and it could make up for the fact that Mahomes and the Texas Tech passing game should look good on the day.
Have I mentioned that this Texas Tech defense is really, really bad? Offensively they played their two best games of the season in their final two - scoring 59 at home against Kansas State to become bowl eligible and then 48 at Texas in the finale. That should have been enough to cruise to victories, but they allowed 44 and 45 points in the two games. Neither of those offenses were record-setting this year, either. LSU is going to score here.
Texas Bowl Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened all over the place - 6.5 in spots and 8 others. Very quickly, though, it settled with LSU as seven-point favorites, and that is where it has stayed. Nearly three-quarters of all bets have been on the Tigers, so it is possible we could see some movement going forward. The total sits high at 73.5.
The Red Raiders have gone "over" the total in their last seven games against teams with winning records. The Tigers have gone "under" in their last four games but over in their last five nonconference games.
LSU vs. Texas Tech Texas Bowl Expert Picks & Predictions
I don't have a sense of which way to go on the side in this one - every time I look at it I change my mind. What never wavers, though, is my opinion on the total. Neither defense matches up well against the strength of the opposing offense. This game has shootout written all over it - and neither coach is going to shy away from that. The over is the comfortable play here. I'm not sure that books could set the total high enough to make the over unattractive. They certainly haven't now.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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