LSU Tigers at Ole Miss Rebels, Saturday Nov. 21, 3:30 p.m. ET
There are games that probably mean more than this one this weekend. Michigan State at Ohio State has massive implications in the Big Ten. Two games in the Big 12 could bring clarity to the conference race or further muddy the picture. What makes this game worthy of writing about, though - aside from it being a game between two pretty good SEC teams - is Les Miles. This situation reminds us yet again of just how thankless the job of head coach of a major program can be.
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A couple of weeks ago Miles was on top of the world. His team was ranked No. 2, and his running back was running away with the Heisman. How quickly things have changed. A loss at Alabama wasn't the end of the world, but it was more lopsided that would have been ideal. It was last week's blowout loss to Arkansas that really caught attention, though. Now there are reports out there that Miles is coaching for his job this week and next week at home against the Aggies. That seems just bizarre given what Miles has accomplished over the years, but his is not a patient fan base and people know that he's not getting any younger, the end is going to come at some point, and people don't want another situation like Texas where a legendary coach stayed too long and ran the program into the ground.
I'm not suggesting that Miles is done or that they should make a change - I don't think they should. The fact that many people are, though, and that those whispers would become roars with a loss here, is what makes this game so very interesting.
LSU at Ole Miss Betting Storylines
For LSU lately it has been all about the offense - or rather the sudden lack of it. In their six prior wins the team had scored at least 34 points per game and had at least 44 in four of the six games. They scored just 16 against Alabama and 14 against Arkansas. The biggest issue has been the offensive line. It had been opening up alleys the size of freeways for Leonard Fournette to run through early on - He had at least 150 yards on the ground in each of his first seven games and at least 228 yards three different times. Fournette managed an abysmal 31 yards against Alabama. He was better against Arkansas, but his 91 yards were still well below expectations, and his 4.8 yards per carry were well below his usual production. His production per carry had been on a consistent decline even before the disaster against the Tide, and it has fallen off a cliff lately. The offensive line woes affect more than just the running game, of course, but this team goes as Fournette goes. The amount of faith you have in the ability of this line to rebound will determine a lot about how you feel about this game.
On the other side, the key to the Ole Miss offense is quarterback Chad Kelly. With two games left and just 377 yards needed, he is all but certain to beat Eli Manning's single-season passing record. He is at the helm of an offense that has had more than 50 passing yards per game more than any team in the SEC and one that leads the conference both in total yards and scoring. They are facing a defense that has proven vulnerable the last two weeks, and they could be in line for a big day. Of course, they will have to have a good day because the defense can't be relied upon to have one. The Rebels have lost three times, and they have allowed an average of 43 points per game in those losses.
LSU at Ole Miss Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Ole Miss favored by four points and has remained stable at that level. A small majority of bets have come in on the Tigers, but not enough to make a significant swing in the odds likely at this time. The total sits at 56.
The underdog is a strong 13-2 ATS in the last 15 meetings between these teams. The road team is 11-4 ATS over that stretch. The teams have gone "over" the total in four of the last five games played in Oxford.
NCAA Football Expert Picks Against the Spread: LSU at Ole Miss Predictions
Underdogs have dominated this series lately, and I'm going to bank on that happening again. Fournette produced 154 yards of offense last year when he wasn't nearly the beast he is now, so he should be in line for a much better day than he has had lately. That plus the desperation the Tigers are dealing with should be enough to power them to a win - or at least a cover - here. I'd take LSU at +4 happily and would seriously consider them on the moneyline as well.
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