Free Expert NCAA Football Picks: Ole Miss Rebels at LSU Tigers Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 10/23/2014
Ole Miss Rebels at LSU Tigers, Saturday Oct. 25, 7:15 p.m. ET
I don't know how long it will take me to get used to talking about Ole Miss as a legitimate threat to win the National Championship Game, but I can tell you one thing - the season is two months old and I'm not used to it yet. That's not to say that this is not a good team or a real contender - they absolutely are. They have just been a completely irrelevant team nationally for so long that it takes a while to get your head around the change.
To keep the momentum going the Rebels only need to do one thing - keep winning. This is arguably only their third toughest remaining game - they have Auburn and Mississippi State to look forward to - but like most games in the SEC these days it is still a massive test.
LSU is coming off a big effort, beating Kentucky 41-3 last weekend. The month before that was far less impressive, though. They lost a tough one to Mississippi State at home, were crushed by Auburn in a 41-7 laugher, and narrowly escaped with a three-point win at the awful Gators. Having two conference losses already was certainly not the plan for Les Miles and his boys. The big question handicappers have to wrestle with here is whether their struggles mean that they are a team with problems or if they are capable of shaking off the struggles and contending with a very good team here.
Ole Miss Rebels at LSU Tigers Betting Storylines
The first thing the Tigers need to do in this one is avoid turnovers. The Rebels are the masters at getting the ball back ahead of schedule. Their 20 turnovers are the best in the conference by three, and 15 of those 20 have been interceptions. LSU QB Anthony Jennings has not thrown an interception against the SEC yet, but that doesn't mean that he is a good quarterback. He had just 120 passing yards and one TD in the rout of Kentucky, has completed only half of his passes on the season, and has thrown three picks in his last two nonconference games - against defenses much worse than what he will face here. It is a good bet that the Rebels will force a pick here - and a reasonable expectation that they will win the turnover battle. That's going to be a problem for the Tigers.
LSU's defense should be much better than it has been all year, and it showed what it is capable of in a very stingy performance against Kentucky last time out. The Wildcats managed just 217 total yards on offense, averaging a lousy 2.6 yards per rush, and a no-more-impressive 4.1 yards per pass attempt. The Rebels have a more diverse and accomplished offense, though. They have particularly done well at unleashing the big, momentum-shifting plays. The ability of the Tigers to avoid those momentum shifters will go a long way to defining how the game turns out.
The other big factor in this game will be the battle on the ground. LSU runs very well, and they are going to try to establish the run early and milk it all game long. Their offensive line is sound and has been particularly good in their last two games. Ole Miss is second in the SEC and sixth in the country against the run, allowing just 97.1 yards per game. The Rebels defensive line has been the best part of their team this year, so this is a clash of strengths in this one. How you view this battle turning out pretty much has to dictate how you expect the game to end.
Ole Miss Rebels at LSU Tigers NCAA Football Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with the Rebels favored by 3.5 on the road, and that has remained constant despite the fact that well over 70 percent of bets have been on the Rebels. Given that it hasn't moved so far, it is reasonable to expect that the line won't shift dramatically before game time. The total sits at 44.5.
Ole Miss Rebels at LSU Tigers Expert Predictions and Picks
I haven't come to terms with Ole Miss as a 7-0 team, so I can imagine how I am going to struggle when they are an 8-0 team. That's what I expect them to be, though. They are likely to be able to slow down LSU on the ground and minimize the effective of their passing game. That is going to make it tough for LSU to score, and you need to score to win. This is a very tough place for teams to play, but the Rebels have shown repeatedly this year that they don't get bothered by huge situations, so they should be fine. The line is a solid one, but I have no choice but to take the better team and hope they win convincingly.
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