Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for Alabama-LSU
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ed Orgeron and Nick Saban
- Trying to bet Alabama-LSU this weekend? We couldn't rely on one opinion to provide a winner, so we asked our whole staff.
- Our staffers give out their favorite picks, from LSU +14 to what kind of score the first touchdown will be.
For a game as big as LSU-Alabama, we can’t only rely on one person to give their opinion. We need to call in the cavalry.
Several of our staff members give out their favorite bet for LSU-Alabama below, including plays on the total, side, props and first half.
Betting Picks for Alabama-LSU
John Ewing: Under 53.5
Alabama and LSU have been two of the most profitable over teams in college football with the over, combining to go 11-5 in their games.
More than 60% of bets are on the over Saturday. But here are a few trends to consider before placing that over bet:
- Since 2005, when both teams have a winning over record, the under has gone 812-677-18 (54.5%). Oddsmakers inflate the over/under for teams that consistently go over.
- The Alabama and LSU defenses have allowed fewer than 20 points per game. In games when both teams allow 20 points or fewer, and Bama and LSU have participated, the under is 68-51 (57%).
- The under is 9-5 in Bama-LSU games since 2005.
Even though a majority of bets and dollars are on the over, the line has moved from 54.5 to 53.5.
Evan Abrams: Will The First Score of the Game Be a Field Goal? Yes (+220)
We all know about Alabama’s offensive prowess this season (54.1 PPG) and the fact that each of their eight games have opened with a touchdown within the first two possessions, with a touchdown the result of the first drive in seven games (six coming from Alabama).
According to S&P+, the best defense Alabama has faced so far this season was Texas A&M (30th) back in September at home (Alabama scored 45 points), with the next closest being Missouri (51st) about a month ago (Alabama scored 39).
The best defense the Tide have faced away from Tuscaloosa this season was Arkansas, who they scored a 76-yard touchdown against on the first play from scrimmage. I think LSU’s defense, which is ranked 8th in S&P+, will give Alabama some new looks and a different test away from home in “Death Valley” at night.
That’s especially given the fact that LSU is 12th in Defensive Explosiveness and 7th in Defensive Pass Explosiveness this season, which hopefully can come into effect early at home.
I think early in the game, both teams will be satisfied getting points on the board. From the Alabama point-of-view, silencing the crowd and getting up early will be vital and for LSU, any type of momentum at all to start the game is a plus, because against the Alabama juggernaut, it’s going to be about survival.
Ken Barkley: LSU +14
I’m excited just typing these sentences, which means this must be a significant game in the complexion of the season. The handicap SHOULD be sort of simple, but it actually is unfortunately complex. I will explain.
The simple part is to identify what games are driving the ratings and metrics of the two teams. By that measure, Alabama is incredibly overrated and LSU is incredibly underrated in the context of this market. Alabama still has played almost no one — you are putting a lot of stock in the Texas A&M program if you consider that a marquee win of any kind.
Meanwhile, games against Louisville (atrocious), Arkansas State (not even close physically) and the worst of the worst in the SEC have created the impression that Alabama is an impenetrable tank moving towards the national title with no obstacles in sight. The point of that opponent analysis isn’t to say that Alabama isn’t great, or even the greatest, it’s that WE STILL DON’T KNOW.
There is nothing predictive about these games save for maybe the absurd margins of victory. That tells us that Alabama is really good at dominating teams this season that they are more talented than.
Meanwhile, LSU has had games against Miami, Florida, Georgia AND Mississippi State (none of whom Alabama has played) that are forming its metrics. You can even throw Auburn in there, although this Auburn team is not really an Auburn team. This LSU team is not only the best team Alabama has played so far, it is BY FAR the best defense it has played, and it’s not really that close. The difference in defense cannot be overstated enough here.
The complexity of the handicap is the aforementioned unknown. When Alabama plays the teams on its schedule and wins by 50 every single week, it definitely casts some doubt on fading the Tide.
The games have not been close, and were never close, so although their metrics are inflated by competition, it is possible they can do the same to any team this season. Again, we just don’t know what they are yet, really. Are they three points better than Clemson (No. 2 in most ratings) or 14? Or 100?
Given the complete polarizing nature of the team’s opponents, though, and with LSU obviously having as significant a home-field advantage in a night/rivalry situation, I am forced to conclude there has to be at least SOME line value with LSU here.
We’ll call LSU a lean at +14.
Stuckey: LSU +14
I agree with everything that Ken said in regards to Alabama’s schedule. The Tide have yet to face a team that will provide any type of resistance to their elite passing attack.
While I obviously still think Tua is more than capable than passing this test — even on the road in a hostile environment — I do think that the way Alabama has eviscerated all of the nonexistent defenses it has faced so far this year is leading to a slightly inflated line.
Additionally, one of the areas not enough people are talking about (as always) is special teams. Alabama has looked shaky in both the kicking and punting game this year. The kicking game has been shaky from Week 1 and its freshman punter has badly shanked a few punts. While that doesn’t really matter in blowouts, it could actually matter against a formidable defense that could actually force a few punts and/or hold Bama to field goal attempts.
On the flip side, LSU’s special teams have been excellent, especially at punter and kicker.
The advanced metrics tell the same story. Per S&P+, LSU ranks third overall in special teams, while Alabama ranks 92nd.
The Tigers are much more likely to make a play or two on special teams and win the hidden yardage battle.
Danny Donahue: LSU +8 (First Half)
I agree with both Stuckey and Ken that LSU is the play in this game, but I think the first half might offer a tad more value than the game itself.
While the full game spread has fallen from 14.5 to 14 — giving Alabama bettors the benefit of a push in a two-touchdown game — the first half spread still requires the Tide to be ahead by more than one full touchdown, making this an opportunity to follow reverse line movement without actually losing any line value.
Alabama has covered every first half line this season, and 85% of bettors are expecting that trend to continue, which leads to a potentially valuable fade opportunity. I’ll ride with the books and count on LSU to keep this within one score through 30 minutes.
Steve Petrella: Alabama -13.5
I’ve been anti-Joe Burrow all season. LSU’s quarterback just hasn’t looked that good, and I don’t think we can expect him to ball out against an Alabama defense that’s still exceptional. BookMaker is offering 13.5 as of Saturday morning, and I’ll take the Tide.
Nick Saban hasn’t unleashed this unit in its full form, and I think that happens today. Even if it’s not a blowout, I don’t see how LSU scores enough.
I’m also looking for…
- Irv Smith First Touchdown
Many beat writers have speculated that Smith, Alabama’s monster tight end, will benefit from the suspension of LSU linebacker Devin White the most. If I can find a good price closer to game time, I’m interested.
- Longest touchdown over 51.5 yards
This prop is out at a lot of books. For the over to hit, there must be a touchdown of at least 52 yards.
Alabama ranks second in explosiveness and we’ll see Tua test the LSU secondary all day. The Tide are incredibly dangerous downfield.
On the other side, the Tide’s defense ranks 109th in defending explosiveness, and the secondary is susceptible to big plays. If the Tigers are going to score, it might require a big play.
Collin Wilson: Over 53.5, 1H Over 26.5
LSU will be the stiffest test for Alabama to date, with an overall defensive IsoPPP rating of 7th, meaning the Tigers don’t give up a ton of big plays. That includes 26th defending rush explosiveness and 7th on pass explosiveness on passing downs.
If Tua blows this defense away, hand him the Heisman and fast forward these guys to UGA in the SEC title game. And I can see it happened, which is why I’m on these overs. The only other defense they could possibly face better than this is Michigan and Clemson. Not Georgia.
Joe Burrow is gonna be under a ton of pressure with his offensive line (87th in sack rate) against Alabama defensive line that ranks fourth in sack rate. We can’t measure the LSU Joe Burrow clutch factor, so I wont try.
I’ll be on the first half and full game over, and will also look for a Tua interception prop. I just think Bama goes pass-crazy with LSU linebacker Devin White suspended.