Central Michigan vs. LSU College Football Odds, Pick: Bet the Chips in Week 3 (Sept. 18)

Central Michigan vs. LSU College Football Odds, Pick: Bet the Chips in Week 3 (Sept. 18) article feature image

Chris Graythen/Getty Images. Pictured: Ed Orgeron.

  • Central Michigan faces SEC foe LSU in Week 3 of the college football season on Saturday.
  • Despite LSU's status, Kody Malstrom expects Jim McElwain's Chippewas to keep it close.
  • Check out Malstrom's full betting preview, complete with odds and a pick below.

Central Michigan vs. LSU Odds

Saturday, Sept. 18
7:30 p.m. ET
SEC Network
Central Michigan Odds
-105o / -115u
LSU Odds
-105o / -115u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

If last year was my first year watching college football, I would've call you a liar if you told me LSU won the National Championship two years ago.

Coming off one of the most historically dominant seasons of all time, it's safe to say the Tigers have not sniffed anything close to the success they had with Joe Burrow under center.

The same year LSU went on to win it all, Central Michigan was in the middle of a rebuild. After going 1-11 in 2018, Central Michigan turned it around by going 8-6 in 2019 and 3-3 in a shortened 2020 season.

Central Michigan Chippewas

While LSU has been trending down, CMU has been showing signs of improvement over the past few years. Expectations have the Chippewas pegged as a fringe bowl contender, with a season win total of 6.5 juiced towards the under.

They're off to a good start to exceed expectations, finding themselves at 1-1 with their one loss being a narrow one against Missouri. If they want to get to a bowl game, they'll need to ride on the hot start of their running back room that features Lew Nichols III.

Chippewas Offense

The Chippewas running game has been rock solid so far into this season. This is in large part due to Nichols III. Two games into the season, he's ran for 214 yards and two touchdowns to an average of 5.9 yards a carry.

The running back room possesses other talent as well. De'Javion Stepney exploded in his last game, running for 81 yards on nine carries to an average of nearly a first down per carry. Also worth noting, Darius Bracy has rushed for 94 yards on eight carries.

The success for the running backs stems from their offensive line. They returned everyone from last season and have posted an impressive top-25 ranking in Line Yards. They'll need to continue to generate a push as LSU is no pushover with their Def. Rushing Success.

While the running game has been rock solid, Central Michigan's passing attack has been a different story. Quarterback Jacob Sirmon has been average, throwing for 405 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions at a 57.4 completion percentage.

Nothing eye popping, but if they want to keep opposing defenses on their toes then he will need to step it up.

If Central Michigan wants to help out Sirmon in the passing game, then the pass blocking will have to improve to give him more time to make the correct decisions. Central Michigan ranks near bottom in Pass Blocking and Off. Havoc, while LSU comes in at top 3 in both Pass Rush and Def. Havoc.

This is not a good combination if CMU can't get the run game going.

Chippewas Defense

Coming into the 2021 season, it would be near impossible for the defense to perform any worse than they did in 2020 in the passing game. This was a focus going into this season, as they gave up 16.4 yards per completion in the air.

So far so good, as the Chippewas defense is 33rd in Def. Pass Success. It's a small sample size, but the hope is for continued success as LSU comes in with a pedestrian 71st in Passing Success.

While the defensive passing is going through a revival, the CMU rush defense has been solid. Allowing the second-fewest explosive rushes in the country last season, Central Michigan has seen continued success as its currently ranked ninth in Def. Rushing Success and 18th in Def. Line Yards.

LSU has been very poor in the run game so far this season, which greatly favors Central Michigan. If the Chippewas can find continued success in its passing defense, then this could turn out to be a difficult day for LSU.

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LSU Tigers

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Being a Lions fan in the NFL and a UNC fan in college football, I very rarely get to take a victory lap. My victory laps usually come at the expense of other teams that falter.

LSU is one of them.

Coming off one of the most historically great seasons we've ever seen, I told everyone the drop off was going to be astronomical. People thought I was crazy and laughed at me.

Who's laughing now?

Since the departure of Joe Burrow and Joe Brady, LSU has been a shell of itself. Finishing last season at 5-5, the Tigers opened this season with a loss to UCLA.

The Tigers took care of business last week against a lesser McNeese State, but their offensive metrics are indicating it will be another long season.

Tigers Offense

If LSU wants to contend for the SEC, then it's going to have to figure out its run game. The numbers have been awful, albeit a small sample size two games in. They rank 119th in Rushing Success and 114th in Line Yards.

They simply are not generating a push against opposing rush defenses. This bodes well in CMU's favor as its ninth in Def. Rush Success and 18th in Line Yards.

Not a single LSU running back has over 70 rushing yards total this season. They also lost John Emery Jr. for the season due to academics. He led all Tigers out of the backfield with 14 catches last season.

While the run game is horrific, the passing game is a lot better for the Tigers. While nothing special, LSU has a Passing Success rank of 71st. Teams are finding trouble getting to the quarterback, with LSU boasting a rank of 18th in Pass Blocking.

The great protection for quarterback Max Johnson shows, as he's thrown for 491 yards, six touchdowns and one interception in two games so far. He wasn't asked to do much last week, throwing 18-of-27 for 161 yards and three touchdowns.

If LSU wants to avoid the upset, it'll need to once again rely on its pass blocking as CMU does not get to the quarterback. If they can give Johnson enough time to make the right read, then LSU could start figuring things out on offense for the long haul.

Tigers Defense

While the offense has been horrendous, the Tigers' defense has been pretty solid. Ranking in the top 30 in multiple advanced metrics, CMU will be constantly scratching its heads trying to figure out this defense.

This is a high-flying, nose for the ball defense. Ranking first in the nation in havoc, the Tigers will try to make life miserable for Sirmon & Co. They currently have six pass break ups and one interception this season.

The defensive line also contributes to their outstanding metrics, ranking in the top 30 in both Def. Rush Success and Def. Line Yards. They plug up the running lanes and also get to the quarterback. Ranking third in Def. Pass Rush, the Tigers have made life horrible for quarterbacks as they currently average six sacks a game so far.

The LSU defense will need to show out once again as the offense tries to figure things out. This could be a great tune-up game for them as the competition is going to get tougher in the coming weeks.

Central Michigan vs. LSU Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Central Michigan and LSU match up statistically:

Central Michigan Offense vs. LSU Defense




Rush Success3429
Line Yards2529
Pass Success9110
Pass Blocking*1173
Big Play2095
Finishing Drives8069
* Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

LSU Offense vs. Central Michigan Defense




Rush Success1199
Line Yards11418
Pass Success7133
Pass Blocking*18124
Big Play8374
Finishing Drives3497
* Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling40121
PFF Coverage10572
Middle 85853
SP+ Special Teams5120
Plays per Minute4635
Rush Rate56.9% (59)42.4% (117)

Data via College Football Data (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF & SportSource Analytics.

Central Michigan vs. LSU Betting Pick

This is going to be a battle of two great defenses to see who breaks first. While LSU has more talent and athleticism, the Central Michigan defense is nothing to sneeze at. The Chippewas ranked in the top two in rush defense last year and are cruising along this season as well.

If the Chippewas pass rush can generate any sort of pressure, this will make life easier for its secondary in keeping up with LSU's speed. This is vital, as LSU might take a pass-heavy approach as its run game has not been clicking so far.

As of writing this, the current number sits at LSU being a -19 favorite. We project LSU at -13.5. I took a piece on CMU at +20 and would buy this down to +17.5.

I will also be monitoring for a live under situation. If the LSU defense regresses to the mean and Central Michigan pulls out a big one to start, then a live total might be in play early on. The Tigers might come in relaxed; this is a textbook revenge-lookahead spot with Mississippi State on deck.

Pick: Central Michigan +20

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