Tennessee vs. LSU Odds, Picks: Breaking Down This Saturday SEC College Football Affair
Chris Graythen/Getty Images. Pictured: LSU wide receiver Kayshon Boutte.
- Tennessee travels to Baton Rouge to take on the LSU Tigers as part of college football's Week 6.
- While the Vols are coming off of a bye week, the Tigers are still figuring out their offense under new head coach Brian Kelly.
- Collin Wilson previews the game and offers up his best bet.
Tennessee vs. LSU Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
As expectations for undefeated Tennessee grow, the gauntlet of SEC scheduling awaits in the month of October.
With a last-minute scramble victory over Florida in Week 4, the Volunteers spent the bye week looking to recover from injury. Head coach Josh Heupel continues his uptempo brand in the SEC, scoring a minimum of 34 points with at least 325 yards passing in each game.
The fourth-fastest offense in the nation has been assisted by a revamped defense that has terrorized opposing rushing attacks.
LSU came into the season with new coaches, new schemes and one of the largest pulls from the transfer portal. The youth of the offensive line played a critical role in a Week 1 loss to Florida State. But the Tigers have won four straight, cashing tickets until last week's road game at Auburn.
A lack of experience has been a speed bump in head coach Brian Kelly's first month, but with more than 300 snaps of experience on both sides the ball, LSU continues to improve on its quest to exceed preseason expectations and make a bowl game.
The loss of Cedric Tillman at wide receiver left quarterback Hendon Hooker with unproven weapons at the wideout position.
Both Bru McCoy and Ramel Keyton lined up outside for a combined 10 targets against Florida, with McCoy posting the bulk of his yards on a missed coverage assignment from the Gators defense.
— 𝗙𝗢𝗟𝗟𝗢𝗪 @𝗙𝗧𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗱𝟳 (@FTBeard7) September 24, 2022
Tillman has yet to be ruled out after having surgery on an injured ankle during the bye week. Heupel indicated the senior will see the field in Baton Rouge if he's back to full speed. The receiver has been crucial to the explosiveness for the Volunteers' passing game, averaging three yards per route run.
As the Tennessee passing attack looks to get healthy, Hooker leads a run-first offense with running backs Jaylen Wright and Jabari Small. Both backs have scored eight rushing touchdowns and created 24 missed tackles.
Tennessee has been one of the more efficient offenses, evidenced by a rank of ninth in Finishing Drives. The Volunteers have made opposing defenses pay in scoring opportunities, averaging 5.3 points on 31 drives extending beyond the opponent's 40.
While the offense has been dependable for the Vols, the defensive coverage was leaky in the victory over Florida.
Anthony Richardson is one of the most explosive dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation, forcing Tennessee coordinator Tim Banks to key in on the Florida signal-caller. Richardson was held in check with just 62 rushing yards, but the quarterback recorded 453 yards through the air in a second-half passing blitz.
The Volunteers will face another dual-threat quarterback against LSU, as a similar heavy-zone coverage scheme may assist in limiting explosive runs. Tennessee has fallen outside of the top 75 defensively in Passing Success Rate and Havoc, marking the probable point of attack for LSU.
There are plenty of injuries piling up on a roster that was built through the transfer portal.
Jayden Daniels exited the game against Auburn after a third-quarter scoring drive that would be enough to win a second SEC game. Kelly indicated that Daniels could've returned to action in Jordan-Hare if needed, but the defense played its role to keep Auburn from scoring in the second half.
— 𝗙𝗢𝗟𝗟𝗢𝗪 @𝗙𝗧𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗱𝟳 (@FTBeard7) October 2, 2022
Daniels' exit from the game sent the LSU offense into a number of unsuccessful drives. A half-dozen sterile passing attempts from backup Garrett Nussmeier, along with a fumble by John Emery Jr., were a few of the lowlights in the offensive drives to end the game.
LSU Brian Kelly with a teachable moment with QB Nussmeier pic.twitter.com/3L5cGVOvjf
— EJ (@BourbonAndBeer) October 2, 2022
The good news for LSU is Garrett Dellinger's return to practice this week, as the left guard missed the Auburn game with an injury.
Daniels has been asked publicly by Kelly to do more in the passing game against Tennessee. The quarterback has attempted just 10 passes beyond 20 yards this season, making a living off of underneath passes to tight end Mason Taylor and receiver Malik Nabers out of the slot.
For LSU to become an explosive pass offense, a number of factors must come together, starting with fewer drops from elite wide receiver Kayshon Boutte. The future NFL wideout has four drops on 21 targets, often receiving double teams from opposing defenses.
The Tigers rank 120th in pass explosiveness — an area that needs to improve as the offensive line continues to stabilize against opposing pass rushes.
The defense has had a smoother transition than the offense, already ranking top-30 in Line Yards, pass rush and Passing Success Rate. LSU has been excellent in putting opposing offenses in passing downs, ranking ninth in Defensive Standard Downs Success Rate.
The defensive line has been one of the best in the country, as BJ Ojulari has twice as many sacks as any other player on the LSU roster.
Look at LSU edge BJ Ojulari get right past the RT and then chases down the QB for the sack 🐅 pic.twitter.com/Gdur3EAjN9
— RanDynasty (@ran_dynasty) October 1, 2022
Tennessee vs. LSU Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Tennessee and LSU match up statistically:
Tennessee Offense vs. LSU Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
LSU Offense vs. Tennessee Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||47||106|
|Seconds per Play||20.7 (4)||25.6 (41)|
|Rush Rate||57.1% (44)||53.2% (70)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Tennessee vs. LSU Betting Pick
Both head coaches have different keys to the game, as the winner of this SEC clash will come down to the team that positively executes on those points.
Heupel wants the Tennessee offense to remain in standard downs, noting that the run game staying on schedule is critical. LSU has had moderate success in defending the run, ranking 32nd in Stuff Rate and 22nd in Line Yards.
The Tigers limited Auburn's rushing attack, as Tank Bigsby averaged 3.9 yards on 12 carries. More importantly the LSU defense generated four fumbles between Bigsby and quarterback Robby Ashford.
If Tennessee gets behind schedule, Hooker must be able to beat an LSU coverage unit that loves to play a press-man scheme. Receiver Jalin Hyatt has nine targets against man coverage this season, double that of any other offensive player. The LSU secondary ranks 31st in coverage grading, light years ahead of Tennessee's defensive coverage grade of 120th.
Kelly also has a list of critical factors against Tennessee, starting with a more aggressive approach in quarterback play from Daniels.
Taylor will eat up any underneath routes against the Volunteers' zone coverage, but the Volunteers have a track record that suggests Boutte will be open for explosive plays. Florida exposed Tennessee's secondary, similar to previous LSU comebacks this season. Daniels has just a single turnover-worthy play this season with predominantly mid-range passing.
Action Network projects this game as a pick'em with a total of 75. There's a route for this game to have plenty of points, especially with Daniels expected to take aim at Tennessee's secondary.
While the Volunteers executed in limiting Florida's Richardson in zone-read rushing attempts, Daniels should have similar success downfield in the RPO game.
Tennessee also continues to struggle with penalties, falling outside the top 100 in penalties per game.
Although both defenses have been excellent at limiting scoring opportunities on sustained drives, there are issues in containing explosive plays. Look for an aggressive LSU passing game to attack a Tennessee coverage unit that has struggled all season, while the Volunteers look to explosive plays in passing downs.