The SEC battles the Pac-12 this Saturday night, and as recent history tells us, that does not bode well for the chances of the Washington Huskies when they travel to Baton Rouge to take on the third ranked LSU Tigers.
LSU simply toyed with North Texas 41-14 last week, failing to cover the 44-point spread but it thoroughly dominated the game while rolling up 508 yards of offense. Washington meanwhile also failed to cover while struggling to beat San Diego State 21-12. As you might expect, the Tigers are prohibitive 23½-point favorites with the total set at 53.
1. Why LSU will cover the spread: LSU will cover the spread if it can put some pressure on Washington quarterback Keith Price. Just about the only negative in LSU’s performance last week (well, besides not covering) is that it failed to record a sack. That could easily change here, as Washington’s starting tackle Ben Riva broke his arm last week, meaning that the Huskies will most likely start three sophomores on the offensive line. That is something that the Tigers’ heralded defensive end duo of San Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo can easily exploit. Another key is for new starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger to have continued passing success as he prepares for the SEC season, when he will be one of the most important starters in college football. Mettenberger was not asked to do too much vs. North Texas, but he made all the plays while completing 19-of-26 passes for 192 yards.
2. Why Washington will cover the spread: Washington will cover the spread if Price is able to attack an LSU secondary that may be a tad more vulnerable than last year with Morris Claiborne in the NFL and Tyrann Mathieu dismissed from the team. LSU allowed only 219 total yards last week, but 130 of those yards came on two passing plays, an 80-yard touchdown and a 50-yard completion. Another key would be if Bishop Sankey can run effectively in place of starter Jesse Callier, who tore his ACL vs. the Aztecs and is out for the season. Sankey did rush for 66 yards after replacing Callier, but running on LSU is a whole different animal.
3. Total Talk: This is a simple case where we feel that LSU will be successful with its keys to covering and Washington will not. Oddly, that leads us to liking the ‘over’ in this game despite the LSU defense expected to dominate, as that should lead to several short fields with which Mettenberger can pick apart the Washington secondary in a total blowout.
4. Betting Trends for the game: LSU is 6-0 straight up and 4-2 ATS the last six times it has faced a Pac-12 school, most recently trouncing Oregon 40-27 on opening week last season. Washington is 2-0 ATS in its last two games vs. the SEC, but prior to covering vs. this LSU team in a 31-23 loss in 2009, the previous cover came way back in 1989. Back to the here and now, the ‘over’ is 8-3 in the Huskies’ last 11 non-conference games.
LSU 45 – Washington 13