The no. 2 LSU Tigers are closing in on a spot in the College Football Playoff but can’t afford a slip-up in their season finale against the Texas A&M Aggies. The two teams will kick off at 7:00 EST on Saturday, November 30 at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. Fans can watch the game on ESPN.
Current betting odds list the Tigers as 17-point favorites at home with an over/under of 62 points. Be sure to check out all of the Week 14 college football odds.
LSU already knows that they’ll be playing in next week’s SEC Championship Game against Georgia. However, they can’t afford to get ahead of themselves and overlook Texas A&M. Odds are, if the Tigers lose to Georgia next week, they’ll still maintain a spot in the CFP. But the Bayou Bengals probably don’t want to take that chance. A loss in either game would surely knock them out of the no. 1 spot, even if they remain in the top-4. LSU’s best chance to win the national championship is to win out and assure themselves of the much-deserved no. 1 spot in the CFP rankings.
Meanwhile, the Aggies should be grateful that the regular season is coming to an end. Texas A&M faced what had to the most difficult schedule in the country, facing the likes of Clemson, Auburn, and Alabama during the first half of the season. The Aggies are also closing out the season with back-to-back road games against Georgia and LSU, the two teams in the SEC Championship Game. Texas A&M hasn’t won any of those games, but they deserve a lot of credit for staying competitive in most of them, especially in a close 19-13 loss to Georgia last week. Fortunately for the Aggies, they’ve taken care of business against the rest of their schedule and will be playing in a bowl game this year.
Of course, these two schools have a rivalry that pre-dates A&M’s arrival in the SEC in 2012. LSU won each of the first six games between the Tigers and Aggies as SEC foes. But that streak came to an end last season when Texas A&M prevailed in that unforgettable 7-overtime game that ended 74-72. Needless to say, that game will be a tough act to follow as the Aggies go for their first win in Baton Rouge since 1994.
As mentioned, Texas A&M has played a brutal schedule, yet Alabama is the only team to beat them by more than 14 points. One could even argue that they were the better team last week against Georgia. It’ll be tempting for LSU to look past the Aggies toward the SEC title game, which is why I think a 17-point spread will be tough to cover. Remember, the Tigers need to keep something in the tank for next week while the Aggies can leave it all on the field. That makes me comfortable leaning toward Texas A&M to beat the spread.
While I won’t deny that LSU might be the best team in the country, they’ve had success this year because of their offense rather than their defense. The Tigers haven’t been elite on defense this season and have had a tendency to let teams hang around. They are allowing close to 30 points per game against power-conference opponents this year. That hasn’t stopped them from winning by comfortable margins, but it does give me second thoughts with regard to laying down 17 points in this game.
Texas A&M is no stranger to facing good defensive teams this year, doing so most recently last week against Georgia. While the likes of Georgia and Clemson have contained the A&M offense, I’m not sure the LSU defense is up to the task. For the most part, the Aggies have had a productive running game behind Isaiah Spiller, who’s averaging better than five yards per carry this year. I think Spiller will find more success against LSU than he did last week when he was completely bottled up by Georgia’s defense.
Meanwhile, Quarterback Kellen Mond has also flown a little under the radar this year. He hasn’t put up eye-popping numbers, but he’s been steady and helped keep the Aggies in last week’s game with Georgia. Several teams have found holes in the LSU secondary this year and I think Mond is good enough to have similar success.
To be fair, the Tigers have excelled this year at pulling away from teams because their offense simply doesn’t stop scoring behind Heisman favorite Joe Burrow. But the Aggies are no slouch defensively. A week ago, A&M held Georgia to a modest 19 points. They’ve also held both Clemson and Auburn to less than 30 points earlier this season. I think the Aggies have enough talent on defense to be at least a little disruptive to Burrow and the LSU offense.
I’ll admit that the LSU offense scares me a little, having scored at least 42 points in all but two of their games this season. If the Tigers break 50 points for the sixth time this season, they should be in good shape to cover. But I think Texas A&M will do plenty of scoring themselves and maybe get a few stops on defense. Ultimately, I like the Aggies just enough to believe they can keep this game within 17 points and beat the spread.