4:30 PM PDT
LSU -6.5 @ Texas
One of my favorite angles is the “big game,” conservative early game plan, first half under. This game is certainly circled for Tom Herman, his Longhorns as it is for the people around Austin and the Texas program who are calling this biggest home game Longhorns have played since Ohio State in 2006. Herman’s ATS success aside, something to consider is his teams 8-2 record to the UNDER in his last ten games in the underdog role. But there’s something else to this angle I like and that is the relationship between Herman and LSU D-Coordinator Dave Aranda. The former roommates have maintained a close relationship and are quite familiar with each others strategies and coaching philosophies. This leads me to believe the two guys will be holding their cards close to the vest and will have no incentive to play their hand before the other.
Diving into these defenses LSU is a top 10 defense for sure and quite possibly the toughest defense that Herman and Ehlinger have faced together. Yes, Texas lost a lot of talent on that side of the ball but there is experience on this defensive line. Defensive ends Malcom Roach, and Ta’Quon Graham return as well as a highly touted redshirt freshman in Keondre Couburn. The Longhorns best defensive unit is their safeties as they return last years Freshman All-American Caden Sterns and senior Brandon Jones.
This LSU offense looked great against Georgia Southern and Joe Burrow’s numbers at a glance look very impressive. Looking deeper at this game, however 17 of Joe Burrows pass attempts traveled 5 yards or less last week against Georgia Southern. If Texas can press and take away these shorter throws, things should be tough for LSU of offense. LSU finished 81st in rushing efficiency last year. They struggle to move the ball on the ground and frankly have not been a tough enough team in the trenches. Last week against GA SO, a defense projected to be barely be in the top 90 in the nation, they struggled to average 3.8 yards per rush attempt. They will need to try and establish a run game and if they can’t look very them to make short throws to the running backs.
I am really not sold on this Texas offense and when you look at their schedule last year, if you take out the Sugar Bowl, their thirteen other games were against defenses who averaged an efficiency rating of 67th in the nation. Despite this, Texas still really lacked in terms of explosive plays and rushing the football. (5.4 yards per play outside top 70, 115th in explosiveness, and 98th in rushing efficiency.) They struggled so greatly to run the football that they begin to implement designed running plays for Sam Ehilnger. It is going to be important for both teams to stay ahead of the chains to make things easier on their quarterbacks. How do you do this? Well for Texas, I think we see more designed runs for Ehlinger. Looking at Texas games against ranked opponents vs non ranked teams, designed runs for Ehlinger increase 40% in games against ranked a foe.
Studying these offenses, the coaches, and considering outside factors. I really like this game to play out slowly at least early. Conservative play calling, good defense, limit the mistakes, etc etc. This game very may well open up second half but the angle I am playing here is the first half under.
The Selection: First Half UNDER 28.5 (-105)
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51-29 ATS (63.8%) College Football 2018.