LSU Tigers vs. Oregon Ducks
The LSU Tigers and the Oregon Ducks kick their seasons off in style in a huge game at Dallas Cowboys Stadium. The Ducks are -2.5 point favorites over the Tigers with an over/under point total set at 55.5.
While the LSU fan base is one of the more football savvy in the nation and are always realistically optimistic, there are solid expectations for this year’s team. LSU returns a solid core of players on offense from the team that beat Alabama and Florida last season and had eventual National Champion Auburn in world of trouble late until they let them off the hook. Jordan Jefferson is back at QB with both of his starting Wide Receivers, Rueben Randle and Russell Sheppard, but Jefferson will need to be better at getting them the ball against their brutal schedule. Stevan Ridley is gone at Running Back but LSU is deep in the backfield and Spencer Ware should have no problem filling in as we saw him look explosive last season and with four returning starters on the OL he should have room to roam. Look for LSU to use a rotation of talented Defensive Linemen as always topping the run is what their defense revolves around though in my opinion replacing Kelvin Sheppard just isn’t going to be easy not just for what he brought as far as ability but also his leadership. Tyrann Mathieu moves to full time Corenerback from the Nickelback and Mo Claiborne played across from the departed Patrick Peterson so he was targeted often and responded well. The question for this LSU team isn’t if they have what it takes to win this and other games, it’s can they get the breaks they will need to navigate a schedule that includes games at West Virginia, Alabama, and Mississippi State and home games against Florida and Arkansas.
After years of feeling there was an anti-West Coast bias the Oregon Ducks took matters into their own hands last season blowing out the competition in nearly every regular season game en route to an appearance in the National Championship game. While Chip Kelly’s team came up short against Auburn, really in similar fashion to the way LSU lost to Auburn, like the Tigers they return the core of their team from last season. Darron Thomas is back at QB and the guy who nobody even knew his name and who was approached as a liability after Jeremiah Masoli left turned out to be a real gamer repeatedly taking the Ducks from trailing early to winning going away. Of course Thomas doesn’t do it alone as he has LaMichael James in the backfield with him who came in second in the Heisman Trophy voting and who is a breakaway threat every time he touches ball. When it isn’t James its Kenjon Barner who can do a lot of damage as well from the backfield whether it be carrying the ball or as a receiver. The Ducks are thin at Wide Receiver with Jeff Maehl gone leaving LaVasier Tuinei as the primary target and Josh Huff as the secondary receiver but look for Oregon to try out a few players whom they hope can contribute. The Ducks lost most of their starters on the Defensive Line but with so many players roating in last year most of the players starting this year have a wealth of experience. Cliff Harris, John Boyett, and Eddie Pleasant all return in the secondary and because of the style of offense Oregon runs, the defense is on the field plenty.
LSU is 5-2-1 against the spread in their last eight neutral site games, 4-9 against the spread in their last 13 September games, and 1-4-1 against the spread in their last six games as underdogs of up to three points. Oregon is 1-3-1 against the spread in their last five games overall, 5-1 against the spread in their last six September games, and 1-3-1 against the spread in their last five games as a favorite.
This is going to be a great one and really more of a game for the fan than for the bettor but I see Oregon’s offense knowing how to get it done late and while LSU will try and batter the Ducks, it will only serve as time the Oregon offense gets rested and while this one really could go either way, I give Oregon a slight edge.
Oregon Ducks -2.5 LSU Tigers