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LSU vs. Alabama prediction and betting pick for this weekend's SEC showdown between these two rivals. Who wins on Saturday? Get Alex Kirshner's pick here
ANALYSIS

LSU vs. Alabama Prediction, Pick Against the Spread, and Latest Odds

Spread: Alabama -28.5

Total: 65

Game time: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET

Where to Watch: ESPN

LSU Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide odds

LSU vs. Alabama Prediction

LSU-Alabama is normally a defining game in the college football season. Whoever wins tends to be in a strong position in the SEC and national title races, and LSU is usually in the role of the plucky underdog despite being a three-time national champ this century itself. The atmosphere under the lights is electric whether the game is in Baton Rouge or Tuscaloosa (though there’s a bit of extra shine for the Baton Rouge games, given LSU’s underdog status). This game gets a primetime treatment almost every year and repeatedly proves itself worthy of it.

Their 2021 meeting, like 2020’s, lacks some of the series’ usual bells and whistles. It will be one-sided in Bama’s favor, and LSU will play for pride rather than for any real shot at a win. The Crimson Tide are 7-1 and in a mode in which they’re trying to beat the absolute hell out of everything in their path, both to ensure they win the SEC West and give themselves a strong Playoff resume in case Georgia hands them a second loss in the SEC Championship. LSU is playing out the string under Ed Orgeron before he rides into a $17 million sunset.

You won’t find an upset prediction here. (It’s not happening.) I also have no appetite to lay 28.5 points against a team with LSU’s talent base, even if the team is in disrepair. So neither side of the point spread is all that enticing for me. But on the hunt for a good market in this game, I’ve found myself drawn toward the lower side of the 65-point total, both because of LSU’s flawed offense and the likelihood that Bama has this thing in cruise control by the third quarter.

LSU’s offense has shown good upside, but it really didn’t perform in October. The Tigers failed to break 21 points in three of their four games, and the only exception was a 49-point whomping of the Florida defense when the Gators inexplicably could not handle LSU’s counter runs and allowed Tyrion Davis-Price to run wild on them. Most recently, LSU struggled to move the ball in a loss to Ole Miss, which has one of the leakier defenses in the Power 5.

The Alabama defense has had its problems, but it pulled itself together down the stretch in the Tide’s last game against Tennessee, allowing 10 points after halftime in a 52-24 win. The week before that, Bama vaporized Mike Leach’s Air Raid in a rout of Mississippi State. I doubt LSU can run on Bama’s front, given that LSU hasn’t been able to run on anyone other than the Florida team that couldn’t block those counter runs and let up 7.1 yards per carry. The Tigers’ season average is a lousy 3.6, and I would think that will go down here rather than up.

Given that, it’s hard to find a path to a lot of Tiger points. The Tide are good at limiting big passing plays, and the Tigers are bad at pulling them off. Maybe Max Johnson can dink and dunk up the field enough to find a few touchdowns, but that’s not a sure thing, and to whatever extent it does happen, at least those drives will roll a considerable chunk of clock.

LSU’s defense is no good, which is of course the reason the total is in the 60s in the first place. It’s not hard to see Bama getting to the low 40s. But they’ll spend much of the second half barely putting the ball in the air, and their defense should keep LSU under control. A final score of 42-20 seems about right and would secure the under with a three-point cushion.

College football is better when there’s real drama associated with LSU-Bama. There isn’t much of it this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own. Consider doing it via the under.

LSU vs. Alabama Pick

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Alex Kirshner covers college football for the Moon Crew newsletter. He is a co-author of The Sinful Seven: Sci-Fi Western Legends of the NCAA, and he lives in Washington, D.C.

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