Auburn at LSU Predictions and College Football Picks

Doc MosemanCorrespondent IOctober 20, 2011

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 15:  Jarrett Lee #12 of the LSU Tigers reacts after a touchdown against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on October 15, 2011 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It’s the battle of the Tigers, and the stakes are very high in this SEC matchup. Last year’s National Champions will be looking to derail the team that is the favorite to win it all this year.

This is a very different preview than it would have been if I had written it just a few hours ago. Word has come down that LSU has suspended three players for this game, including Heisman candidate and stud cornerback Tyrann Mathieu. Also gone is third cornerback Tharold Simon, and leading rusher Spencer Ware.

The school hasn’t officially commented on the reason for the suspensions, but reports say that Mathieu and Ware both failed drug tests. This is obviously a huge blow to LSU as they prepare to play a flawed but very tough squad.

The best thing LSU has going for them, though, is that they have some experience with high-profile suspensions this year after QB Jordan Jefferson and receiver Russell Shepard missed time due to other issues. It’s getting harder and harder for Les Miles to convince anyone he doesn’t run a program of hooligans. The suspensions could be longer than just one game if drugs really are the issue, so all eyes have to be on that already huge Nov. 5 game against Alabama.

Auburn at LSU Betting Storylines

We knew replacing Cam Newton wasn’t going to be easy, and it really hasn’t been. Barrett Trotter won the job out of fall camp, but he has been disappointing and the offense has been underwhelming at best.

It was time for a change during the last game, and now Clint Moseley gets the chance to show what he can do. Moseley was the favorite to get the job before the season, and he looked good last week, so he is certainly capable here. It would be nice for him to get some starting experience against a slightly easier defense, but the Auburn football schedule is what it is.

While watching how Moseley does will be interesting, the real story will be to see what Gus Malzahn can make happen. The Auburn offensive coordinator is one of the most creative offensive minds in the country. With LSU down two of their top three cover corners, there are going to be holes to exploit. Despite the youth and inexperience, will Malzahn be able to find ways to exploit them? If he can, then the game gets much more interesting than it was likely going to be.

LSU has not only won their first seven games, they have destroyed their competition. All seven games have been decided by at least 13 points, and they have won four by at least four touchdowns. It has been far from a cupcake schedule—Oregon, Mississippi State, West Virginia, Florida, Tennessee.

They are unquestionably battle-hardened, and definitely the better team. There is uncertainty at quarterback, and neither choice is particularly inspiring, but that has been the case all year. In a home game in a hostile environment, LSU is definitely in the driver’s seat.

They have the distractions to deal with, and Auburn can never be taken lightly, but when it comes to winning the game LSU surely controls their own fate. Covering the spread, of course, is a different matter.

Auburn at LSU Betting Odds and Trends

The college football odds are one-sided in this one. LSU opened as 22.5 point favorites. That has since shown a little tendency to move down, and it could move further after the suspensions. However, it has stayed above three touchdowns, and will still be a very large number no matter what happens. The total opened at 47 and has been reasonably stable there, with slight downward pressure.

Auburn is 13-3 ATS in their last 16 conference games, and 2-1 ATS in-conference this season. They are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 against teams with winning records. LSU is a solid 5-2 ATS this year, though just 1-2 ATS at home. The home team is 7-3-1 ATS in the last 11 meetings of these squads.

Auburn at LSU Predictions and College Football Picks

I respect LSU, but I don’t think that they are the best team in the country—they will be in trouble against Alabama, and would have issues with Oklahoma as well. I’d have been tempted to take Auburn with such a big spread no matter what.

With the loss of such a big spark plug on defense and a rusher who has been impressive, I will definitely take the visiting Tigers and more than three touchdowns. I actually like the move from Trotter to Moseley, and I like the way he played last week and the way he has been practicing and talking the last couple of weeks.

He was upset he didn’t get the job initially, and after some early pouting he seems to have channeled that frustration effectively. I think LSU will still win the game, but I don’t expect it to be pretty or as decisive as many of their games.

Doc Moseman is the owner of Doc’s Sports football picks Web site.