November is the heart of the college football season, with marquee games scheduled through Thanksgiving weekend, and Saturday’s Alabama-LSU tilt is the biggest. Here’s what to look forward to this week (all games Saturday).
LSU has lost eight straight in this series, and Alabama really poured it on last year, when the Tide outgained the Tigers 576-196 in a shutout win. The Tigers changed their offensive philosophy during the offseason and the results have been fantastic. Quarterback Joe Burrow has completed 78.9% of his passes and has led an unbeaten campaign against a difficult slate.
— Kate Adams (@up2datewkate) November 4, 2019
LSU outscored Texas early in the season and has squared off against the formidable defenses of Auburn and Florida in conference play. No team has come close to slowing them down. The Tigers rank fourth nationally by total yards (525.3 per game) and fifth in scoring (44.1 points per game), and Alabama enters this important matchup relatively untested.
Defense is a concern for each squad. Alabama lost a pair of starting linebackers at the start of the season and its pass defense was faulty down the stretch last year. The difference may be Tua Tagovailoa’s ankle injury, with mobility a key asset for the strong-armed quarterback.
WATCH: Moments ago, #Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa at practice jogging, planting on wrapped right leg, and making throws. Nick Saban said he will be on snap count at practice and game time decision for Saturday. #RollTide #LSU @CBS_42 pic.twitter.com/OnVinJcff3
— Simone Eli (@SimoneEli_TV) November 4, 2019
I like LSU to snap the losing streak, and these teams easily could meet again in the College Football Playoff.
Pick: LSU +6
Baylor is still unbeaten but was not sharp against West Virginia last week, when the Bears blocked a late field goal to avoid overtime. They scored only 17 points, surrendered eight sacks and had a number of special teams miscues, which sent them off form after they thoroughly dominating Oklahoma State on the road with a 35-point, second-half outburst. With an enormous home game against Oklahoma next weekend, the Bears look vulnerable again.
— Videos by: FTB (@FTBVids1) November 1, 2019
TCU still has plenty to play for, and the Horned Frogs finally have some offensive balance, as Max Duggan threw for 278 yards in a double-digit win over Texas in their last home game. The freshman struggled at Oklahoma State last week, with three interceptions, but TCU was still in the game at the end and won’t have to stop a running back of Chuba Hubbard’s quality this week. The Horned Frogs will appreciate being back home and TCU is 6-1 ATS against Baylor in their last seven meetings.
Pick: TCU +2.5
Wake Forest has a significant edge at quarterback, and the Demon Deacons are laying a reasonable number in this spot. Jamie Newman enters in career-best form, with nine touchdowns in his last four games, and Sage Surratt is the leading wide receiver in the ACC, with 948 receiving yards (fourth nationally). Even Wake Forest’s defense is playing better of late, with only 30 combined points allowed the last two weeks.
This not the same Virginia Tech defense of years past. The Hokies have allowed 39 points per game in four ACC contests so far this season. They also feature a revolving three-way door at quarterback. Quincy Patterson made his first start in a 21-20 loss to Notre Dame last week, and Virginia Tech is receiving too much respect for the close result, given Notre Dame’s offensive woes in recent weeks. Virginia Tech will not be able to match points with high-scoring Wake Forest.
Pick: Wake Forest -2.5
After a disappointing performance against Oklahoma State, Iowa State had a week off to prepare and Brock Purdy leads a high-scoring attack. The Cyclones average 36.9 points per game (17th nationally) and running back Breece Hall can have a good game against an Oklahoma defense that was gashed for 213 rushing yards last time out in a loss to Kansas State. Iowa State is underrated defensively (34th in total defense) and will look to take away big plays from Oklahoma’s top-ranked offense (579.4 yards per game).
This is too many points to lay with the Sooners. Oklahoma’s young offensive line has shown some vulnerability—the Sooners abandoned the running game against Kansas State—and that places pressure on quarterback Jalen Hurts. Iowa State has played Oklahoma tough of late, with a 30-point scoring average and 3-0 ATS record in their last three meetings.