Pace yourselves on Thursday. It’s Thanksgiving, which means we’ll all engage in the annual tradition of gluttony with a side of football. The NFL action starts early and ends late, but there should be a high-quality SEC West matchup to distract you from the Indianapolis Colts minus Andrew Luck vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers. That matchup features the LSU Tigers and the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field, where the 12th Man will well-fed and hungry all at the same time for a big winner over a conference titan.
LSU vs. Texas A&M College Football Preview
Date/Time: Thursday November 24, 7:30 p.m. ET
College Football Betting Odds from 5Dimes
College Football Betting Favorite: LSU -5.5
The Tigers will be in the market for a new coach after the season. Les Miles was given his walking papers after the loss to Auburn and Ed Oregeron has led LSU to a 4-2 straight up record. One of the top-10 teams from a talent standpoint and a top-five team for most handicappers coming into the season, the Tigers are just 6-4 straight up and 4-6 against the spread. They are 9-1 to the under. The Aggies are 8-3 straight up, but just 4-7 against the spread and 8-3 to the under this year. This isn’t the same Aggies team that we saw under Johnny Manziel.
Whoever the next coach is at LSU, let’s hope that he can recruit a quarterback. Anthony Jennings transferred to Arkansas State, leaving the Tigers with Brandon Harris and Purdue transfer Danny Etling. A guy that couldn’t win the job full-time at Purdue is starting for a perennial national championship contender in Baton Rouge. Consequently, the LSU offense isn’t very good. Etling has gone 124-of-212 for 1,582 yards, seven touchdowns, and four picks. The Tigers are living on the legs of Derrius Guice and Leonard Fournette. Fournette has battled ankle injuries all season, but has still managed 6.5 yards per carry on 129 attempts. Guice has eight yards per carry on 120 attempts and leads the team with 10 rushing scores. LSU has averaged 6.4 yards per play against SEC competition, and yet they’ve only scored 23.4 points per game.
At least LSU’s defense still lives up to its talent level. The Tigers defense has allowed just 14.1 points per game this season and just 4.7 yards per play. LSU’s defense has given up similar numbers against SEC foes and they have been the only team to hold Alabama to less than 31 points in a game this season. LSU didn’t cover, but only gave up 10 points in that huge game in Death Valley. The two big questions for LSU this week are how will they score and how will they bounce back? This game effectively means nothing except pride for the Tigers. Ed Orgeron will coach them in the bowl game, but he won’t keep the job. At 6-4, LSU is eligible for a bowl, so this isn’t a must-win. Coming off of last week’s devastating home loss to Florida as a two-touchdown favorite, Orgeron will have to dig deep into his bag of motivation to find something to get LSU excited. The Tigers will also be without Kendall Beckwith, one of their top linebackers.
Texas A&M Aggies:
Texas A&M isn’t exactly rolling into this game with a lot of momentum. The UTSA Roadrunners gave the Aggies all that they could handle in a 23-10 slugfest in what was supposed to be a blowout win for the boys from College Station. Jake Hubenak has struggled since taking over for Trevor Knight, who wasn’t very good in the passing game anyway, with a 6/2 TD/INT ratio and a 59.8 percent completion percentage. Where the Aggies do miss Knight is in the running game, where he was the team’s second-leading rusher. Hubenak is nowhere near the runner that Knight is. If he can go, that means a steady diet of Trayveon Williams, who has seven yards per pop on the season. He is questionable with a leg injury. Josh Reynolds has been a home run hitter with 18.1 yards per catch on his 46 grabs. Under first-year offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, the Aggies have scored 35.1 points per game with 6.4 yards per play. Both of those are up dramatically from last season.
The strength of this Aggies team has been its defense. Myles Garrett is a future top-five pick in the NFL Draft barring a catastrophic injury and Armani Watts is a terrific safety. This is an Aggies defense that returned its top five tacklers from last season, so it was set up for success and it has lived up to the hype thus far. They have allowed 5.2 yards per play, but they’ve also been on the field a ton, averaging 82 snaps against and over 33 minutes of action. That’s LSU’s game plan with the power rushing attack, so it’s all about how Texas A&M will hold up on a short week. That could dictate the game.
College Football Free Pick: Texas A&M Aggies +5.5
The Aggies don’t have much to play for, but they have a little bit more than LSU to play for with the home finale at Kyle Field. LSU has to bounce back from a miserable loss at home to Florida on Senior Day and they have a short week to do it. From a power ratings standpoint, this line is probably pretty accurate, but the situational angles wing the balance comfortably in Texas A&M’s favor.