Saturday, September 29, 2007

Prediction: Trouble

This morning, the New York Post puts LSU -40 over Tulane. Heavens- that is a big number!

I’m off to a good 2-0 start ATS: an easy pick with Houston and a tricky pick with the Bulldogs. But this game is a true conundrum. You can’t really apply football based rational to this one. It is a psychology experiment: Tulane is the subject!

If LSU is even semi-engaged, they can probably play “pick a score” here. Something like: Nick Saban is now 55 and I-10 runs through New Orleans toward Alabama- so boys, let’s go get a symbolic 55-10 win.

But if I-20 through Shreveport is assessed in Death Valley as more pertinent instead, you get your backdoor cover! It is hard, hard, hard. What exactly is LSU’s goal here: run the 1st team offense for three quarters? exercise the passing game to the point the Tigers score 60? Frankly, only El-hrair-rah knows what those Tigers are up to.

If Tulane can get even 10-13 points here- LSU would need to go north of 50(!!!) to get the necessary margin. I kinda think that is the wager here. If you think Tulane can get any sort of point total, again say 13-ish, you probably ought to take the 40, grit your teeth and root for the clock.

It is problematic. Barring pure luck or ennui, Tulane probably can’t do anything against LSU’s first-team defensive squads. They simply can’t block this front- so Tulane can’t expect to rush the football. Coach Annie has singularly failed to ready any of the quarterbacks for I-A play- so Tulane can’t pass either. And the Tulane defense could not stop SE Louisiana consistently.

Atill, it feels oh-so-tricky. The Wave will try until the end and could get a score late. The Elliott/Scelfo versus the “Tiger’s third team in the fourth quarter” match-up is a total mystery in terms of players, preparation and desire level. And the Tigers are probably not looking to really humiliate the Wave in this spot- working hard to hang 60 or so up there. The new clock rules from last year probably will cost LSU a possession in each half- particularly as they run, run, run the ball. And forty points to a blood rival is a lot(but maybe these two schools aren’t blood rivals anymore?).

You could argue that LSU might be flat- coming off a stout fight with the Gamecocks. And Tulane precedes a brutal stretch for the Tigers: Florida, Kentucky, Auburn, Alabama.

But ultimately... sigh... Tulane just isn’t in the Tigers’ league. And both previous out of their depth squads- Mississippi State and Middle Tennessee- were taken past the six TD barrier. It isn’t a safe pick- there is psychology, garbage time follies and a staggering ignorance of the Tiger’s third team worked in here. I’ll be rooting for Tulane like crazy- but I'm taking the Tigers- and giving the 40.

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