Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:57 PM
LSU at Texas
Editor's Note: Brian Edwards went 6-2 in Week 1 (despite Northwestern!) to improve his record to 7-3 overall (70%, +370). Don't miss out on B.E.'s pay-if-it-wins-only selection for tonight or go ahead and get signed up for his season package
LSU Tigers at Texas Longhorns
Venue/Location: Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX
Time/TV: Saturday, Sept. 7, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Line: LSU -6.5, Total 56.5
LSU travels to Austin to face Texas at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday night in a marquee Week 2 showdown. The winner will collect an outstanding resume builder that could be crucial come December.
The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas opened the Tigers as four-point favorites Monday afternoon. The betting shop sent the total out at 55.5 points on Tuesday. The number on the side reached five late Monday afternoon, went to 5.5 on Tuesday and was six by lunch on Wednesday.
As of Friday afternoon, most books had LSU (1-0 straight up, 1-0 against the spread) as a 6.5-point road favorite. The total has steadily climbed all week to 57 points, while the Longhorns were +210 on the money line.
Texas head coach Tom Herman has thrived in the underdog role in two years as head coach at Houston and two seasons at Texas. Since his arrival in Austin, Herman is 2-0 ATS with one outright win as a home underdog. Going back to 2015, the Longhorns are 5-0-1 ATS in their last six as home puppies.
In his combined ‘dog spots at Texas that include home, away and neutral-site games, Herman has produced an 8-2 spread record with five outright victories. In his two seasons at UH, the Cougars won outright in all five games as underdogs on Herman’s watch, including victories by double-digit margins (examples: 52-31 vs. 16th-ranked Navy (+3), 38-24 vs. ninth-ranked FSU (+7), 33-23 vs. third-ranked OU as a 12-point ‘dog & 36-10 as 15-point ‘dog vs. third-ranked U of L & Heisman winner Lamar Jackson). Herman owns a 13-2 spread record with 10 outright wins in 15 total games as a ‘dog since becoming a HC.
Texas (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) opened the season with a 45-14 win over La. Tech as a 19-point home ‘chalk.’ The 59 combined points elevated ‘over’ the 55.5-point total when the Longhorns added a Casey Thompson two-yard touchdown run with 1:09 remaining.
Herman’s team held just a 454-413 edge over the Bulldogs in total offense, and La. Tech had a 25-24 advantage in first downs. However, the Bulldogs committed three turnovers and had just one takeaway with a fumble recovery.
Texas led 38-0 going into the fourth quarter. Junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger completed 28-of-38 passes for 276 yards and four TDs without an interception. He also had 34 rushing yards on eight attempts. Brennan Eagles had three catches for 59 yards and two TDs, while Collin ‘Baby Megatron’ Johnson hauled in four receptions for 59 yards and one TD. Devin Duvernay added nine grabs for 55 yards and one TD.
Sophomore RB Keaontay Ingram had 11 carries for 78 yards and one TD. He might be the only RB on scholarship that’s available Saturday against the Bayou Bengals. RBs Daniel Young (ankle) and Kirk Johnson (shoulder) remain ‘out’ indefinitely, while Jarrett Smith is listed as ‘questionable.’ Ingram ran for 708 yards and three TDs with a 5.0 yards-per-carry average as a freshman in 2018.
Ehlinger and Johnson were two of five starters returning on an offense that averaged 31.1 points per game last year. Ehlinger completed 64.7 percent of his throws for 3,292 yards with a 25/5 TD-INT ratio in ’18. He also had 691 rushing yards (before subtracting sacks that gave him 482 net rushing yards) and 16 TDs. Johnson opted to return for his senior campaign after producing 68 catches for 985 yards and seven TDs last season.
Texas brought back only three starters from a defense that allowed 25.9 PPG last year. Sophomore B.J. Foster, who had six tackles last week, is the star of this unit. He recorded 46 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, five passes broken up, a pair of QB hurries and one interception in ’18.
The Longhorns finished last season with a 10-4 SU record and a 6-8 ATS mark. They lost just 17 lettermen from a squad that beat five ranked teams, including No. 7 Oklahoma (48-45) and No. 6 Georgia (28-21) at the Sugar Bowl.
LSU returned 16 starters overall, eight on each side of the ball, from a team that went 10-3 SU and 7-6 ATS. The Tigers bested five ranked opponents, including four Top-10 teams at the time they squared off. Ed Orgeron’s bunch capped the year with a 40-32 win over seventh-ranked UCF as a 7.5-point favorite at the Fiesta Bowl. The victory ended UCF’s 25-game winning streak.
LSU trounced Miami 33-17 at Jerry World in last year’s opener. The Tigers won 22-21 at seventh-ranked Auburn as 10-point underdogs in Week 3. They also thumped Georgia 36-16 as 7.5-point home puppies when the Bulldogs were ranked second in the country.
For the first time in more than a decade, LSU entered the 2019 campaign with a starting QB it has confidence in coming back from a solid season (sorry, Jordan Jefferson). Joe Burrow didn’t arrive in Redstick until August of 2018, but he became a big man on campus quickly. Burrow, the grad transfer from Ohio St., connected on 57.8 percent of his passes for 2,894 yards with a 16/5 TD-INT ratio.
Like Ehlinger, Burrow can make plays with his legs. He had 593 rushing yards (before sacks) and seven TDs. His top-five pass catchers are back, including Justin Jefferson, who had 54 catches for 875 yards and six TDs in ’18.
LSU crushed Ga. Southern 55-3 as a 27-point home favorite in Week 1. The Tigers took a 42-3 lead into halftime. The 58 combined points went ‘over’ the 51.5-point total when Lanard Fournette found paydirt on a two-yard TD run with 5:47 left in the third quarter.
LSU enjoyed huge advantages in first downs (22-8) and total offense (472-98). Burrow completed 23-of-27 throws for 278 yards and five TDs without an interception. Jefferson had five receptions for 87 yards and one TD, while Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran for 45 yards and one TD on just nine totes. Terrace Marshall, a former five-star recruit who is a true sophomore, had four catches for 31 yards and three TDs.
LSU is 4-3 ATS as a road favorite since Orgeron replaced Les Miles midway through the 2016 season.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Eastern on ABC.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- Jeff Tedford is 8-0 ATS as an underdog since taking over at Fresno State. Four of those eight covers were outright victories, and two of the L’s (outright, but the Bulldogs covered) came in back-to-back road games at top-ranked Alabama and at sixth-ranked Washington in Weeks 2 and 3 of his first year in 2017. Fresno St. is a 3-point home underdog vs. Minnesota at 10:30 p.m. Eastern on the CBS Sports Network.
-- Eastern Michigan has taken the cash in six straight games as a double-digit underdog, including a 24-20 loss at Kentucky as a 14.5-point ‘dog in 2017. EMU hasn’t lost by more than 15 points in 35 games in a row dating back to a 61-21 loss at Missouri in Week 2 of 2016. The Eagles are 14-2 ATS in their past 16 games as road underdogs. QB Mike Glass had three TD passes without an interception in a 30-23 win at Coastal Carolina last week. He also ran for a score and now has a 12/1 TD-INT ratio in his career at EMU, in addition to seven rushing TDs. Meanwhile, Kentucky ended a 0-10 ATS slide as a home favorite by covering in last week’s 38-24 win over Toledo as a 10-point home ‘chalk.’ These teams collide at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on the SEC Network.
-- Iowa is banged up going into Saturday’s Big Ten opener vs. Rutgers as a 19.5-point home favorite. Junior OT Alaric Jackson is out for at least two weeks. He was a second-team All-Big-10 selection in 2018 and a preseason second-team All-American in Phil Steele’s magazine. DBs Riley Moss and Julius Brents are also ‘out’ against the Scarlet Knights. Moss had 24 tackles, three PBU and two interceptions in ’18, while Brents had 13 tackles, three PBU and one interception. Also, junior starting OG Cole Banwart is listed as ‘questionable.’ Rutgers trailed 14-0 and 21-7 vs. UMass early last week, but it rallied to cover in a 48-21 win.
-- Stanford star QB K.J. Costello (29/11 TD-INT in ’18) is ‘out’ at USC after sustaining a concussion on a cheap shot vs. Northwestern last week. Also, OT Walker Little is out for at least a month, probably longer, after dislocating his knee against the Wildcats, who failed to cover in a 17-7 loss as six-point underdogs due to a Bad Beat I’d rather not discuss. Little is projected first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. USC’s J.T. Daniels is also ‘out’ and it’s a season-ending ACL tear.
-- South Carolina QB Jake Bentley is out at least 4-6 weeks with a broken foot. The Gamecocks were seeking a second opinion to see if Bentley might need season-ending surgery. Bentley has a 19-14 record in 33 career starts since taking over when South Carolina was 2-4 midway through the 2016 campaign. Bentley has a 55/32 career TD-INT ratio, but he threw two interceptions (and missed a wide-open Shi Smith for what would’ve been an easy go-ahead TD pass late in the fourth quarter) in last week’s 24-20 loss to North Carolina. The Gamecocks went into the final stanza with a 20-9 advantage facing a true freshman QB (Sam Howell). True freshman Ryan Hilinski will get his first career start Saturday vs. Charleston Southern and then face Alabama next week. Hilinski was a great recruiting score for Will Muschamp out of California. Hilinski was a high four-star player who most recruiting publication ranked in the top three of pro-style QBs in the 2019 class. His older brother, Tyler Hilinski, played at Washington State but took his own life in January of 2018. Tyler was diagnosed with stage-1 CTE after his tragic death. Ryan's parents have moved from California to South Carolina to be close to him. If Hilinski plays well over the next month and change, he'll become the present and future at QB for South Carolina. Since Bentley hasn't used a redshirt, that could be an option and he could become a hot commodity as a grad transfer for 2020.
-- Most books have Alabama listed as a 55.5-point home favorite vs. New Mexico St. During Nick Saban’s dynastic tenure, the Crimson Tide have been horrible for our purposes when laying big numbers. Alabama is 2-10 ATS when favored by 45.5 points or more, 1-7 ATS when -48.5 or more and 1-4 ATS when favored by at least 50 points.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.