Auburn at LSU

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No. 9 Auburn Tigers at No. 2 LSU Tigers

Venue/Location: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
Time/TV: Saturday, Oct. 26 , 3:30 p.m. ET
Line: LSU -10.5, Total 59.5

The stakes will be extremely high Saturday at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, where Louisiana State (7-0 straight up, 5-1-1 against the spread) will play host to Auburn at 3:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS. Both teams currently control their own destinies to win the SEC West (and everything beyond that), but that will change for Saturday’s loser in Redstick.

As of late Monday night, most books had Ed Orgeron’s club installed as a 12.5-point home favorite. However, the number moved to -11 on Tuesday morning and was down to -10.5 by Tuesday afternoon. It hasn’t moved since then.

Meanwhile, the total opened at 58.5 points and has seen little movement other than a few spots going to 59. Auburn is +310 on the money line at most books. For first-half wagers, LSU is a seven-point ‘chalk.’

I moved LSU up to No. 1 in my Week 9 Power Rankings for the first time. Ed Orgeron’s team is off a 36-13 win at Mississippi St. as a 17.5-point road favorite. The 49 combined points dropped ‘under’ the 62-point total.

After settling for three short field goals by Cade York from 20, 23 and 25 yards out, LSU saw its lead trimmed to 9-7 on a 12-yard touchdown run by MSU freshman QB Garrett Shrader. But 17 seconds later, the Tigers countered on a 60-yard TD pass from Joe Burrow to Racey McMath. Burrow then found Ja’Marr Chase for an eight-yard scoring strike with 50 seconds left until halftime.

Burrow hit Derrick Dillon and Justin Jefferson with 37 and 18-yard TD passes, respectively, to put LSU in front 36-7 midway through the third quarter. Burrow, who is now the +120 favorite to win the Heisman Trophy at many betting shops, completed 25-of-32 throws for 327 yards and four TDs without an interception. Jefferson had eight receptions for 89 yards and one TD.

For the season, Burrow is second in the nation in passing yards (2,484). The senior who was a grad transfer from Ohio St before arriving at LSU in August of 2018 has connected on an eye-popping 79.4 percent of his passes with a 29/3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He also has 94 rushing yards and two TDs. For his career, Burrow has a 47/8 TD-INT ratio and 10 rushing scores.

Jefferson is Burrow’s favorite target, hauling in 48 receptions for 759 yards and nine TDs. Chase has 35 catches for 626 yards and nine TDs, while Terrace Marshall Jr. has 20 grabs for 304 yards and six TDs.

Marshall put those numbers up in LSU’s first four games, but he hasn’t played since breaking a bone in his foot in a Sept. 21 win at Vanderbilt. He was upgraded to ‘probable’ on Friday, though, so he’s set to return vs. Auburn.

Junior RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire has rushed for 547 yards and seven TDs, averaging 6.1 yards per carry. Tyrion Davis-Price, a true freshman, has 201 rushing yards and three TDs while averaging 5.4 YPC.

LSU is second in the nation in scoring with its 50.1 points-per-game average. The Bayou Bengals are ranked third in the country in total yards and second in passing yards.

The LSU defense is ranked No. 24 nationally in total defense, No. 70 versus the pass, No. 12 against the run and No. 26 in scoring ‘D’ (20.0 PPG). True freshman cornerback Derek Stingley Jr, a five-star recruit who was the prize of LSU’s 2019 class, has been as advertised. Stingley is second in the SEC in interceptions with three, sixth in the nation passes defended (12) and eighth in the country in passes broken up (9).

Auburn (6-1 SU, 6-1 ATS) had an open date after suffering its first loss of the season 24-13 at Florida. Gus Malzahn’s team returned to the field last Saturday in Fayetteville to destroy Arkansas by a 51-10 count as a 20.5-point road favorite. The 61 combined points went ‘over’ the 56-point tally when Auburn’s Harold Joiner busted a 32-yard TD run with 2:27 remaining.

Auburn had advantages of 24-14 in first downs and 491-234 in total offense. True freshman QB Bo Nix connected on 12-of-17 throws for 176 yards and three TDs without an interception. He also had 19 rushing yards and one TD. Kam Martin had 84 rushing yards on just 10 attempts, while Seth Williams had four catches for 90 yards and one TD. Anthony Schwartz had six receptions for 73 yards and one TD, in addition to 30 rushing yards on only two carries.

Auburn is without RB JaTarvious Whitlow, who was the SEC’s second-leading rusher until going down with a knee injury at Florida. Therefore, Martin will share carries out of the backfield with Joiner, true freshman D.J. Williams and Shaun Shivers.

Nix has completed 56.2 percent of his passes for 1,301 yards with an 11/5 TD-INT ratio. He can make plays with his legs, too, as he’s run for 210 yards and three TDs.

Williams has 25 receptions for 458 yards and seven TDs, while Eli Stove has 20 catches for 191 yards and two TDs. Schwartz broke a bone in his hand in early August, causing him to miss the team’s firs two games. The speedster out of American Heritage HS in South Florida has 11 catches for 183 yards and one TD. Schwartz also has 108 rushing yards and two TDs on seven carries for a 15.4 YPC average.

Auburn has one of the nation’s top defensive lines, as evidenced by its 20 sacks and 2.86 sacks per game average, which is second in the SEC behind only Florida. Senior DE Marlon Davidson is second in the SEC with 5.5 sacks. AU is fifth in the SEC and 16th nationally in scoring defense (17.1 PPG), but its secondary is vulnerable and ranked only ninth in the league and No. 68 in the country at defending the pass. However, AU is No. 23 in the nation in total defense and No. 11 against the run.

The ‘over’ is 4-3 overall for Auburn, 2-1 in its road assignments. AU’s games have averaged combined scores of 53.4 PPG, and this is the highest total of its season to date.

The ‘over’ is 5-2 overall for LSU, 3-1 in its home games. Orgeron’s squad has seen its games average combined scores of 70.1 PPG. LSU has seen the ‘over’ hit in all three of its games that have had totals in the 50s.

The home team has won 16 of the last 19 games in this rivalry, but last year was an exception to that trend. LSU improved to 6-2 SU in its last eight games against Auburn by going into Jordan-Hare Stadium and winning 22-21 as a 10-point road underdog. Cole Tracy’s 42-yard field goal as time expired lifted LSU into the win column.

Burrow hit only 15-of-34 passes, but they went for 249 yards and one TD without an interception.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

-- Auburn has lost nine straight games at LSU. The ‘over’ has hit in four consecutive games played in Baton Rouge between these SEC West adversaries.

-- According to ESPN’s Chris ‘The Bear’ Fallica, Orgeron owns a 15-3-1 spread record in 19 games against Top-10 opponents as a head coach (at USC in an interim role and at Ole Miss prior to landing the LSU gig). Also, he is 13-1-1 ATS against Top-10 foes not named Alabama.

-- Oklahoma State is 10-5 ATS in its last 15 games as a road underdog. The Cowboys, who have lost by double-digit margins in back-to-back games at Texas Tech (45-35) and vs. Baylor (45-27), are 10.5-point underdogs Saturday at Iowa State.

-- After winning outright over Western Michigan as a nine-point home underdog last week, Eastern Michigan is an incredible 22-4-1 ATS in its past 27 games as an underdog. The Eagles are +3.5 at Toledo in Week 9. QB Mike Glass is ‘questionable’ for EMU, while Toledo QB Mitchell Guadagni is also a question mark. Without Glass vs. WMU last week, EMU back-up QB Preston Hutchinson produced a remarkable performance. Hutchinson completed 31-of-36 passes for 357 yards and three TDs without an interception, and he also ran for a TD. Without Guadagni last week, the Rockets got smashed 52-14 at Ball State. The week before when Guadagni got injured, Toledo lost 20-7 at Bowling Green as a 26.5-point road favorite.

-- The look-ahead line for Florida vs. Georgia in Week 10 at the Westgate SuperBook: UGA -5.5 vs. UF. The Bulldogs were 10-point favorites for this annual showdown in Jacksonville just last week. Also, they were -35.5 at Georgia Tech, which upset Miami in overtime down in South Florida this past weekend. UGA is now just -28 at the Yellow Jackets. Also, UGA went from -7 at Auburn to -1.5. I doubt bettors will be able to get the Gators as ‘dogs anywhere close to +5.5 come Sunday afternoon, so I obviously recommend anyone in Vegas stopping by the Westgate and buying that +5.5 ticket on UF.

-- Mississippi State, a 10.5-point underdog at Texas A&M, has won three games in a row over the Aggies both SU and ATS. However, the Bulldogs are 0-3 ATS as road underdogs during Joe Moorhead’s tenure and going back further, they’re 0-5 ATS as road puppies since 2017. Texas A&M is 6-2-1 ATS as a home ‘chalk’ on Jimbo Fisher’s watch.

-- Appalachian State is 2-0 both SU and ATS in a pair of road assignments this season. The Mountaineers were two-point road underdogs in both of those previous spots, winning 34-31 at North Carolina and 17-7 at Louisiana. They’re 26.5-point road ‘chalk’ Saturday at South Alabama. Eliah Drinkwitz’s team is 13-6 ATS as a road favorite since joining the FBS.

-- Buffalo QB Matt Myers is ‘out’ for the rest of the season with a neck injury. Myers had a 6/4 TD-INT ratio and a pair of rushing scores.

-- Purdue star WR Rondale Moore is ‘doubtful’ for Saturday’s home game vs. Illinois.

-- Washington State is a 14-point underdog Saturday at Oregon. The Cougars have won four games in a row over the Ducks and covered against them nine consecutive times. Also, they’re 16-6 ATS in their last 22 games as road underdogs. Furthermore, Washington State is 16-7 ATS in 23 games as a double-digit underdog during Mike Leach’s tenure.

-- Miami LB Michael Pinckney is ‘doubtful’ at Pittsburgh, while WR Jeff Thomas is ‘out’ due to a suspension. Pinckney, a third-team All-ACC selection in 2018, has recorded 38 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, four QB hurries and two PBU so far this year.

-- Middle Tennessee junior safety Reed Blankenship is out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury. Blankenship garnered first-team All-C-USA honors last season when he had a team-best 107 tackles and four interceptions. He was leading the Blue Raiders in tackles again in 2019 with 58.

-- South Carolina RB Rico Dowdle is ‘out’ at Tennessee, but Will Muschamp is optimistic he’ll be back for a home game vs. Vanderbilt next week.

-- Hawaii WR Melquise Stovall was dismissed from the program earlier this week. Stovall had 18 receptions for 248 yards and four TDs for the Rainbow Warriors, who are 10-point favorites Saturday at New Mexico. Hawaii is 0-3 ATS as a road ‘chalk’ during Nick Rolovich’s four-year tenure.

-- Colorado State has suspended RB Mavin Kinsey indefinitely. Kinsey was leading the Mountain West Conference in rushing yards with 703. He had six rushing scores and a 5.8 YPC average. Also, Kinsey had 16 catches for 209 yards and two TDs.

-- Stanford kicker Jet Toner is out for the season with a leg injury. The Cardinal play host to Arizona on Saturday. As of late Friday afternoon, QBs K.J. Costello (thumb) and Davis Mills (calf) remained ‘questionable’ against the Wildcats, who have been outscored 92-41 in back-to-back losses vs. Washington and at USC.

-- Northern Illinois LB Antonio Jones-Davis will miss the rest of the season due to a leg injury. Jones-Davis was a first-team All-MAC choice in 2018. In 2019, he had produced 51 tackles, four TFL’s, two sacks, one interception and one PBU. The Huskies were already down LB Kyle Pugh, a second-team All-MAC pick last year, to a season-ending injury. NIU QB Ross Bowers is in concussion protocol and listed as ‘questionable’ for Saturday’s home game vs. Akron. The Zips, who are 0-7 both SU and ATS, won’t have starting QB Kato Nelson due to a suspension. They’re 22.5-point road underdogs at NIU.

Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards