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LSU vs. UNC Prediction, Preview, Pick Against the Spread

Posted by in College Football Picks on August 31st, 2010 | 2 Comments
UNC vs. LSU Preview, Pick Against the Spread

UNC has one nasty defense, but they're riddled with controversy.

I’ve done over a half dozen college football previews. I got a head start about two weeks ago looking at the Week 1 college football lines to see if there’s any games that I really like. I haven’t been able to spot any games which I would give a 4/5 rating (worthy of a nice bet), but I’m cautiously optimistic in Cincy -1.5 over Fresno State and Pitt +3.5 over Utah. I’m cautious with both teams on the road, but you’ll have to read those reports to understand what I’m seeing in those two games. I tend to be rather conservative betting on the first few weeks of football until I get a good feel for the year. You’ll also want to read Brandon’s week 1 picks as he like South Carolina -14 over Southern Miss. What I wanted to do today was preview a big Saturday Night primetime game between LSU and UNC, which takes place in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

No. 21 LSU TIGERS VS. No. 18 NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS

The line on this one has moved from LSU -1.5 to UNC -1.5 and reports were that 80% of the bets were on LSU -1.5, but for some reason, the line was moved to UNC -1.5. The line was then taken down due the controversy going on in UNC that is going to be a major distraction for this squad.  Most of UNC’s top players are being investigated for receiving improper benefits from NFL agents. Although an official announcement has not yet been made, DT Marvin Austin and UNC’s top wideout WR Greg Little are being targeted and may end up being suspended, but that is still unknown.

UNC surprised many people posting an 8-5 record last year. They had impressive wins over No. 12 Miami 33-24 and No. 14 Virginia Tech 20-17. With a squad that’s returning 18 starters, the Tar Heel are poised to be the runner-up in the ACC after Virginia Tech. The strong point of UNC is their defense, which is full of top NFL prospects. The Tar Heels’ 6th-ranked defense in the nation held their opponents last year to 17 PPG and just 96 rushing yards per game thanks to a terrorizing front 7 with standouts DE Robert Quinn, DT Marvin Austin, LB Bruce Carter, and LB Quan Sturdivant — all players who passed on a shot in the NFL for another season of college football.

UNC’s offense will be led by the QB T.J.Yates (2136 yards, 15 TDs, 14 INTs), a three-year starter at UNC. Yates is nothing to write home about but with his top two rushers and top four receivers returning, you can hope that he improves on his down junior year and returns to where he was before going down in his sophomore campaign when Yates had a 153 QB rating compared this last year’s 115 rating.

Despite LSU’s 9-4 record, last year was considered a disappointment namely because they’re expected to win the SEC Championship every single year. LSU was dead last in rushing yards last season, gaining just 123 yards per game. They’ve lost their top producers at RB and will rely on a trio of backs this season. That’s not going to be in their favor against a tough front seven that UNC brings. QB Jordan Jefferies (2166 yards, 17 TDs, 7 INTs) will try to help out that running game as he can use his wheels. Additionally, LSU’s top wideout WR Brandon Lafell (drafted 78th by Carolina) will be tough to replace. LSU is also facing the loss of three defensive linemen and is only returning four starters. However, LSU always has a top defense and they gave up just 16 PPG last season. Coach Les Miles is certainly confident in his young players.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years its that LSU plays exceptionally well in the Georgia Dome where they have a 6-1 record. You’ll have to wait to see where the line moves in this game due to the controvery in North Carolina before placing your bets. If UNC has all their key players in this game I would lean towards taking UNC. However, if suspensions are dished out before the season opener, I would look towards siding with LSU.

With the under set at 42, I’m liking this under since points will be tough to come by for LSU and UNC’s QB is not an offensive threat by any means. If you like defense ladies and gentlemen, this game is without a doubt your defensive game of the week, just like the Baltimore Ravens vs. New York Jets Monday Night Football game will be.  See the highlights below.

Prediction: LSU 27 – UNC 10

Over/Under Play: LSU -9.5 (Confidence: 3/5)

Pick Against the Spread: Scout the news to see what happens to UNC prior to this game. I’m was initially loving UNC but then flip-flopped to LSU based on this controversy. If UNC has all of their defensive players in this game, their defense should be able to shut down LSU and win this game, but last minute suspensions may be dished out at the hands of either the NCAA or UNC so you just never know. Either way, the spread is risky, so if you want to play this game, I suggest taking the under. The defensive highlights below will convince you of that.

9/1 Update: Marvin Austin has been suspended due to violating team rules. As long as no other suspensions come up, I’m still giving the nod to UNC.

9/2 Update: UNC may have as many as 16 players suspended against LSU. UNC is attempting to negotiate rolling suspensions with the NCAA.

9/4 Update: Pick revised to reflect the fact that UNC lost 12 players (6 starters) due to suspensions.  With both starting corners and defensive ends out, as well as DT standout Marvin Austin, I don’t see how UNC generates any pressure on LSU’s QB, who can pick that UNC secondary apart without their two starting corners. Running the ball should also be done with ease with 3 starters missing from that line including DT Marvin Austin. UNC’s QB is nothing special and with their top offensive playmaker WR Greg Little out, I don’t see how they generate enough points to cover in this one. I just don’t see how LSU doesn’t win by double digits, but Brandon thinks LSU will only win by 6.

Who do you think will cover LSU vs. UNC (-1.5)?

  • LSU (64%, 16 Votes)
  • UNC (36%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 25

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UNC 2009 Defensive Highlights

LSU 2009 Defensive Highlights

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2 Responses to LSU vs. UNC Prediction, Preview, Pick Against the Spread:

  1. Brandon Phillips

    Date: Sep 01, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Just an update. In my opinion, as expected the line for the Fresno State game moved and moved a ton. Fresno State -2 is the current line around town here in Vegas. The other game seeing significant line movement was Minnesota vs MDTS, the line opened MDTS -3 and now most places have Minn -3.

    There are several games I cannot wait to watch on opening weekend. LSU v UNC which is now a pk and Boise State (-2.5) v VT.

  2. Vegas Martin

    Date: Sep 01, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    I don’t know what people are seeing in Fresno. Sure they have a good offensive line against a poor Cincinnati D, but where’s the love for Cincinnati’s offense and Zach Collaros?

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