LSU vs. Texas A&M Cotton Bowl Preview

One more stop on the bowl betting circuit before we start talking BCS. Next up, it’s the Cotton Bowl, which features the very solid LSU versus Texas A&M.

(11) LSU Tigers (10-2) vs (18) Texas A&M Aggies (9-3)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Latest odds: LSU -1

Over/Under: 49

The Louisiana State Tigers were national title contenders earlier this season, opening the year 7-0, but most sports betting sharps saw the cracks. The Tigers scraped by too many so-so opponents, going only 3-4 against the spread during their undefeated start, and their absolutely atrocious passing game had to catch up to them sooner or later.

Though LSU is 2-5 ATS over its last seven against teams with winning records and 1-4 ATS over its last five games as a favorite, the Tigers have fared well at the sportsbook in their recent bowl games. They’re 4-1 ATS over their last five bowl affairs.

Not surprisingly for an elite defensive school like LSU, eight of the Tigers’ last 11 games have gone UNDER the total.

Texas A&M closed the 2010 season with a phenomenal run both straight-up and against the NCAA football betting spread, going 6-0 over their final six games in both regards and winning tough matchups against Oklahoma and Nebraska along the way.

Strangely enough, while their recent trends are red-hot, their bowl game trends are absolutely ice cold. They’re 0-4 ATS over their last four bowl games, 0-5-1 ATS over their last six against the SEC and 0-7 ATS over their last seven neutral-site games. Four of Texas A&M’s last five bowl games have fallen UNDER the over/under.

LSU has the No. 9 defense in the nation and the ninth-ranked pass defense, allowing just 165.9 yards per game. That’s a highly impressive stat for an SEC team; it largely reflects the outstanding play of cornerback Patrick Peterson, who projects as a high first-round NFL pick.

Offensively, the Tigers did just enough to get by this year. Their running game was solid but their passing game was a mess, ranking 107th in the country with a paltry 155.4 yards per game.

Texas A&M’s strength is its passing game, which is 18th in the nation. Jerrod Johnson started the year as the Aggies’ go-to quarterback but the job belongs to Ryan Tannehill now. The two signal callers have combined for 25 touchdown passes this season.

Defensively, the Aggies are 22nd against the run and surrender only 20.3 points per game but they struggle mightily against the pass, ranking 95th with 240.5 yards allowed per contest.

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