College Football Picks Week 2: LSU Tigers vs. Texas Longhorns
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College GameDay returns to Austin, Texas for the first time since 2009. It’s been a long hiatus, but the nation is ready to find out if No. 9 Texas is really back or if it’s just the same story told before. A matchup with the No. 6 LSU Tigers is one way to find out.
Last week, my college football picks went 2-2 against the spread. Texas dealt one of those losses with a 45-14 win as 21-point favorites against Louisiana Tech. We had a chance for a backdoor cover, but sloppy quarterback play was too much to overcome.
Though Texas dominated on the scoreboard, the box score makes things slightly more interesting. Louisiana Tech actually had more first downs than Texas, and they managed to put up 413 yards compared to the Longhorns’ 454. Make of that what you will. Some of those yards came in garbage time, and Texas pulled Heisman quarterback candidate Sam Ehlinger towards the very end of the game.
College Football Picks Week 2 — LSU Tigers vs. Texas Longhorns +6.5, Over/Under 57 (use our William Hill promo code to get these odds)*
Why heavy line movement?
Early money came in heavy on LSU, two days after LSU smashed Georgia Southern 55-3 to nearly double their 27-point Week 1 spread. Per VegasInsider, the action has neutralized, with roughly 50% of bets on each side now that Texas is getting 6.5 points
Clearly, some bettors are not buying Texas, a football program that replaces more production from 2019 than any other Power 5 school. Bill Connelly’s SP+ rankings at ESPN favor LSU by roughly 14 points after adjusting for Texas’ home-field advantage. That seems like a bit much, but Connelly’s projections did well in Week 1 and have historically hit 52-54% in past seasons.
One issue of concern is the Longhorns’ pass rush, which only recorded one sack against Louisiana Tech. Spearheaded by a new offensive coordinator in Baton Rouge, LSU introduced their new spread offense in Week 1. It turned out to be more than impressive. Texas needs to improve their pass rush against a higher level of competition if they want to prove that Texas is, in fact, back.
Where are the running backs?
One thing I haven’t seen many people touch on is the lack of Texas running backs heading into Saturday night’s SEC/Big 12 showdown. Their depth at the running back position is absolutely depleted after a Week 1 injury to freshman Jordan Whittington. How depleted, you ask? So much so that Texas head coach Tom Herman has moved his 6-foot-2 third-string quarterback to No. 2 on the running back depth chart. Behind him? Linebacker David Gbenda.
Keaontay Ingram, who ran 11 times for 78 yards and a touchdown last week, will be the workhorse Saturday night. Ingram has carried the ball more than 14 times only once in his college career, and the most he’s touched the ball in a game (including receptions) is 20 times against Baylor in 2018.
The good news is UT’s Sam Ehlinger has no problem using his legs. Ehlinger ran the ball eight times for 34 yards against La. Tech and he had double-digit carries in 9 of his 13 games leading up to the 2019 Sugar Bowl, where he then ran 21 times for 64 yards and three touchdowns to beat No. 5 Georgia. Expect the Heisman candidate to at least try to utilize his legs against LSU’s defense.
There’s been plenty of talk about Sam Ehlinger’s Heisman prospects. Ehlinger entered the season as one of the most popular Heisman trophy bets after recording 3,772 total yards and 31 touchdowns in 2018. But if LSU wins, the Heisman hype train will make its way to Baton Rouge. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow put up 278 yards and five touchdowns before being pulled in the third quarter against Georgia Southern. That’s more than Ehlinger, Justin Herbert, Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. A win in Austin likely means big numbers from Burrow — as we’ve already discussed, Texas’ defense is vulnerable. Burrow will continue to rack up numbers throughout the season as the general of LSU’s new-look offense. Consider betting Burrow +3300 to win Heisman (use our DraftKings Sportsbook promo code to get these odds).
My Pick: LSU -6.5
By now, you’ve probably heard how well Herman’s teams have done against the spread as underdogs. Texas is 8-2-1 ATS as an underdog since Herman’s arrival, and he is 13-2-1 with 10 outright wins as an underdog for his career. Herman’s David-like powers as an underdog won’t scare me away from betting LSU.
Other than that small-sample of a trend and home-field advantage, everything else —injuries, metrics like SP+, defensive concerns, and Week 1 performances lean towards LSU. Unfortunately, we’re getting the worst end of this number. Still, it could move to -7 before kickoff, so it’s better now than later.
For more general betting tips, check out our college football picks betting guide.
Image Credit: USA Today Sports Images