Public Loves Tigers
Baton Rouge , LA - With poor rushing defense partly to blame for LSU's struggles, the last thing it needed was a matchup with Andre Anderson.
Fortunately for the Tigers, they won't have to deal with that matchup.
With perhaps the biggest game remaining on their schedule looming a week away, the 15th-ranked Tigers try to avoid a letdown Saturday night against a Tulane team missing its top rusher as the intrastate rivals meet in a nonconference matchup.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made LSU –24.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 90% of bets for this game have been placed on LSU –24.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
LSU (5-2) has lost two of its last three games, and desperately wants to avoid an upset by Tulane (2-5) before facing No. 2 Alabama and former coach Nick Saban on Nov. 8. Already, any national title hopes are all but gone.
"They're pressing, if you will, maybe trying too hard," LSU coach Les Miles said. "Frankly, we have to let them know that the (play) call is plenty. The exceptional play is, after you have done your assignment and ripped through your gap, held your area responsibly and then, pursue the play and allow your teammate to make some great plays."
The Tigers have given up 103 points in their two losses, with a soft run defense the primary culprit. LSU has yielded more than 450 rushing yards and six TDs on the ground in the defeats.
With Anderson injured for the Green Wave, LSU may have caught a break. Despite finishing with only 12 yards on three carries before getting hurt in last Saturday's 42-17 loss to Rice, the junior ranks eighth in the nation with 864 rushing yards and has run for seven touchdowns. With 25 receptions for 202 yards and one TD, he's also Tulane's second leading receiver.
An MRI revealed both a fracture and dislocation of Anderson's right shoulder, which required season-ending surgery.
Green Wave coach Bob Toledo says freshman Nate Austin will replace Anderson. Austin finished with five catches for 73 yards and 25 yards rushing on 13 carries against Rice.
"He's a big, strong physical back," Tulane coach Bob Toledo said of the 6-foot-2, 226-pound Austin. "He runs with a lot of power."
The Tigers have won 16 straight games versus Tulane since a 31-28 loss on Nov. 27, 1982, and lead the all-time series 67-22-7.
Also, the Green Wave are allowing an average of 36.6 points during a three-game overall losing streak, giving LSU a good opportunity to correct some problems before facing the Crimson Tide.
Tigers quarterback Jarrett Lee threw three interceptions in a 52-38 loss to then-No. 9 Georgia last Saturday, giving the first-year starter nine picks on the season. Miles believes the offensive coaches need to do a better job of recognizing which plays Lee feels most comfortable running.
"We have to do a better job of removing some of those options of making the mistake that was made in this last game," Miles said. "We'll try to limit some of those until we feel like he's in a groove. ... When he's playing and comfortable, he's pretty talented."
Despite the turnovers, Lee did set career highs with 287 yards and three TDs as the Tigers racked up 497 yards against the Bulldogs. The Tigers also ran for 188 yards, led by Charles Scott's 144 yards and two TDs.
A big play on special teams could spark the Tigers, and they might have a good chance to get one against the Green Wave.
Against Rice, Tulane's Ross Thevenot had a 40-yard field goal attempt blocked and returned 55 yards for a touchdown - only the latest in a season rife with special teams breakdowns for the Green Wave. They allowed a punt return for a touchdown and a blocked punt for a touchdown against Alabama on Sept. 6, and a blocked field goal return for a touchdown against East Carolina the following week.
"They don't want to make those mistakes, I know that," Tulane coach Bob Toledo said. "And they practice hard not to make mistakes. They are just things that happen."
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
TULANE is 4-3 against the spread versus LSU since 1992
LSU is 7-0 straight up against TULANE since 1992
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
LSU is 1-1 against the spread versus TULANE over the last 3 seasons
LSU is 2-0 straight up against TULANE over the last 3 seasons
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at LSU since 1992
TULANE is 3-2 against the spread versus LSU since 1992
LSU is 5-0 straight up against TULANE since 1992
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at LSU over the last 3 seasons.
LSU is 1-0 against the spread versus TULANE over the last 3 seasons
LSU is 1-0 straight up against TULANE over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
(!) [RB] Andre Anderson limited last game, probable - Sternum - 10/19/08
[RB] Andre Agers is out indefinitely - Suspension - 08/07/08
[FB] Cody Blackwelder missed last game ~?~ - Neck - 10/11/08
[FB] Jordan Stephany missed last game ~?~ - Foot - 10/11/08
[WR] Jeremy Williams is expected to miss at least 4 weeks. - Hand - 10/07/
[OT] Travis Olexa expected to miss entire season - Knee - 08/31/08
[S] Alex Lauricella missed last game ~?~ - Knee - 10/11/08
[LB] Travis Burks missed last game ~?~ - Hamstring - 10/11/08
[DT] Chris Asumnu is out indefinitely. - Ankle - 10/07/08
[OL] T-Bob Hebert is out for the season. - Knee - 10/23/08
[DT] Ricky Jean-Francois is upgraded to probable - Groin - 10/23/08
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Posted: 10/28/08 5:50 PM