Behind one of the most exciting running backs in the nation, the No. 20 LSU Tigers (8-3) appear poised to hold off the Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5) on Tuesday in the 2015 AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium. Leonard Fournette, who rushed for 1,741 yards, failed to make the list of finalists for the Heisman Trophy award, but he nevertheless has the ability to prevent a high scoring game by keeping the Red Raiders offense off the field in what is expected to be among the more offense-driven games of the bowl season.
The Tigers are favored by seven points with the over/under at 74 points. LSU bounced back from three straight losses, and the distraction of their head coach possibly leaving the program, to win their last game of the season. The momentum, along with numerous other factors, should propel LSU to a win by more than a touchdown.
If there is one thing that's working against LSU, it might be memories from last year's result in the Music City Bowl. Les Miles' squad entered the matchup against Notre Dame as 8.5-point favorites, but fell 31-28.
Fournette rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. But the defense allowed the Fighting Irish to convert 11-of-17 chances on third down.
But LSU should be in good shape in Houston against a Red Raiders squad that has plenty of holes. Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury may need to take a lot of chances to upset the Tigers.
While there is no such thing as a "sure bet," it seems unlikely that the Red Raiders can outscore an LSU squad that has an exceptional running game, and one of the best secondarys in the nation.
Reasons LSU Will Cover The Spread
1. Miles will control the tempo, and avoid a shootout. By maintaining possession with Fournette, the Tigers should prevent the Red Raiders offense from being on the field. In LSU's last game, Fournette had a season-high 32 carries against Texas A&M. To little surprise, the Tigers won 19-7, and covered the six-point spread. Expect over 30 carries from the sophomore in this game.
2. Texas Tech doesn't have the defense to contain LSU's attack, which is probably why the program recently fired three defensive assistants. When facing elite competition, Texas Tech has surrendered far too many points: TCU (55), Baylor (63), Oklahoma (63), Oklahoma State (70).
3. LSU's defense can force turnovers. Opponents have turned the ball over 16 times in 11 games. Just one Texas Tech turnover might be enough for LSU to win by more than a touchdown.
4. The Red Raiders can put up points, but are capable of being contained. They managed "just" 27 points against Oklahoma and 26 points against West Virginia. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes had four games of at least two interceptions, and will be facing elite defensive backs.
5. Miles should feel comfortable after the saga that surrounded his possible departure from the school. The Tigers should be focused and prepared to handle Texas Tech.