The LSU Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies collide in the 2011 AT&T Cotton Bowl. Both teams are solid and match their strengths with strengths and weaknesses with weaknesses. Can the Aggies continue their winning streak, or will Les Miles rub off some more of his magic?
The early spread on this game is Tigers (-1). Here are eight of the key aspects of the game and what to watch out for when betting. All lines from Cooper’s Picks.
#1 Stevan Ridley
LSU’s leading rusher, Stevan Ridley, could be inelligable for this match-up based on academic issues. With the 107th ranked passing offense, the Tigers are heavily reliant on their rushing game and defense to keep them in games.
#2 Quality Victories
The LSU Tigers best victories came against the North Carolina Tar Heels (30-24), West Virginia Mountaineers (20-14), at Florida Gators (33-29), and Alabama Crimson Tide (24-21). They also lost to the Auburn Tigers and Arkansas Razorbacks by a combined fifteen points for their only losses of 2010.
The Texas A&M Aggies won home games against the Oklahoma Sooners and Nebraska Cornhuskers, both of the Big XII championship representatives, later in the season. After a three game losing streak against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Arkansas Razorbacks, and Missouri Tigers, they’ve won six consecutive games.
#3 Similar Opponents
Both teams played the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Aggies lost 24-17 on neutral field while the Tigers lost their regular season finale 31-23 in Arkansas.
#4 Home Field Advantage?
The Aggies will essentially have a home field advantage as they’re playing in Arlington, Texas.
#5 SEC Dominance
The SEC representatives have won six of the past seven match-ups. The past two national championships have featured the SEC representatives (Florida Gators, Alabama Crimson Tide) being victorious over the Big XII representative (Oklahoma Sooners, Texas Longhorns).
The past two seasons suggest that the SEC elite are better than the Big XII elite.
The Aggies have the fifth most penalties in FBS football with 97. LSU has 74 penalties through the season.
#7 Weakness vs. Weakness
LSU has the 107th ranked passing offense while the Texas A&M Aggies passing defense is amongst the worst in college football. The winner of this match-up will have a huge step up against one another.
#8 Special Teams Return Game
A potentially low scoring game could be impacted by special teams. The LSU Tigers top-twenty in punt and kick return average. Texas A&M has a top twenty kick return game, but their punt return (7.1) was nearly 7 yards less than LSU.
Both teams are battle tested and have quality victories. I’m favoring the Aggies in this contest because I’m not expecting Ridley to play and A&M should have a home field advantage. Recent history does suggest that the SEC will overcome these obstacles, so proceed with caution.
Predictions against the Spread: – Texas A&M Aggies (+1)
Straight: – Texas A&M Aggies
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Cooper’s Picks, December 22 2010.
College Football Statistics, Rivals.com. December 22, 2010.
College Football Injuries Via covers.com. December 22, 2010.
LSU Tigers ESPN Clubhouse. December 22, 2010
Texas A&M Aggies ESPN Clubhouse, December 22, 2010.
ESPN, Stevan Ridley Could Miss Cotton Bowl. December 22, 2010.