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Kentucky Wildcats vs. LSU Tigers Preview + Free Predictions

Kentucky Wildcats (2-2, 0-1 SEC) at #1 LSU Tigers (4-0, 1-0 SEC)

As one can quickly tell from the betting lines, to say Louisiana State is heavily favored in this game is a wild understatement.

Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge LA
Saturday, Oct. 1, 12:20 pm EST
NCAA Odds from Sportsbook.com:
MoneyLine: Kentucky +1650, LSU -10000
Spread: Kentucky +30.5, LSU -30.5
Over/Under: 44.5

Kentucky isn’t a terrible program necessarily, but they travel to perhaps the most intimidating venue in college sports to square off against an elite SEC program at the top of its game. Tiger Stadium earns the moniker “Death Valley” for good reason.

The most pleasant surprise for LSU this season (and, at #1 in the nation, I’m sure there’s been many) would have to be QB Jarrett Lee. The former back-up was thrown into the breach after senior Jordan Jefferson got into legal trouble and Lee has been nothing short of fantastic. The senior Texas native has 624 passing yards and a highly efficient 6-1 TD/INT ratio. Lee had a shot to start earlier in his career and buggered it up quite badly, but he has been redeeming himself in the first few weeks of the 2011 regular season.

The Tigers defense has been feisty, like it usually is. LSU ranks 14th in the country in points against and LSU never has a shortage of dynamic playmakers at every defensive unit. Starting FS Craig Loston and DT Michael Brockers should be able to go this week against Kentucky, after dealing with concussion and leg injuries, respectively.

There is further bad news on the injury front for LSU, however. The offensive line has been fairly decimated, with injuries to three opening-day starters – guard Josh Dworaczyk, tackle Alex Hurst and interior lineman T-Bob Hebert. LSU has reasonable depth, but the amount of injuries may slow up the Tigers’ decent running game somewhat. Even with the attrition, LSU is a vastly more talented team than Kentucky. [soliloquy id=”82219″]

These past years, the Wildcats have been a scrappy SEC competitor that has always been up for dealing an upset. Yet Kentucky got embarrassed pretty badly last week at home versus Florida, falling 48-10 to the Gators. The Wildcats have lost two consecutive games to in-state rival Louisville (a game they should’ve won) and the drubbing by Florida; the team’s morale cannot be very bright currently. Injuries to the RB corps and on defense has also tested the roster depth – a roster not nearly as deep as some of the “have” schools in the conference (Alabama, LSU, Florida, Georgia, etc.)

To be honest, for LSU to fall against a battered, demoralized Kentucky squad on their own turf would take a Bluegrass miracle. The Tigers have looked better than any team in the country so far, save perhaps Alabama. Lee is commanding the offense with a veteran expertise and the defense has been characteristically swarming. In Death Valley, the defense and the deafening crowd seem to swarm simultaneously when you’re on the visiting side, so it will take a valiant effort and everything to go right for Kentucky – just not to get humiliated.

The offensive line injuries for LSU means that the run game might not be rolling at 100% effectiveness, but the Tigers probably only need 70 or 80% to punch the Wildcats back on their heels. Suspended QB Jordan Jefferson may be back as early as this week, but Lee has proven himself enough to stay ensconced under center.

The sportsbooks have LSU as massive, massive favorites in this game. The sad thing is, they may not be exaggerating much. It will probably be a long day for the visiting Wildcats.

Score Prediction: LSU 33, Kentucky 9
Over/Under Prediction: 42

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