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Alabama head coach Nick Saban is credited with building the foundation on which LSU has used to become a prominent national power year-in and year-out.



2008-11-10

Alabama head coach Nick Saban is credited with building the foundation on which LSU has used to become a prominent national power year-in and year-out. Ironically, on Saturday, it is the program that he once built that has a chance to ruin his current team's nation championship hopes. Ranked #1, the Crimson Tide travel to Baton Rouge and have been installed as a 3-1/2 point favorite.

It hasn't been the kind of year most LSU fans would have envisioned. Nobody expected the Tigers to be unbeaten, seeing they had two losses winning the national championship last year. Nobody could have foreseen coach Les Miles defense crumble in becoming the first title holder to allow more than half a hundred twice the following season. A few of the big plays given up against Florida were dismissed, being somewhat fluky in nature and on the road. Giving up 52 to Georgia at Tiger Stadium two weeks ago was different matter. Granted LSU lost oodles of talent from last season, however the biggest loss is turning out to be is Bo Pelini taking the Nebraska job. The structure of the defense seems out of sorts, with players taking bad angles on tackling and covering receivers. Though Jarrett Lee will probably be a very good quarterback in the future, the loss of Ryan Perrilloux has hurt the team. The Tigers are only 5-17 ATS in November games in Bayou country.

Sporting a 9-0 record, this could very well be the last chance Alabama would fall before SEC title game. This is the Crimson Tide's last road game and has very winnable home games with Mississippi State and hated rival Auburn. What's arresting about Nick Saban's squad is how they have played in big games. Against what would be considered lesser opponents, the Tide seldom played four quarters and has cruised being 6-0 with 3-3 spread record. In the three biggest moments of the season against Clemson, Georgia and Tennessee, they towered over these competitors with three easy wins and covers. The outstanding characteristic of those wins, all were away from home and this week's newest big game challenge is in at Baton Rouge with Bama 6-1-1 ATS on the SEC road the last two seasons.

The most vilified man in the state of Louisiana on this day is Saban. The national championship he brought to LSU was wonderful, and nobody begrudged him taking the money to be a professional head coach, but to come back to the same conference and coach a team in the same division, that makes him an evil villain in the Bayou. Alabama arrives in Baton Rouge 8-2 ATS playing a team with a winning home record.

It seems something is in the water in the South as this is another outlandish rivalry with the visiting team 9-1-2 ATS since 1996.

StatFox Forecaster Alabama covers
StatFox Power Line Pick
SF Outplay Factor Alabama by 12

CFB: Penn State at Iowa (3:30 PM ET, ABC)
Penn State is in currently in the least enviable position in the BCS standings, third. At #3, the Nittany Lions need help from anyone playing Alabama & Texas Tech the rest of the way if they hope to secure a national title game berth. Of course, there's that little factor of having to take care of their own business too. In looking at Penn State's schedule, the most difficult remaining game comes Saturday, in Iowa City. Joe Pa's team is a 7-1/2 point road favorite, and frighteningly backed by 83% of bettors. Watch out.

Most pundits assumed Penn State road to an undefeated season is pretty much a given at this juncture, however it would be foolish, especially in Upset-tember. The Nittany Lions handled their first bit of true adversity at Ohio State, having to come from behind on the road without their starting quarterback. It was really the first time the defense had to carry the offense that struggled against the Buckeyes. The week off came at a good time for Penn State according to Joe Paterno. "We're tired," said Paterno. "We've had three tough games. It's emotional as well as physical." Senior quarterback Daryll Clark sustained a concussion in the third quarter against Ohio State and should be ready for Iowa. Penn State backers need to know their team is 2-11 ATS after allowing less than 10 points and next game is on the road.

Outside of Penn State, possibly the grittiest team in the Big 10 since October started has been Iowa. They out-played Michigan State and Illinois on the road, losing late in those games. They whipped up on Indiana and Wisconsin and the defense has allowed more than 22 points just once this season. On offense, quarterback situation is handled game by game, meaning coach Kirk Ferentz leans on running back Shonn Greene. No one has been more consistent and effective in big games and Greene's efforts has helped alleviate some of the pressure on field generals Ricky Stanzi or Jake Christensen. With a consistent defense, Iowa has proven what's important. During the three-game losing streak, Iowa turned the ball over nine times. In the five victories, the Hawkeyes have turned it over a total of five times. Since 2004, the Hawkeyes are 8-4-1 ATS as home dogs.

Iowa is 6-2 SU and ATS against Penn State over the dozen years. This Big 10 series has been fraught with unusual circumstances with the underdog a rock solid 6-2 against the line maker, including four outright upsets.

StatFox Forecaster Iowa covers
StatFox Power Line Penn State by 10
Outplay Factor Penn State by 8


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