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Alabama Favored by 6 Over LSU in Look-Ahead Line; Tua ‘Game-Time Decision’ With Ankle Injury

Blair Johnson

by Blair Johnson in College Football

Updated Jan 6, 2023 · 2:52 AM PST

Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa talks to the media
Tua Tagovailoa is no longer favored to win the 2019 Heisman Trophy after he injured his ankle in Week 8. Photo from CBS 42 (YouTube).
  • The No. 1 LSU Tigers will face the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide on Nov. 9th in the most highly-anticipated game of the season
  • Alabama is currently a 6-point favorite at home
  • Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban said QB Tua Tagovailoa will be a “game-time decision” on Wednesday

When the top-ranked LSU Tigers (8-0, 4-0 SEC) travel to Tuscaloosa to face the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide  (8-0, 5-0 SEC) during Week 11 in the most highly-anticipated game of the college football season, the big question is who will be under center for the home team?

LSU vs Alabama Look-Ahead Odds

Team Moneyline Spread Over/Under
LSU TBD +6.0 (-125) TBD
Alabama TBD -6.0 (+105) TBD

Odds taken Oct. 30.

Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered a high-ankle sprain during Bama’s 35-13 victory over Tennessee in Week 8 and sat out the team’s 48-7 Week 9 win against Arkansas. Alabama has a bye this week and head coach Nick Saban told reporters on Wednesday during the SEC conference call that Tua will be a “game-time decision” against LSU.

Does It Matter If Tua Plays?

When you look at recent series history between the bitter SEC West rivals, the Tide have completely dominated the Bayou Bengals.  LSU’s last win over Alabama came in 2011, when then-head coach Les Miles’ group went into Bryant-Denny Stadium as the top-ranked team in the land and beat No. 2 Bama 9-6 (only to later be totally dominated 21-0 by the same outfit in the BCS National Championship Game).

Including that dismantling in New Orleans, the Crimson Tide have outscored the Tigers 193-73 over the last eight games. And there’s a growing sentiment (reinforced by AL.com’s Joseph Goodman) that Tagovailoa doesn’t have to play in the game for a variety of reasons.

The junior’s health is of paramount concern, but the thought process is, even if Alabama were to lose, the College Football Playoff committee would take into account his absence when it comes time to fill out the four-team playoff field. Think about it: a one-loss Bama squad — whose lone defeat came against the No. 1 team in the country without their Heisman Trophy hopeful signal-caller — would still be very attractive to the committee.

Return of the Mac

SBD’s National Championship Odds tracker still thinks the Tide will roll into college football’s Final Four. Alabama is at -250 to be part of the final mix. Perhaps one of the reasons why the odds still favor the Crimson Tide has been the play of backup quarterback Mac Jones.

In six-plus quarters of action since replacing Tagovailoa, Jones has completed 24 of 33 passes for 307 yards, with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. One of the marks of a great coach is putting players in a position to succeed. And certainly Nick Saban, arguably the greatest college football coach ever, is putting Jones in a position to succeed.

Is the Line Right?

LSU has been one of the great stories of college football in 2019. Quarterback Joe Burrow is the Heisman favorite. Head coach Ed Orgeron has proven he can win at a national power. And, oh by the way, the Tigers are ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll.

So do they deserve to be 6-point underdogs against an Alabama team that may or may not have Tagovailoa under center? No question.

As noted above, this line is more than fair in favor of the home team. In fact, -6 seems like a steal for the Crimson Tide.

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