Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
Expect LSU coach Ed Orgeron to lead a motivated team against Ole Miss on Saturday.

Bet on LSU to cover the spread this weekend … and then some

Nick Suss

LSU football is in the news every day, and the Bayou Bengal Briefing is here to keep you updated with the latest headlines five mornings a week. Join us every Monday through Friday for the biggest news on Tigers football, recruiting, baseball and more. Enjoy!

Line dancing

As of the time of writing this, LSU is favored to beat Ole Miss by 7 points. For the last two years, LSU hasn’t been a great pick against the spread. The Tigers are 5-2 this season, but just 2-5 against the spread. That includes somehow not covering when beating a ranked team on the road and defaulting on two instances of being 20-plus point favorites against nonconference opponents.

But this week? Take the Tigers. There’s no reason to believe LSU can’t beat Ole Miss by more than a touchdown. In the last two years, Ole Miss has only lost two games by a touchdown or less. The Rebels’ average margin of defeat is 19.9 points in their last 10 losses, including four losses by three or more touchdowns.

When Ole Miss loses, it really loses … though that is a little less true in recent Magnolia Bowl history. Of LSU’s 11 wins against Ole Miss since 2000, seven of them have come by 7 points or fewer. Still, LSU’s average win against Ole Miss is by 13.9 points thanks to a 33-point and 49-point shellackings in 2005 and 2011, respectively.

Call it a hunch, the Tigers are clicking. The Ole Miss offense can be prolific, but LSU tends to thrive against one-dimensional attacks. And Ole Miss’ 108th-ranked total defense should be a welcome sign for Danny Etling and the LSU offense coming off back-to-back games against stalwart Florida and Auburn units.

Take LSU to cover. I know it’s rare for you to hear me say this, but let’s be bold this week.

Who’s in, who’s out?

Ed Orgeron’s prerogative is to list all of his injured players as “questionable.” That doesn’t help us much. Luckily, we do get to watch a brief period of practice. Here’s what SEC Country saw Wednesday:

  • Freshman linebacker Jacob Phillips was absent from the media viewing period. Without Phillips, LSU only had five scholarship linebackers available: Devin White, Donnie Alexander, Jonathan Rucker, Tyler Taylor and Patrick Queen. For the second day in a row, Alexander practiced in a non-contact gold jersey, preventing him from tackling or being blocked.
  • Alexander wasn’t the only linebacker in gold. Senior outside linebacker Corey Thompson also donned a non-contact uniform. He’s still recovering from a stinger sustained a few weeks ago and has played through the injury in the past.
  • Junior offensive tackle Toby Weathersby was not wearing a gold jersey, fully cleared for contact. Which is a good thing because …

That’s what you call a segue

Weathersby has missed two of LSU’s last three games with unspecified injuries. In that time, he’s been in and out of practice and gold jerseys. But as Pro Football Focus pointed out Wednesday, having Weathersby on the field has been a huge difference for LSU in 2017.

That’s right. No SEC offensive tackle has been better in pass protection than Weathersby. Etling hasn’t had the cleanest pockets this season, but Weathersby is hardly the one to blame for that.

In optimistic news, Orgeron seemed to indicate that Weathersby will be back Saturday against Ole Miss on his radio show Wednesday. When asked how Weathersby’s return would help the offense, Orgeron didn’t refute the premise and said he’ll be able to be more flexible with Adrian Magee and Saahdiq Charles, the two men who have backed him up.

Maybe that’s reading too far into Orgeron’s words. But couple that with a healthy day of practice and it seems to look as if the big fella will be ready for Saturday.

Watch me, watch me

As per our Wednesday tradition, fellow SEC Country LSU beat writer Alex Hickey and I published our weekly Sound Off video. This week, we broke down Orgeron’s history with Ole Miss, the sources of LSU’s newfound motivation and how the Tigers have been so dominant on special teams.

Check out the video below and be sure to check back to SEC Country for further Sound Off videos every Wednesday.

In hoopy-hoop news

Wednesday was SEC Men’s Basketball Media Day. New LSU coach Will Wade, as well as junior guard Brandon Sampson and senior forward Duop Reath, spoke to the media in Nashville, Tenn., a media group that voted LSU to come in 14th out of 14 teams in the conference this season.

In case you missed anything, here are some of the stories written about LSU hoops Wednesday:

Today in made-up holidays

Speaking of SEC basketball, Oct. 19 is “National Kentucky Day” according to the folks at NationalDayCalendar.com. So, as we approach the 15-year anniversary of the Bluegrass Miracle, it’s as good a time as ever to relive one of the most iconic moments in LSU football history.

I hope that brought you some joy.

Miss a previous edition of the Bayou Bengal Briefing? Find every one of SEC Country’s daily LSU football columns right here.