Monday, October 31, 2011

LSU at Alabama Preview - Alabama the pick to win

It is very early in the week, but given a game of this magnitude an early preview is in order.

LSU visits Alabama in this years "Game of the Century" this Saturday.  The computer likes both teams having one or the other #1 since week 1 (LSU's win over Oregon got them there early) and both in the top-2 the last 4 weeks and 5 of the last 6.  And the computer has had them rated within 0.5 points the last 4 weeks in a virtual tie so there isn't much to pick between them.  But let's take a deeper look anyway.

As usual, we go to the performance charts to get a visual into how each team has performed.





Their charts are remarkably similar, LSU's win over Oregon being the most impressive and meaningful, but both teams being extremely consistent as shown by how close their individual game ratings are to their current rating.

LSU's schedule is slightly tougher with Oregon rather than Penn State as an out of conference opponent.  Common opponents thus far are:

  • Florida - Alabama won 38-10 in Gainesville and LSU won 41-11 at home.  No real advantage one way or the other.
  • Tennessee - Alabama won 37-6 at home and LSU won 38-7 on the road.  No real advantage here either.
Remarkably while there will be 7 common opponents by the end of the year, there are only 2 so far.

So their ratings are basically the same and their performance against common opponents is basically the same.  So it comes down to how these teams have done against each other in the past and particularly at home vs away:
  • 2010 - LSU won 24-21 at home as a 6.5 point underdog
  • 2009 - Alabama won 24-15 at home as a 7 point favorite
  • 2008 - Alabama won 27-21 on the road as a 3 point favorite
  • 2007 - LSU won 41-34 on the road as a 7 point favorite
  • 2006 - LSU won 28-14 at home as a 17 point favorite
This tells us that the home team usually wins, unless they are a clear underdog.  Since Alabama is at home and the current spread is 4.5 to 5.5 points in their favor the pick would seem to be Alabama which is what the computer predicts.

With respect to the pick against the spread, the teams are in a virtual tie so home field advantage is the deciding factor which isn't enough to match the spread, so LSU will be the pick plus the points.