When: Friday Night 8:00 PM ET
Where: Jerry World
Line: LSU - 2 (open -1)
Through the Sugar Bowl, I am 22-8 in bowl picks with a 7-4 record in the ACC and SEC.
Here are the three areas I look at when making my bowl picks:
Who Has The Better Team?
LSU out gained their opponents by an average of 153 yards per game while A&M had a negative yards per game advantage of 19 yards. With that yardage disparity you would think A&M would have a great turnover margin to get to 9-3 but they were -2 on the season. The Tigers were +5.
For as much grief as they took, the LSU offense was one of the most efficient in the nation scoring a point every 11.7 yards. This means they are taking drives for seven points instead of three and getting good field position from their defense. A&M was a respectable 14.2 yards per point.
Defensively, A&M was slightly more efficient at 17.6 yards per point, but LSU was not far behind at 16.7.
LSU is ranked 11th in the Sagarin facing the 24th ranked schedule while Texas A&M comes in just two spots behind at 13 due to their 11th ranked strength of schedule. The Tigers are 4-2 against the Sagarin Top 30 while the Aggies are 2-3
I am a little surprised A&M's schedule rated tougher than LSU coming out of the SEC West with a non-conference win over West Virginia.
But I give the Tigers the edge here because of who they beat and how tough they played the others- beat Alabama, beat Miss State, beat Florida, lost by seven at Auburn, lost by eight at Arkansas.
Which Coach Will Have His Team Better Prepared?
Les Miles is 5-3 in bowl games and 4-1 at LSU.
Mike Sherman is 0-1 in bowl games in his first college head job losing last year in the Independence Bowl to Georgia. Sherman's rebound this year surprised me as I didn't know if he could adapt to the college game this quickly after spending the last 11 years in the NFL.
You can fault Miles' for a lot of things but you usually can't for lack of effort from his team.
Edge: Slight LSU
Which Team Will Be More Motivated?
A&M will be playing in front of a mostly home crowd in Dallas a city usually dominated by Oklahoma or arch rival Texas.
The Tigers' players will have to block out the rumors surrounding their head coach possibly leaving for his alma mater (Michigan) up until game time.
Edge: Slight Texas A&M
LSU RB Stevan Riddley was ruled eligible for the Cotton Bowl giving the Tigers their leading rusher back after being ruled ineligible in early December. This is great news for an offense averaging 182 yards per game on the ground and just 155 through the air.
I think Riddley's running combined with a fierce Tiger pass rush will propel LSU to victory in a very close game.
LSU 24 Texas A & M 23