This game has a noon ET kickoff Saturday, which slightly reduces LSU's home-field advantage. However, the No. 25 LSU Tigers (4-1, 2-0 in SEC) is still the sharp side when they host the No. 8 Tennessee Volunteers (4-0, 1-0 in SEC) at Tiger Stadium.
In fact, advanced analytics suggest that LSU is the better team. The Tigers have a higher net expected points added per play, SRS by Sports-Reference.com (based on point differential blended with strength of schedule) and FEI Rating according to Football Outsiders.
'Death Valley' is one of college football's toughest venues
Even though "Death Valley" is almost impossible for visitors at night, teams don't just go into Tiger Stadium and win. LSU is 6-2-1 as home underdogs with a +7.3 ATS margin over the last five seasons. Also, UT is just 3-6 ATS with a -3.0 ATS margin since Heupel took over last season.
More importantly, LSU recruits as well as any program in the country not named "Alabama". LSU transfer QB Jayden Daniels has struggled out the gate but has enough talent to turn it around. Daniels held a players-only meeting earlier this week to help iron out the kinks in LSU's offense.
Tigers WR Kayshon Boutte is a five-star recruit that was mocked to be one of the first WRs selected in the upcoming NFL draft. Boutee has just 11 catches with 97 receiving yards and is due for a breakout game. That's certainly possible vs. one of the worst pass defenses in the SEC.
LSU coach Brian Kelly is underrated
It feels like SEC fans are more excited about UT coach Josh Heupel than Kelly, which makes no sense. Three, maybe four college football coaches in the country could've done a better job at Notre Dame than Kelly did from 2010-21.
Notre Dame was 113-40 under Kelly and won 10-plus games in seven of Kelly's 12 seasons in South Bend including four straight 10-plus win seasons. Kelly was phenomenal at Notre Dame and deserves more respect from college football fans.
Tennessee hasn't proven sh*t
UT bullies inferior opponents but looks like a different team when stepping up in competition. The Volunteers needed overtime to beat and cover as 6-point favorites at a Pittsburgh Panthers team that lost their starting quarterback from last season to the NFL and replaced their offensive coordinator.
The Volunteers also eked past the Florida Gators last week 38-33 as 11.5-point home favorites. UT got torched by one of the worst passing attacks in the SEC. Florida QB Anthony Richardson is like the Ben Simmons of college quarterbacks.
Sketchy line movement
The Volunteers opened as 4-point favorites and the betting action has been all UT since. Per Pregame.com, more than three-fourths of the money at the time of publishing is on the Volunteers ATS.
But, UT's spread is dropping suspiciously. Hmmm. This is a red flag because common sense says the sportsbooks should be adjusting lines according to liability. UT getting cheaper feels like a trap.
The line movement can be explained by media and public perception and UT's gaudy numbers vs. weak competition.
BET the LSU TIGERS +3 (-115) at PointsBet Sportsbook.