Music City Bowl
Both of these teams struggled with finding consistent QB play at various points of the season, plugging in starters like fingers in a dam that they couldn't quite contain from seeping into losses. With that being said, they both ended the season with above average passing statistics when you look at the compensated stats. That inconsistency did show up when looking at "best" and "worst" ratios for passing with LOU at 5-3 and TA&M at 4-4. What I like about LOU in this game is that LOU's better passing games were back-loaded (toward the end of the season), while TA&M's were front-loaded (barring that huge game against a good but inconsistent VAN pass defense). TA&M QB Allen was benched for a couple of games after an insanely bad game against Ole' Miss. He later admitted to having suffered a sprained AC joint the previous week against ALA. He's back as the starter, and that's a good thing for TA&M, as he's a far better passer (when healthy!) than Murray. So two of those "worst" games for TA&M are attributed to the injury and a Murray start. So yeah, it's actually kind of hard to say that TA&M's passing game isn't capable right now of the big games they've had this season. Which is why I love the Over in this game! Seriously, opening at 48 was a gift, as I anticipate the number rising to the mid 50s by gametime. And I do project TA&M to have a better day passing the ball than TA&M. LOU's young offensive line struggled early in the season, but with both the run game and passing game trending upward at the end of the season it looks like they're starting to come together better. But you wanna' talk about up and down? Look at LOU's running game in their final 5 games. They started with a 1.6 ypc game against Wake, followed by a 7.0 ypc game against SYR and a 7.2 ypc game against UVA, then a 0.0 ypc game @ PITT and then finishing with a 7.9 ypc game against Kentucky. Hello! A little consistency please! Fortunately for LOU, TA&M's rush defense is closer to the bad rush defenses they had stellar games against in that stretch versus the 25th or so ranked two defenses they were stymied by. LOU will need that success on the ground because TA&M is very tough against the pass, ranked 5th. TA&M's rush offense is ranked pretty near LOU's, actually a little bit above, but they finished the season on a downward trend, failing to match the ypc that their opponent usually allows in 8 of their final 9 games. It was against a pretty tough schedule but it's not encouraging considering LOU's 7th ranked run defense. With LOU's ground advantage exceeding TA&M's aerial advantage I like LOU to win as the "running dog." *** After I wrote this both of TA&M's main QBs, Allen and Murray are transferring from the school. As such, there's even more value on LOU in this game, with a little less on the Over, though still some on the current 50.5 after opening at 48.
Recommended plays when the lines opened:
LOU +3 1.5% play
Over 48 2% play, bought off it with Under 50.5 (-113) for 2% after the TA&M QBs announced their transfers.