LSU-Alabama betting preview: Shootout brewing in Tuscaloosa?
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The biggest game of the year to date takes place on Saturday when LSU travels to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama. Here's everything you need to know about the SEC clash from a betting perspective.

Line movement

Alabama is currently -6.5 as the line teeters between -6 and -6.5. The Crimson Tide have been available at -7 and -5.5, though only for short windows.

Alabama expects star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to be back under center after he left the team's Week 8 game against Tennessee with an ankle injury. Backup Mac Jones filled in two weeks ago against Arkansas, seamlessly leading the charge during a 48-7 win.

The total dropped from the opener of 66 to 64.5. But after Tagovailoa's status was released, it jumped back up to 65, where it currently sits as of Wednesday afternoon.

Betting breakdown

This is one of the most intriguing totals of the season.

With LSU's new-look explosive offense and Alabama's uncharacteristically leaky defense, we could have anticipated seeing a total higher than your typical Tigers-Crimson Tide matchup. But 65? That might seem like a huge overadjustment, but it isn't.

Alabama and LSU rank No. 2 and 3 in SP+ offense, respectively, with both schools averaging 46-plus points per game. The market unsurprisingly pushed this total down initially, but there was no chance we were getting a total on the fringe of 70, especially with Tagovailoa's status up in the air. But a high total is certainly justifiable because this matchup is eerily reminiscent of Alabama-Clemson last season: There's just so much star power in the receiving corps and under center.

However, hope isn't lost for the defenses. Alabama and LSU lead the SEC in havoc rate during conference play this season despite not fielding the typical top-five or 10 defensive units we're accustomed to seeing from those programs.

It's essentially been feast or famine for the Tigers and Crimson Tide, and although the high total allows for a ton of variance, a defense coming up with a big play could decide this one.

X-factor

For a group loaded with future first-round NFL talent, LSU's secondary has been inconsistent.

The Tigers rank 60th in the nation against the pass after allowing 28-plus points three times this season. The switch to a more uptempo, explosive offense has paid dividends for the team. But perhaps the defense - which has benefited from LSU's offense giving it breaks with methodical drives in years past - has been gassed in the second half of games because of how quickly the Tigers can score.

LSU let quarterback Kyle Trask and Florida move the ball at will, and the defense allowed 38 points against a decrepit Vanderbilt offense earlier in the year. Guarding the entire field against Bama's loaded receiving corps will be by far LSU's biggest test.

Pick

Alabama team total over 35.5

We haven't seen a defense slow Alabama down since last year's national title game. LSU, on paper, certainly possesses the talent in its back seven to challenge Tua and Co.

But if you want to make the pivot's life completely miserable, you're going to need a pass rush. LSU ranks outside the top 40 nationally in sacks after finishing 2018 at No. 11. The Tigers have taken a serious step back in defensive production this season.

Tagovailoa's ankle issue is concerning, but there are few offenses as efficient as Alabama's in space. In Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, and Devonta Smith, the Tide trot out three of the top 22 receivers in the nation in yards after the catch. If Tagovailoa experiences trouble dropping back, Alabama's skill-player group can turn a screen pass into a touchdown in the blink of an eye.

There's a potential shootout looming on Saturday. But despite all the talk about LSU's revamped offense, go back to the well and hit the home side's team total over.

Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 12 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AJKolodziej.

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LSU-Alabama betting preview: Shootout brewing in Tuscaloosa?
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