They were saying on one of those ESPN shows on Friday that the status of Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was of much more interest to the fans in Tuscaloosa than the pending arrival of President Trump, who is awaiting impeachment proceedings.
And that would probably be accurate.
Even in Trump country, Tua will get a bigger round of applause, especially if he plays.
For purposes of our discussion, we’ll assume he takes the field and takes the first snap. Whether he’ll take EVERY snap is another question.
The opponents, of course, are the LSU Tigers, and the time is 3:30 PM ET at Bryant-Denny Stadium. And guess what? While BetAnySports customers are watching the game on CBS, they can place wagers in real-time with the assistance of two options – either Sports Betting Ultra or Live Betting Extra.
They’ll also get reduced juice to avoid having to lay the standard -110 (11-to-10) on football action. Here are the NCAA football betting numbers that reflect it:
Alabama Crimson Tide -6 (-105)
LSU Tigers +6 (-105)
Over 63 points (-102)
Under 63 points (-108)
(Note that this total took a dip this week because of Tua’s uncertainty)
This is a wild situation in college football. At the moment, LSU is rated #1 in the Associated Press poll, while Alabama is #1 in the Coaches’ poll. But neither one of them is #1 in the College Football Playoff Rankings. That distinction goes to Ohio State. One of these three teams could be left out of the four-team playoff entirely, because there is also defending national champ Clemson lurking as an undefeated team.
After suffering a high ankle sprain, Tua had what is known as a “tightrope procedure,” which uses a high-strength suture rather than screws to deal with the injury. In this particular instance, it was designed to get Tua on the field quicker.
Sure, this could backfire,. And we know that he hasn’t had to sustain contact on it just yet. He has been through four practices, some of which could be seen by the media. Some observers felt he looked fine; others, like CBS’ Gary Danielson, pooh-poohed that notion, mentioning that he didn’t have a lot of “spring” in his step. Nick Saban, for his part, called his quarterback “the most positive guy in the world,” and stopped just short of guaranteeing that his man would make the start.
Tua has thrown 27 TD passes and just two interceptions this season. He has averaged 11.2 yards per attempt, which is even more than his counterpart and Heisman Trophy competitor Joe Burrow (who is -125 at BetAnySports to win the award, while Tua is +300).
So as I was sitting here, figuring out who would cover this matchup, I came away with the conclusion (or as close to a conclusion as one can get) that the best case for either side rested not in its ability to STOP what the other team could do, but to instead overcome the other team’s stop unit….if that makes any sense. In other words, unlike a lot of meetings between these schools in recent years, we should see a lot of offense from both sides.
It could be that Tua’s mobility is very limited, so we might be walking a “tightrope” of our own here. But with all of the attention being paid to him, one story surrounding this game that isn’t getting a lot of play involves the status of LSU’s All-American safety Grant Delpit, who has missed three practices this week with his own ankle issue. He’ll play, but he won’t be 100%. Okay; LSU’s secondary ranks just 113th out of 130 teams in the metric of “Explosive Pass Plays” allowed. How much margin for error is there?
And one thing that has to be stressed is that Alabama has four wide receivers who will likely be playing in the NFL – Jerry Jeudy may be the first wide receiver drafted; Henry Duggs (19.7 yards per catch) may be the fastest guy among NFL prospects. Then there is DeVonta Smith and Jaylon Waddle, who brings the added attraction of being the nation’s leading punt returner, at 21.6 yards a clip.
That’s a lot for a secondary to handle, especially one whose stalwart won’t be at full strength. So it can be argued that under the circumstances, this might be more of a concern for LSU than Tua’s injury is to ‘Bama.
What does Tua need to be successful here? Well, a ground game wouldn’t hurt, and he’s got maybe the best one on the field in Najee Harris. He needs to be protected, and his offensive line is among the top 15 in the country in limiting sacks. On top of this, LSU’s pass rush hasn’t necessarily been super-imposing (20 sacks) and will be missing pass rushing specialist Justin Thomas (not to be confused with golfer Justin Thomas, who will be the guest picker on ESPN’s “College Game Day”) and more importantly, linebacker Michael Divinity, perhaps the Bayou Bengals’ top pass rusher overall, who has been dismissed from the team. This stuff matters.
Yeah, part of the deal is that Tua would have to stay upright as much as possible, but I’m thinking that not only Alabama’s team total of 34.5 points, but the game total of 63, are well within reach.
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