The Daily Sweat: There's one last bowl game, and it features LSU with a makeshift roster

·4 min read

Before the national championship game between Alabama and Georgia is played, there is one more bowl game. It’s the Texas Bowl between LSU and Kansas State on Tuesday night in Houston.

LSU (6-6) opened as a slight favorite but that point spread has swung pretty significantly toward Kansas State (7-5). The Wildcats are now 7-point favorites at BetMGM with the total sitting at 47.5 as of Tuesday morning.

Why the line movement? Well, LSU will be without a significant chunk of its roster and is expected to split quarterback reps between two walk-ons and a wide receiver. According to The Athletic, the Tigers will have roughly 39 scholarship players available because of “transfers, opt-out, COVID and academic issues.”

The opt-outs include linebacker Damone Clark, defensive tackle Neil Farrell and running back Tyrion Davis-Price, all of whom have declared for the NFL draft. LSU is also very thin at cornerback.

And then there’s the quarterback situation. Max Johnson, the team’s starter throughout the regular season, transferred to Texas A&M. Myles Brennan, who was expected to compete with Johnson for the starting job before getting injured, announced he will be back next year under new coach Brian Kelly but reportedly won’t play in the bowl. Freshman Garrett Nussmeier played in four games this season and does not want to burn his redshirt.

That leaves the two walk-ons — Tavion Faulk and Matt O’Dowd — and Jontre Kirklin, a receiver who played high school quarterback. It’s obviously a tenuous situation for the Tigers. 

LSU quarterback Garrett Nussmeier (5) runs during an NCAA college football game against Arkansas in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)
LSU quarterback Garrett Nussmeier is not expected to play in the Texas Bowl in order to preserve his redshirt, leaving two walk-ons and a receiver to play QB for the Tigers. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

Kansas State, meanwhile, is expected to have longtime starting quarterback Skylar Thompson back on the field after a late-season injury. The Wildcats, who finished 7-5 overall, were 6-3 with Thompson in the lineup this season.

From a betting perspective, the spread moved toward Kansas State pretty slowly. K-State was still available at -4.5 a few days ago, but the number has moved to 7 with the reality of LSU’s roster situation more publicly available.

Kansas State is not a team I typically bet as a favorite, though it is 9-5-1 ATS as a favorite during Chris Klieman’s three seasons as head coach. Even better, the under is 11-4 when Kansas State is the favorite during that same span.

With LSU’s roster in such shape and the fact that Kansas State plays such a plodding style of offense (just 48 plays of 20-plus yards this season, No. 104 in the country), I lean toward the under. But it’s probably going to be a game I’m more inclined to live bet or just stay away from altogether.

A really nice college hoops slate

Things have been dicey in college basketball lately with so many postponements, but Tuesday night’s schedule looks very promising.

The top matchup of the night comes out of the SEC where No. 21 LSU is hosting No. 16 Kentucky. LSU is a 3.5-point favorite with the total at 141.5.

Kentucky is 11-2 on the year and has won four straight games in blowout fashion after losing at Notre Dame on Dec. 11. The four-game winning streak includes an 83-56 blowout over Missouri in UK’s SEC opener. LSU, meanwhile, is 12-1 on the year and is coming off that lone defeat — a 70-55 road loss to Auburn in the conference opener.

Elsewhere, No. 1 Baylor hosts Oklahoma and is a 12.5-point favorite. No. 2 Duke hosts Georgia Tech as an 18.5-point favorite. No. 6 Kansas travels to Oklahoma State and is favored by 6.5.

In the Big Ten, struggling Michigan is a 4.5-point road favorite over Rutgers while Illinois is favored by 7.5 on the road against Minnesota. There are also two intriguing Big East matchups. Butler is a 3.5-point home dog against No. 24 Seton Hall, and Marquette is favored by 1.5 at home against No. 16 Providence.

Kentucky head coach John Calipari directs players during an NCAA college basketball game against Notre Dame on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
Kentucky head coach John Calipari directs players against Notre Dame on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, in South Bend, Indiana. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)

What about the pros?

There was just one game in the NHL on Monday night, but the action is more plentiful on Tuesday with eight matchups on tap.

In the NBA, there are five games on the schedule. The Cleveland Cavaliers, the best ATS team in the league at 25-10-2, host the Memphis Grizzlies and are 3.5-point favorites. Elsewhere, the Raptors are 5.5-point home favorites over the Spurs, the Knicks are favored by just 1.5 at home against the Pacers, the Suns are 7.5-point road favorites over the Pelicans, and the Lakers are favored by 6.5 at home against the Kings.

With the NBA, you need to make sure you’re aware of who is available to play before you bet. Players are dropping out of lineups left and right in recent weeks because of COVID-19.

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