LSU vs North Texas Betting Odds Preview: Tigers Huge Favorites

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 25: Quarterback Jordan Jefferson #9 of the LSU Tigers runs the ball for a touchdown against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Tiger Stadium on November 25, 2011 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Tigers defeated the Razorbacks 41 to 17. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

The Louisiana State Tigers lost the BCS championship game last year in ugly fashion.

They start 2012 facing an ugly point spread of 43 points against North Texas Mean Green, a team that knows a little something about big dog status.

A year ago, North Texas was a 47-point underdog against Alabama and won - well, they lost 41-0 but they won against the spread.

This year, they open with LSU Saturday night in storm-battered Baton Rouge (7 pm ET, ESPNU).

Most online sportsbooks opened this game with LSU favored by around 43 points, and the 'over/under' set at 51. Since then the line has held steady, while the total has been bumped a point, to 52.

Even at that rate, nearly 50 per cent of the betting action is on LSU, who are ranked No. 3 in the AP pre-season poll.

They return 12 starters from the team last year that went 13-0, beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa and crushed Georgia in the SEC championship game, then lost the rematch with the Tide in the BCS title game. Seven starters are back on offense, including three backs who ran for more than 500 yards last year and four along the O line.

But only five starters return on defense, and none of them are named Tyrann Mathieu, after he got himself bumped from the team a few weeks ago.

North Texas, meanwhile, gets 14 starters back from a team that won five games last year, the most for the Green since 2004. Nine starters return on offense, including QB Derek Thompson and four along the O line, but only five starters are back from a defense that gave up 429 YPG last year.

The last time the Mean Green played an SEC team was last fall, when they lost at Alabama 41-0 and couldn't score to cover the spread as 47-point dogs.

These teams last met in 2008, with LSU winning 41-3 but failing to cover as 42-point favorites. In fact, the Tigers are 0-3-1 ATS the last four times they've been favored by 40 or more points.

Free NCAAF Pick: This game is likely headed toward blow-out territory, but a number like 43 can be difficult to cover in garbage time. So instead, we'll hope North Texas can score once or twice, and take the 'over' 52 on the total.

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