NCAA Football Week 7 Picks: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at (5) LSU Tigers

Brandon Doughty is averaging 377 yards per game this season.
Brandon Doughty is averaging 377 yards per game this season.

Western Kentucky at (5) LSU
Time: 6 PM
Spread: LSU -15
Total: 66

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

The No. 5 ranked LSU Tigers have continued to dominate on the defensive end of the football. The team won 35-28 over then- No. 8 Florida last week to improve to 6-0 on the season. In Week 5 it handily defeated South Carolina 45-24.

This week against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers might not be a “gimme,” either. Western Kentucky is 6-1 on the season riding the strong arm of QB Brandon Doughty, who has thrown for 2,709 yards on 74.1 percent passing while boasting an average of over 10 yards per pass. He has 24 TD passes on the year and just 4 INTs, for a passer rating of 186.4. He has a stable of receivers that features Taywan Taylor.

Taylor has caught 45 passes for 825 yards, including 10 TD passes, which leads the team easily, accounting for 40 percent of the team’s TD production from the WR slots. Nicholas Norris, Tyler Higbee and Jared Dangerfield all have caught for 460 yards or more, and Higbee and Dangerfield have combined for 11 TD passes between them.

In the backfield the Hilltoppers go to D’Andre Ferby and Anthony Wales, a tandem that has combined for 630 yards and eight TDs (six of which have come by Ferby). The Hilltoppers can be a dangerous offensive team, which really poses the question of what the Tigers can do a team that has clicked so well. Western Kentucky’s lone loss of the season came Week 3 against Indiana, and that was just a three point defeat.

In the past three weeks it has averaged 54 points per game while surrendering an average of just 22 points. It will not be that easy this week against LSU, but the chance of Western Kentucky keeping this a two-TD game or less is very real.

LSU is looking for a little more accuracy from Brandon Harris. Though the QB has yet to throw an interception, he has been good for just 59.3 percent passing and is averaging just 7.52 yards per attempt. The 6’3” 206 pound sophomore has been better of late, having thrown better than 64 percent both of the past two weeks. The wins over South Carolina and Florida were also both his only 200 yard passing games of the season. He’s been sacked seven times, which is scarcely a shadow of what the Tigers have done to opposing QBs.

LSU has sacked opposing QBs 17 times, and it is going to easily pass last season’s 19 sacks (in 13 games). The Tigers DE Lewis Neal had three sacks last week, and he has the team-lead of seven on the season. That pressure is going to give Doughty some real anxiety in the pocket, but the Hilltoppers OL is not just going to roll over.

Neal said of the matter, “What people don’t realize is that it takes all four defensive linemen to get a sack.” LSU’s defensive unit is predicated a lot on NFL pass rushing schemes, and there is a reason the school consistently produces such talents. The team is also good at adjusting to better QBs that are dual-threats, and the team dealt with Florida’s QB Treon Harris quite well.

Neal said, “I knew when he wanted to run, so I made him try to run, I show my presence…then I go get him.” Doughty will have to hope Neal does not have his number quite like that this week if the Hilltoppers are hoping to pull a major upset of a No. 5 ranked team, something college football oddsmakers are not setting up as all that likely.

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