Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will start today vs. LSU only 20 days removed from tightrope surgery on his ankle. The Heisman Trophy candidate was injured in a 35-13 win over Tennnessee on Oct. 20.
How effective Tagovailoa will be and how long he can last in today’s crucial showdown against the Tigers remains to be seen, though.
I spoke with one of the best orthopedic surgeons in the Southeast earlier this week. Dr. Michael Gilmore, who was a three-year starter at safety for the Florida Gators from 1991-94 and had nine interceptions in ’93 and ‘94, performed three of these tightrope ankle surgeries last week.
I asked Gilmore what sort of expectations there should be for an elite young athlete 20 days removed from this surgery.
Gilmore told MajorWager, “I’ll tell you it’s really hard to be back to full speed at three weeks playing with that medical condition. I know he is being tended to like a King 24/7 and they have a great medical staff at Alabama, but it’s still tough to get back so quickly. I would be extremely surprised if he were back playing full speed this week, and I guess that’s why we keep hearing “game-time decision.”
When pressed on a percentage in a best-case scenario, Gilmore said, “Seventy, maybe 75 percent. Maybe that’s enough for him to be effective, though. What’s going to be an issue is scrambling around. I just don’t think it’s possible for him to be moving around at full speed this soon.”
We shall see.
As of early this afternoon, most books had the Crimson Tide installed as a six-point favorite. The total was sitting at 62.5 or 63 points early Friday night, but that number has moved up to 64.5 today. The Tigers are +190 on the money line.
Alabama has beaten LSU eight times in a row since dropping a 9-6 decision in overtime in 2011. The Crimson Tide is 10-2 straight up and 8-4 against the spread in the last 12 head-to-head meetings.
LSU is 4-0 ATS with a pair of outright wins in four games as a road underdog during Ed Orgeron’s tenure.
The ‘under’ has cashed in five straight LSU-Alabama games and is 9-1 in the last 10 meetings. This is the highest total in this series over the last decade. The previous high was 54 in 2013 when the Tide won 38-17 for the lone ‘over’ of late in this heated rivalry.
Kickoff at Bryant-Denny Stadium is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Eastern. CBS will have the telecast.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
–Missouri QB Kelly Bryant (hamstring) has been downgraded to ‘doubtful’ tonight at Georgia. Sophomore Taylor Powell will get the starting nod for the Tigers, who are 17-point road underdogs at most shops.
–UAB QB Taylor Johnston remains ‘questionable’ for today’s 3:30 ET. kick at Southern Miss. The Blazers are seven-point underdogs.
–Kansas State, a seven-point road underdog at Texas, owns an incredible 33-14 spread record in 47 games as a road underdog since late in the 2005 campaign. The Longhorns, who have had two weeks to prepare for the Wildcats, have limped to a 4-9 ATS mark on Tom Herman’s watch. Kansas State has won three games in a row both SU and ATS, including an upset win over previously-undefeated Oklahoma.
–Michigan State WR Darrell Stewart is ‘out’ indefinitely with a leg injury. Stewart has 47 receptions for 694 yards and four TDs. The Spartans will also be without starting center Thomas Allen for today’s home game vs. Illinois. They’ve lost three games in a row by a combined score of 100-17. On the flip side, Lovie Smith’s squad has won three games in a row and has covered the number in four straight. The Illini, a 14.5-point road underdog, is 4-1 ATS with a pair of outright victories as a double-digit underdog this year. I’m all over Illinois today plus the points and think it’s worth a shot to get a small taste of the +500 money-line odds, too.
–BYU has named Baylor Romney its starting QB today vs. Liberty. QB Zach Wilson (thumb) has been downgraded to ‘doubtful,’ and QB Jaren Hall is ‘questionable’ for the Cougars, who are 17-point home ‘chalk.’