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Well-rested LSU worthy favorite at West Virginia

Although Alabama still ranks No. 1 and Louisiana State is No. 2 in my power rankings, there’s no doubt Tigers coach Les Miles has the nation’s most impressive team to date.

Continuing a challenging September schedule, LSU (3-0) faces another tough road test today at West Virginia (3-0).

In this instance, the red flag for back-to-back road games is negated by the fact the Tigers last played Sept. 15 and had a few extra days of rest.

I have a lot of respect for West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith and realize how difficult it is for any team to leave Morgantown with a victory. But the Mountaineers will probably need to win the turnover battle by two to have a shot at pulling the upset.

The Tigers are not committing turnovers, but they are creating them. Quarterback Jarrett Lee, busy writing an inspiring redemption story, has avoided making big mistakes and will benefit from the return of wide receiver Russell Shepard, done serving a three-game suspension.

Most important, the battle in the trenches between the offensive lines and defensive lines will be dominated by LSU on both sides.

Thanks to those mismatches and better overall talent and speed, the Tigers will take control in the second half and pull away to win by double digits. Take LSU and lay the 5½ points.

Five more plays for today (home team in CAPS):

■ EAST CAROLINA (-14) over Alabama-Birmingham — The Pirates were extremely competitive against South Carolina and Virginia Tech, two top-10 teams in my power rankings. I made this number 21½ and can’t believe East Carolina is laying only 14.

■ GEORGIA TECH (-6½) over North Carolina — I made this number 9. The Yellow Jackets have one of the nation’s best offenses, evidenced by their 59.3-point average, and covered in victories over Western Carolina (63-21), Middle Tennessee (49-21) and Kansas (66-24).

The Tar Heels, after barely beating mediocre squads in Rutgers and Virginia, go on the road for the first time. I like coach Paul Johnson’s team to win by at least 14.

■ CLEMSON (-2½) over Florida State — The Tigers have won four straight home games in this series by an average of 15 points. With the Seminoles reeling from last week’s loss to Oklahoma, they go to Death Valley limping with quarterback Clint Trickett probably making his first career start on the road.

Clemson’s Tajh Boyd has 10 touchdown passes, one interception and one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s premier home run threats in dynamic freshman wideout Sammy Watkins, who destroyed Auburn’s defense in a 38-24 win.

■ Missouri (+20) over OKLAHOMA — I made this number 14½, so it appears to be excellent line value. Missouri quarterback James Franklin has the offense thriving after a shaky Week 1 performance, with the Tigers compiling 99 points in their last two games. Missouri beat Oklahoma outright last year. I’ll take the quality ‘dog catching a huge number.

■ TROY (-12½) over Middle Tennessee — Troy has won five in a row over Middle Tennessee straight up and against the spread. The last four victories were by 14 points or more. The Trojans led Clemson by three at halftime in Death Valley, then lost at Arkansas 38-28 last week. Troy has one of the country’s most underrated quarterbacks in Corey Robinson.

Last week: 4-1 against the spread

Season: 7-2-1

Brian Edwards of VegasInsider.com and BrianEdwardsSports.com is providing college football analysis for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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