It doesn't take an abundance of hyperbole to call Week 11 the biggest weekend of the college football season so far.
It's November now, and everything's bigger in November. Beyond that, in LSU at Alabama, we have our first regular-season No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup since 2011 (also LSU-Bama). Plus, we have two other top-20 matchups (No. 5 Penn State at No. 13 Minnesota, No. 18 Iowa at No. 16 Wisconsin) and four other games in which a ranked team is on the road and favored by 10 or fewer points, per SP+. Fireworks abound.
Let's look at the difference between SP+ projections and this week's market to try to suss out why those differences might exist.
SP+ has performed beautifully this season (55% against the spread, 82% straight-up), showing as much or more predictive power than the line itself. To the extent that the two disagree, let's look into why.
Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
No. 1 LSU Tigers at No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (-6.5)
SP+ projection: Alabama 34, LSU 27
Early market: Alabama -5.5 to -6.5
Are Bama's injuries two points worse than LSU's? Even after a bye week, the injured list for this one is long. Tua Tagovailoa is still listed as questionable after his high-ankle sprain, key offensive weapons such as running back Najee Harris and receiver DeVonta Smith are probable, and tight end Miller Forristall is out for the season with a recent throat injury. (This run of offensive injuries complements the August/September run of defensive injuries for the Tide.)
LSU has its own set of issues. Star safety Grant Delpit (No. 3 tackler, five run stuffs, 6.5 havoc plays*) is questionable, as is reserve cornerback Cordale Flott. Linebacker Michael Divinity Jr. left the team this week.