The No. 13 LSU Tigers will square off against the BYU Cougars in their 2017 season opener. The game is being held at a neutral site. The two will face off at NRG Stadium (home Texans) in Houston, Texas. Kickoff is set for 9:30 EST and will be televised on the ESPN Network.

Taking a look at the Week 1 betting lines, the oddsmakers have LSU listed as a 12.5-point favorite with the total set at 47.5 points. Note their are a couple books that are still offering the opening line of 12.

LSU vs BYU Vegas Odds & Betting Preview

Things didn’t go as planned for LSU in 2016. The Tigers came into the season with the hopes of playing for a national championship. Those hopes didn’t last long. Long-time head coach Les Miles was fired after a 2-2 start. The Tigers turned to Ed Orgeron and he showed enough as the interim to be awarded the full gig.

LSU finished up at 8-4, capping off the year with a 29-9 blowout win over Louisville in the Citrus Bowl. Orgeron will have just 11 starters back from last season, but has plenty of talent to work with. Expectations aren’t quite as high as they were a year ago, but this is still expected to compete for a SEC West title.

BYU fans have to look back and wonder what could have been in 2016. The Cougars closed out the year with 5 straight wins to finish up at 9-4. However, it’s the four losses that you will hear the most about. All four of those defeats came by a combined 8 points.

Either way it was a better than expected season. Many wondered how the team would fare replacing head coach Bronco Mendenhall. There’s plenty of optimism going forward. BYU has a respectable 13 starters back, plus an experienced QB in junior Tanner Magnum.

College Football Free Pick Against the Spread: BYU +12.5

I think the value here is with BYU as a double-digit dog. I think there’s a lot of excitement with the potential of LSU this year, given the new offense and talent on the roster. I’m just not quite sold it’s going to be as good as people think. At least right out of the gate.

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At the same time, I don’t think the Cougars are getting near enough respect here. This team has proven it can compete with the Power 5 programs. They played 6 of them last year, as well as Boise State and a very good Toledo team. They might not win this game, but I think they can keep it respectable.

LSU diddn’t just lose a big piece of their running game in Leonard Fournette, they lost 5 of their top 6 receiving threats. Danny Etling is back and was an upgrade over Brandon Harris, but this is a guy who couldn’t make it at Purdue. BYU has 7 starters back on a defense that allowed just 19.5 ppg and have a strong history of being a hard team to run against.

As for the Tigers defense, I believe the Cougars can have some success. LSU only has 5 starters back on that side of the ball and lose their top 5 tacklers from last year. Not to mention their star returning player, Arden Key is doubtful with a shoulder injury (6th best tackler, 12 sacks in 2016). BYU has 4 starters back on the o-line, so I don’t see the Tigers dominating the line of scrimmage.