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Jim Barnes’ college forecast: LSU will fight for departing coach

Handicapping the last week of the college football regular season works almost the same as bowl season.

For games involving teams that are out of the conference and national title picture, bettors should focus on some key questions: Is this team motivated? Do the players just want the season to be over?

In some cases, will they play for a coach who is already (or about to be) fired?

That’s the case with Louisiana State on Saturday against No. 14 Texas A&M in what will be the final home game — and could be the final game, period — for coach Ed Orgeron.

LSU and Orgeron agreed to part ways in October, but the coach would finish the season.

This certainly hasn’t been a good year for LSU — the Tigers are 5-6 and need a win to become bowl eligible — but the team has played hard for Orgeron, losing by only six at Alabama and in overtime to Arkansas.

Orgeron has seemed to handle his lame-duck status perfectly, saying all the right things and keeping the focus on the players instead of his abrupt departure just two seasons after a national title.

Expect LSU to fight for Orgeron one more time and cover +6½ against Texas A&M.

Four more plays for Saturday:

— New Mexico State -6½: Forget No. 1 vs. No. 2. How about No. 129 vs. No. 130? New Mexico State and Massachusetts are ranked by some power rating services as the worst two teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and now they battle for anti-supremacy in the last game of the year. The Aggies are favored by nearly a touchdown, and that tells you all you need to know about Massachusetts.

— Oklahoma +4½: Every ball bounced the Sooners’ way so they could cover last week against Iowa State. I was all set to take Oklahoma State in the “Bedlam” rivalry game that still has national title implications, but this line has gotten out of hand, moving through 3 and all the way to 4½. Oklahoma has beaten the Cowboys six straight times, all but one by double digits. Oklahoma State might win this time, but the Sooners will make the Cowboys sweat.

— Clemson-South Carolina U43: The Wake Forest defense made Clemson look like its old self last week, but the Tigers are still winning primarily with defense. South Carolina is no offensive juggernaut, and this game could easily end up in the teens.

— Arkansas State -2: Another game between two of the worst teams in the sport, and I’ll take the home team to at least care enough to get a win against Texas State to finish a miserable season.

— Last week: 1-4

— Season: 29-30-1

Contact Jim Barnes at [email protected] or 702-383-0277. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.

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