Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Day Bowl Bonanza

Previewing the rest of the New Year's Day Bowl Games...


Auburn vs Nebraska
Why to Watch: Two storied programs meet in the one of the best venues for college football, the Cotton Bowl. Auburn may have a bad taste in its mouth after being left of the BCS for LSU, whom they beat earlier in the year. Bill Callahan has transformed Nebraska from an option to pro style attack and been pretty successful at it.
What will Happen: I think Auburn is really sulking at not being invited to the BCS. The last time they came in with a chip on their shoulder they got blown out by Wisconsin last year in the Capitol One Bowl. Nebraska has everything to gain and Callahan will make Tuberville look conservative.
Nebraska over Auburn

Tennessee vs Penn State
Why to Watch: Another classic matchup involving two heavyweights (no pun intended) in the current coaching ranks. Penn State played Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio State all very close. Joe Paterno has said he is coming back next year, but he will not be coaching from the sidelines and you have to wonder if the injury has caused him to lose some of his passion.
What will Happen: The Nittany Lions possess a pretty strong defense and should be able to contain the Erik Ainge to Robert Meacham connection. Still, Penn State has struggled all year on offense. I like the Vols defense to force some turnovers and give their offense a short field.
Tennessee over Penn State

Arkansas vs Wisconsin
Why to Watch: As the third team in the Big 10, Wisconsin got left out of the BCS despite their 11-1 record. Arkansas has lost their last two, but those two losses have come against Florida and LSU. The Hogs Darren McFadden finished second in the Heisman voting.
What will Happen: This looks like one of the best matchups on paper New Years Day. The Badgers might feel a little slighted coming in as the underdog. McFadden and Felix Jones need to be difference makers for the Razorbacks and mask their inabilities in the passing game.
Arkansas over Wisconsin

Gator Bowl Preview: Ga Tech-West Virginia

Gator Bowl Jacksonville, FL Jan1 1:00PM CBS
Georgia Tech vs West Virginia
Line: WV-11, 47
1:00 PM ETW/LATSHAAFAAO/U
Georgia Tech 9-4-06-5-16-23-224.216.86-6-0
West Virginia 10-2-05-5-16-14-138.920.68-3-0

Quick Hits:
GT Under 3 of last 4
GT as Dog: 2-1-1 ATS, 1-3 SU, 1-3 O/U
GT largest Dog @Va Tech(+8.5) W38-27, Over

WV Over 4 of last 5
WV 1-3-1 ATS last 5
WV as Fav: 5-4-1 ATS, 8-1-1 SU, 8-3 O/U
WV as Double Digit Fav: 5-3-1 ATS, 7-1-1 SU, 7-3 O/U

Season Recap Georgia Tech
Big Wins: @VaTech 38-27
Bad Losses: @Clem 7-31
Record vs Bowl Teams: 3-4
Common Opp: vMyld 27-23

Season Recap West Virginia
Big Wins: vMyld 45-24
Bad Losses: vSo Fla 19-24
Record vs Bowl Teams: 4-2
Common Opp: vMyld 45-24

Georgia Tech Offense vs West Virgina Defense
78th in Total Yards vs 52nd in Total Yards
100th in Passing Yards vs 100th in Passing Yards
35th in Rushing Yards vs 9th in Rushing Yards
57th in Points Per Game vs 48th in Points Per Game

Georgia Tech's Taylor Bennett will be making just his second career start after Reggie Ball was declared academically ineligible. Expect WVU defense to see a heavy dose of Tashard Choice, the leading rusher in the ACC this season. Bennett has more pocket presence than Ball, but is not near as mobile. Turnovers will be at premium as always for an underdog against a high powered offense. West Virginia will likely stack the box and test the inexperienced Bennett's arm.

West Virginia Offense vs Georgia Tech Defense
4th in Total Yards vs 20th in Total Yards
98th in Passing Yards vs 62nd in Passing Yards
2nd in Rushing Yards vs 11th in Rushing Yards
4th in Points Per Game vs 48th in Points Per Game

This is a match of strength vs strength as West Virginia possesses two of the best runners in the nation. The Yellow Jackets allowed under 90ypg on the ground and just 69 ypg outside of the Clemson game. Jon Tenuta's defense possesses as much speed any defense the Mountaineers have seen, but the blitz scheme Tech uses was exploited by Clemson's rushing attack. Georgia Tech's defense will need to generate some turnovers in this game and keep White and Slaton off the field as much as possible.

Prediction:
Georgia Tech has nothing going for them coming into this game. They lost their last two games in heartbreaking fashion, they will play back to back games in Jacksonville, their starting QB and best CB are out... and bettors have noticed moving West Virginia from a 7 pt fav to 11 pt fav - the biggest spread of all the bowl games. However, Georgia Tech has thrived as a big underdog, especially on the road under Chan Gailey. I think Bennett shows a lot of poise, but Slaton and White will break some big runs late after being bottled up most of the first half.

West Virginia Wins, Georgia Tech Covers, Under


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Miami, Nevada on the Smurf Turf


MPC Computers Bowl Boise ID 7:30 ESPN
Miami (6-6) vs Nevada (8-4)
Line: Miami -3, 42

7:30 PM ETW/LATSHAAFAAO/U
Nevada 8-4-010-2-05-13-330.9194-8-0
Miami 6-6-03-7-15-21-419.515.11-10-0
Quick Hits:
Miami is 2-4ATS, 1-5 O/U in last 6
Miami is 1-4-1ATS, 4-2SU, 0-6 O/U as Favorite in 2006
Miami is 2-2 ATS in +/- 3 points

Nevada is 5-1 ATS, 5-1 O/U in last 6
Nevada is 2-2ATS, 0-4SU, 2-2 O/U as Dog in 2006
Nevada is 1-1 ATS in +/- 3 points

Season Recap Miami
Big Wins: None
Bad Losses: @Lville 7-31, @Virg 7-17
Record vs Bowl Teams: 2-5

Season Recap Nevada
Big Wins: vSJSt 23-7
Bad Losses: @ArizSt 21-52, vBSt 7-38
Record vs Bowl Teams: 1-3

Miami Offense vs Nevada Defense
100th in Total Yards vs 68th in Total Yards
84th in Passing Yards vs 70th in Passing Yards
89th in Rushing Yards vs 74th in Rushing Yards
99th in Pts per game vs 34th in Pts per game

Miami will try to control the clock with its running game and use that to set up the play action pass. The Hurricanes have been hurt this season by turnovers from the QB positions. Kirby Freeman has stepped in as QB after an injury to Kyle Wright. Nevada has a bend but don't break defense. They are not overly great at stopping drives, but they have been very good in the redzone.

Nevada Offense vs Miami Defense
48th in Total Yards vs 10th in Total Yards
92th in Passing Yards vs 59th in Passing Yards
24th in Rushing Yards vs 8th in Rushing Yards
22nd in Pts per game vs 16th in Pts per game

The speed of Miami's defense is something Nevada has not seen all year. The Hurricanes are very good at stopping the run, which is the Wolfpacks strong suit. The Canes D has been a constant through their last two years of offensive struggles. Nevads uses the "Pistol" formation featuring a running back behind the QB in the shotgun.

Prediction:
Miami must fight off the disappointment of this season and bowl invitation. We have seen how uninspired teams have fared so far. Throw in the coldest weather Miami players have ever seen and the Canes have a lot to overcome it seems. The Canes will have outgoing coach Larry Coker on the sidelines and incoming coach Randy Shannon in the box. Coker is well liked by his players and Shannon, so I expect the Canes to want to send him out with a win. Also, the will not want to go out on a losing season (see FSU). Still, they are probably underestimating Nevada. Miami must win the turnover margin to win this game.

Miami Wins, Nevada Covers, Over

Friday, December 29, 2006

Dawgs and Hokies and Chicken Nuggets



Chick Fil A Bowl Atlanta, GA 8:00 ESPN
Virginia Tech 10-2 vs Georgia 8-4
Line: VT -2.5, 37.5
8:00 PM ET W/L ATS H A AF AA O/U
Virginia Tech 10-2-0 7-4-0 7-1 3-1 26 9.3 3-8-0
Georgia 8-4-0 4-6-1 5-2 3-2 24.7 17.1 4-7-0
Quick Hits:
VT is 5-1 ATS in last 6
VT last 5 games have gone Under
VT has not gone over 37 since 10/21 vs So Miss (36-6)
UGA has gone over 37 in 5 of last 7 games
UGA has two straight wins over Top 20 teams
UGA will be playing with just 6 scholarship offensive lineman

Season Recap Virginia Tech
Big Wins: vClem 24-7, @WF 27-6
Bad Losses: @BC 3-22
Record vs Bowl Teams: 5-2
Common Opp: vGT 27-38

Season Recap Georgia
Big Wins: @Aub 37-15, vGT 15-12
Bad Losses: vTenn 33-51, vVand 22-24
Record vs Bowl Teams: 3-3
Common Opp: vGT15-12

Virginia Tech Offense VS Georgia Defense
26 ppg, 185 pypg, 116 rypg VS17 ppg, 150 pygp, 114 rypg
The Hokies rely on All-ACC back Branden Ore to move the ball. QB Sean Glennon has improved as the season has gone on, but is not a protypical drop back passer. Georgia's defense has been soft up the middle against the run. If the Bulldogs can slow Ore, I like their pass defense against Sean Glennon passing the ball.

Georgia Offense VS Virginia Tech Defense
25 ppg, 189 pypg, 132 rypg VS 9 ppg, 128 pypg, 93 rypg
Despite throwing just 6TD to 12INT, Matt Stafford has played much better in his last two games (both wins). Still, Georgia would like to get Kregg Lumpkin and Danny Ware going on the ground as their WR corps has not been very reliable this year. Virginia Tech is nasty again on defense allowing just six points over their final three games. With just six offensive lineman playing, I expect the Hokies to come after Stafford. The Hokies need to force Stafford into some freshman mistakes.

Va Tech as Fav: 6-4ATS, 8-2SU, 3-7 O/U
UGA as Dog: 2-1ATS, 1-2SU, 2-1 O/U

Prediction:
Georgia will have the crowd in their favor playing just 60 miles from Athens. You can believe Mark Richt has not let anything slip in bowl game preparation after what happened in last years Sugar Bowl. But the Bulldogs will have a tough time overcoming their lack of depth on the offensive line against a punishing defense. Georgia will give the Hokies all they can handle, but will come up short.

Virginia Tech Wins, Georgia Covers, Over

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Liberty Bowl Preview: South Carolina-Houston


Liberty Bowl Memphis, TN Dec 29 4:30 ESPN


South Carolina (7-5) vs Houston (10-3)
Line: SC -5.5, 56
4:30 PM ETW/LATSHAAFAAO/U
Houston 10-3-08-4-07-13-232.821.98-4-0
South Carolina 7-5-08-3-03-44-125.217.27-4-0

Storyline:
The Gamecocks had a wonderful end to their season with their first victory over Clemson since 2001, yet South Carolina is probably a little frustrated that win did not translate into a better bowl game. Houston won Conference USA winning six in a row in the process. They feature one of best QBs you have never heard of: four year starter Kevin Kolb. The Cougars are also 5-1 ATS in their last 6.

Season Recap South Carolina:
Big Wins: @Clem 31-28
Big Losses: vUGA 0-18
Record vs Bowl Teams: 2-5

Season Recap Houston:
Big Wins: vOklSt 34-25
Big Losses: None
Record vs Bowl Teams: 4-2

Keys for South Carolina Cover:
Gamecocks will need to play with pride and enthusiasm and realize they are playing a conference champion. South Carolina will need the offensive balance they displayed in their last outing (especially on the winning drive). Spurrier's club is not great at running or throwing, but they are good enough to keep teams on their toes.

Keys for Houston Cover:
Put the game on Kevin Kolb's shoulders. The Senior has started all four years for the Cougars and is finally getting his shot at the big time. Kolb threw 27TDs to just 3INTs this year.

Prediction:
The Gamecocks jumped out to a huge lead vs Missouri in last year's Independence Bowl before the Tigers rallied in the second half to defeat South Carolina. The Cougars three losses this season came by a combined 8 points. I think Houston will give South Carolina a scare, but will fall short.

South Carolina Wins, Houston Covers (3 star),
Under (4 star)

Clemson vs Kentucky

Music City Bowl Nashville, TN Dec 29 1PM ESPN


Clemson (8-4) vs Kentucky (7-5)
Line: Clem -9.5, 57.5
1:00 PM ETW/LATSHAAFAAO/U
Kentucky 7-5-06-5-06-11-426.629.15-6-0
Clemson 8-4-06-6-06-22-233.815.26-6-0

Storyline:
The Tigers come into this contest after an 8-4 regular season, but this was not a "feel good" 8 win regular season after losing three of their last four contests including a home loss to arch rival South Carolina. Meanwhile, Kentucky is happy to be here not having much of a bowl history in recent years. Clemson holds a decided talent advantage and features two very good running backs in James Davis and CJ Spiller. The Wildcats allow 189 yards per game on the ground.


Quick Hits:
Kentucky is 4-1 SU in their last 5
Clemson is 0-4 ATS in their last 4
Kentucky gives up 5.00 ypc on the ground

Clemson Keys to a Cover:
First, the Tigers need to "show up" for this game and realize they can end their season on a positive note. They have a decided talent advantage, but Kentucky will not be looking for any handouts in this game. Second, make sure that Davis and Spiller get their carries. Teams have stacked the box against the Tiger tandem during the second half of the season with success. If Will Proctor can limit his mistakes in the passing game and stretch out the defense a little bit, then the Tigers 0-line should be able to handle Kentucky up front.

Kentucky Keys to a Cover:
The Wildcats need to come out and punch Clemson in the mouth. They need to establish their offense early and get a defensive stand out of a defense allowing close to 460 total yards per game (189 on the ground). Andre Woodsoon must continue his excellent play at QB and take care of the ball - Woodson has a 4/1 TD to INT ratio this season. Long drives will be needed by the Wildcat offense to keep the quick strike Tiger unit off the field.


Season Recap Clemson:
Big Wins: @WF 27-17, vGT 31-7

Bad Losses: @Va Tech 7-24
Record vs Bowl Teams: 3-4
Common Opp: vSouth Carolina, L 28-31

Season Recap Kentucky:
Big Wins: vUGA 24-20
Bad Losses: @Lville 28-59, @LSU 0-49
Record vs Bowl Teams: 2-5
Common Opp: vSouth Carolina 17-24

Prediction:
I think the Tigers are too good of a team to have a five loss season. Kentucky may be able to keep it close for a while, but that defense can be awful at times. The big mystery will be how much Clemson wants this game. They thought they were headed to a New Years Day Bowl, but a poor ending lowered their postseason status.


Clemson Wins, Covers (3star), Under (3star)

Wanted: Head Coach


Independence Bowl Shreveport, La Dec 28 4:30PM


Alabama (6-6) vs Oklahoma State (6-6)
Line: Okl St -2, 50

4:30 PM ETW/LATSHAAFAAO/U
Oklahoma State 6-6-06-5-04-22-435.325.27-4-0
Alabama 6-6-06-6-06-20-422.2187-5-0
Storyline:
After being turned down by Rich Rodriguez and Nick Saban (twice), the Crimson Tide is still looking for a head coach. The Alabama team is reeling from its fifth straight loss to Auburn and the head coaching carousel these Seniors have seen in the tenure in Tuscaloosa. Oklahoma State comes into this game after losing a heartbreaker to rival Oklahama, but has a chance to put a notch on their belt with a win over a traditional powerhouse like Alabama.

Season Recap Oklahoma State:
Big Wins: vNeb 41-29,
Bad Losses: @Tex 10-36, @Kan St 27-31
Record vs Bowl Teams: 1-5

Season Recap Alabama:
Big Wins: None
Bad Losses: vMiss St 16-24
Record vs Bowl Teams: 1-5

Prediction:
I think Alabama's focus on the season went out of the window with the Auburn loss and the firing of Mike Shula. Furthermore, Alabama players have been spotted in Shreveport Casino's this week (Casinos were off limits to Okla St players). The Cowboys have played a lot of good teams close and Alabama is not even that good.

Oklahoma State Wins, Covers (4 star), Under (3.5 star)


Emerald Bowl Preview

The two plus week sabbatical is over just in time for bowl season to begin. Florida State and UCLA will tangle today in the Emerald Bowl. Both teams were hoping for better than this when the season began, but this should be an interesting game considering all the talent on the field.

Emerald Bowl


Florida State (6-6) vs UCLA (7-5) San Francisco, CA 8:00 ESPN
UCLA -155ML, -3, 39


8:00 PM ETW/LATSHAAFAAO/U
Florida State6-6-05-7-04-42-225.119.27-5-0
UCLA 7-5-08-4-06-11-422.717.92-10-0

Why UCLA will win & cover
The Bruins are coming off a masterful performance on Dec 2 where they knocked their arch rivals out of the BCS National Championship Game. Their defense has been steady all year and if Patrick Cowan can play similar to the way he did against the Trojans, this team is very tough to beat. Karl Dorrell's club will be able to drop deep against the pass considering the Seminoles anemic rush offense this season. Plus, neither starter Drew Weatherford or Xavier Lee have shown they can thread the needle against a good defense.

Why FSU will win & cover
The Seminoles have not dropped off in talent on the defensive side of the ball. If they can create some turnovers from a young QB and turn those into quick points, their fast and aggressive defense can pin their ears back against the Bruins pass offense. Also, this FSU crew does not want to go out on a losing record (they are 6-6). Throw in that ESPN labeled the Tallahassee school the 'Most Disappointing Team' this year for a little fire. Will UCLA be excited to play a .500 team on a baseball field after defeating USC in their last game?

Prediction:
I like the Under here as the strongest play. Both teams have young, and sometimes inept offenses while both defenses can play lights out at times. Throw in playing on a baseball field (make sure to wear the right cleats) with high winds and possible wet turf and you could see a lot of turnovers. I think the momentum from Dec 2 carries over to today.

UCLA Wins, Covers, Under
If I were to rate ML, ATS, Total on a 5 star confidence scale (1-low, 5-high)
ML-2 star, Cover - 2 star, Total - 3.5 star

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Bowl Predictions - Knee Jerk Style

It’s never too early to start some predictions is it? I know you are already thinking about how your team stacks in their bowl game. Just a first glance look at who I think will win these bowl games.

BCS Championship
Ohio State over Florida

Orange Bowl
Louisville over Wake Forest

Sugar Bowl
LSU over Notre Dame

Capital One Bowl
Arkansas over Wisconsin

Gator Bowl
West Virginia over Georgia Tech

Cotton Bowl
Auburn over Nebraska

Outback Bowl
Tennessee over Penn State

Chick Fil A Bowl
Virginia Tech over Georgia

Champs Sports Bowl
Maryland over Purdue

Music City Bowl
Clemson over Kentucky

Liberty Bowl
South Carolina over Houston

Meineke Car Care Bowl
Navy over Boston College

MPC Computers Bowl
Miami over Nevada

Independence Bowl
Oklahoma State over Alabama

Emerald Bowl
UCLA over Florida State

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Did The BCS Get It Right?

Yes and No

The BCS was designed to put the two best teams in the Championship Game at the end of the season. Ohio State clinched one of those spots with a victory over Michigan two weeks ago, but the other spot was still up for grabs.

USC looked to have the best shot to take the number 2 spot as long as they beat Notre Dame and UCLA to finish the season. The Trojans looked magnificent in beating Notre Dame by three touchdowns and took over the number 2 spot from the Wolverines. But a loss to UCLA as 13 point favorites knocked the Trojans out of their fourth title game in four years.

Meanwhile in Atlanta, Florida was leading Arkansas by the slimmest of margins at halftime when the news of the Bruin upset was announced. The Gators went on to defeat the Razorbacks and win the SEC Championship going 12-1 in the process with their only loss on the road to Auburn.

Michigan has been lying around for two weeks after a three point loss to the Buckeyes hoping for a USC loss. They got their wish, but many voters switched their votes from the previous week placing Florida number 2 and Michigan number 3. An interesting turn of events was Jim Tressell abstaining from the coaches’ vote for the one week when all coaches’ ballots were made public.

The Wolverines have a case considering the did lose to Ohio State by just 3 in Columbus (spread was 6.5) and Vegas projected the Wolverines as a 6 point favorite over the Gators if they matched up on a neutral field. However, Michigan has its shot and lost. Furthermore, the Gators won the toughest conference from top to bottom in the nation, while Michigan finished second in relatively weak Big 10.

I believe Michigan is the second best team in the nation, so the BCS did not get it right. But the voters have not seen Michigan in two weeks where as they have seen Florida wins the last two weeks. Maybe you can blame the Big 10 for not having its teams play the third week after November as the voters did not have a recent glimpse of the Wolverines. Michigan must now blow out USC in the Rose Bowl have Florida win by a very narrow margin (possibly controversially), and hope for a split title. The BCS did luck out though because a rematch with a Michigan win would spur more controversy as to who was number one.

My Top 10
I make these rankings based on who would win on neutral fields in a best of 3 scenario
1. Ohio State
2. Michigan
3. Florida
4. LSU
5. USC
6. Wisconsin
7. Louisville
8. Oklahoma
9. Arkansas
10. Notre Dame

Monday, December 4, 2006

Power Rankings

Power Rankings after the conclusion of the regular season. I base these rankings on how I feel these teams would match up right now on a neutral playing a "best out of 3"

SEC
1. Florida
2. LSU
3. Arkansas
4. Auburn
5. Tennessee
6. Georgia
7. South Carolina
8. Alabama
9. Kentucky
10. Ole Miss
11. Vanderbilt
12. Miss St

ACC
1. Wake Forest
2. Virginia Tech
3. Georgia Tech
4. Boston College
5. Maryland
6. Clemson
7. Miami
8. Florida State
9. Virginia
10. North Carolina
11. NC State
12. Duke

Who's Going Bowling?

My first thoughts when I saw the bowl matchups released last night.

BCS Championship Glendale, AZ Jan 8 8:00
#1 Ohio State vs #2 Florida
Reversal of roles as four years ago, Ohio State was the underdog to a consensus number one for the national title.

Sugar Bowl New Orleans, LA Jan 3 8:00
LSU vs Notre Dame
LSU fans will take over New Orleans, but they better hope this team takes Notre Dame seriously.

Orange Bowl Miami, FL Jan 2 8:00
Wake Forest vs Louisville
Yawn… but Louisville better not sleep on Wake and they better not turn the ball over

Capital One Bowl Orlando, FL Jan 1 1:00
Arkansas vs Wisconsin
Razorbacks do not want to end this season on three straight losses, but Wisconsin has a chance to finish in the Top 5

Gator Bowl Jacksonville, FL Jan 1 1:00
Georgia Tech vs West Virginia
Good news Georgia Tech fans – this will be Reggie Ball’s last game

Cotton Bowl Dallas, TX Jan 1 11:30
Auburn vs Nebraska
Interesting match up with two of the bigger egos in coaching going head to head

Outback Bowl Tampa, FL Jan 1 11:00
Tennessee vs Penn State
Joe Pa says he will return next season, but you never know

MPC Computers Bowl Boise, ID Dec 31 7:30
Miami vs Nevada
Miami has no coach and no desire to be in this bowl game – this one will be for Bryan Pata

Chick-Fil-A Atlanta, GA Dec 30 8:00
Georgia vs Virginia Tech
Very similar teams all around – Offense, Defense, Special Teams

Meineke Car Care Charlotte, NC Dec 30 1:00
Navy vs Boston College
Will probably be the best played game as both teams are well coached

Champs Sports Bowl Orlando, FL Dec 29 8:00
Purdue vs Maryland
An interesting match up of offensive minds in Friedgen and Tiller

Liberty Bowl Memphis, TN Dec 29 4:30
Houston vs South Carolina
The Gameocks were hoping for better than this

Music City Bowl Nashville, TN Dec 29 1:00
Clemson vs Kentucky
The Tigers can turn around a disappointing end to the season with a win

Independence Bowl Shreveport, LA Dec 28 4:30
Oklahoma State vs Alabama
Alabama fans are not even sure how to get to Shreveport

Emerald Bowl San Francisco, CA Dec 27 8:00
Florida State vs UCLAYou will never see so much hair gel in San Francisco again

Deacons Greetings From Reggie Claus

ACC Championship Game
Wake Forest 9 Georgia Tech 6

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons won their first conference championship since 1970 and are headed for Miami and the Orange Bowl. The Deacs got three field goals from Game MVP Sam Swank and forced 2 Georgia Tech turnovers on a rainy day in Jacksonville to prevail over favored Georgia Tech. Reggie Ball had an awful game for the second week in a row competing just 9-29 and throwing 2 interceptions. Wake Forest did not turn the ball over once and used a single wing formation for some of the game when their passing game was struggling. But ACC Freshman of the Year Riley Skinner completed the big pass, a 45-yard completion to Willie Idlette setting up the winning field goal.

This game was more about what Georgia Tech did not do than what Wake Forest did do. The Yellow Jackets drove right down the field on their first possession facing just two third downs on the way. However, an errant pass from Reggie Ball to a wide-open Calvin Johnson forced a field goal. During the fourth quarter, Georgia Tech held the ball for just 3:54 electing to run the ball just 2 plays in the final period despite having the ACC’s leading rusher in their backfield. I think some around this program have gotten fed up with the lack of production from the offense despite the talent it has. Some of this blame falls on the coaching and some falls on the players. Wake Forest managed this game very well, took care of the ball, and came out victorious - nothing flashy, but they got the job done.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Urban Renewal Headed to the BCS Championship Game

SEC Championship Game
Florida 38 Arkansas 28

The Florida Gators found out at halftime of USC’s loss and then took matters into their owns hands by defeating the Arkansas Razorbacks for their first conference title since 2000. Percy Harvin scored twice (one run, one pass) and the defense and special teams came up big with a fumble recovery in the end zone on a punt and a game-clinching interception. Florida held Darren McFadden in check for much of the game not allowing the speedster to get loose many times. Florida’s offense scored more than 28 for the first time since September.

In just his second season, Urban Meyer has led Florida to a BCS Championship Berth against Ohio State. The Gators survived a brutal conference schedule and did enough in the pollsters’ eyes to jump Michigan for the number two spot. Chris Leak finally got his signature win and did it with out having to look over at his shoulder much at Tim Tebow in this game. Arkansas will have to bounce back for the Capital One Bowl versus Wisconsin after two close defeats at the hand of two of the best teams in the conference – LSU and Florida.

Friday, December 1, 2006

ACC, SEC Championship Predictions

SEC Championship Atlanta 6:00 CBS
#8 Arkansas vs #4 Florida
Line: Florida -3.5, 44.5

Steve Spurrier always told his Gators that our goal was to win the SEC because if you did that you would be in the national title mix.  Not much has changed as Florida is looking for its first conference title since 2000 and a berth in the BCS Championship Game.

I think this game will come down to two things:  the offensive balance of Arkansas and ability of Florida's offense to move the ball consistently.  Last week, Casey Dick had an awful game at QB in the Razorback's loss to LSU.  This allowed LSU's defense to stick 8 in the box and string out the reverses and sweeps of Arkansas' Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.  Dick must be able to find his receivers, especially Marcus Monk, and keep Florida's defense off balance.  On the other side, Florida has been carried at times by their defense this year.  The offense will need to control the ball as much as they can with long scoring drives and keep it out of Arkansas hands as they have scored 26 touchdowns in five plays or less this year.  Turnovers, of course, will play a big part as well when you have two very evenly matched teams.  

I like Florida in this game to win, but I am not sure they can cover.  Florida has not scored more than 28 points on a DI team this year and it won't happen this week, so I also like the Under.
Prediction: Florida Wins, Arkansas Covers, Under

ACC Championship Jacksonville 1:00 ABC
#23 Georgia Tech vs #16 Wake Forest

Line: Ga Tech -2.5, 40.5

Not exactly the game in the dreams of the ACC, but someone is going to a BCS bowl from this game.

Custer had his last stand at Little Big Horn and this may be Reggie Ball's last stand.  If the four year starter does not win this game, he will be remembered as a disappointment no matter what happens in the bowl game.  Georgia Tech has the ACC's leading rusher in Tashard Choice, but this team lives and dies by Reggie Ball.  The Senior does not have to do anything special, but he does have to hold onto the ball.  Historically, he has rebounded well from playing poorly the prior week.  Wake Forest is not a particularly ball-hawking defense, but they could force Ball into some bad decisions creating turnovers.  I think Georgia Tech has more talent and speed, but they need to execute at a similar level to Wake Forest and that will fall squarely on Ball's shoulders.

I like Georgia Tech to bounce back and defeat Wake Forest behind Tashard Choice.
Prediction: Georgia Tech Wins, Covers, Over

Some Interesting Numbers

To give you an idea of how good Darren McFadden of Arkansas is check
out these numbers. 1,485 yards rushing…that is a really good season,
but it isn't 2,000 yards like Troy Davis did at Iowa State
twice(wonder what he is doing now?). To put this into perspective,
DMac has out rushed teams like Florida State, Miami, Tennessee, Boston
College, and Virginia Tech. He is just six yards behind Notre Dame as
well and beat out 45 teams in the Division formerly known as Division
I-AA.

McFadden is not only a runner, but a pretty good passer too completing
all five of his pass attempts and throwing for 2 TDs. That is good
for a 349.6 QB rating. Expect at least three throws from McFadden
against Florida.

The Razorbacks are second in the nation with 26 scoring drives of five
plays or less. Hawaii is number one with 30.

But, Florida has a pretty good stat on their own – 17. The Gators
have not allowed a rusher over 100 yards in 17 games. The last to do
it, Joe Addai, just scored another TD for the Colts against
Philadelphia in the NFL.

SEC East vs SEC West this season? A deadlock at 9-9 for each side.

So how good of a season is this for Wake Forest? Considers these stats

Wake has just seven winning seasons in 54 years of ACC play. They had
only finished more than one game over .500 in conference play twice
before going 6-2 this year.

Also, Wake went 6-0 on the road. They are the first team ever to do
that in the history of the ACC out of the 113 teams that have played
six road games in a season. Florida State had gone undefeated on the
road, but did not play six road games.

If Reggie Ball throws more TD and than INT, mark it down as a Tech
win. If he throws more picks than touchdowns, Wake will win. This
stat is true 80% over his four years.

Both Georgia Tech and Wake Forest's ACC opponents were 26-30 in league
play. Wake was the only team to play NC State, North Carolina, and
Duke in the ACC.

The Atlantic Division was 12-6 versus the Coastal this season. Both
Tech and Wake were 2-1 with the opposing division.

Some of these numbers are from an ESPN.com column by Dave Revsine
while finding some others on my own

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Key Matchups for Championship Games

Today, I will take a look at what I think the key matchups will be in this weekend's ACC and SEC Championship Games. Tomorrow, I will have my final predictions.
ACC Championship Jacksonville 1:00 ABC

When Georgia Tech has the ball-

Calvin Johnson versus Wake Forest Secondary

I expect Johnson to be double teamed for most of the game unless Tashard Choice is gashing the Demon Deacon offense. I expect Georgia Tech to make a very concerted effort to get the ball to Johnson after just two catches last week.

Reggie Ball versus Wake Forest Blitz

Reggie Ball's biggest kryptonite (among other things) is putting consistent pressure on him in the pocket. Ball usually has just one or two progressions and after those will tuck the ball looking to run. By blitzing you do open up the QB draw, but Ball has been hobbled much of this year and not as effective on these plays. I think Wake will definitely blitz on 3rd and medium to long, but not that much on 1st and 2nd downs.

Wake Forest misdirection versus Georgia Tech defense

Georgia Tech's fast, blitzing defense versus the Wake Forest misdirection?

Georgia attempted to counteract Tech's blitz with screen passes and misdirection which worked for some big gains last week. Wake uses a lot of misdirection to offset their lack of speed and size of offense. Jon Tenuta's defense rarely sells out on a blitz, but has been suspect at times tackling in the secondary. Tech will alter their defensive scheme a little bit, but will still blitz and play a very attacking style.

SEC Championship Atlanta 6:00 CBS

When Arkansas has the ball-

"Wildcat" Formation versus Florida Front Seven

I think the Gators will challenge Arkansas to throw the ball by stacking 8 or 9 in the box hoping to string reverses and sweeps out. Florida can live with Darren McFadden throwing the ball, even though he is 5-5 on the season

Casey Dick versus Florida Defense

Dick had his worst game of the season against LSU completing less than one-third of his passes and not putting much scare into the LSU secondary. Without a decent passing game, the Gators can load up in the box.

Arkansas Secondary versus Florida WR

The Arkansas secondary will have a tough task matchup with the talented receivers of Florida. Razorback corner Chris Houston will probably match up with Dallas Baker, but the rest of the defense cannot rest on Andre Caldwell who took a swing pass 60 yards for a TD last week. Florida will likely not be very effective in the run game with a hobbled DeShawn Wynn, so the Gators will need to move the ball through the air primarily.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Preparing for the ACC, SEC Championship Games

A little preview of what each team has gone through this season and how I think they are preparing mentally for these games which will send two teams to the BCS.

SEC Championship Atlanta, GA 6:00 CBS
Arkansas saw an undefeated SEC season go by the wayside last Friday in a 31-26 loss to the suddenly BCS bound LSU Tigers. Still, the Razorbacks have had a great season and can still secure a BCS bid with a win over Florida. In one year, Houston Nutt has gone from almost being fired to other schools wanting to hire him away. The Razorbacks live and die by Darren McFadden and the many dimensions he brings to the game from lining up at QB in the "Wildcat" Formation to running back to receiver. Another fascinating story from Fayetteville this season is the progress of Gus Malzahan, the high school coach turned offensive coordinator and originator of the "Wildcat".

Florida has one test left on the SEC gauntlet they faced this year. The Gators survived the SEC East, played three of the top four teams from the West (winning two) and survived a scare from rival Florida St last week. Urban Meyer has been openly discussing his distaste for the BCS system over the last two weeks regarding the possibility that Florida may be left out of the BCS Championship despite and 12-1 record in the SEC. I have a hard time believing this is not creating a small distraction from the game on Saturday and may put a chip on the shoulder of Arkansas as well. The offense played one its better games on Saturday, giving themselves (and the Gator D) some more confidence that they can match the Hogs quick strike ability.

ACC Championship Jacksonville, FL 1:00PM ABC
Wake Forest beat Maryland this past weekend in College Park to secure a bid into this weekend's ACC Championship Game. The Demon Deacons bring many school firsts into this contest: First 10-win season, first time ranked for seven straight weeks in AP Top 25, first time going undefeated on the road (6-0). However, this team filled with fourth and fifth year players will not be interested in any congratulatory pats on the back for making it this far. Another motivating factor for the Deacs will be the point spread they face underdogs on the opening line (+2) against a team they are ranked higher than.

Georgia Tech on the other hand has a huge mental challenge this week getting ready to play after a crushing, sixth consecutive loss to archrival Georgia on Saturday. The Yellow Jackets were very dejected after the loss even though they still control where they end up in a bowl game. This Tech team wrapped up their division two weeks ago with a win over North Carolina, but has had to wait two weeks to find our who their opponent would be. Some fans feel as if this season has lost its luster because of the loss to the hated Bulldogs, but the players must realize how much they still have to play for.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Season Recaps for Championship Games

Today, we will take a look at how each of these teams got to their Championship Games in the ACC and SEC along with some of key players of each team.

ACC Championship Jacksonville, FL 1:00 ABC
#16 Wake Forest (10-2, 6-2)
Big Wins: @Maryland 31-24, vBoston College 21-14
Losses: vClemson 17-27, vVaTech 6-27
Close Calls: vDuke 14-13
Team Leaders
Touchdowns K.Harris 6
Rushing K.Moore 396
Passing R.Skinner 1579
Receiving N.Morton 515
Interceptions J.Gattis 4
Offense
Total Rank
Total Yards 302 110
Passing Yards 143.9 140
Rushing Yards 158.1 48
Points Scored 23.3 73
Field Goal % 78.3 59
Defense
Total Rank
Total Yards 315.5 57
Passing Yards 214.4 113
Rushing Yards 101.1 28
Points Allowed 15.4 18
Field Goal % 61.1 49

#22 Georgia Tech (9-3, 7-1)
Big Wins: @Va Tech 38-27, vMiami 30-23
Losses: vNotre Dame 10-14, @Clemson 7-31, @Georgia 12-15
Close Call: vMaryland 27-23

Team Leaders
TouchdownsC.Johnson 13
RushingT.Choice 1204
PassingR.Ball 1691
ReceivingC.Johnson 899
InterceptionsD.Jones 4
Offense
Total Rank
Total Yards 324.284
Passing Yards160120
Rushing Yards164.242
Points Scored25.754
Field Goal %66.7100
Defense
TotalRank
Total Yards289.126
Passing Yards200.890
Rushing Yards88.317
Points Allowed17.529
Field Goal %66.763

SEC Championship Atlanta, GA 6PM CBS
#4 Florida (11-1, 7-1)
Big Wins: @Tennessee 21-20, vLSU 23-10,
Losses: @Auburn 17-27
Close Call: vSouth Carolina 14-13
Team Leaders
Touchdowns D.Baker 9
Rushing D.Wynn 632
Passing C.Leak 2540
Receiving D.Baker 872
Interceptions R.Smith 7
Offense
Total Rank
Total Yards 398.2 23
Passing Yards 241.4 32
Rushing Yards 156.8 49
Points Scored 28.1 38
Field Goal % 25 151
Defense
Total Rank
Total Yards 265.2 15
Passing Yards 195.6 79
Rushing Yards 69.7 9
Points Allowed 12.2 6
Field Goal % 55.6 40

#8 Arkansas (10-2, 7-1)
Big Wins: @Auburn 27-10, vTennessee 31-14,
Losses: vUSC 14-50, vLSU 26-31
Close Calls: vAlabama 24-23
Team Leaders
Touchdowns D.McFadden 15
Rushing D.McFadden 1489
Passing M.Mustain 853
Receiving M.Monk 880
Interceptions M.Grant 3
Offense
Total Rank
Total Yards 384.4 33
Passing Yards 148.2 133
Rushing Yards 236.2 6
Points Scored 30.2 25
Field Goal % 50 127
Defense
Total Rank
Total Yards 299.8 36
Passing Yards 182.6 56
Rushing Yards 117.2 48
Points Allowed 16.8 24
Field Goal % 71.4 87


Sunday, November 26, 2006

SEC Rankings

No doubt in my mind who is the best conference in college football... just look at this top 7 and find any conference who can match that. Even if you look down the list you have teams like Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky who have either beaten or played teams like Georgia, LSU, Tennessee, Auburn, and Florida very close.

1. Florida
2. LSU
3. Arkansas
4. Auburn
5. Tennessee
6. Georgia
7. South Carolina
8. Alabama
9. Kentucky
10. Vanderbilt
11. Ole Miss
12. Miss St

ACC Rankings

Not a weekend to pump yourself up about (and make a case for not being the worst BCS conference either). ACC goes 0-3 against the SEC in the three big rivarly games. This conference has some good teams, but really saw how badly it was gutted by the NFL Draft last year.

1. Wake Forest
2. Georgia Tech
3. Virginia Tech
4. Boston College
5. Maryland
6. Clemson
7. Miami
8. Florida State
9. Virginia
10. North Carolina
11. NC State
12. Duke

Putting a Loss Back Into Perspective

Rivalry weekend always brings joy to some and heartache to others. Whether your team won or lost it is just a game. Maybe this picture will help bring some back to reality if they think the world is falling because they lost to their rival.


courtesy of allcanes.com

Reggie Ball's Legacy

The legacy of Reggie Ball as Georgia Tech may have seen its final chapter written on Saturday as the senior QB struggled mightily accounting for just 32 total yards in the loss to Georgia. Ball is now 0-4 as a starter against Georgia with just 1TD and 5 INT (8 Turnovers in all). The fourth-year starter played perhaps the worst game of his career in a contest with some unusual twists and turns. Tony Taylor recovered a fumble and ran 29 yards while players and refs stood around dumbfounded thinking the play was dead to give Georgia their first TD after being stymied all afternoon by the Tech defense. The Bulldogs came into this game ranked 94th in turnover margin, but turned the tables with a +2 margin against a team number 14 in that category prior to Saturday. Georgia Tech's Tashard Choice had probably the best game of his career with 146 yards rushing on 23 carries, but in the end this game came to the inability for Reggie Ball to find open receivers and take care of the ball.

I thought the key to the game was going to be the play of Matt Stafford and would he take another step forward or step back. Stafford took another step forward and the stats will show it: 16-29, 171 yards, 1TD, 0INT, 2 sacks. He outplayed his much more experienced counterpart and came up big on 3rd and goal with a beautiful play fake for the go ahead TD.

Ball has something between his ears when it comes to this game. He was visibly rattled most of the game like he had been in his previous three times against Georgia. This was his worst game of the year by far in his season where he has played pretty well for the most part. Tech-UGA is the same thing as UGA-Florida. The losing team in each of these series has something in their head to where they don't come out to win, they come hoping they can win and don't feel they can make it happen. Some Tech fans will be glad Reggie is done after this year, most Georgia fans will be upset Reggie is gone after this year. Jim Donnan got fired over the opposite scenario six years ago. An interesting line would be who wins first - Georgia over Florida or Georgia Tech over Georgia.

Going forward, Georgia looks like a lock for the Peach Bowl where they will likely match up with Virginia Tech. Ga Tech has to pick themselves up though as they have "bigger fish to fry" in the ACCCG next week versus a team in Wake Forest that won't be interested in any congratulatory pats on the back by just getting to Jacksonville. Tech has to realize what is on the line here... the difference between an Orange Bowl or a Music City Bowl is on the line next week. Don't take this loss so hard it ruins your season. That would be the mark of a mentally fragile team in my opinion.

Spurrier Comes Up Big in Clemson

Steve Spurrier has been good for one upset victory per season throughout his whole career and up until this Saturday, he had not gotten one this year. But South Carolina broke a four game losing streak and got it done on Saturday. Clemson came out of the gate with a bang by scoring two quick TDs, but the Gamecocks never lost faith and kept chipping away at the lead. Even with a potential interception return for a touchdown turned into a touch back for Clemson, this South Carolina found a way to win.

I really thought Clemson had poor clock management in the last minute of the game. They drove down the field and you could tell the whole stadium just knew the Tigers would go in for the winning score. But when a first down run was hit for little gain, the Tigers seemed in no hurry despite having less than a minute and 15+ yards to go. Instead of calling one of their three timeouts, Clemson hurriedly ran to the line and ran an unorganized play netting no gain. All of sudden its third down now. South Carolina took a gamble and it paid off by sacking Proctor on third down forcing a field goal, which was missed.

I thought the key coming into the game was the combo of James Davis and CJ Spiller. Spiller lived up to his end of the bargain with 155 yards, but Davis had just 19 on 11 carries. You could see the Lightning (Spiller), but couldn't hear the Thunder (Davis).


Side note: I talked about how underrated this game was as far as hatred for the opposing side. This is the game of the year in South Carolina with no pro sports and only two Division I schools. However, it seems this rivalry took a deadly turn after the game.

Florida Survives Upset Bid

The Gators never made it look easy on Saturday, but they got the job done be defeating the Seminoles 21-14. The struggles for Florida State's offense continued as neither Drew Weatherford nor Xavier Lee could sustain continued success. Weatherford played the bulk of the game, but threw three interceptions. Lee was not much better on his six chances completing two of them.

The key to the game would be the defense of Florida State and what they could do for the offense. The Seminoles needed to create turnovers and short field for their offense, but could do neither on Saturday. Both Leak and Tebow remained interception free and the Gators lost just one fumble.

Florida now faces Arkansas in the SEC Championship and will try to keep its national title hopes alive in their first trip to Atlanta since 2000. Florida State is likely headed to a bowl game in Charlotte or Boise after Bobby Bowden's worst season since his first year at Florida State.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

ACC SEC Rivalry Week

This is what football in the South is all about. Its the second week of rivalry week is the heart of the rivalry between the ACC and SEC. Like most years, the SEC is favored to win two out of the three games.


#16 Georgia Tech (9-2) @ Georgia -1.5, 42.5 (7-4) 3:30 CBS

Georgia and Georgia Tech square off for the 101st time in Athens in what will be maybe the most anticipated game between the two in recent history. UGA won 5 in a row in this series and 12 out of last 15. When the Bulldogs have a week off before this game, they are 7-0 since 1991. However, when Georgia Tech is ranked (16) and Georgia is unranked, Tech is 9-0 all-time. Georgia Tech will be looking to put one streak to bed however; they have lost to an unranked team in 15 consecutive seasons. This game will likely decide how Reggie Ball is remembered in four years as he is 0-3 as starter vs UGA. The Bulldogs have had a disappointing season this year, but will be looking to finish strong with a win over their most hated rival (in some fans’ eyes).

Key to the Game: Will Matt Stafford take another step forward or a step back
In his last game, Stafford appeared to be “turning the corner” as a QB with some heady play under pressure. His throwaways and runs were heralded as such by Mark Richt who said he could tell Stafford was starting to understand how to play QB in the SEC. Georgia Tech will blitz from everywhere on the field with any player and it will be very important for Stafford to remain calm and make good decisions when facing pressure. The Freshman will need to check down to his intermediate receivers and get rid of the ball quickly against a small, but fast defense. If Tech can get to Stafford with sacks or force him into bad throws, Tech will win this game.


Prediction: Ga Tech Wins, Covers, Under


South Carolina (6-5) @ Clemson -5, 46 (8-3) 12:00 ESPN

Does anybody even realize that South Carolina and Clemson are playing this week with all the Steve Spurrier to Miami talk? The Gamecock Senior class is looking for its first win over Clemson in an underrated rivalry in my opinion. Auburn-Alabama gets the most talk regarding hatred, but this match up lacks nothing in mutual distaste for one another. With no pro sports in South Carolina, this is the game every football fan in the state looks forward to. A sideshow to the game may be the talent attending.
Key to the Game: Finding Some Thunder & Lightning Again
The atmosphere at Death Valley on October 21 was electric and contributed to the birth of “Thunder (James Davis) and Lightning (CJ Spiller)”. Since then, teams have stacked the box in order to slow the running back tandem and it has worked effectively. South Carolina has a good defense, but it showed it was vulnerable to teams with big play ability when it lost to Arkansas a few weeks back. Clemson has to find a way to get Davis and Spiller going in the backfield, or their defense may be at the mercy of one of the best offensive game planners in college football.


Prediction: Clemson Wins, South Carolina Covers, Under


#4 Florida (10-1) -9.5, 42 @ Florida St (6-5) 12:00 ABC

A win for the Seminoles over the hated Gators is the only way they can salvage their season in the eyes of many of their fans. Once thought to be hiccup in the Seminole dynasty, this season has just been reinforcement to the argument that FSU is on the downturn. Florida has visions bigger than just beating FSU with the SECCG next week, but a close game will raise doubt in voters mind as to how strong this Gator team is. The Gators will be going for three straight in this series and shellacked the Seminoles last year.

Key to the Game: FSU Defense
The Seminole defense is what got FSU to its 25th straight bowl eligible season and will be their only saving grace against Florida as well. FSU’s offense was so bad in some people’s opinion that boosters came up with over $500,000 just to buy out OC Jeff Bowden. This defense has been hurt with injuries throughout the year, but has played pretty well considering some of the tough spots they have been put in this year. This Florida offense is not a powerful one and can be contained by a good defensive effort. But the Noles will need more than just good, they will need turnovers. Chris Leak has shown that if he is pressured, he will throw the ball up for grabs. If FSU can score a defensive TD and give their offense a short field, then they have a shot.


Prediction: Florida Wins, Covers, Under


#18 Boston College (9-2) -3.5, 37 @ Miami (5-6) 7:45 ESPN THURS

This game may turn out to be Larry Coker’s last as head coach in Miami as the Canes need a win just to be a bowl eligible. However, the talk down in Miami is that the University does not have enough to buy out Coker’s contract and pay a new coach. Some credit must be given to Coker for being able to hold this team together and be competitive after the murder of Bryan Pata. Meanwhile, BC is hoping to gain a bid with over the Hurricanes and a Wake Forest loss to Maryland.

Key to the Game: Miami’s Emotion
The Hurricanes need this game to become bowl eligible. But even with a win, Miami is staring at a Music City Bowl game at best. This team has endured a lot this season and had its wind knocked out of them two weeks ago. The Orange Bowl, which has never been a hot ticket, will likely be mostly empty on Thanksgiving Night with an unranked Miami team in town, so it will be very hard to feed off the crowd. Boston College does not have better talent, but they execute better and will have no problem coming into an non-hostile environment and gaining their 10th victory if they so choose.


Prediction: BC Wins, Covers, Over


#10 LSU (9-2) @ #6 Arkansas -1, 43.5 (10-1) 2:30 CBS FRI

A game that is meaningless in regards to the SEC Championship, but could have a very big impact on the BCS Title Game. The Razorbacks clinched the SEC West last week, but will face a stiff test this week against LSU and needs a win to keep any national title hopes alive. LSU is attempting to follow the “if you lose, lose early” motto as they are now in the top 10 of the BCS and the highest ranked two loss team.

Key to the Game: Play of JaMarcus Russell
When the Louisiana State Tigers get off the bus and come out for warmups, you will not find many more physically imposing teams in the country. Yet, Les Miles’ club has lost two games this season and barely scraped by Ole Miss at home last Saturday. His QB, JaMarcus Russell, has all the physical tools to be a game-changing QB, but unfortunately he has been a game-changer for the opposing teams some this season. He needs to play a turnover free game (or only 1 TO) for the LSU defense to be able to match the high-powered Arkansas offense.


Prediction: LSU Wins, Covers, Over

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Power Rankings Week 12

Arkansas is at the top in my book in the SEC because of the way they have gone through their SEC schedule so far with strong wins over Auburn and Tennessee. Florida comes in at number 2 having played probably the toughest conference slate, but they have struggled in some games as a big favorite. In the next group, I have Auburn, LSU, and Tennessee next all with two losses, but capable of playing at the top level. Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama are three teams who have had disappointing seasons in many of their fans’ eyes. Kentucky became the ninth bowl eligible team in the SEC with a win over La-Monroe. The win may have also secured Rich Brooks a contract extension. The bottom of the SEC is really where its strength is displayed not at the top like usual. Vandy went into Athens and beat Georgia, Ole Miss nearly shocked LSU on Saturday, and Miss St thumped Alabama at their place just a few weeks ago.

SEC
1. Arkansas
2. Florida
3. Auburn
4. LSU
5. Tennessee
6. Georgia
7. South Carolina
8. Alabama
9. Kentucky
10. Vanderbilt
11. Ole Miss
12. Miss St

The top six of the ACC is bunched up together and any of these teams can knock off another. I have Georgia Tech number because of their overall ACC record at 7-1. BC comes in at two this week largely due to their thrashing of Maryland on Saturday. With a win Thursday and a Maryland win over Wake, the Eagles are headed to Jacksonville. Virginia Tech has won five straight since their loss to BC and has the most momentum going into the bowl season. Wake slips a little this week, but with a win over Maryland the go to the Championship Game. Maryland’s five game winning streak came to an end and they need some help from Miami to keep their title hopes alive. Clemson has been under the radar since their loss to Maryland, but beat Ga Tech soundly in mid-October. The bottom of the half of the ACC (except for Duke) is all very close together as well. FSU got a scare from Western Michigan, but is now bowl eligible for the 25th straight season. Virginia has turned a disappointing first half of the season into a chance for a .500 season with an upset of Va Tech this week. Miami is like a bruised fighter on a eight-count right now as the Canes have lost four of the last five since their season turned for the worse. North Carolina’s dominance of NC State continues; even though every year it seems the Pack have more talent. Duke is Duke and looks like puke right now.

ACC
1. Georgia Tech
2. Boston College
3. Virginia Tech
4. Wake Forest
5. Maryland
6. Clemson
7. Florida State
8. Virginia
9. Miami
10. North Carolina
11. NC State
12. Duke

Top 10
1. Ohio State
2. Michigan
3. USC
4. Arkansas
5. Florida
6. Notre Dame
7. Louisville
8. West Virginia
9. Wisconsin
10. Texas

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I Love College Football

This past weekend was a showcase as to why college football is so great (and next week may be better). Another chapter was written in the Iron Bowl series, Arkansas clinched a berth in Atlanta, and a showdown of sorts next week at Maryland.

In the world of odds and spreads, it was not a good one. 1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS, 3-1 O/U

AUBURN 22 ALABAMA 15
The Tigers won their fifth straight in this bitter rivalry behind the running of Kenny Irons and Brad Lester. Alabama coach Mike Shula lost his fourth straight as the Crimson Tide becoming the only coach in Alabama history to do so. Despite being outgained by over 100 yards, Auburn came up big on turnovers creating four Tide turnovers, including the game-clinching interception by David Irons. Brandon Cox struggled again, but relied heavily on his talent tailback tandem.

The Tide finished their 2006 SEC campaign with just two conference wins. Alabama is bowl eligible with 6 wins, but it is unclear whether they will be invited to a bowl. Shula is likely on the hot seat next year with a win over Auburn priority number one. Next season will be just Shula's second with a full alottment of 85 scholarship players.

VIRGINIA TECH 27 WAKE FOREST 6
Virginia Tech won decisively in Winston Salem as Sean Glennon threw for two touchdowns and Xavier Adibi returned a fumble 35 yards for a touchdown. The joy of the victory was dulled with the injury to star tailback Branden Ore. It is not clear how long Ore will be out. Wake Forest was stiffled much of the night on the ground, but Riley Skinner did manager 195 passing yards playing from behind the whole game.

Wake still controls its ACC destiny though as they travel to Maryland next week - if the Deacs win they are in. The Hokies speed proved too much as Jim Grobe's club looked like you think Wake Forest should look. Va Tech has won five straight since a loss to BC.

GEORGIA TECH 49 DUKE 21
The Yellow Jackets matched a team record with five touchdown passes - three by Reggie Ball and two by backup Taylor Bennett. Tech now has seven ACC victories, its most since 1998, and nine wins, most since 2000. Calvin Johnson caught two touchdowns in possibly his final home game in Atlanta. Ga Tech played its second string offense after running to a 28-7 halftime lead.

Georgia Tech now turns it attention to their in-state, rival Georgia in a game that will likely decide how Reggie Ball's four year career will be remembered (Ball is 0-3 vs UGA). The Yellow Jackets must also wait to find out who their ACC Championship Game opponent will be. If Tech loses its final two games, they cannot be passed over by a bowl for any team with three losses in the ACC due to a new rule by the conference.

VIRGINIA 17 MIAMI 7
Jameel Sewell ran for two scores and the Cavaliers handed Miami their fourth straight loss. The Cavs also rushed for a over 100 net yards, the first team to do so against Miami this year. The Hurricanes turned the ball over twice and netted just 263 total yards just days after attending fallen teammate Bryan Pata's funeral

Virginia still needs a win in Blacksburg next week to become bowl eligible. Miami can still go to a bowl if they beat BC this Thursday in what might be Larry Coker's last home game, but I don't the Hurricanes playing with much passion and who could blame with all that has gone the controversy and tragedy season

Other SEC Action:
Arkansas wrapped up the SEC West with a two touchdown win over Mississippi State. The Razorbacks must beat LSU this week to remain in the national title hunt. Tennessee bounced back after two straight losses as Erik Ainge returned to action in a 39-10 win over Vandy. LSU needed a second half comeback and overtime to defeat Ole Miss in Baton Rouge. South Carolina trounced Middle Tennessee St 52-7 allowing them to become bowl eligible.

Other ACC Action:
NC State's troubles with North Carolina continue after the Tar Heels scored their first Division I-A win over the Wolfpack. I think Amato comes back next year, but it may be his last unless significant improvement is seen. Florida State survived a homecoming date with Western Michigan as a touchdown was called back by penalty in the final moments. Boston College defeated Maryland off of three defensive touchdowns. The Eagles can go to Jacksonville with a win over Miami and Maryland win over Wake next week.

Pictures from this weekend


from the AP, Reuters, and Yahoo