Thursday, August 31, 2006

Week 1 Preview

Saturday will have a bevy of great games to choose from, which is something unusual for the first weekend of the year, and it doesn't even end on Saturday. On Sunday, look for my preview of Miami-Florida St in what could be a preview of the ACC Championship.

#2Notre Dame @ Georgia Tech 8:00 ET ABC
Line: ND-7 O/U: 50

When Notre Dame has the ball: Georgia Tech has faired much better against pocket passers than scramblers because of their kitchen sink style of blitzing. Expect Notre to try and spread the ball around early in the game and get the ball out of Brady Quinn's hands quickly. If Georgia Tech cannot get pressure on Quinn then I think you will see Weis try downfield for big plays. Jon Tenuta's defense has to get to Brady Quinn for Tech to negate Heisman front-runner Quinn and their high powered offense. Advantage: Notre Dame

When Georgia Tech has the ball: Much has been made about the Irish inability to stop the pass last year. However, the Yellow Jackets will need to get the rushing game going as this is their bread and butter and will then open up the passing game. I expect ND to use a similar scheme to what Georgia used last year on Calvin Johnson - double team him about 75% of the plays. Reggie Ball must be able to recognize those pass plays where Johnson is in single coverage and get him the ball. I think Ball needs to throw at least 2 TD for Tech to have a chance. Advantage: Even

Special Teams: Tech has had trouble on kick and punt coverage the last few years, but with a new special teams coach they should improve. Junior Travis Bell will need to regain his freshman form and become a weapon again for the Jackets. Notre Dame is solid, but not spectacular in special teams with Tom Zibikowski returning punts.
Advantage: Even

Coaching: Charlie Weis proved last year he is one the great offensive minds in football - college or pro. Chan Gailey has been solid in his four years, but has now handed the play calling duties over to Patrick Nix who installed a new, spread offense in the spring. Advantage: Notre Dame

Intangibles: Notre Dame is back and college football loves it. They are #2 preseason and have the leading Heisman candidate. Some say they are deserving of their ranking, some say they are not. Georgia Tech has played well as the underdog role and this is their biggest game since the 1990 Citrus Bowl, where they won the national title. Advantage: Georgia Tech

Vegas Considerations:
Notre Dame under Weis (2nd year)
7-5 ATS, 1-1 Away Fav, 8-5 Away Fav (last 7 years)
Georgia Tech under Gailey (5th year)
23-24-2 ATS, 3-5-1 Home Dog, 8-8-1 vs Non Conf, 4-5-1 Home Dog (last 7 years)

Notre Dame 27 Georgia Tech 21 (Notre Dame wins, but GT Covers)
Western Kentucky @ #15 Georgia 12:30 ET ESPN Game Plan
Line: n/a O/U: n/a

When Western Kentucky has the ball: The Western Kentucky QB will likely be running for his life and have nightmares of Quentin Moses on Saturday night. But seriously, the Hilltoppers were able to put up 14 versus Auburn last year, so I doubt they will be shut out. Advantage: Georgia

When Georgia has the ball: I am sure Mark Richt is anxious to get Joe Tereshinski some reps against a team not named Florida to boost his confidence. Two QB's will definetly play on Saturday, but whether we see freshman phenom Matt Stafford is another story. Oh yea, Georgia should be able to run all over W. Kentucky. Advantage: Georgia

Special Teams: Georgia's special teams match up with most anybody in the country. Advantage: Georgia

Coaching: Mark Richt was an assistant under Bobby Bowden and has taken the Bulldogs to four consecutive 10 win seasons. Advantage: Georgia

Intangibles: Western Kentucky is not getting any respect coming into this game, not even from Vegas who would not even put out a line for this matchup. Still, 90,000 fans barking and chomping at the bit will be tough to overcome. Advantage: Georgia

Georgia 34 W. Kentucky 7

Florida Atlantic @ #18 Clemson
Line: -32 O/U: 45

When FAU has the ball: see above, except insert Gaines Adams for Quentin Moses. Advantage: Clemson

When Clemson has the ball: Tommy Bowden will want to play it conservative and not reveal of his game plan for the following week. Advantage: Clemson

Special Teams: uhhhh, even if Florida Atlantic did have good special teams would it matter? Advantage: Clemson

Coaching: The Fire Tommy Bowden or Tommy Bowden is the greatest websites have not started sounding off yet, but it is only game 1. Florida Atlantic has a coach by the name of Howard Schnellenberger. You may remember him as the coach who helped build the Miami program. Advantage: Even

Intangibles: Even if FAU did have all the intangibles it can't make up the talent disparity in this game. Advantage: Clemson

Vegas Considerations:
FAU under Schnellenberger (6th year)
6-12 ATS, 6-5 Away Dog, 4-7 vs Non Conf
Clemson under Bowden (8th year)
39-38-2 ATS, 12-15-1 Home Fav, 12-11 vs Non Conf

Clemson 41 Florida Atlantic 6 (Clemson wins and covers)

Southern Miss @ #7 Florida
Line: -20 O/U: 47.5

When Southern Miss has the ball: So Miss has talent at running back and receiver, but they will be breaking in a new QB in The Swamp. I expect the Golden Eagles to rely heavily on the run game. Too bad Florida's front seven is one the best in the SEC. Advantage: Florida

When Florida has the ball: With the lack of a proven tailback and two outstanding receivers, expect Florida to pass the ball a lot. The So. Miss defense is not as stifling as it once was under Tyrone Nix(South Carolina). Advantage: Florida

Special Teams: So Miss kicker Daren McCaleb is the active leader in FG pct. Both kickers return for the Gators. Advantage: Even

Coaching: Jeff Bower just doesn't get much recognition for the work he has done in Hattiesburg, but he has lost some key assistants to bigger programs in recent years. Urban Meyer's teams usually take off in year two as witnessed at Bowling Green and Utah. Advantage: Florida

Intangibles: The SEC is not stranger to So. Miss who beat Alabama a few years ago and I don't expect them to be intimidated by going on the road to Florida. This is just warmup game 1 of 2 before Knoxville on Sept 16 for Florida. Advantage: So Miss

Vegas Considerations:
Florida under Meyer(2nd year)
6-6 ATS, 4-3 Home Fav, 3-1 vs Non Conf, 20-21-1 Home Fav(last 7 years)
So. Miss under Bower(16th year)
37-41-1 ATS, 29-26-1 Road Dog, 31-30-2 vs Non Conf

Florida 31 So Miss 13 (Florida wins, So Miss covers)

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