Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Battle of Tech's Highlight Conference Action

#24 Ga. Tech @ #9 Va. Tech (-10.5,37) 3:30 ABC
A game for the driver's seat in the Coastal Division and a revenge game of sorts. Last season, these two teams met in a very similar situation with Virginia Tech using defensive and special teams touchdowns to roll over the Yellow Jackets by 44. The Hokies have suspended one of the top defensive players, Chris Ellis and receiver Josh Morgan for violation of team rules.

Keys to Georgia Tech Winning:
1. "Why can't we get the ball more to Calvin Johnson" is an often phrase around Atlanta, but last week Johnson caught two TDs and racked up 165 yards receiving in a win over Virginia. Still, the Jackets offense has struggled in big games partially by not getting the ball to their playmaker.
2. TD vs INT: this is very important stat for Reggie Ball and Georgia Tech's sucess. So far this season, Ball has thrown 7 TD to only 3 INT with 1 INT coming on a hail mary at the end of the half. In 23 Wins, Ball has thrown 36 TD to 17 INT, while 16 losses have produced just 8 TD and 27 INT.
3. You Must Be Sound in the Kicking Game: Not to steal a line from Rece Davis of ESPN, but the Hokies block and return kicks so well that Georgia Tech must make a special effort to not allow a kick block or return to change the tide of this game.

Keys to Virginia Tech Covering:
1. Run the ball well: Since 1999, the Hokies are 68-5 under Beamer when they outrush their opponents and 5-14 when being outrushed. Virginia Tech has struggled this year rushing for just under 119 ypg this season. Georgia Tech is averaging 180 ypg on the ground.
2. Dominate the Special Teams: This is where the big difference in this game is. Georgia Tech has struggled in kick coverage this season, but has somehow managed to not give up a touchdown.
3. Double Johnson and blitz Ball: Notre Dame used this strategy in the second half vs GT earlier this season and the Jackets were stagnant on offense. This strategy forces Ball to find a second option quickly, which has not been his strong suit. The only caveat to this is if Ball can break contain as he is a dangerous runner.

I find it interesting this line was around 9 all week and then jumped up to 10.5 on Thursday. Calvin Johnson is listed as questionable, but I think he will play. If he doesn't, then Georgia Tech could be in world of hurt.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 21 Georgia Tech 17 (Ga. Tech covers, Over)
I like the GT cover more so than the over pick.

#10 Georgia @ Ole Miss (+18.5, 34.5) 9:00 ESPN
The Bulldogs biggest concern this week has been who will start at QB - Joe Cox or Matthew Stafford. Ole Miss is way overmatched in this game and will not be able to hang with Georgia like Colorado did.

3 Reasons Why Georgia Will Cover:
1. With Ole Miss having just 70 scholarship players, they simply do not have the hogs and horses to stay with Georgia for four quarters. If they can keep it close in the first half, then they will simply be worn down in the second half.
2. Mark Richt was not happy about being taken to the brink by a winless team who had lost to Division I-AA (Colorado played their hearts out though). You can better believe his team got a message this week in practice and will come out firing off the line.
3. Wake Forest went into Oxford with a backup QB and backup RB and won by 24. Wake Forest is not Georgia

Prediction: Georgia 31 Ole Miss 7 (Georgia covers, Over)
I like Georgia to cover more than the over pick, but the Dawgs may be able to cover the over themselves.

Alabama @ #5 Florida (-14.5, 38.5) 3:30 CBS
Last season's clash between the Tide and Gators was bittersweet for Alabama fans as they stomped Florida, but lost Tyrone Prothro to leg injury for that season. Well, it turns out Prothro is out for this season now too. You can best believe Urban Meyer remembered that 28 point loss and is anxious to get some payback.

How Alabama can Win:
1. Control the clock with Kenneth Darby rushing and short passes by John Parker Wilson
2. Hit the big play like last year
3. Take care of the ball and create turnovers

How Florida can Cover:
1. Get the same production from their RBs as they did against Tennessee
2. Test the Alabama O-Line and Wilson with blitzes early and often
3. Converting in the red zone where they struggled last week

Florida has more talent and is playing in front of the loudest fans in the country. I think the Gators will come out strong, but if they have the game in hand will they maintain the cover with LSU and Auburn looming in the next two weeks?

Prediction: Florida 28 Alabama 13

Houston @ Miami (-16.5, 48 ) 6:00
The Canes have been hearing a lot since the Louisville loss. They are not the same Miami, who their new coach will be next season, and that they gave up in the second half. All of these are unfamiliar territory if you play for Miami. I believe the Hurricanes can still turn this around and are not out of the ACC title hunt.

Houston has a four year starter at QB named Kevin Kolb who has thrown 12 TD to just 1 INT so far in the Cougars four wins. The only other road game Houston played was at Rice where they squeaked by the Owls 31-30. Miami on the other hand has had an extra week to prepare for this game and is eager to show they are still an elite program.

Prediction: Miami 28 Houston 7 (Miami Covers, Under)

La. Tech @ #19 Clemson (-33.5, 54 ) 7:00
Clemson will have a hard time duplicating their rushing performance of 7 touchdowns this week. The Bulldogs of La Tech got their only win this season over Nicholls State with two blowout losses to Nebraska and Texas A&M. La Tech is giving up over 180 yards per game on the ground. I like the Tigers in a blowout again.

Prediction: Clemson 42 La Tech 10 (La Tech Covers, Under)
I think the Under is a much better play than the spread

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