Friday, September 15, 2006

Super Saturday

#7 LSU @ #4 Auburn (-3.5, 39) 3:30ET CBS

These teams have ruled the SEC West the last two years and have played two thrilling games in that time period. Last season, LSU won 20-17 in overtime despite Auburn’s Kenny Irons rushing for a career high 218 yards. Auburn’s John Vaughn missed five field goals in that game.

LSU has put up some impressive defensive numbers in their first two wins each by scores of 45-3. They currently rank 1st in scoring defense, 2nd in pass defense, and 3rd in total defense. Meanwhile, Auburn looks to have picked up right where they left off last season and has 15 out of their last 16 home games and 18 out of their last 19 SEC games. Also, the home team in this series has won the last six contests.

When Auburn has the ball: OC Al Borges likes to use the run to set up the pass in his I-formation offense. With weapons like Kenny Irons, Courtney Taylor, and Brandon Cox, he has the entire package on offense. I expect LSU to try and pressure Brandon Cox as he is not he swiftest of foot as quarterbacks come. LSU has displayed a top-notch defense so far, but they have not faced an offense even in the same league as Auburn.
Advantage: Even

When LSU has the ball: Currently, LSU is using a tailback by committee with Charles Scott the leading gainer with 86 total yards this season. QB JaMarcus Russell is not the fastest player, but has enough mobility to get away from and has a cannon of an arm. If Auburn has a weak spot of their defense it is in the secondary. I expect Auburn to try and stuff the run and make Russell beat them with his arm.
Advantage: Even

Special Teams: Vaughn must get last year’s game out of his head by making a field goal early. Auburn’s kick return game ranks 7th in the NCAA, but the punt return squad ranks 82nd. LSU’s special teams are solid, but not spectacular. The kicking game has had a big impact on the last two games with a penalty on an extra point in 2004 and five missed FG in 2005. Advantage: Even

Coaching: Auburn’s Tommy Tuberville has shaken his image as a “Riverboat Gambler” and is thought as a solid coach. Borges has revamped an offense, which spreads the ball around and keeps defense off balance. DC Will Muschamp was LSU DC from 2001-2004. Les Miles had a pretty successful first season in Baton Rouge despite all the potential distractions. Both coordinators are solid as well. Advantage: Even

Intangibles: Both of these teams have played in big games and nothing will be left in the tank on Saturday. However, with this game at Auburn you have to give them advantage especially with the history on the home team’s side as of late. Advantage: Auburn

Vegas Considerations:
Auburn - 10-2 ATS last 12 games; home team is 4-1-1 ATS in last six meetings
LSU - 7-1-1 ATS in last 9 road games; 4-0 ATS in last 4 gams as 3.5-10pt dog
Under is 6-0 in last six meetings

Prediction: Auburn 21 LSU 17 (Auburn cover, Under)

#6 Florida @ #17 Tennessee (+3.5, 45) 8:00ET CBS
In the last 14 of 16 meetings, the team who has rushed for more yards has won this game. In the 2 meetings, where the winning squad was outrushed, Florida won both contests. Despite the lack of a bona fide number one tailback, Florida is averaging 173.0 ypg on the ground thus far this season to Tennessee's 143.0 ypg.

When Florida has the ball: With key injuries in the Vols secondary and the prolific numbers Leak has put up thus far through the air, I expect Florida to attack early in the passing game. Another key injury is that of DT Justin Harrell from Tennessee, who would have provided a major push up the middle in pass rush may be very limited in action. Coach Fulmer has said he will suit up, but is not sure if he will play 5 snaps or 50. You have to wonder what happened to the Vols defense only one week after stomping Tennessee to allow Air Force 30 points and nearly win the game.
Advantage: Florida

When Tennessee has the ball: Another question will be how will Erik Ainge play. The junior who looked so great against Cal will be facing an even better defense this week. It is important for the Vols to get Arian Foster going and take some of the heat off of the fragile Ainge. The Gators have simply dominated their first two opponents on defense, but will certainly be more tested this week. I expect Florida to try and key on stopping the run and making Ainge beat them. Advantage: Even

Special Teams: The punt and kick coverage for Florida has been excellent so far this season. The Gators return both of their kickers from last season. The Vols are also solid in the kicking game. Advantage: Even

Coaching: Urban Meyer gained a lot of popularity after going 3-0 vs the Gators big rivals last season. His offense is still somewhat a work in progress, but Chris Leak has performed very nicely in it so far this season. Phil Fulmer started the season with a bang to let his critics know that the Vols were back. Advantage: Even

Intangibles: The Vols will be playing at home where they are 8-5 all time vs Florida. But you have to wonder if their confidence was a little shaken by their performance last week versus Air Force. Advantage: Tennessee

Vegas Considerations:
Florida - 7-3-1 ATS in last 11 meets vUT; 12-2 ATS off shutout
Tennessee - 6-24 ATS in last 30 home games;
Under is 7-3 is last 10 meetings

Prediction: Florida 24 Tennessee 17 (Florida covers, Under)

#15 Miami @ #12 Louisville (-4, 52) 3:30ET ABC
Miami comes into this game in unfamiliar territory as an underdog to a team from their old conference the Big East. The seat under Larry Coker has gotten even warmer since the start of the season because of the lack luster Canes offense, which seems to have not improved at all from last season. If Miami were to lose this game, then they would essentially have started 0-2 as the game vs FAMU was a laugher.

What Miami needs to do to win: The Hurricanes must get the ground game going in order to set up the pass. The Miami offensive line must do a better job than they have so far in protecting Kyle Wright and Wright must make better and quicker decisions in the pocket as opposed to holding onto the ball. Another reason the ground game is so important to the Canes is to keep Louisville's offense off the field. Defensively, Miami must be able to put pressure on Louisville QB Brian Brohm and not allow to get comfortble. He has not faced serious competition defensively since tearing up his knee last season. With Michael Bush out, the Canes cannot rest thinking they will be able to stop the Cardinals running game.

What Louisville needs to do win: The Cardinal defense must be able to force Miami into passing the ball by getting up early and stuffing the run. If I am Louisville, I put eight in the box and force Kyle Wright to beat me through the air. On offense, the Cardinals must be able to maintain balance and not let the speedy Miami D key on just the run or pass.

Miami is 6-0 ATS in their 6 games as underdogs and 4-0 in the last 4 games as road dogs
Louisville is 13-3 ATS in their last 16 home games

Prediction: Miami 21 Louisville 20 (Miami wins SU, Under)

Clemson @ #10 Florida St (-4.5, 44.5) 7:45ET ESPN
A once promising season may be dashed after this weekend for Clemson. The Tigers must be able to rebound from a heartbreakin double OT loss @ BC last week or else they can kiss their ACC Championship hopes bye bye. FSU has something to prove after their appeared abysmal performance vs Troy needing a late TD to win at home 24-17.

What Clemson needs to do to win: On offense, the Tigers bread and butter is their running game. Stinks that this is what FSU is best at - stopping the run. Still, the Tigers cannot discouraged early and must stick with the run. Defensively, Clemson must take advantage of FSU miscues of offense (and there will be some). The Seminoles have no resemblance of a running game, so if I am Clemson I pressure Drew Weatherford and try to force him into bad decisions.

What FSU needs to do to win: Besides play better than last week, FSU needs to try and use a chain moving attack as opposed to a big play one to 1) keep their defense rested 2) keep the potent Clemson offense off the field. On the defensive side of the ball, if FSU can get up early and make the Tigers pass more than they want to, they stand a very good chance of winning this game because of the aggresiveness of the Seminole D and the fact that Clemson blew three leads last week.

Prediction: FSU 28 Clemson 17 (FSU covers, Over)

UAB @ #9 Georgia (-17, 38) 1:00ET
The question in this game is not whether UGA will win, but by how much. Freshman QB Matthew Stafford will be making his first start after an up and down game vs South Carolina last week in relief of the injured Joe Tereshinski. Georgia is typically not a good home, double-digit favorite over the years and UAB did take Oklahoma to the wire two weeks ago in Norman. The Bulldogs definetely have the talent to pound UAB, but will Mark Richt use this as a tinkering game especially if the Dawgs get up early?

UAB is 3-0 ATS vs last 3 SEC opponents and 4-0 in their last 4 games as road underdog
Georgia is 1-5 ATS in last 6 games as home favorite and 1-4 as home fav >10.5 in last 5 games

Prediction: Georgia 31 UAB 17 (UAB covers, Over)

Troy @ Georgia Tech (-17, 38) 1:30 ET
Is this the typical trap game for a BCS school? Georgia Tech is coming off a thrashing of I-AA Samford and plays next Thursday in thier first conference game vs Virginia, but they better not sleep on Troy. Chan Gailey's teams have a made a habit of losing at least one game to an opponent they should have beaten in each of his first four years. Tech has the talent to squash Troy, but so did FSU. Troy uses a dink and dunk passing offense, which as given the blitzing Yellow Jacket D trouble over the years because they cannot tee of a pocket passer style QB. I think Tech takes this game, but it won't be easy needing a 4th quarter TD to put the Trojans away.

Prediction: Georgia Tech 28 Troy 14 (Troy covers, Over)

Wofford @ South Carolina (NL) 7:45ET
Let's see.... you just got shut out for the first time since 1987, you lost your starting QB to injury, but then that QB took it one step further and was arrested for punching a bouncer at a bar this week. Good thing you are playing Wofford this week if you are Steve Spurrier and not Tennessee or Florida. South Carolina should roll fairly easily in this game.

Season: 7-2 SU, 5-4 ATS, 7-2 O/U

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