Friday, September 22, 2006

Take A Breather This Saturday

After last Saturday's plethora of marquee games, many teams are lining up against their last pasty, non-conference game before heading into the all important conference slate.

North Carolina (1-2) @ #23 Clemson (2-1) -16.5, 49.5 12:00 JP Sports
The Tigers are coming off a huge win at Florida State bringing them back into the ACC Championship hunt after a tough loss to Boston College the prior week. Clemson used a balance of run and pass and overcame some special team follies to escape Tallahassee with a victory for the first time since 1989.

North Carolina squeaked by I-AA power Furman 45-42 last week for their first win of the season. The Tar Heels have struggled mightily at quarterback this season with Joe Dailey and Cam Sexton having split time so far.

Clemson has a decided talent and skill advantage over the Tar Heels and should not have a problem winning at home. The Heels have allowed 181.7 ypg on the ground this season, so look for Clemson RBs James Davis, CJ Spiller, and Reggie Meriwether to have big days.

Points of Note:
UNC is 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games
Clemson is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 home games
Clemson is 3-0 on the Over side this season

Prediction: Clemson 35 North Carolina 14 (Clemson covers, Under)

Colorado (0-3) @ #7 Georgia (3-0) -27, 36.5 12:30ET
Ralphie comes to Athens in a battle of mascots between the hedges Saturday. When Georgia scheduled this game it looked to be a good matchup between two intersectional opponents, but that was before Colorado fell off the college football map. Dating back to November 12 of last year, the Buffaloes have now lost seven straight games. Dan Hawkins is woeful on offense managing just 194 ypg so far this season.

Georgia's defense has been a bonecrusher unit so far this season, giving up just 4 ppg with two shutouts. True Freshman Matt Stafford is starting after Joe Tereshinski went down with an ankle injury vs South Carolina. The Bulldogs will be in practice mode this week and next before a showdown vs Tennessee on October 7.

I think Richt uses this game as another scrimmage for Stafford, but opens the offense up a little more for him this week than last. Next week will be the same story; baby steps before taking the big leap into the SEC schedule. I like Georgia to cover in this game simply because I don't think Colorado can score a touchdown on them, so all the Bulldogs have to do is put up four touchdowns.

Points of Note:
UGA is 5-1 ATS in last 6
Colorado is 1-5 ATS in last 6
Colorado has been out rushed by 100+ yards in 6 of their last 7
Under is 17-4 in UGA last 21 games in September

Prediction: Georgia 31 Colorado 3 (Georgia Covers, Under)

Rice (0-3) @ #17 Florida State (2-1) -30.5, 47 3:30ET ESPNU
Florida State will try to rebound after a rare home loss in the ACC last week to Clemson. The Seminoles managed just 11 points from their offense. Bobby Bowden may allow backup Xavier Lee to play more if starter Drew Weatherford struggles against an awful Rice team.

Rice played a home game vs Texas last week, but burnt orange dominated Houston's Reliant Stadium. The Owls were downright awful last week on offense and allowed Texas to hang half a hundred on them.

This game is not one to watch if you like offensive fire power. The Seminoles might be able to get some production going on offense in this game and hopefully build some confidence for down the road. The under in this game seems too easy with two bad offenses and FSU's defense.

Prediction: Florida St 28 Rice 0 (Rice covers, Under)

Fla Atlantic (0-3) @ South Carolina (2-1) -29, 42 7:00ET
The Gamecocks are in trouble. They beat I-AA Wofford by just seven points at home last Saturday and did not look impressive in doing so. This week they play former I-AA school Florida Atlantic. FAU has already played one South Carolina team this season losing at Clemson 54-6 in the first game of the season.

It will interesting to see which QB Spurrier uses. Last week, former QB turned WR Syvelle Newton was installed back at the QB with Blake Mitchell out with an injury/suspension. With true freshman Chris Smelley out injured and Mitchell still suspended, expect Newton to go the whole way again this week.

Points of Note:
FAU is 3-14 ATS in last 17
Over is 9-3 in last 12 home game for S. Carolina
Both teams avg under 300 ypg total offense this season

Prediction: South Carolina 38 Florida Atlantic 10 (FAU covers, Over)

Kentucky (2-1) @ #5 Florida (3-0) -26.5, 55 7:45ET ESPN
The Gators return home in front of what should be a raucous ovation after defeating Tennessee in Knoxville last week 21-20. Despite the lack of a true, number one tailback, the Gators have out rushed their opponents by a combined 680 yards so far this season in just three games.

The Wildcats scored a big win over Ole Miss last week 31-14 behind three TD passes from QB Andre Woodson. Scoring points has not been the problem for Kentucky this season averaging 33.3 ppg.

This is game Florida may be looking past with Alabama, LSU, and Auburn coming up in the next three weeks. Louisville, a comparable team to Florida, defeated Kentucky at home 59-28 in the first week of the season. Another side story is the indefinite suspension of DT Marcus Thomas for a positive drug test. Thomas is currently appealing the five game sentence.

Points of Note:
Kentucky has been out rushed in 9 out of their last 10 games
Florida is 4-1 ATS in their last 5
Under is 8-2 in Florida last 10 home games

Prediction: Florida 42 Kentucky 17 (Kentucky covers, Over)

Around the rest of the ACC...
Virginia Tech should steam roll over Cincinnati in Blacksburg. Boston College goes on the road to play NC State. The Eagles have played two straight double overtime games and now must go on the road. I think this game will be closer than the experts think (BC -6.5), but the Eagles know how to win close games and the Wolfpack don't. Maryland should dispatch Fla Intl with ease. Wake Forest will be without starting QB Ben Mauk and starting RB Micah Andrews as they travel to Ole Miss. These two injuries will be tough to overcome as I look for the Rebels to pull out a close one.

Around the rest of the SEC...
Auburn plays host to Buffalo Bulls, not Bills who could give them a better game. I hope this non-conference schedule does not come back to bite the Tigers again like it did in 2004. Alabama travels to Arkansas where it is an underdog to the Razorbacks. Mitch Mustain is now the starter in Fayetteville and I look for Arkansas to pull this one out in a nail biter. The Vols should rebound nicely versus the Thundering Herd of Marshall at home. Mississippi St is 0-3 and an underdog at UAB, but at least they scored some points last week. The Blazers get it done at home vs Sylvester Croom and company. LSU will take out its offensive frustrations from last week against Tulane in the Bayou on Saturday night.

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