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
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
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
Total Rank
Total Yards 324.284
Passing Yards160120
Rushing Yards164.242
Points Scored25.754
Field Goal %66.7100
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
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
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
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
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

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.

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.

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

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 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.

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.

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

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"Fear the Thumb" Iron Bowl Style

This will be the first of two rivalry weekens in the SEC and ACC. Maybe the biggest rivalry of them all is Auburn-Alabama (or Alabama-Auburn). This rivalry is great because both programs have been successful historically, it is an in-state rivalry meaning fans live amongst each other, and no pro sports in Alabama means this is as big as it gets.

Auburn -3, 40 (5-2, 9-2) @ Alabama (2-5, 6-5) 3:30 CBS
Auburn 9-2-04-6-06-23-025.713.86-4-0
Alabama 6-5-06-5-06-10-422.917.67-4-0

Other Monetary Interests:
Over is 7-2 in ALAB last 9 games overall.
ALAB are 3-10-2 ATS in their last 15 home games.
Road team is 8-3 ATS in their last 11 meetings.

"Fear the Thumb" is the motto for this game on both sides as Auburn looks for its 5th win in a row over Bama, but the Tide want to stick that thumb where Tubbervile won't be able to find it. Alabama can come into this game with some confidence despite winning just 2 SEC games this year because they saw how bad Auburn looked last week and how good they made Georgia look. Shula has been unable to beat Auburn in his first three tries and the last man who did that left for Kentucky because of his Iron Bowl deficiencies (Bill Curry). In addition to a fifth straight win, the Crimson Tide will also want to prevent this Auburn senior class from winning its 40th game, which would be a Tiger record. The Tigers have also never lost in Tuscaloosa, though for many years all games were played in Birmingham.

I think I will be going against the public here, but I think Alabama has a real shot to win this game. Alabama is at home and they have typically played to their competition level this year. They took Arkansas to over time, Tennessee to three points, covered vs LSU, and played even with Florida for three quarters. Moreso, I think this Auburn team is reeling faster than the Republican Party and is not healthy (see Brandon Cox and Kenny Irons)

Prediction: Alabama Wins, Covers, Over

Miami -3, 37 (2-4, 5-5) @ Virginia (3-3, 4-6) 12:00 Lincoln Financial
Miami 5-5-02-6-14-21-321151-8-0
Virginia 4-6-04-6-03-21-416.4193-6-1

Other Monetary Interests:
Under is 7-1 in MIAMI last 8 conference games.
MIAMI are 2-9-1 ATS in their last 12 games overall.
Under is 9-2 in VIRG last 11 home games.
Under is 6-2-1 in VIRG last 9 games overall.
Under is 19-7-1 in VIRG last 27 games on Grass

The Miami players will be playing with heavy hearts again this week as many attended Bryan Pata's funeral this week. The Hurricanes played valiantly last week, but when they needed a play at the end, they simply could not execute and that has been the theme of this year. Miami needs this game to become bowl eligible, but so does Virginia. Kirby Freeman will again start for Miami and played well enough to give you some confidence heading into this weekend (their receivers are another story).

The Canes have been a very bad bet this year and who knows how they are truely dealing with the death of one of their team leaders inside closed doors. If Miami plays up to 80% of their talent, they would win this game. Jerrad Sewell had a smooth middle of the season after struggling early, but is struggling again.

Prediction: Miami Wins, Virginia Covers, Under

Virginia Tech -2, 38.5 (4-2, 8-2) @ Wake Forest (5-1, 9-1) 7:00 ESPN2
Virginia Tech 8-2-05-4-06-12-126.810.63-6-0
Wake Forest 9-1-06-3-04-15-023.613.42-7-0

Other Monetary Interests:
VATCH are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 road games
VATCH are 11-3 ATS in their last 14 night games
Under is 7-2 in WFRST last 9 games overall

How long can this Cinderella season last for Wake Forest? The experts think it will end this week vs the Hokies as the Deacs are Home Dogs (not an unfamiliar scenario). Outside of Branden Ore, the Hokies are below average on offense and their defense is not playing up to the level of the Hokies teams of years past. I myself want to think Wake's run is coming to an end, but I have been proven wrong the last two weeks. The key for Wake is turnovers as they lead the ACC and are 10th nationally in turnover margin. They have generated at least one turnover in every game this season and have produced 15 in their last five games.

Here is my quandry - I am big believer in what teams records will be at the end of the year. If VT wins this game they will also likely defeat Virginia and be 10-2. I don't think VT is a 10 win team. If Wake wins, they will have 10 wins and next week will set up a showdown with Maryland. The Deacs have played well enough (outside of Duke game) to win 10 games. So, there's my pick.

Prediction: Wake Wins, Covers, Under

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Gettin' Pumped for Ga Tech - Duke

Duke (0-6, 0-10) @ Georgia Tech -26, 43 (8-2, 6-1) 1:30
Duke 0-10-04-5-00-60-411.431.24-4-1
Georgia Tech 8-2-05-4-05-13-124.717.45-4-0

Other Monetary Interests:
DUKE are 5-15 ATS in their last 20 games overall.
Over is 6-2 in GATCH last 8 games as a favorite.
Under is 25-12-2 in GATCH last 39 conference games.
Home team is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 meetings.

Georgia Tech has the Coastal Division wrapped up and can't help but look ahead to their game next week vs arch rival Georgia and then the ACC Championship. This game has very little impact on Tech's postseason plans and the only interest will be that it will be Senior Day for 6 starters and quite possibly the last home game for Calvin Johnson. A theme for this year's team has been not to overlook anyone and there are some players on this team who should remember the 2003 blowout loss to Duke, allowing the Devils to break their ACC losing streak. Duke now has the longest losing streak in the nation.

26 may too much to cover considering the lack of emotion Tech and their crowd will have in this game and with two very important games coming up for the Jackets.

Prediction: GT Wins, Duke Covers, Over

Monday, November 13, 2006

Power Rankings Week 12

Power Rankings –Nov 13
Here is where I think the SEC and ACC stand after 11 weeks of play. I base the rankings mostly off of which teams would be the best on a neutral field as of right now. The last game played and head-to-head matchups do play a part as well.

1. Arkansas
Razorbacks took it to a good Tenneessee team and are playing the best right now
2. Florida
Gators survive again doing just enough to win
3. LSU
Tigers slowly climbing back up the ranks, though right now there is a big gap between them and the top 2
4. Auburn
Auburn played like a #45 team not a #5 team last week
5. South Carolina
Coaching is there, but the talent is not right now
6. Tennessee
Loss of Ainge has really hurt them
7. Georgia
Huge win for their confidence over Auburn
8. Kentucky
9. Alabama
10. Vanderbilt
11. Miss St
12. Ole Miss

Other SEC Notes:
Still the best conference from top to bottom in the nation. The top is not as strong as it has been in years past, but 1-7 can play with anybody outside of the top 5. The SEC will have nine teams eligible for bowls, but only have eight slots as of now. If anyone gets left out in the cold, my guess would be Kentucky.

1. Wake Forest
Playing the best of anyone right now and they are not squeaking by in these games
2. Georgia Tech
Probably the most talented team, but struggles on offense are always a possibility
3. Maryland
What a turnaround the Terps have made and it has been made on offense and defense
4. Virginia Tech
5. Boston College
6. Clemson
7. Miami
8. Florida State
9. Virginia
10. NC State
11. North Carolina
12. Duke

Other ACC Notes:
Obviously the down year for the ACC continues. The title is shaping up to be a good one, but it will lack the firepower of other conference championship games. The bottom half of the ACC is really struggling right now and may get blasted come bowl season. Still, the ACC has six teams with 8+ wins.

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

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Week 11 Thoughts

A topsy-turvy weekend for both conferences where a one-loss Auburn team eliminated themselves from the BCS, Wake Forest thumped Florida St in Tallahassee, and Florida's special teams saved them versus Spurrier.

The Bulldogs raced out to a 30-0 lead and never looked back in their thumping of previously #5 Auburn.
Let’s take a look at the keys to game coming in.
Georgia's Running Game
The Dawgs rushed for 227 yards on 46 carries. Kregg Lumpkin had 105 on 21 carries.
Two Struggling Units
Auburn’s offense continued to struggle, especially Brandon Cox, while Georgia’s defense regained some confidence.
Other Thoughts:
The thing that struck from the Bulldog's first drive was how their receivers were catching all the balls they had dropped in previous weeks, including AJ Bryant's catch setting up the first TD.
What the UGA offense couldn't do, Brandon Cox set them up in good position with four picks.
Ø Kregg Lumpkin scored two TDs and had some key runs
Ø After getting down 30-0, Auburn responded with a quick drive where it appeared the Tigers just went right down the field, but this was the exception, not the rule.
Ø This convincing victory gives Georgia some confidence and redemption for the way they have played most of this season
Ø Matthew Stafford had a breakout game of sorts considering he did not throw any picks and made much better decisions; his running ability was also put on display, but you have to still be worried about his two fumbles
Ø Auburn is literally limping into next week vs Alabama. It is very apparent that Brandon Cox and Kenny Irons are not as potent as last year and some of it has to do with lingering injuries

Wake Forest went into Doak Campbell Stadium and played like a championship team giving Bobby Bowden his first home shutout.
Let’s take a look at the keys to game coming in.
Don't Play Like You Are Wake Forest
The Deacs certainly did not by seizing control early in the 2nd quarter and never relinquishing it. Wake played like Seminole teams of the past.
Stats Are Meaningless
The main stat in this game was the four interceptions thrown by the Seminoles. Wake had 308 total yards to just 139 for the Seminoles.
Other Thoughts:
Ø Bobby Bowden went 31 seasons in Tallahassee without being shutout, and it was the first shutout home or away since 1988
Ø Wake Forest is 9-1 for the first time in their history. The Deacs last won in Tallahassee in 1959, right after Florida St became a co-ed school
Ø It seems FSU does not a even a semi-reliable QB as Xavier Lee threw two picks setting up 10 points, but Drew Weatherford threw two more interceptions in his replacement
Ø Florida State should become bowl eligible with a victory over Western Michigan, but if they lose at Florida they will be 6-6 and likely headed to the San Francisco or Boise for a bowl

Jarvis Moss blocked a 48 yard field goal with eight seconds to preserve the Gators one point victory.
Let’s take a look at the keys to game coming in.
Playing South Carolina, Not Spurrier
You could tell from the crowd how important this game, even if the Gators were not in the national title race. Still, Spurrier appeared to out coach Meyer, with the Gators needing a blocked extra point and blocked field goal to pull out the victory as double-digit favorites.
Getting After the QB
The Gator D failed to sack Blake Mitchell, while managed two sacks of Gator QBs
South Carolina did their part by playing the entire game without a turnover. Florida’s Chris Leak did throw one interception.
Other Thoughts:
Ø The blocked extra point was the second of the game for Moss who also blocked an extra point on South Carolina’s final TD. The extra point was the difference between overtime and game over.
Ø Meyer had met with the team this past Monday explaining the Gators’ position in the BCS. Meyer met with the team again after Louisville’s loss on Friday.
Ø Florida appears to control its own destiny now as long, but they still may have to win convincing to overtake the Michigan/Ohio St loser.
Ø Leak stepped up big on the final drive running for three first down before giving away to Tim Tebow on the winning TD
Ø South Carolina can become bowl eligible with a victory over Middle Tenn St next

The Yellow Jackets clinched the Coastal Division with their first road shutout since 1985.
Lets take a look at some of the keys to the game.
Getting the Ball to Your Playmakers
Calvin Johnson caught just 3 balls for 13 yards and fumbled once. He was not aided by the inaccuracy of his QB and the fact that the Jackets were able to rush the ball successfully.
Early Scores
The Tar Heels had two trips into the red zone turned away by interceptions, but also lacked any offensive or defensive punch early in the game.
Reggie Ball's TD v INT
Ball threw 1 INT and 0 TD
Other Thoughts:
Ø The victory and clinching of the Coastal Division was not celebrated event by the Tech players who were disappointed in their performance
Ø You never got the sense the Yellow Jackets would lose this game with their defense on the field, but you had to worry about giving up a turnover for a TD.
Ø John Bunting played a very conservative game plan not going for some 4th and short in the fourth quarter; interesting to do when you are a lame duck coach
Ø Joe Dailey looked very lost at times at QB, but the pressure he was getting did not help
Ø Tech did not play well, but they played better than North Carolina
Ø The Heels could be watching an ACC Championship between two teams they played within seven points
Ø The Jackets can turn their attention to the ACC Championship Game as even if they win out they will not get a BCS bid with a championship game loss, but you know they would love to beat Georgia in their final regular season game

The Tigers jumped out to a two TD lead and then held on in the “Textile Bowl”.
Lets take a look at some of the keys to the game.
Just Run Baby
Davis and Spiller combined for 31 carries for 188 yards, their best performance since the Georgia Tech game. State ran 40 times with Toney Baker getting the bulk of the load with 34 carries for 174 yards.
Evans was just 10 for 24 as the Pack went with a run-oriented attack this game (imagine that with 2 Parade All-Americans in the backfield).
Other Thoughts:
Ø NC State has now lost five games in a row and will not be going bowling for the second time in three years
Ø Despite the disappointing season, it is unlikely Amato will be replaced at the end of the season
Ø Clemson has a week off before playing South Carolina. The Tigers had played 10 weeks in a row and will be hoping to get healthy before playing their arch rival
Ø The Tigers best bets for a bowl game are the Gator or Peach as they played in the Champs Sports Bowl last year

Pictures from the AP:

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Teams Trying to Play Spoiler in Week 11

Some key conference matchups highlight this weekend as several teams will try to play spoiler.

South Carolina (5-4, 3-4) @ Florida (8-1, 6-1) (-13.5, 44) 3:30 CBS
This game will be Spurrier's first in the Swamp as an opposing coach and I am sure many fans will have mixed emotions. Some will want the Gators to beat the Gamecocks to a pulp, but other may have mixed emotions considering is where they are today largely because of Spurrier.

South Carolina 5-4-05-3-02-43-022.617.25-3-0
Florida 8-1-03-6-06-02-126.3133-6-0

Keys to the Game:
Playing South Carolina, Not Spurrier
No players on this Florida roster played for Spurrier and even though they have the East wrapped up, they know how important this game is. It will be important for the Gators to be patient in this game and their huge talent advantage win this game for them and not succumb to the notion of having to beat Spurrier instead of South Carolina.
Getting After the QB
Neither Chris Leak nor Blake Mitchell is the fleetest of foot and both have had trouble when put under pressure. The defense that can get the most pressure will be able to force the QB into some bad decisions.
When there is such a talent disparity as in this game, the underdog must be able to force turnovers and capitalize off them for points.

Prediction: Florida Wins, South Carolina Covers, Under

Georgia (6-4, 3-4) @ Auburn (9-1, 5-1) (-13, 40.5) 12:30 Lincoln Financial
For the past several years, this matchup has been between two teams headed to New Years Bowl, but not this year because of Georgia's struggles.

Georgia 6-4-03-6-04-22-224.417.83-6-0
Auburn 9-1-04-5-06-13-026.811.55-4-0

Keys to the Game:
Georgia's Running Game
Last week vs Kentucky, Kregg Lumpkin was running well in the first half, but only got three carries in the second half. The Bulldogs must do a better job of getting him the ball, as Auburn has been susceptible to the run game (see Arkansas loss)
Two Struggling Units
Georgia's defense is not what it has been over the past four years and Auburn should feel they can move the ball however they choose. Yet, Auburn's offense is not as explosive as the last two years due to lingering injuries. The unit who can rebound in this game will give their team a big boost.

Prediction: Auburn Wins, Georgia Covers, Over

Wake Forest (4-1, 8-1) @ Florida State (3-4, 5-4) (-8.5, 41) 8:00 ABC
So let me get this straight, Wake Forest will be attempting to go 9-1 for the first time in school history, while Florida State needs this game to become bowl eligible?

Wake Forest 8-1-05-3-04-14-022.914.92-6-0
Florida State 5-4-04-5-03-22-228.817.86-3-0

Keys to the Game:
Don't Play Like You Are Wake Forest
The kids from Wake are the ones controlling their destiny, not FSU, and they should take this underdog role as a slap in the face. When they look down at their jersey, they need to realize they are Wake Forest, but they are also a team that is a blocked FG away from being undefeated. Florida State will go through the same pre game motions they always have, but they are not the same FSU when they blow the whistle.
Stats Are Meaningless
If you look at the offensive and defensive stats for these two teams, then you would think the records should be reversed, but Wake is a team that takes care of the ball and does not beat themselves. FSU is going to their yards, but they have a tendency to turn the ball over and hurt themselves with penalties. Wake needs to capitalize when FSU shoots themselves in the foot.

Prediction: FSU Wins & Covers, Under

Georgia Tech (5-1, 7-2) @ North Carolina (0-5, 1-8) (+13.5, 47) 12:30 L Financial
With a victory, the Yellow Jackets can punch their ticket to Jacksonville. Butch Davis appears close to becoming the next coach in Chapel Hill and you wonder how much the players are paying attention to the coaching search.
Georgia Tech 7-2-05-3-05-12-126.719.35-3-0
North Carolina 1-8-01-5-11-40-416.4344-3-0

Keys to the Game:
Getting the Ball to Your Playmakers
Even though Calvin Johnson is unguardable in college, Tech has had trouble getting him the ball at times and when that happens, their offense stalls.
Early Scores
In the past, this Georgia Tech team has had at least one game a year where they lose to a team they should not. In those games, they have gotten down two scores early and then faded down the stretch after an unsuccessful comeback. The Tar Heels need to get up early to themselves confidence they can beat a I-A team.
Reggie Ball's TD v INT
Ball threw two bad INT last week, but countered with four TD passes. The Senior has the best TD/INT ratio in the ACC, but in his past three years as the starter the difference between his TD to INT has been the difference between winning and losing for the Jackets.

Prediction: Georgia Tech Wins & Covers, Under

NC State (3-6, 2-4) @ Clemson (7-3, 4-3) (-17, 45) 12:30 L Financial
The Wolfpack need this game to keep hopes alive for a bowl game, while the Tigers need a rebound after losing their last two and don't want to slide in the Champs Sports Bowl again.
North Carolina State 3-6-02-6-03-30-319225-3-0
Clemson 7-3-06-4-05-12-235.713.75-5-0

Keys to the Game:
Just Run Baby
Clemson has a better chance running the ball with nine in the box than they do passing the ball because James Davis and CJ Spiller are just that good. A deep throw early might be in store to loosen up the defense a little. For NC State, they decided to beat Ga Tech last week they need to toss it up 50+ times despite the fact they have two potential all star backs in Andre Brown and Toney Baker. Jon Tenuta just smiled last when he saw NC State line up 5 wide.
Last week, the Pack had dropped passes in crucial situations. If you want to go on the road and win as underdog, you have to do all the little things tow in. When Clemson does decide to throw the ball, they have to be able to move the ball to loosen up the State defense.

Prediction: Clemson Wins, NC State Covers, Under

Miami (5-4, 2-3) @ Maryland (7-2, 4-1)3:30 ABC
The outlook on this game changed dramatically due to the sudden death of Miami DT Bryan Pata. The Hurricanes have decided to play this game to honor their fallen teammate. It is impossible to know how this Miami team will perform this Saturday. Will the memory of Pata carry them through their anguish and lift them to a victory or will the realization him them once they step on to the field that their teammate is no longer with them?

Monday, November 6, 2006

Power Rankings After First Nov Weekend

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

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

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

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Thoughts From This Weekend

An above .500 weekend: 6-5 ATS, 4-3 O/U
Onto my thoughts from the games this past weekend where Tennessee was eliminated from the BCS, Arkansas moved one step closer to Atlanta, and Wake Forest and Maryland have set themselves up for a showdown later this season for the Atlantic Division. But before that, Arkansas did battle on the field and on the internet message board. Arkansas Girls vs South Carolina Girls. Some of these observations will make you say “Thanks, Captain Obvious”, but I tried to limit these to conserve your precious blog reading time.

Ø Hogs got out to a big lead then used their ground game to hold off the Gamecocks padding their league leading rushing total with 267 yards
Ø Marcus Monk does not get much recognition because he is receiver on a running team, but he came up with some big catches including the game clincher on a 3rd down. Monk finished with 8 catches for 192 yards
Ø Blake Mitchell played well in relief of Syvelle Newton. Is there a QB controversy now? I don’t think so because Spurrier will let them both play next game and will rotate them from series to series like he would sometimes at Florida
Ø South Carolina was plagued by mistakes on their part including an offensive pass int on a touchdown pass, having a punt blocked after a penalty of their own, and allowing a pass to go off two DBs for a TD in the last minutes of the 1st half
Ø Casey Dick replaced Mitch Mustain and threw for 228 yards and 1 TD for the Razorbacks; Mustain was pulled after throwing an interception on their first drive
Ø Hogs still have games left with Tennessee and LSU, but this was a big confidence builder getting a win on the road
Ø Gamecocks should become bowl eligible with a win over Middle Tenn St; the Gamecocks should get a bowl bid with their rabid fan following guaranteeing more tickets sales than a lot of teams

Ø Calvin Johnson exacted some revenge from last year by catching two TD’s in first half. Can we get a Game Changing Nominee for him when he steps onto the field?
Ø Tashard Choice came up big for Tech as well rushing for a career high of 164 yards and making some key 3rd down runs on their last two scoring drives
Ø State scores 1 TD on INT return another on 2nd half kickoff return where Tech defenders never got within 5 yards of him until he hit the 50
Ø The Wolfpack entered the game ranked 118th in turnover margin, but were +2 in this game
Ø Ball only completes 13 passes, but 4 were for TDs
Ø James Johnson caught three balls, but two were for touchdowns
Ø Defense only gives up three FGs; very similar to Maryland game
Ø State put Evans in shotgun and gave him a lot of short looks to get the ball out of his hands and not allow the pressure to get to him
Ø Wolfpack plagued by dropped passes in this game including one on 4th down to keep a potential game tying drive going at the end of the game
Ø NC State had won their last four game against ranked opponents
Ø Georgia Tech needs only to beat UNC or Duke to represent the Coastal Division of the ACC
Ø NC State must win its final three game to be bowl eligible (@Clem, @UNC, E. Carolina)


Ø Georgia unable to hold leads of 14-3 in first half and 20-17 in 4th quarter
Ø Dawgs had 4 turnovers, 2 missed FG, and 1 extra point
Ø Stafford thrown just 4 TD to 12 INT this season
Ø Kregg Lumpkin given just 3 carries in 2nd half after 83 yards on 10 carries in the first half
Ø Last 5 games, Georgia has turned the ball over 19 times and had opponents score 59 points off those turnovers
Ø Georgia has lost to Vanderbilt and Kentucky for first time since 1973.
Ø Kentucky can become bowl eligible with one more win

Ø A very lackluster game offensively until Tyrone Moss scampered 50 yards with 11 minutes to play to tie the game at 10-10
Ø Key Play was Xavier Adibi’s interception with 3:33 to play on the Miami 26 allowing Branden Ore to rush for the winning score.
Ø Kyle Wright had another horrible game throwing for just 77 yards and 2 INT, but Sean Glennon of Va. Tech was not much better throwing for 86 yards
Ø Scouts were on hand from the Gator and Peach Bowls where Virginia Tech is now likely to end up. Miami may be summoned to Boise, which I still think they should accept just for the fact of getting those extra practices in before the bowl game

Ø Gators held onto the victory despite 13 4th quarter points by Vandy
Ø Leak ran for 2 TDs and threw for 1, but also threw 3 picks and was sacked 4 times
Ø Florida used two blocks to help their sluggish offense
Ø Vandebilt’s Chris Nickson threw for a career high 298 yards as the Commodores had 391 yards of total offense – the most Florida had given up all season
Ø By virtue of Tennessee’s loss and Florida’s win, the Gators are headed Atlanta giving Urban Meyer a $37,500 bonus. If Florida wins the SECCG, Meyer will receive another $37,500
Ø Don’t expect the Gators to be planning for Atlanta just yet as Spurrier makes his first return to the Swamp since taking over at South Carolina in what should be an emotionally charged atmosphere

Ø The Terps won their fourth consecutive game when Dan Ennis kicked a 31 yard field goal as time expired
Ø It appears teams have figured out how to slow down Clemson’s running game and it is not a complicated strategy – putting 9 men in the box and making Proctor beat you by throwing
Ø A controversial play almost cost Maryland the game as Will Proctor fumbled the ball backwards towards his goal line where James Davis appeared to recover in the end zone for a safety. However, the refs ruled he was down on the 1” line and gave Clemson the ball at that spot where they promptly completed a pass into Maryland territory the next play
Ø Ralph Friedgen told his team after the game they had just won the first round of the ACC playoffs. Maryland has game versus Miami, Boston College, and Wake Forest remaining and “control their own destiny”
Ø The Tigers are likely headed to the Gator, Peach, or Champs Sports Bowl with their ACC Title hopes dashed

Ø Virginia had looked so good the past few weeks, but FSU brought them back to reality on the third play from scrimmage with an interception return for a TD
Ø If things were not bad enough, the Cavs next possession resulted in a blocked punt setting up a 1 yard TD plunge
Ø FSU had its first shutout since 2003 vs Notre Dame
Ø Xavier Lee played well in his first start of the season, but Bowden has not decided who he will start this week vs Wake Forest
Ø FSU can become bowl eligible with a victory over Wake, Western Michigan, or Florida

Other ACC Ramblings:
Ø Wake Forest shocked a lot of people, myself included, by beating Boston College and taking control of the Atlantic Division with Maryland. The Deacs are a top 20 team in November something reserved for the basketball team
Ø The misery continues for Duke and North Carolina as both lost on Saturday. Both teams are still looking for their first Division I-A victories, but don’t worry they play each other at the end of the season and one must win since there are no ties in college football

Other SEC Ramblings:
Ø Les Miles got off the hot seat (until his next lost) by beating Tennessee in Knoxville. JaMarcus Russell overcame three turnovers and threw three touchdowns, including the game winner to Early Doucet.
Ø The Tigers are still alive in the SEC West, but are most likely heading to the Outback or Capital One Bowls
Ø You can pretty much kiss Mike Shula goodbye after his loss at home to Mississippi State to the coach the Crimson Tide passed over, alum Sylvester Croom
Ø Auburn’s offense is still not clicking like most people thought they would. Injuries to QB Brandon Cox and Kenny Irons have slowed them this season
Ø The Tigers are hoping that Arkansas loses only 1 of its remaining game because Auburn would have a much better chance of getting to the BCS as a one loss team, especially if Arkansas beats Florida

Friday, November 3, 2006

Best Bets of the Weekend

Lets expand our scope and take a look at some different games around the country and what the experts are thinking.

Purdue +2 @ Michigan State
With the firing on John L Smith, this could be a very emotional game for the Spartan players. However, Michigan St has shown in the past emotion can swing them one way or another. The Boilers offense has been absent their last two games and this could be the game they turn it around against a weak defense.

Indiana +260, +6 @ Minnesota
In case you missed it, Indiana has a shot at a bowl game this season and has beat teams like Iowa and Michigan State so far. The Gophers have laid an egg most of the season and have played very uninspired since their OT loss to Penn State.

Miss St +15 @ Alabama
The Tide were up just 7-3 last week at halftime and got a scare against Duke earlier this year. Playing winless teams closes is Alabama's M.O. this season. I have a feeling Sly Croom has a little extra in this game considering he played for Bear Bryant and some thought he was passed up for Mike Shula four years ago.

LSU @ Tennessee Under 45
If Erik Ainge is gimpy in this game, you can forget about the Vols putting 21+ points up against this LSU defense. Meanwhile, LSU is no offensive juggernaut either having pumped their stats up against weak, out of conference teams. Only way this game gets to 45 is if multiple turnovers create short fields for the offenses.

Wisconsin -280 vs Penn St
The Badgers got their scare last week down 24-10 at halftime versus Illinois. The Nittany Lions have a solid D, but their O has been lacking this year. The Badgers are pretty tough to beat at Camp Randell - just ask Michigan and Ohio State.

Ball State +33.5 @ Michigan
In case you have not followed college football this year, Michigan has a pretty big game in two weeks in Columbus, OH. Ball State is just a scrimmage where the Wolverines want to get out of this game healthy. I think it would be very risky for Michigan to play Mario Manningham extended minutes in this game for risk of another injury. The Maize & Blue typically do not cover big spreads.