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

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