Wednesday, November 1, 2006

SEC Showdowns Highlight Week 10

Some fantastic games this weekend that will go a long way in determining the champions in each of the divisions of the ACC Atlantic and SEC West. In the SEC, Arkansas leads the pack of the West, but has a tough game in Columbia against a team wanting to shatter the Hogs unbeaten SEC record.

South Carolina vs Arkansas (-2.5, 45.5)

Arkansas 7-1-02-5-05-12-031.415.23-4-0
South Carolina 5-3-05-2-02-33-022.916.14-3-0

Keys to the Game:
Impact of Syvelle Newton
The South Carolina QB is the cog that make the Gamecock train go on offense. He can run or pass on any play for a big gain. The Hogs will have to keep at least one and maybe two spies on him to slow him down. If Arkansas can get three turnovers out of him like Tennessee did last week, then they have a very good shot in Colombia. The Gamecocks are averaging 28 ppg (vs 7.5 first two games) since Newton has started at QB.
Rushing Battle
Two sides of the coin when it comes to rushing the ball. Arkansas is very good at it, South Carolina is not. It will be important for Arkansas to get their rush game going and not pin their hopes on true freshman Mitch Mustain to win. I believe South Carolina needs to hold the Hogs under 150 yards to have a shot. The Gamecocks on the other hand cannot abandon the run and need to get some resemblance of a ground game going. I think South Carolina needs at least 75 rushing yards to feel very confident about their chances.
Mustain Feeling the Heat
Up until this point, Mustain has only had to worry about who he was going to hand off too - Darren McFadden or Felix Jones. I think South Carolina has to put pressure on Mustain when he does drop back to pass and force a turnover or two.
Prediction: South Carolina 27 Arkansas 24 (SC Covers, Over)

Virginia @ Florida State (-12, 40)
Virginia 4-5-04-5-03-21-318.217.43-5-1
Florida State 4-4-03-5-02-22-228.2206-2-0
Keys to the Game:
Keep FSU 1-D
By now, everyone knows that FSU cannot run the ball. If the Seminoles can get 100 yards rushing that would be gravy for a struggling offense. Xavier Lee will be making his first start this season and I think if the throws the ball 30+ times, he will make some mistakes that Virginia can capitalize on.
Big "Mo"
After a dismal start to the season, the Cavs have ripped off some impressive wins as Jerrad Sewell has settled in more at QB. Meanwhile, FSU has sputtered since opening 2-0 and is now at the bottom of the Atlantic Division. The Cavs must not be intimated by Doak Campbell and realize this is not the same FSU teams of the past.
Bring Back the Chop
FSU is down this year and the fan base is becoming divided over Bobby Bowden and his staff. I think this is a moot point considering FSU would not even have a team if it was not for Bowden. An early lead will get this crowd into this game despite all the turmoil this season and turn Doak Campbell back into the house of horrors it has been for so many teams.
Prediction: Florida State 17 Virginia 13 (Virginia Covers, Under)

Kentucky vs Georgia (-7, 49)

Georgia 6-3-03-5-04-22-124.917.13-5-0
Kentucky 4-4-03-4-03-11-325.430.83-4-0

Keys to the Game:
Using the Run to Set Up the Pass
As highly touted as Matt Stafford was coming into Georgia, it is now pretty clear he will not be an All-American this year at least. If the Bulldogs will use their capable running backs to get the ball moving on the ground, I believe this will take the pressure of making a big play off of Stafford.
Dawggone Turnovers
In the last two games, Georgia has turned the ball over 10 times. This trend cannot continue if you expect to win on the road in the SEC. On the flip side, I think Kentucky has to force a young QB and a shaky WR corps into some turnovers to win this game.
Exploit Georgia’s Secondary
With Kentucky's top two running backs out for this game, Wildcat QB Andre Woodson will be relying on the pass mostly to move the ball. The Bulldogs secondary has been rock solid under Richt until this year. The inexperience has allowed teams to move the ball with the pass, especially on 3rd down.
Prediction: Georgia 24 Kentucky 21 (Kentucky Covers, Under)

Maryland @ Clemson (-19.5, 47)
Maryland 6-2-03-4-05-01-224.1225-2-0
Clemson 7-2-06-3-05-02-238.313.85-4-0

Keys to the Game:
Playmakers Need the Ball
Clemson's James Davis and CJ Spiller rushed for less than 100 yards combined last week as the Hokies (and Clemson play calling) took them out of the game in the second half last time out. Davis and Spiller need at least 30 touches total against a defense, which has given up some yards this year (362ypg and 4.9 ypr).
Short Field
This Terrapin offense is not going to strike fear in many defenses (297 ypg) and certainly not Clemson's. The Terps will need to create some turnovers and win the field position battle to even the talent disadvantage.
Prediction: Clemson 35 Maryland 17 (Clemson Covers, Over)

NC State @ Georgia Tech (-4.5, 39.5)

Georgia Tech 6-2-04-3-05-11-126.118.94-3-0
North Carolina State 3-5-02-5-03-20-318.520.94-3-0

Keys to the Game:
Turnover Battle
NC State will need to force turnovers to make up the talent difference. In the past, Georgia Tech QB Reggie Ball has had a tendency to turn the ball over, but he has thrown just 6 INT so far this season to 13 TD. Other the other side of the ball, the Georgia Tech defense created four Miami turnovers last week and will be excited to play a young QB in Daniel Evans. The Pack must put pressure on Ball, where he is most prone to make mistakes, and not give up any of offense.
Play of Reggie Ball
I continue to harp on it, but the statistics show the truth when it comes to Reggie Ball's TD to INT ration. Ball has never been a very accurate passer as shown in last week's win completing just 11 of 27 passes, but he threw 2TD and 0INT.
Slowing NC State Rushing Attack
Though Toney Baker and Andre Brown are not as good as the Clemson's tandem of running backs, they are next best thing in the ACC. Georgia Tech's is fast, but small and can be worn down. The Yellow Jackets need to get up early and force State to play from behind where their rushing attack is much less dangerous.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 21 NC State 20 (NC State Covers, Over)

Miami vs Virginia Tech (-2.5, 37)

Virginia Tech 6-2-04-3-05-11-128.5123-4-0
Miami 5-3-01-5-14-11-223.414.91-6-0

Keys to the Game:
Miami Building Confidence
The Hurricanes are a defeated team after last week. Very few teams have gone through the turmoil this team has this year. This team may think they still have a swagger, but other teams do not fear this bunch one bit. The Hurricanes need to get going early on offense, where the biggest dropoff has occured from the past, and slowly build confidence back in themsevles.
Wright Feeling the Heat
Miami Coach Larry Coker has said that backup QB Kirby Freeman will get some snaps this week, but it is not because of the play of Kyle Wright. Wright, a much heralded recruit several years ago, has failed to live up to expectations partly due to his play and partly due to his line protection. I still believe this kid can be good if he gets some time in the pocket (6 sacks last week). Whomever the QB is, they will need to step up their performance if they want to beat a hot Virginia Tech team.
Slowing Ore
Miami had not allowed a 100 yard rusher this season until last week. Va Tech's Branden Ore ran all over Clemson, who was thought to have a solid rush D. Virginia Tech will have to ride Ore's back again this week as I do not think QB Sean Glennon can beat Miami throwing 25+ times.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 20 Miami 17 (VT Covers, Under)

Vanderbilt vs Florida (-17, 42.5)

Florida 7-1-03-5-06-01-126.512.22-6-0
Vanderbilt 4-5-05-3-02-22-323.220.24-4-0
Keys to the Game:
Wait....Florida plays South Carolina next week, right? Yes, but the buildup for that game with Spurrier's first trip to the Swamp as an opponent is so huge that the Gators may overlook this game. If you want to overlook Vanderbilt, just ask Georgia how that worked out for them.
Offensive Woes
Vandy has given up some yards on the ground, but Florida has shown very little ability to run in the past few games. The Commodores will put up some points, so the Gators will not be able to rely entirely on their defense to win this game.
Prediction: Florida 28 Vanderbilt 13 (Vandy Covers, Under)

Other SEC Games:
LSU Over Tennessee
Auburn Over Arkansas State
Alabama Over Mississippi State (close)
Ole Miss Over NW St

Other ACC Games:
Boston College Over Wake Forest
Notre Dame Over North Carolina
Navy Over Duke

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