Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Battle of Tech's Highlight Conference Action

#24 Ga. Tech @ #9 Va. Tech (-10.5,37) 3:30 ABC
A game for the driver's seat in the Coastal Division and a revenge game of sorts. Last season, these two teams met in a very similar situation with Virginia Tech using defensive and special teams touchdowns to roll over the Yellow Jackets by 44. The Hokies have suspended one of the top defensive players, Chris Ellis and receiver Josh Morgan for violation of team rules.

Keys to Georgia Tech Winning:
1. "Why can't we get the ball more to Calvin Johnson" is an often phrase around Atlanta, but last week Johnson caught two TDs and racked up 165 yards receiving in a win over Virginia. Still, the Jackets offense has struggled in big games partially by not getting the ball to their playmaker.
2. TD vs INT: this is very important stat for Reggie Ball and Georgia Tech's sucess. So far this season, Ball has thrown 7 TD to only 3 INT with 1 INT coming on a hail mary at the end of the half. In 23 Wins, Ball has thrown 36 TD to 17 INT, while 16 losses have produced just 8 TD and 27 INT.
3. You Must Be Sound in the Kicking Game: Not to steal a line from Rece Davis of ESPN, but the Hokies block and return kicks so well that Georgia Tech must make a special effort to not allow a kick block or return to change the tide of this game.

Keys to Virginia Tech Covering:
1. Run the ball well: Since 1999, the Hokies are 68-5 under Beamer when they outrush their opponents and 5-14 when being outrushed. Virginia Tech has struggled this year rushing for just under 119 ypg this season. Georgia Tech is averaging 180 ypg on the ground.
2. Dominate the Special Teams: This is where the big difference in this game is. Georgia Tech has struggled in kick coverage this season, but has somehow managed to not give up a touchdown.
3. Double Johnson and blitz Ball: Notre Dame used this strategy in the second half vs GT earlier this season and the Jackets were stagnant on offense. This strategy forces Ball to find a second option quickly, which has not been his strong suit. The only caveat to this is if Ball can break contain as he is a dangerous runner.

I find it interesting this line was around 9 all week and then jumped up to 10.5 on Thursday. Calvin Johnson is listed as questionable, but I think he will play. If he doesn't, then Georgia Tech could be in world of hurt.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 21 Georgia Tech 17 (Ga. Tech covers, Over)
I like the GT cover more so than the over pick.

#10 Georgia @ Ole Miss (+18.5, 34.5) 9:00 ESPN
The Bulldogs biggest concern this week has been who will start at QB - Joe Cox or Matthew Stafford. Ole Miss is way overmatched in this game and will not be able to hang with Georgia like Colorado did.

3 Reasons Why Georgia Will Cover:
1. With Ole Miss having just 70 scholarship players, they simply do not have the hogs and horses to stay with Georgia for four quarters. If they can keep it close in the first half, then they will simply be worn down in the second half.
2. Mark Richt was not happy about being taken to the brink by a winless team who had lost to Division I-AA (Colorado played their hearts out though). You can better believe his team got a message this week in practice and will come out firing off the line.
3. Wake Forest went into Oxford with a backup QB and backup RB and won by 24. Wake Forest is not Georgia

Prediction: Georgia 31 Ole Miss 7 (Georgia covers, Over)
I like Georgia to cover more than the over pick, but the Dawgs may be able to cover the over themselves.

Alabama @ #5 Florida (-14.5, 38.5) 3:30 CBS
Last season's clash between the Tide and Gators was bittersweet for Alabama fans as they stomped Florida, but lost Tyrone Prothro to leg injury for that season. Well, it turns out Prothro is out for this season now too. You can best believe Urban Meyer remembered that 28 point loss and is anxious to get some payback.

How Alabama can Win:
1. Control the clock with Kenneth Darby rushing and short passes by John Parker Wilson
2. Hit the big play like last year
3. Take care of the ball and create turnovers

How Florida can Cover:
1. Get the same production from their RBs as they did against Tennessee
2. Test the Alabama O-Line and Wilson with blitzes early and often
3. Converting in the red zone where they struggled last week

Florida has more talent and is playing in front of the loudest fans in the country. I think the Gators will come out strong, but if they have the game in hand will they maintain the cover with LSU and Auburn looming in the next two weeks?

Prediction: Florida 28 Alabama 13

Houston @ Miami (-16.5, 48 ) 6:00
The Canes have been hearing a lot since the Louisville loss. They are not the same Miami, who their new coach will be next season, and that they gave up in the second half. All of these are unfamiliar territory if you play for Miami. I believe the Hurricanes can still turn this around and are not out of the ACC title hunt.

Houston has a four year starter at QB named Kevin Kolb who has thrown 12 TD to just 1 INT so far in the Cougars four wins. The only other road game Houston played was at Rice where they squeaked by the Owls 31-30. Miami on the other hand has had an extra week to prepare for this game and is eager to show they are still an elite program.

Prediction: Miami 28 Houston 7 (Miami Covers, Under)

La. Tech @ #19 Clemson (-33.5, 54 ) 7:00
Clemson will have a hard time duplicating their rushing performance of 7 touchdowns this week. The Bulldogs of La Tech got their only win this season over Nicholls State with two blowout losses to Nebraska and Texas A&M. La Tech is giving up over 180 yards per game on the ground. I like the Tigers in a blowout again.

Prediction: Clemson 42 La Tech 10 (La Tech Covers, Under)
I think the Under is a much better play than the spread

Spurrier Remembers 48-7 Last Year

#3 Auburn @ South Carolina (+14, 37.5) 7:30 Thursday ESPN

In Steve Spurrier's first year back in the SEC, the Gamecocks experienced some incredible highs (beating Tennessee in Knoxville, beating Florida), but the lowest point of the season had to be the 48-7 beating laid on South Carolina by Auburn last year. Knowing Spurrier he remembers that game and will want some big time payback, but does he have the talent to beat a team like Auburn?

3 Keys to South Carolina Winning:
1. They must get some resemblance of a running game going. This will be a difficult task for a offense averaging just 120 ypg on the ground facing a defense yielding just over 80 ypg. If the Gamecocks fall behind and have to rely solely on the passing of Syvelle Newton they could be in trouble
2. Pick their poison on defense. South Carolina cannot let Auburn achieve balance between the run and pass offensively. My philosophy would be to make Brandon Cox beat you under pressure. The Gamecocks have a pretty good pass defense allowing 110 ypg, but their rush defense needs some work on a 176 ypg average. I would stack eight in the box and blitz Cox left and right as he is not the most mobile QB.
3. Get and keep the crowd involved. The Gamecocks have the most loyal fans in America and will need them to be their twelfth man if they want to beat Auburn. A trick play or big play early along with an early lead will keep the 80,000+ screaming all game.

Keys for Auburn to Cover:
1. Protect Brandon Cox. The Tigers have a plethora of weapons on offense and Cox knows how to get them the ball when given time. If he is pressured then the Tigers will find themselves in a a lot of 2nd/3rd and longs.
2. Punish the South Carolina defense early. A nice 6-7 minute touchdown drive in the first quarter will help take the crowd out of the game and really test the mettle of the South Carolina run defense. Auburn will be facing a rush defense allowing over 175 yards per game on the ground
3. Make someone else beside Sidney Rice catch the ball. The offensive situation at South Carolina is very similar to that of Georgia Tech's in years past - standout WR with mobile, sometimes shaky QB. I expect Auburn to double Rice and blitz Newton making him find a second option under duress.

I think Auburn has to much talent for South Carolina to hang for four quarters. This line started around at 13.5 and now moved to 14. Auburn may be able to take the over themselves with a few big plays.

Prediction: Auburn 31 South Carolina 14 (Auburn Covers, Over)
I think the over is a much stronger play than the spread.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Early Lines Are Up

A first look at the lines this week.

Auburn @ South carolina (+13.5, 37) 7:30

Virginia @ Duke (+6, 36.5) 12:00
Tennessee @ Memphis (13.5, 44.5) 12:00
Miss St @ LSU (-32, 35) 12:30
Maine @ Boston College NL 1:00
Georgia Tech @ Virginia Tech (-9,37.5) 3:30
Alabama @ Florida (-13.5, 38) 3:30
Liberty @ Wake Forest NL 3:30
Central Michigan @ Kentucky (-6.5, 52) 6:00
Houston @ Miami (-15.5, 48.5) 6:00
Temple @ Vanderbilt (-34, 42.5) 7:00
La Tech @ Clemson (-34.5, 54) 7:00
Georgia @ Ole Miss (+17.5, 34) 9:00

Sunday, September 24, 2006

ACC & SEC Power Rankings

Now that every team has played at least 3 games (most teams have played 4), I think we have a pretty good understanding of who stands where. The SEC is clearly better than the ACC right now, especially at the top of both leagues. I also have my top 10 for the nation where you will find 3 SEC teams. The SEC at the top is unmatched, but the bottom 5 are not better than any other conferences bottom half.

SEC Power Rankings:
1. Auburn
Win over LSU and domination of the rest of their opponents makes them team to beat
2. LSU
Could have easily won game @Auburn; have solid offense and defense
3. Florida
Good enough to win the East, but not good enough to go undefeated
4. Georgia
Struggles against Colorado echo woes on offense; defense very strong
5. Tennessee
Not quite back to Vol football, but much improved over last year
6. Arkansas
Win over Alabama was huge for confidence
7. Alabama
Kicking woes cost them game at Arkansas
8. South Carolina
Spurrier has serious depth issues though first 22 can play with a lot of teams
9. Kentucky
Improved over last year
10. Vanderbilt
Been a surprise with new starting QB replacing Cutler
11. Miss St
Baby Steps: Score points, next week score first win
12. Ole Miss
Think Ogeron is wishing he was still at USC?

ACC Power Rankings:
1. Virginia Tech
Back to Beamer Ball with defense and special teams creating offense
2. Clemson
Very close to number one; dominated FSU on the road last week
3. Florida St
Defense is great, offense finally broke through against Rice
4. Boston College
Tough team who lost unexpectedly by beating themselves vs NC State
5. Georgia Tech
Best team Gailey has had in his 5 years; real test is this Sat @VT
6. Miami
Coker seat is so hot he can't even go near it.
7. Wake Forest
Blowout win over Ole Miss without Mauk and Andrews - don't sleep on them
8. NC State
Win over BC was huge and may have saved their season
9. Maryland
Three year non-bowl streak looks like the ending to this season
10. Virginia
Al Groh should scrap this year and start to build for next year
11. North Carolina
Only is 3 point victory over a I-AA team at home
12. Duke
Played Wake tough, but it doesn't make up for being shutout by Richmond at home

Top 10
1. Ohio St
2. Auburn
3. USC
4. West Virginia
5. LSU
6. Florida
7. Michigan
8. Louisville
9. Texas
10. Virginia Tech

Last Out: Notre Dame, Iowa, Oregon

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Week 4 Recap

For three plus quarters, Colorado dominated this game, but a resilient Georgia team was able to score two times in the last 9:11 of the game to pull this game by the hair on Uga's slobbery chin. The talk all week heading into this game was not about whether or not Colorado could give Georgia a game, but how much Ralphie would tear up the field. Well, for three quarters it looked as if Colorado was going to pull off a victory as four touchdown dogs. The Buffs limited Georgia to just 54 yards rushing and held the ball for over 19 minutes in the first half. The QB leading the come from behind victory was back up Joe Cox after starter Matt Stafford was pulled by Mark Richt. Cox was 10-13 for 154 yards and 2 TD in relief and will likely start next week @Ole Miss.

If you are Georgia fan, you have to be concerned about your offensive productivity with Stafford at the helm going forward. The defense played well in the second half keeping the game within two scores. The turning point I think was when Colorado recovered a fumble at the Georgia 19, but only managed three points. If you want to beat a team like Georgia you need to get touchdowns with that field position, not field goals. I think this game got Georgia's attention and I doubt you will see the Bulldogs challenged this much by a greatly inferior team again this season.
Colorado covered, Under
Pictures from the AP:

This game was not over not long after UNC got off the bus in Death Valley. Clemson rushed for seven touchdowns on the ground, four of them by James Davis. At halftime, the Tigers were up 35-0 and never looked back and the Tar Heels managed just three first downs in the first two quarters. Clemson racked up 30 first downs and 504 yards of total offense, while holding UNC to just 8 first downs and 150 yards of total offense. The one bright spot for North Carolina was...uh...om....they really were no bright spots.

Clemson followed up their big win at FSU with a beat down of North Carolina. An argument could be made that the Tigers are the best team in the ACC at this point in the season, but they need Boston College to lose twice in order for the Tigers to have a shot at Jacksonville. North Carolina has less than two months before basketball starts; they can get revenge vs Clemson on the hardwood.
Clemson Covered, Over
Pictures from the AP:

The Seminoles offense finally showed up today even if it was against Rice. FSU scored 55 points tackling the Over by themselves. After Rice tied the game at 7 in the first quarter, but the Noles ripped off 48 unanswered points racking up nearly 500 yards of total offense. Drew Weatherford started the game completing 8 of 12 for 102 yards, but the Seminoles to advantage of porous Rice defense to rush for 285 yards on the ground.

If you're a Seminoles fan you are a little encouraged by the offensive output, but it was against Rice.
FSU Covered, Over
Pictures from the AP:

The Gators came out firing in this game scoring on their first drive, but the missed extra point was an omen of things to come. Florida won the game easily, but had many more chances to put points on the board only to misfire in the red zone. Chris Leak had another solid game throwing for 268 yards and 2 TD. Kentucky's Andre' Woodson had a good game too completing 26 of 38, but he was sacked six times and the Wildcats could not get a ground game going.

The Gators now enter the meat of their schedule. Their next four games are vAlabama, vLSU, @ Auburn, and vGeorgia over a five week span. I think the Gators have some kinks to work out on offense, but their defense looks very solid and good enough to give them a chance of winning all four of these games.
Kentucky Covered, Under
Pictures from the AP:

Sidney Rice, Sidney Rice, Sidney Rice had 5 touchdowns for the Gamecocks who continued the Florida Atlantic woodshed tour. Maybe this give this South Carolina offense some confidence. Question is - is Syvelle Newton the starter when Blake Mitchell returns from suspension?
South Carolina Covered, Over

Around the rest of the ACC...
Virginia Tech survived a halftime scare versus Cincinnati by scoring 17 unanswered points in the second half. The Hokies have a big matchup in a game that could decide the Coastal division against Georgia Tech next week. Wake Forest went to Oxford without their starting QB and starting RB and still whooped up on Ole Miss 27-3. NC State used a hail mary play to beat Boston College 17-15 in Raleigh in a spectacular game. Maryland squeaked by Florida International 14-10.

Around the rest of the SEC...
Alabama and Arkansas played a double overtime classic in Fayetteville with the Razorbacks winning largely because of the kicking woes of Alabama. The Tide were missed a FG in the first overtime and and an XP in the second overtime allowing the Razorbacks to win by 1, 24-23. LSU dismantled Tulane in the Battle of the Tiger Rag 49-7. Vanderbilt beat up on crosstown Tennessee St. 38-9. Tennessee drove over Marshall in a driving rainstorm in Knoxville 33-7. Auburn played its backups and beat Buffalo 38-7. And Miss St finally got a win in overtime over UAB 16-10.

Musings from around the nation...
If you look at the score, you would think Ohio St ran over Penn St, but two interceptions returned for touchdowns in the last two minutes allowed the Buckeyes to seal the victory and then cover the spread ;) West Virginia struggled for three quarters against East Carolina, but pulled away at the end. Notre Dame came back from the dead to defeat Michigan St 40-37 behind 5 TD passes from Brady Quinn. This could be huge momentum swing for the Irish and might have saved their BCS hopes (and $14 million).

This Week: 5-0 SU, 2-3 ATS, 3-2 O/U
Season: 17-4 SU, 10-11 ATS, 16-5 O/U

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.

Georgia Tech Takes it to Virginia

Georgia Tech 24 Virginia 7 (GT covers, Under)

The Yellow Jackets came out in throwback uniforms from the 1970s, but hardly played like they were behind the times. Calvin Johnson caught two long passes for touchdowns - one on the last possession before halftime and one on the first possession after halftime on his way to 165 receiving yards. The Tech defense rattled redshirt freshman Jameel Sewell allowing only 166 yards of total offense. Tech rushed for just 105 yards on 38 carries, but the total was enough to make the Yellow Jackets 7-1 in their last eight games when out rushing their opponent. Two things you take away from this game are: Reggie Ball finally hit Calvin Johnson in stride and allowed the 6’5” to show his full repertoire of receiver skills and some the penalties the Jackets had in this game will not cut it against teams the caliber of Virginia Tech and Clemson on down the road.

Where do you go from here?
For Georgia Tech, this was somewhat of a statement game for them. They needed to come out and show the rest of the ACC that this was not the Tech teams of old by dominating an inferior opponent from the kickoff. Tech’s offense was good enough to win this game, but the defense played outstanding especially in the first half. Next week is the real test in the ACC though as Tech travels to Blacksburg to face the Hokies of Virginia Tech. The Yellow Jackets were at a similar point last season (3-0) before getting a beat down from Frank Beamer and company 51-7. The winner of this game should be the front-runner for the Coastal Division and would essentially have a two game lead on the other. The Cavaliers will once again need to go back to the drawing board. I thought Sewell showed some good things on the short touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter. Al Groh will more than likely stick with Sewell the rest of the way in order to prepare his future QB for better years to come.

Pictures from the AP:

Season: 12-4 SU, 8-8 ATS, 13-3 O/U

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thursday Night Under the Lights

Virginia (1-2) @ Georgia Tech (2-1) -16.5, 39.5

Georgia Tech and Virginia will open their ACC schedules against each other tonight in Atlanta. This series over the last 10 years has produced some memorable games, but also derailed teams seasons.

Team Update - Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets will be playing their fourth home game in a row before heading on the road next weekend. Tech opened this season with a tough loss to Notre Dame, but has recovered nicely in dispatching a pair of teams from Alabama, Troy and Samford. With just a five day turnaround, Chan Gailey allocated three days of practice in the preseason solely for preparation of this game because Virginia runs a 3-4 defense. New offensive coordinator Patrick Nix hit a milestone of sorts by watching his new offense gain over 500 total yards of offense last week vs Troy. If Georgia Tech wants to compete for the ACC title, they need to pounce on a team like Virginia early and not them hang around for 3+ quarters.

Team Update - Virginia: There has not been much to be excited about in Wahoo land so far this season. The Cavs opened their 2006 campaign with a loss at Pittsburgh then needed overtime to beat Wyoming at home on September 9. Last week, Western Michigan came into Charlottesville and pulled a major upset by beating 10 point favored Virgina. Al Groh lost both of his coordinators from last year's staff and is also going through some woeful QB play. A win in Atlanta for the Cavs could save their season while a loss puts a bowl game as an unlikely end to the season.

When Georgia Tech has the ball: So far this season, the Yellow Jackets look like a different team from last season and rightfully so after a new spread offense was installed in spring practice. Last week, Nix used RB Reshaun Grant in a variety of slot positions where he ran for one TD and took another run down inside the five yard line. QB Reggie Ball set a Georgia Tech QB rushing record last week as well. WR Calvin Johnson was injured in the second quarter, but Gailey says he will be ready to go Thursday night; Johnson will likely be covered by Marcus Hamilton, who is third on the active interceptions list. I expect Georgia Tech to come out and try and establish the run to see how tired UVA is after short, traveling week. The Yellow Jackets will need to get the ball into Johnson's hands more often than we have seen the past two weeks.
Advantage: Georgia Tech

When Virginia has the ball: Redshirt freshman Jameel Sewell is expected to start for the Cavs after taking most of the snaps with the first team this week. Sewell completed 7-10 for 51 yards last week in his debut. Cavalier quarterbacks have thrown five interceptions and just one touchdown this season. This is not good news as Georgia Tech has picked off four balls this season and run two of them back for touchdowns. The rushing game has not faired any better for the Cavs who are averaging just 50 yards per game. Jon Tenuta's defense has not faired well against mobile Quarterbacks, but Virginia's QBs have not displayed great running so far this season. Advantage: Georgia Tech

Coaching: Chan Gailey has been subject to criticism during his tenure at Georgia Tech, but may have turned the corner in his fifth year. This game is a big measuring stick to see how good Georgia Tech because the Jackets are heavily favored, a title with which they have struggled with in the past. Groh is safe at Virginia, but more losses at home to teams like Western Michigan will have fans talking. The Cavs players should not feel as if they are playing for their coaches job. Advantage: Georgia Tech

Intangibles: Georgia Tech is at home, they are favored, and they are five points away from being undefeated. Yet, in Gailey's tenure, Tech has made a habit of losing one game they should not every year. Is it this game? Virginia's season may be on the line tonight if they want to continue their four year bowl streak. Advantage: Even

Points of Note:
GT is 6-1 SU in their last 7 games where they out rush their opponent
Home team is 7-1 ATS in last 8 meetings
Under is 22-8-2 in GT last 32 conference games
GT is 1-4 in last 5 as home favorite

Prediction: Georgia Tech 27 Virginia 10 (Georgia Tech Covers, Under)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Opening Lines for Sep 23

Virginia @ Georgia Tech (-17, 39) 7:30ET ESPN

North Carolina @ #23 Clemson (-16.5, 48) 12:00ET JP Sports

Cincinnati @ #10 Virginia Tech (-26, 44.5) 12:00ET ESPNU

Colorado @ #7 Georgia (-26.5, 38.5) 12:30ET

Buffalo @ #3 Auburn (-42.5, 50) 2:30ET

#22 Alabama @ Arkansas (-2.5, 37.5) 3:30ET CBS

Rice @ #17 Florida State (-29.5, 47) 3:30ET ESPNU

Marshall @ #19 Tennessee (-21.5, 42) 4:00ET

Fla Intl @ Maryland (-18, 46.5) 6:00ET

Wake Forest @ Ole Miss (-2.5, 41) 6:00ET

Miss St @ UAB (-10, 38) 7:00ET

Fla Atlantic @ South Carolina (-29, 40) 7:00ET

Kentucky @ #5 Florida (-23.5, 54.5) 7:45ET ESPN

#21 Boston College @ NC State (+7, 41) 8:00ET ESPN2

Tulane @ #11 LSU (-35.5, 48) 8:00ET

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Super Saturday Lived Up to the Hype

Another classic battle in the SEC went down the wire in Auburn with LSU coming up five yards short on the final play of the game. Auburn won this game with only 182 total yards on offense relying on their defense and special teams. LSU has two drives deep into Auburn territory in the 4th quarter and came away with 0 points. The first drive looked like it would be kept alive from a pass interference call on fourth down, but officials ruled that an Auburn defender tipped the ball before it reached the interfered LSU receiver. I personally thought it was a questionable call on the tipped ball. With time running out, JaMarcus Russell led LSU down the field again, but time ran out on the Bengal Tigers as Craig Davis was tackled on the five yard line with no time left.

Auburn now has a huge leg up in the SEC West race with essentially a two game lead. Despite the lack of offense, these two teams are ones that nobody wants to play.
Pictures from the AP/Reuters

The Florida Gators, behind 3 TD passes from Chris Leak, came out of Knoxville with a gutsy, 21-20 win. This game was dominted by the Gators on the offensive and defensive lines, but yet the Gators found themselves behind 17-7 in the second half. The Vols used a WR pass for a TD to go ahead 10-7 and a slant pass to Jayson Swain set up another TD. But Chris Leak never flinched despite being pressured all night and beset by low snaps in the shotgun. The Gators rushed for 139 yards to 2 for Tennessee.

The winner of this game has played for the SEC Championship nine times since 1992. This win was huge for Florida becuase of their brutal SEC slate this season. It was also big that this win came on the round after three bad losses on the road last season. Tennessee now has some work to do in the SEC especially with their currently non-existent rushing game.
Pictures from the AP

Tommy Bowden pulled a fast one on his old man and came out of Tallahassee with the Tigers first win since 1989. With less than two minutes to play, Clemson used a substitution and quick snap to catch FSU off guard and James Davis raced to the Seminole five yard line where he punched it in for the go ahead score three plays later. The Seminoles scored nine points off of blocked kicks producing their only first half points. In the second half, FSU surprisingly was able to come from behind using the running game.

It is very evident this corps of FSU receivers does not even resemble those in past years. The Seminoles are still very much in the thick of things for the ACC race, but cannot afford any more losses. Clemson is now right back in the thick of things for the ACC Championship. Now, they must avoid that one game where they just don’t show up 100% and lose to a team they should not.
Pictures from the AP

This game had some great buildup with the bulletin board material from Louisville LB Nate Harris and then with the Hurricanes stomping on the Cardinal logo in the pregame. Miami looked like they might pull of the upset into the second quarter, but a 56 yard pass to Mario Urittia gave Louisville the lead and they never looked back. The Canes were never able to make a comeback due to four sacks of QB Kyle Wright. In the second half, it looked like Wright was running for his life every other play.

If the seat under Larry Coker was not hot before, then it is now. Many thought, myself included, that this would be a game where Miami would reassert themselves again in the world of college fooball, but they look very average right now. This loss will likely put Miami out of the polls for the first time since 1999. Going back to last season, the Hurricanes have lost four of their last five games.
Pictures from the AP

Matthew Stafford looked solid but not spectacular in his first start. The true freshman completed 10 for 17 passes for 107 yards scoring one touchdown on the ground. The Bulldogs gained just 271 total yards, but gave up just 163 yards. The star of this game was Georgia's special teams returning a blocked punt for a touchdown, gaining 22 yards per punt return, and netting 49 yards per punt.

An often maligned Georgia Tech offense came alive against Troy Saturday racking up 500 total yards in a 35-20 victory. QB Reggie Ball set a Georgia Tech rushing record for quarterbacks with his 130 yards on the ground. This game was tied at 14 going into the fourth quarter, but Tech scored 21 unanswered in 5:49 to go ahead 35-14. The Yellow Jackets now have a short turnaround with a game against Virginia this Thursday in their first ACC tilt.

Around the rest of the SEC....
After a week full of distractions, South Carolina squeaked by Wofford 27-20. The Gamecocks are just not very good right now though Spurrier may still be good for one upset this year. Arkansas came from behind to beat Vandy on the road 21-19. Kentucky beat Ole Miss 31-14 winning their first SEC opener in 19 years. Alabama's offense exploded for 41 points in a thrashing of UL-Monroe. And the struggles continue in Starkville, as Mississippi St loses to Tulane 32-29. I am begining to think the Bulldogs may not win a game all year.

Around the rest of the ACC....
Virginia Tech is back to its old ways - winning with defense and special teams in a shutout of Duke 36-0. With Miami's dismal performance, the Hokies look like the team to beat in the Coastal Division. Boston College had to go to overtime for the second straight week to get the victory. BYU had several chances to win this game, but missed field goals gave BC the life they needed. Virginia's free fall continues as Western Michigan came into Charlottesville and beat the Cavs 17-10. At least, Virginia only has to wait five days before they can attempt to save face vs Georgia Tech on Thursday. Wake Forest saved some face for the ACC against the Big East by going on the road and defeating UConn 24-13. Stay tuned for Chuck Amato's excuse after the Wolfpack loss to Southern Miss 37-17. Amato's fate my be sealed, but the expectations he put forth guaranteeing national promince in Raleigh are to blame. The Tar Heels narrowly escaped I-AA powerhouse Furman in a shootout 45-42. Maryland was simply run over by Steve Slaton and West Virginia on Thursday night.

The SEC did not disappoint this Saturday with two magnificent games. Florida, Auburn, and LSU are all bona-fide BCS teams, while Georgia is not far behind at all. Miami's loss is another black eye for the ACC and Virginia's loss at home is just embarrassing.

Around the rest of the nation...
Notre Dame was beaten badly by Michigan 47-21 and Brady Quinn threw four interceptions. This loss by the Irish creates more doubt about how good they really are (and how good Georgia Tech is). USC is still USC though it looks like the Trojans may be relying more of their defense than their offense this season. The Longhorns rebound nicely with a sound scrimmage versus Rice.

This Week: 4-2 SU, 2-4 ATS, 5-1 O/U
Season: 11-4 SU, 7-8 ATS, 12-3 O/U

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

Monday, September 11, 2006

Lines Up for Week 3

LSU at Auburn; Miami @ Louisville; Florida @ Tennessee; Clemson @ Florida St....that would be a pretty good weekend with two of these games, but all four are this weekend! The early lines are out for this weekend and of all the games involving ACC and SEC teams, only two home teams are underdogs, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

Maryland @ West Virginia (-15.5, 47) 7:45 Thur
Duke @ Virginia Tech (-34.5, 44) 12:00
UAB @ Georgia (-17,38) 1:00
LSU @ Auburn (-3, 40) 3:30
Miami @ Louisville (-4, 54.5) 3:30
UL-Monroe @ Alabama (-24.5, 40) 7:00
Wake Forest @ UConn (-6, 41.5) 12:30
Troy @ Georgia Tech (-18, 38) 1:30
Ole Miss @ Kentucky (-3.5, 50.5) 6:00
NC State @ So Miss (-2.5, 38) 7:00
Wofford @ South Carolina (NL) 7:00
Tulane @ Miss St (-10.5, 38) 7:00
Arkansas @ Vanderbilt (+6, 38.5) 7:00
Furman @ UNC (NL) 7:00
Clemson @ FSU (-4, 44) 7:45
Florida @ Tennessee (+3, 45.5) 8:00

The two contests that jump out to me are Troy @ Georgia Tech (-18) and Clemson @ FSU (-4). I understand that Troy caught FSU off of three days rest, but they led almost the whole game in Talahassee. The Trojans gained a lot of confidence in that loss and I am certain they feel they can beat a team like Georgia Tech now. The Yellow Jackets have looked pretty impressive in their first two games, but more than not in recent history they have played to the level of their competition. Clemson has beaten FSU 2 out of the last 3 times, but neither of those victories came at Doak Campbell Stadium where Tommy Bowden is winless. The Seminoles are still searching on offense, but their defense can slow most any offense in the country. The Tigers are coming off an OT loss to BC for the second year in a row and now must beat Florida St. for a shot at the Atlantic Division crown.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

SEC Hands Out Doughnuts; ACC Falls Farther

Georgia 18 South Carolina 0
Georgia shutout South Carolina by whipping the Gamecocks up front. South Carolina's defensive line was not able to put any pressure consistent pressure on the Georgia quarterbacks and the Bulldogs flat got after the ball on defense. Georgia's goaline defense was nothing short of amazing handing Steve Spurrier his first shutout since 1987 while at Duke. Joe Tereshinski was knocked out in the first half - enter freshman phenom Matthew Stafford. The Texas native threw three interceptions, but did display good composure in a hostile environment. The Gamecocks also did not do themselves any favors by fumbling twice inside the red zone resulting in two turnovers. One fumble was recovered in the end zone, but the ball cannot be advanced by a fumble on fourth down. I thought Georgia had more talent coming into this game, but I really felt the Gamecock 'D' would be able to harass the inexperienced Bulldog QBs and the offense woudl catch some breaks. However, The offensive line and defensives lines for the Bulldogs simply would not let that happen.

Going forward, South Carolina has major issues on the offensive side of the ball. They were not able to protect Blake Mitchell who was eventually relieved by true freshman Chris Smelley. Needless to say, Georgia was not gangbusters themselves offensively, but they so dominated the line of scrimmage that three picks did not even phase them. When you have two ends like Quentin Moses and Charles Johnson, you will force teams into mistakes on offense. One more note about this game. Was it just me or did seem like the officials fell asleep at times? It seemed like once a drive there was a play where all the officials were caught looking at each other and had no idea what was going on. Let's say the play reviews saved them.

Quotes from the AP-
Steve Spurrier - "I can't stand watching our offense line up right now. We had some problems. We had a few drives here and there, but we kept stopping ourselves. We should be playing a lot better and we're not. We'll make some changes; I'll announce them later. I just can't watch what we're doing now. If it means playing a bunch of freshmen, that's fine. I'm tired of watching this. We can't get it going. I take some of the blame. I called a lousy game, so we'll try to get better."

On the South Carolina offense: "I didn't call a very good one. You throw the ball down to the 10-yard line and start running. I thought the short-yardage play would work, but we've gotten smashed on it this year.

Mark Richt-
On backup QB Matt Stafford and his play: "I thought Stafford did a nice job considering the circumstances. He played better in the first half then in the second, but part of that was my fault and not calling the game as well. We put him in some tough situations that made it hard to just throw the ball away. He will learn though. Overall, I thought he handled the game pretty well. After getting his feet wet here, I think he will only get better in time."

On Georgia's defensive play: "One of the things we talked about last night with our team was to try and honor Coach Russell. The way to truly honor him as a football player, especially a defensive player is to play like a junkyard dog and that is what our guys did. Of course Erk Russell made that saying famous while he was at Georgia, and we talked about trying to play that way."

Photos from the AP:

Florida 42 UCF 0
Who said Chris Leak could not run Urban Meyer's offense? The Gators rolled over UCF. I really thought the Golden Knights could give a Florida a little bit of a struggle, but Florida rolled up 637 yards of offense and pitched their first shutout since 2001.

Quotes from GatorZone.com
Urban Meyer- “I thought it was a very good win against a good team. Our team stayed focused tonight. We had four turnovers, and I can’t remember the last time that happened. Those turnovers were uncharacteristic of a Florida team. We have to correct that before next week. We’re a faster team than we were a year ago, and that is what we want. We want to be the fastest team in America, but we’re not there yet. We’re climbing there, but just not there yet.”

On Chris Leak: “Chris Leak scripts the plays. This is his offense now.”

On entering SEC play next week: “I think if we’re healthy, which I think we are, then our biggest disadvantage will be lack of experience.”

Photos from the AP

FSU 24 Troy 17
FSU got all they could handle and more with Troy. Interesting how this line was 30 points all week and then dropped dramatically on Saturday to 26. I think people saw the same thing that I did - can FSU score 30 on a Division I team coming off only 4 days rest? The Seminoles scored twice in the last 6:12 to escape with a victory.

Quotes from Troytrojans.com
“We couldn’t close the deal against a top 10 team, but we were very, very close,” Trojans coach Larry Blakeney said. “Our players worked very hard for this thing, and had an idea that they could hang with them.”

Photos from the AP

Miami 51 FAMU 10
Miami took out their offensive frustration on FAMU though I am not sure they really solved their problems on the offensive line when a defense like Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech comes knocking. The Hurricanes rushed for 339 yards on the ground vs the Rattlers after managing just 2 yards vs FSU on Monday.

Quotes from the AP-
"We've got a lot more work to do," Miami coach Larry Coker said. "Proud of our offense. The efficiency was there. We didn't make any mistakes. Guys made plays, conducted drives and I was really very pleased with that part of the game."

"We couldn't finish," said Florida A&M wide receiver Roosevelt Kiser, who caught a 7-yard scoring pass for the Rattlers' lone touchdown. "Their defense was extremely fast. That was the fastest defense I've ever seen."

Photos from the AP

Georgia Tech 38 Samford 6
Georgia Tech followed my prescription for victory - get up early and then use the second half to find a second option on offense. Well, the second string played the entire second half, but I am not convinced that if you double Calvin Johnson and blitz Reggie Ball that Tech's offense will be able to move the ball. The defense was outstanding again returning two picks for TD in the first half and held Samford to 22 yards on 18 plays in the second half and did not allow a first down.

Quotes from the AP
Chan Gailey - [On his confidence in the backups at quarterback]
"I have confidence, right now, probably more-so in Taylor (Bennett) because he's taken more snaps with the first and second groups. He's played in a ballgame before, when it was on the line. But I don't know if you ever have a great deal of confidence that they can go in and do the job, but they are here for a reason. They were good in high school, and if they get reps, they have a chance to be good in college. They just don't have the reps right now. So it would be a wait-and-see situation. I think they would eventually be able to get the job done, but I think today, it would be tough on them. "

DE Adamm Oliver
"This week, we could have sat down and said, "oh, we're playing Samford" and we could have took it a little bit easy, but we didn't, we sucked it up, we practiced just as hard as we did for Notre Dame and we got better. Of course there are still things we can improve on, and I'd say Samford's a good team for a Division I-AA school, but we could have definitely easily just try to roll our helmets out there and thought we already had a win, but we didn't play like that. We still played intense. We still went out there with a little bit of fire, and that's what we have to have, no matter who we play. If we play soft this week, and then soft next week against Troy, it might sneak up on us and we might get beat by a team that we're not supposed to get beat by, just from playing soft. Every week we're trying to play like it's the Championship. "

Photos from the AP

Boston College 34 Clemson 33 2OT
Clemson and Boston College...wow, what a game. For the second year in a row, BC prevailed in overtime, but unlike last year Clemson should have won this game. The Tigers saw seven point leads evaporate three separate times. Tom O'Brien gained his first win over a ranked opponent in his tenure at BC.

Quotes from the AP-
"I would say special teams hurt us," Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said. "I don't ever remember a game coming down to an extra point. (We didn't) cover kicks. I don't think it takes a genius to figure out how we'd win the game."

"After they scored, I just knew I had to try as hard as I could to get through there," said BC's Jolonn Dunbar, who deflected Jad Dean's point-after attempt. "I knew our offense would score. I wanted to put an end to it as quickly as possible."

Photos from the AP

Around the rest of the SEC...
LSU had not allwoed a TD in their last 10 quarters; make that 14 after a 45-3 blowout of Arizona. Auburn rolled over Miss St. a squad still looking for their first points of the season. Ole Miss ran into a buzzsaw in Colombia, MO in the form of the Missouri Tigers. Even with the addition of Brent Schaeffer, it appears the Rebels have a long way to go. Alabama squeaked by Vanderbilt. Both teams look like they have strong defenses, but struggle mightily on offense right now.

Around the rest of the ACC...
Virginia Tech used their special teams and defense to set up one TD and scoring another in a 35-10 rout of UNC. The Tar Heels have serious issues at QB. I thought Duke might be able to pull the upset over Wake Forest just one week after being shut out by Richmond, but they could not hold on in the end. NC State lost to Akron at home! This was Akron's first win over a BCS opponent and may have been the nail in Chuck Amato's coffin. Virginia somehow managed to get past Wyoming at home in OT. It may be a long year for Al Groh and company.

The SEC is by far the better conference right now. Florida, Georgia, Auburn, and LSU look like they can contend for BCS bowl games right now. Tennessee would be next in line, but after them there does seem to be a pretty significant drop off to the rest of the conference. The ACC has flat out embarrassed themselves in the first two weeks. Virginia and UNC lose to two Big East teams and the Cavs almost lost again this past week to Wyoming. Throw in Akron beating NC State in Raleigh and looks like the ACC may have a tough time filling out their bowl bids.

This Week: 2-2 SU, 1-3 ATS, 3-1 O/U
Season: 7-2 SU, 5-4 ATS, 7-2 O/U

Friday, September 8, 2006

Odds, Q&A, and Predictions for Week 2

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting#12 Georgia @ Photobucket - Video and Image HostingSouth Carolina (+3, 39) 7:45ET ESPN

3 Questions for Georgia:

1. Who will be the QB for Georgia in the 4th quarter?

Joe Tereshinski will start the game, but on his first bad decision will the Georgia fans be calling for Matthew Stafford. I think Mark Richt will rotate his QB's as long as the Dawgs are ahead, but if they get behind I think Richt will be forced to go to Stafford.

2. Will Georgia have to double cover Sidney Rice?

If Blake Mitchell is given time, then Rice cannot be contained with single coverage all game. However, if Quentin Moses and the Georgia D-Line can put adequate pressure on Mitchell, then Rice's downfield ability will be limited. I think Georgia will come out with double coverage on Rice and play it as needed after the first couple of defensive series.

3. Will Georgia "out talent" and wear out South Carolina?

Georgia definitely has the advantage in regards to talent and depth, but in 4 of the past 5 years this game has been closer than it should have been. Spurrier will try every trick in the book to make up for the talent gap and will the new clock rules, a shorter game will favor South Carolina

3 Questions for South Carolina:

1. Can South Carolina's thin O-Line block Quentin Moses and Charles Johnson of Georgia?

Moses is one the best defensive ends in the nation and will demand double teams for part of this game. Spurrier's drop-back passing offenses requires the QB to have time to look downfield. I think the Gamecocks will have to keep a RB or TE in to keep Mitchell off the ground.

2. Will South Carolina have to put 8 in the box to slow Georgia's running game?
Despite injuries and suspensions along the UGA O-Line, the Bulldogs still have a talent advantage against South Carolina's D-Line. The Gamecocks did not prove a whole lot in shutting out Mississippi State's anemic offense. I think S. Carolina DC Tyrone Nix will have to put 8 in the box and make Tereshinksi beat them.
3. How will the Gamecocks slow Georgia's outstanding special teams?
In case you didn't see it last weekend, UGA punt returner Mikey Henderson returned 2 consecutive punts for TD (though only 1 counted because of a fumble). Brandon Couto is one of the best FG kickers in the nation as well. I expect Spurrier to not even let Henderson touch the ball outside the 20 yard line. As in any game as an underdog, South Carolina must be able to match Georgia's special teams play to win.
What does Georgia need to do to win?

1. Have solid QB play?

2. Run the ball and wear South Carolina out on defense

3. Not get behind by more than two scores

What does South Carolina need to do to win?

1. Give Blake Mitchell time

2. Get the ball to Sidney Rice

3. Pressure Georgia's QB

Prediction: South Carolina 17 Georgia 16 (South Carolina wins SU, Under)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting#18 Clemson @ Photobucket - Video and Image HostingBoston College (+2.5, 43) 3:30ET ABC

Last year, these teams played one of the most thrilling games in the ACC. Clemson must win this game if they want to challenge for the Atlantic Division.
Boston College Offense vs Clemson Defense: The Eagles use a very balanced attack relying on their mammoth offensive line to protect the QB and to open holes for the running backs. The Eagles will likely favor the run more so because of the talent they have tailback and the lack of depth in Clemson's LB corp due to injuries to Anthony Waters and Tramaine Billie. The secondary for Clemson is young and is relying on DE Gaines Adams to put pressure on Ryan. Advantage: Even

Clemson Offense vs Boston College Defense: The Tigers also would like to be very balanced of offense, but that is hard when you have two capable tailbacks and return five starters from the O-Line of last season. Will Proctor did an admirable job in only his second start vs FAU last week. The BC defense was hit hard by graduation, especially on the D-Line. I think if Clemson is not able to pound the ball, they can use their speed advantage on the outside. Advantage: Clemson

Special Teams: Clemson's return game looks to be special this season as witnessed by Jacoby Ford's fumble then return for a touchdown last week. The Tigers kicking game is also solid. BC is well coached and solid on special teams, but not spectacular. Advantage: Clemson

Coaching: Tom O'Brien has made a living in Chesnut Hill by doing more with less. The Eagles always have very average recruiting classes, but yet win 7+ games a year and go bowling. Clemson's Tommy Bowden has made his living at Clemson with late season winning streaks to keep alumni happy after a traditionally slow starts. Advantage: Boston College

Intangibles: Will Clemson find a way to lose a game early in the season against a comparable or weaker team like they have each of the last four years? The Tigers psyche may be bruised after losing their best defensive player last week to a season ending injury. Boston College will enjoy playing the role of underdog at home something they are not used outside of playing VT or Miami.

Advantage: Boston College

Prediction: Clemson 24 Boston College 21 (Clemson wins and covers, Over)

UCF @ Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting#7 Florida (-23, 50.5) 6:00ET

Urban Meyer would like to have his game with the school formerly known as Central Florida over by halftime, but it won't happen. George O'Leary led UCF to the Conference USA title game last season and a bowl only one year removed from an 0-11 season. O'Leary's team will be physical and not be intimidated by the mighty Gators. I think Florida will not struggle in this game, but UCF will be able to get enough garbage points at the end to cover as the Gators minds move to next week in Knoxville.

Prediction: Florida 35 Central Florida 13 (Florida wins, UCF covers, Under)

Troy @ Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting#9 Florida St (-30, 45) 6:00

The Troy Trojans shocked Missouri at Missouri a couple of years ago…..Florida State is a little bit better than Missouri though. FSU should have this game wrapped up by halftime, can rest their players off a short week and their attention to fourth quarter to Clemson next week.

Prediction: Florida State 35 Troy 7 (FSU wins, Troy covers, Under)

FAMU @ Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting#17 Miami (NL) 7:00

The Hurricanes may actually gain double digits in rushing this week! This game should allow new OC Rich Olsen to tinker with his offense and work out some the breakdowns without the dangers of playing FSU .Miami should roll over FAMU from a pure talent, speed, and depth perspective. I think Larry Coker takes no prisoners in this game and runs up the score to somewhat appease the angry fan base.

Prediction: Miami 45 FAMU 7

Samford @ Georgia Tech (NL) 3:30

Only one week removed from a disappointing loss to Notre Dame, Chan Gailey must find a way to get his team for Samford. I expect Tech to struggle out the gate, similar to their game vs UConn last year where they fell behind, but pick up the pace in the second quarter and cruise the rest of the way. If I am a Tech fan, I want Calvin Johnson on the sideline after halftime and spend the whole second half finding a second option at receiver.

Prediction: Georgia Tech 30 Samford 10

Last Week: 5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS, 4-1 O/U