Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Day Bowl Bonanza

Previewing the rest of the New Year's Day Bowl Games...


Auburn vs Nebraska
Why to Watch: Two storied programs meet in the one of the best venues for college football, the Cotton Bowl. Auburn may have a bad taste in its mouth after being left of the BCS for LSU, whom they beat earlier in the year. Bill Callahan has transformed Nebraska from an option to pro style attack and been pretty successful at it.
What will Happen: I think Auburn is really sulking at not being invited to the BCS. The last time they came in with a chip on their shoulder they got blown out by Wisconsin last year in the Capitol One Bowl. Nebraska has everything to gain and Callahan will make Tuberville look conservative.
Nebraska over Auburn

Tennessee vs Penn State
Why to Watch: Another classic matchup involving two heavyweights (no pun intended) in the current coaching ranks. Penn State played Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio State all very close. Joe Paterno has said he is coming back next year, but he will not be coaching from the sidelines and you have to wonder if the injury has caused him to lose some of his passion.
What will Happen: The Nittany Lions possess a pretty strong defense and should be able to contain the Erik Ainge to Robert Meacham connection. Still, Penn State has struggled all year on offense. I like the Vols defense to force some turnovers and give their offense a short field.
Tennessee over Penn State

Arkansas vs Wisconsin
Why to Watch: As the third team in the Big 10, Wisconsin got left out of the BCS despite their 11-1 record. Arkansas has lost their last two, but those two losses have come against Florida and LSU. The Hogs Darren McFadden finished second in the Heisman voting.
What will Happen: This looks like one of the best matchups on paper New Years Day. The Badgers might feel a little slighted coming in as the underdog. McFadden and Felix Jones need to be difference makers for the Razorbacks and mask their inabilities in the passing game.
Arkansas over Wisconsin

Gator Bowl Preview: Ga Tech-West Virginia

Gator Bowl Jacksonville, FL Jan1 1:00PM CBS
Georgia Tech vs West Virginia
Line: WV-11, 47
1:00 PM ETW/LATSHAAFAAO/U
Georgia Tech 9-4-06-5-16-23-224.216.86-6-0
West Virginia 10-2-05-5-16-14-138.920.68-3-0

Quick Hits:
GT Under 3 of last 4
GT as Dog: 2-1-1 ATS, 1-3 SU, 1-3 O/U
GT largest Dog @Va Tech(+8.5) W38-27, Over

WV Over 4 of last 5
WV 1-3-1 ATS last 5
WV as Fav: 5-4-1 ATS, 8-1-1 SU, 8-3 O/U
WV as Double Digit Fav: 5-3-1 ATS, 7-1-1 SU, 7-3 O/U

Season Recap Georgia Tech
Big Wins: @VaTech 38-27
Bad Losses: @Clem 7-31
Record vs Bowl Teams: 3-4
Common Opp: vMyld 27-23

Season Recap West Virginia
Big Wins: vMyld 45-24
Bad Losses: vSo Fla 19-24
Record vs Bowl Teams: 4-2
Common Opp: vMyld 45-24

Georgia Tech Offense vs West Virgina Defense
78th in Total Yards vs 52nd in Total Yards
100th in Passing Yards vs 100th in Passing Yards
35th in Rushing Yards vs 9th in Rushing Yards
57th in Points Per Game vs 48th in Points Per Game

Georgia Tech's Taylor Bennett will be making just his second career start after Reggie Ball was declared academically ineligible. Expect WVU defense to see a heavy dose of Tashard Choice, the leading rusher in the ACC this season. Bennett has more pocket presence than Ball, but is not near as mobile. Turnovers will be at premium as always for an underdog against a high powered offense. West Virginia will likely stack the box and test the inexperienced Bennett's arm.

West Virginia Offense vs Georgia Tech Defense
4th in Total Yards vs 20th in Total Yards
98th in Passing Yards vs 62nd in Passing Yards
2nd in Rushing Yards vs 11th in Rushing Yards
4th in Points Per Game vs 48th in Points Per Game

This is a match of strength vs strength as West Virginia possesses two of the best runners in the nation. The Yellow Jackets allowed under 90ypg on the ground and just 69 ypg outside of the Clemson game. Jon Tenuta's defense possesses as much speed any defense the Mountaineers have seen, but the blitz scheme Tech uses was exploited by Clemson's rushing attack. Georgia Tech's defense will need to generate some turnovers in this game and keep White and Slaton off the field as much as possible.

Prediction:
Georgia Tech has nothing going for them coming into this game. They lost their last two games in heartbreaking fashion, they will play back to back games in Jacksonville, their starting QB and best CB are out... and bettors have noticed moving West Virginia from a 7 pt fav to 11 pt fav - the biggest spread of all the bowl games. However, Georgia Tech has thrived as a big underdog, especially on the road under Chan Gailey. I think Bennett shows a lot of poise, but Slaton and White will break some big runs late after being bottled up most of the first half.

West Virginia Wins, Georgia Tech Covers, Under


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Miami, Nevada on the Smurf Turf


MPC Computers Bowl Boise ID 7:30 ESPN
Miami (6-6) vs Nevada (8-4)
Line: Miami -3, 42

7:30 PM ETW/LATSHAAFAAO/U
Nevada 8-4-010-2-05-13-330.9194-8-0
Miami 6-6-03-7-15-21-419.515.11-10-0
Quick Hits:
Miami is 2-4ATS, 1-5 O/U in last 6
Miami is 1-4-1ATS, 4-2SU, 0-6 O/U as Favorite in 2006
Miami is 2-2 ATS in +/- 3 points

Nevada is 5-1 ATS, 5-1 O/U in last 6
Nevada is 2-2ATS, 0-4SU, 2-2 O/U as Dog in 2006
Nevada is 1-1 ATS in +/- 3 points

Season Recap Miami
Big Wins: None
Bad Losses: @Lville 7-31, @Virg 7-17
Record vs Bowl Teams: 2-5

Season Recap Nevada
Big Wins: vSJSt 23-7
Bad Losses: @ArizSt 21-52, vBSt 7-38
Record vs Bowl Teams: 1-3

Miami Offense vs Nevada Defense
100th in Total Yards vs 68th in Total Yards
84th in Passing Yards vs 70th in Passing Yards
89th in Rushing Yards vs 74th in Rushing Yards
99th in Pts per game vs 34th in Pts per game

Miami will try to control the clock with its running game and use that to set up the play action pass. The Hurricanes have been hurt this season by turnovers from the QB positions. Kirby Freeman has stepped in as QB after an injury to Kyle Wright. Nevada has a bend but don't break defense. They are not overly great at stopping drives, but they have been very good in the redzone.

Nevada Offense vs Miami Defense
48th in Total Yards vs 10th in Total Yards
92th in Passing Yards vs 59th in Passing Yards
24th in Rushing Yards vs 8th in Rushing Yards
22nd in Pts per game vs 16th in Pts per game

The speed of Miami's defense is something Nevada has not seen all year. The Hurricanes are very good at stopping the run, which is the Wolfpacks strong suit. The Canes D has been a constant through their last two years of offensive struggles. Nevads uses the "Pistol" formation featuring a running back behind the QB in the shotgun.

Prediction:
Miami must fight off the disappointment of this season and bowl invitation. We have seen how uninspired teams have fared so far. Throw in the coldest weather Miami players have ever seen and the Canes have a lot to overcome it seems. The Canes will have outgoing coach Larry Coker on the sidelines and incoming coach Randy Shannon in the box. Coker is well liked by his players and Shannon, so I expect the Canes to want to send him out with a win. Also, the will not want to go out on a losing season (see FSU). Still, they are probably underestimating Nevada. Miami must win the turnover margin to win this game.

Miami Wins, Nevada Covers, Over

Friday, December 29, 2006

Dawgs and Hokies and Chicken Nuggets



Chick Fil A Bowl Atlanta, GA 8:00 ESPN
Virginia Tech 10-2 vs Georgia 8-4
Line: VT -2.5, 37.5
8:00 PM ET W/L ATS H A AF AA O/U
Virginia Tech 10-2-0 7-4-0 7-1 3-1 26 9.3 3-8-0
Georgia 8-4-0 4-6-1 5-2 3-2 24.7 17.1 4-7-0
Quick Hits:
VT is 5-1 ATS in last 6
VT last 5 games have gone Under
VT has not gone over 37 since 10/21 vs So Miss (36-6)
UGA has gone over 37 in 5 of last 7 games
UGA has two straight wins over Top 20 teams
UGA will be playing with just 6 scholarship offensive lineman

Season Recap Virginia Tech
Big Wins: vClem 24-7, @WF 27-6
Bad Losses: @BC 3-22
Record vs Bowl Teams: 5-2
Common Opp: vGT 27-38

Season Recap Georgia
Big Wins: @Aub 37-15, vGT 15-12
Bad Losses: vTenn 33-51, vVand 22-24
Record vs Bowl Teams: 3-3
Common Opp: vGT15-12

Virginia Tech Offense VS Georgia Defense
26 ppg, 185 pypg, 116 rypg VS17 ppg, 150 pygp, 114 rypg
The Hokies rely on All-ACC back Branden Ore to move the ball. QB Sean Glennon has improved as the season has gone on, but is not a protypical drop back passer. Georgia's defense has been soft up the middle against the run. If the Bulldogs can slow Ore, I like their pass defense against Sean Glennon passing the ball.

Georgia Offense VS Virginia Tech Defense
25 ppg, 189 pypg, 132 rypg VS 9 ppg, 128 pypg, 93 rypg
Despite throwing just 6TD to 12INT, Matt Stafford has played much better in his last two games (both wins). Still, Georgia would like to get Kregg Lumpkin and Danny Ware going on the ground as their WR corps has not been very reliable this year. Virginia Tech is nasty again on defense allowing just six points over their final three games. With just six offensive lineman playing, I expect the Hokies to come after Stafford. The Hokies need to force Stafford into some freshman mistakes.

Va Tech as Fav: 6-4ATS, 8-2SU, 3-7 O/U
UGA as Dog: 2-1ATS, 1-2SU, 2-1 O/U

Prediction:
Georgia will have the crowd in their favor playing just 60 miles from Athens. You can believe Mark Richt has not let anything slip in bowl game preparation after what happened in last years Sugar Bowl. But the Bulldogs will have a tough time overcoming their lack of depth on the offensive line against a punishing defense. Georgia will give the Hokies all they can handle, but will come up short.

Virginia Tech Wins, Georgia Covers, Over

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Liberty Bowl Preview: South Carolina-Houston


Liberty Bowl Memphis, TN Dec 29 4:30 ESPN


South Carolina (7-5) vs Houston (10-3)
Line: SC -5.5, 56
4:30 PM ETW/LATSHAAFAAO/U
Houston 10-3-08-4-07-13-232.821.98-4-0
South Carolina 7-5-08-3-03-44-125.217.27-4-0

Storyline:
The Gamecocks had a wonderful end to their season with their first victory over Clemson since 2001, yet South Carolina is probably a little frustrated that win did not translate into a better bowl game. Houston won Conference USA winning six in a row in the process. They feature one of best QBs you have never heard of: four year starter Kevin Kolb. The Cougars are also 5-1 ATS in their last 6.

Season Recap South Carolina:
Big Wins: @Clem 31-28
Big Losses: vUGA 0-18
Record vs Bowl Teams: 2-5

Season Recap Houston:
Big Wins: vOklSt 34-25
Big Losses: None
Record vs Bowl Teams: 4-2

Keys for South Carolina Cover:
Gamecocks will need to play with pride and enthusiasm and realize they are playing a conference champion. South Carolina will need the offensive balance they displayed in their last outing (especially on the winning drive). Spurrier's club is not great at running or throwing, but they are good enough to keep teams on their toes.

Keys for Houston Cover:
Put the game on Kevin Kolb's shoulders. The Senior has started all four years for the Cougars and is finally getting his shot at the big time. Kolb threw 27TDs to just 3INTs this year.

Prediction:
The Gamecocks jumped out to a huge lead vs Missouri in last year's Independence Bowl before the Tigers rallied in the second half to defeat South Carolina. The Cougars three losses this season came by a combined 8 points. I think Houston will give South Carolina a scare, but will fall short.

South Carolina Wins, Houston Covers (3 star),
Under (4 star)

Clemson vs Kentucky

Music City Bowl Nashville, TN Dec 29 1PM ESPN


Clemson (8-4) vs Kentucky (7-5)
Line: Clem -9.5, 57.5
1:00 PM ETW/LATSHAAFAAO/U
Kentucky 7-5-06-5-06-11-426.629.15-6-0
Clemson 8-4-06-6-06-22-233.815.26-6-0

Storyline:
The Tigers come into this contest after an 8-4 regular season, but this was not a "feel good" 8 win regular season after losing three of their last four contests including a home loss to arch rival South Carolina. Meanwhile, Kentucky is happy to be here not having much of a bowl history in recent years. Clemson holds a decided talent advantage and features two very good running backs in James Davis and CJ Spiller. The Wildcats allow 189 yards per game on the ground.


Quick Hits:
Kentucky is 4-1 SU in their last 5
Clemson is 0-4 ATS in their last 4
Kentucky gives up 5.00 ypc on the ground

Clemson Keys to a Cover:
First, the Tigers need to "show up" for this game and realize they can end their season on a positive note. They have a decided talent advantage, but Kentucky will not be looking for any handouts in this game. Second, make sure that Davis and Spiller get their carries. Teams have stacked the box against the Tiger tandem during the second half of the season with success. If Will Proctor can limit his mistakes in the passing game and stretch out the defense a little bit, then the Tigers 0-line should be able to handle Kentucky up front.

Kentucky Keys to a Cover:
The Wildcats need to come out and punch Clemson in the mouth. They need to establish their offense early and get a defensive stand out of a defense allowing close to 460 total yards per game (189 on the ground). Andre Woodsoon must continue his excellent play at QB and take care of the ball - Woodson has a 4/1 TD to INT ratio this season. Long drives will be needed by the Wildcat offense to keep the quick strike Tiger unit off the field.


Season Recap Clemson:
Big Wins: @WF 27-17, vGT 31-7

Bad Losses: @Va Tech 7-24
Record vs Bowl Teams: 3-4
Common Opp: vSouth Carolina, L 28-31

Season Recap Kentucky:
Big Wins: vUGA 24-20
Bad Losses: @Lville 28-59, @LSU 0-49
Record vs Bowl Teams: 2-5
Common Opp: vSouth Carolina 17-24

Prediction:
I think the Tigers are too good of a team to have a five loss season. Kentucky may be able to keep it close for a while, but that defense can be awful at times. The big mystery will be how much Clemson wants this game. They thought they were headed to a New Years Day Bowl, but a poor ending lowered their postseason status.


Clemson Wins, Covers (3star), Under (3star)

Wanted: Head Coach


Independence Bowl Shreveport, La Dec 28 4:30PM


Alabama (6-6) vs Oklahoma State (6-6)
Line: Okl St -2, 50

4:30 PM ETW/LATSHAAFAAO/U
Oklahoma State 6-6-06-5-04-22-435.325.27-4-0
Alabama 6-6-06-6-06-20-422.2187-5-0
Storyline:
After being turned down by Rich Rodriguez and Nick Saban (twice), the Crimson Tide is still looking for a head coach. The Alabama team is reeling from its fifth straight loss to Auburn and the head coaching carousel these Seniors have seen in the tenure in Tuscaloosa. Oklahoma State comes into this game after losing a heartbreaker to rival Oklahama, but has a chance to put a notch on their belt with a win over a traditional powerhouse like Alabama.

Season Recap Oklahoma State:
Big Wins: vNeb 41-29,
Bad Losses: @Tex 10-36, @Kan St 27-31
Record vs Bowl Teams: 1-5

Season Recap Alabama:
Big Wins: None
Bad Losses: vMiss St 16-24
Record vs Bowl Teams: 1-5

Prediction:
I think Alabama's focus on the season went out of the window with the Auburn loss and the firing of Mike Shula. Furthermore, Alabama players have been spotted in Shreveport Casino's this week (Casinos were off limits to Okla St players). The Cowboys have played a lot of good teams close and Alabama is not even that good.

Oklahoma State Wins, Covers (4 star), Under (3.5 star)


Emerald Bowl Preview

The two plus week sabbatical is over just in time for bowl season to begin. Florida State and UCLA will tangle today in the Emerald Bowl. Both teams were hoping for better than this when the season began, but this should be an interesting game considering all the talent on the field.

Emerald Bowl


Florida State (6-6) vs UCLA (7-5) San Francisco, CA 8:00 ESPN
UCLA -155ML, -3, 39


8:00 PM ETW/LATSHAAFAAO/U
Florida State6-6-05-7-04-42-225.119.27-5-0
UCLA 7-5-08-4-06-11-422.717.92-10-0

Why UCLA will win & cover
The Bruins are coming off a masterful performance on Dec 2 where they knocked their arch rivals out of the BCS National Championship Game. Their defense has been steady all year and if Patrick Cowan can play similar to the way he did against the Trojans, this team is very tough to beat. Karl Dorrell's club will be able to drop deep against the pass considering the Seminoles anemic rush offense this season. Plus, neither starter Drew Weatherford or Xavier Lee have shown they can thread the needle against a good defense.

Why FSU will win & cover
The Seminoles have not dropped off in talent on the defensive side of the ball. If they can create some turnovers from a young QB and turn those into quick points, their fast and aggressive defense can pin their ears back against the Bruins pass offense. Also, this FSU crew does not want to go out on a losing record (they are 6-6). Throw in that ESPN labeled the Tallahassee school the 'Most Disappointing Team' this year for a little fire. Will UCLA be excited to play a .500 team on a baseball field after defeating USC in their last game?

Prediction:
I like the Under here as the strongest play. Both teams have young, and sometimes inept offenses while both defenses can play lights out at times. Throw in playing on a baseball field (make sure to wear the right cleats) with high winds and possible wet turf and you could see a lot of turnovers. I think the momentum from Dec 2 carries over to today.

UCLA Wins, Covers, Under
If I were to rate ML, ATS, Total on a 5 star confidence scale (1-low, 5-high)
ML-2 star, Cover - 2 star, Total - 3.5 star

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Bowl Predictions - Knee Jerk Style

It’s never too early to start some predictions is it? I know you are already thinking about how your team stacks in their bowl game. Just a first glance look at who I think will win these bowl games.

BCS Championship
Ohio State over Florida

Orange Bowl
Louisville over Wake Forest

Sugar Bowl
LSU over Notre Dame

Capital One Bowl
Arkansas over Wisconsin

Gator Bowl
West Virginia over Georgia Tech

Cotton Bowl
Auburn over Nebraska

Outback Bowl
Tennessee over Penn State

Chick Fil A Bowl
Virginia Tech over Georgia

Champs Sports Bowl
Maryland over Purdue

Music City Bowl
Clemson over Kentucky

Liberty Bowl
South Carolina over Houston

Meineke Car Care Bowl
Navy over Boston College

MPC Computers Bowl
Miami over Nevada

Independence Bowl
Oklahoma State over Alabama

Emerald Bowl
UCLA over Florida State

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Did The BCS Get It Right?

Yes and No

The BCS was designed to put the two best teams in the Championship Game at the end of the season. Ohio State clinched one of those spots with a victory over Michigan two weeks ago, but the other spot was still up for grabs.

USC looked to have the best shot to take the number 2 spot as long as they beat Notre Dame and UCLA to finish the season. The Trojans looked magnificent in beating Notre Dame by three touchdowns and took over the number 2 spot from the Wolverines. But a loss to UCLA as 13 point favorites knocked the Trojans out of their fourth title game in four years.

Meanwhile in Atlanta, Florida was leading Arkansas by the slimmest of margins at halftime when the news of the Bruin upset was announced. The Gators went on to defeat the Razorbacks and win the SEC Championship going 12-1 in the process with their only loss on the road to Auburn.

Michigan has been lying around for two weeks after a three point loss to the Buckeyes hoping for a USC loss. They got their wish, but many voters switched their votes from the previous week placing Florida number 2 and Michigan number 3. An interesting turn of events was Jim Tressell abstaining from the coaches’ vote for the one week when all coaches’ ballots were made public.

The Wolverines have a case considering the did lose to Ohio State by just 3 in Columbus (spread was 6.5) and Vegas projected the Wolverines as a 6 point favorite over the Gators if they matched up on a neutral field. However, Michigan has its shot and lost. Furthermore, the Gators won the toughest conference from top to bottom in the nation, while Michigan finished second in relatively weak Big 10.

I believe Michigan is the second best team in the nation, so the BCS did not get it right. But the voters have not seen Michigan in two weeks where as they have seen Florida wins the last two weeks. Maybe you can blame the Big 10 for not having its teams play the third week after November as the voters did not have a recent glimpse of the Wolverines. Michigan must now blow out USC in the Rose Bowl have Florida win by a very narrow margin (possibly controversially), and hope for a split title. The BCS did luck out though because a rematch with a Michigan win would spur more controversy as to who was number one.

My Top 10
I make these rankings based on who would win on neutral fields in a best of 3 scenario
1. Ohio State
2. Michigan
3. Florida
4. LSU
5. USC
6. Wisconsin
7. Louisville
8. Oklahoma
9. Arkansas
10. Notre Dame

Monday, December 4, 2006

Power Rankings

Power Rankings after the conclusion of the regular season. I base these rankings on how I feel these teams would match up right now on a neutral playing a "best out of 3"

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

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

Who's Going Bowling?

My first thoughts when I saw the bowl matchups released last night.

BCS Championship Glendale, AZ Jan 8 8:00
#1 Ohio State vs #2 Florida
Reversal of roles as four years ago, Ohio State was the underdog to a consensus number one for the national title.

Sugar Bowl New Orleans, LA Jan 3 8:00
LSU vs Notre Dame
LSU fans will take over New Orleans, but they better hope this team takes Notre Dame seriously.

Orange Bowl Miami, FL Jan 2 8:00
Wake Forest vs Louisville
Yawn… but Louisville better not sleep on Wake and they better not turn the ball over

Capital One Bowl Orlando, FL Jan 1 1:00
Arkansas vs Wisconsin
Razorbacks do not want to end this season on three straight losses, but Wisconsin has a chance to finish in the Top 5

Gator Bowl Jacksonville, FL Jan 1 1:00
Georgia Tech vs West Virginia
Good news Georgia Tech fans – this will be Reggie Ball’s last game

Cotton Bowl Dallas, TX Jan 1 11:30
Auburn vs Nebraska
Interesting match up with two of the bigger egos in coaching going head to head

Outback Bowl Tampa, FL Jan 1 11:00
Tennessee vs Penn State
Joe Pa says he will return next season, but you never know

MPC Computers Bowl Boise, ID Dec 31 7:30
Miami vs Nevada
Miami has no coach and no desire to be in this bowl game – this one will be for Bryan Pata

Chick-Fil-A Atlanta, GA Dec 30 8:00
Georgia vs Virginia Tech
Very similar teams all around – Offense, Defense, Special Teams

Meineke Car Care Charlotte, NC Dec 30 1:00
Navy vs Boston College
Will probably be the best played game as both teams are well coached

Champs Sports Bowl Orlando, FL Dec 29 8:00
Purdue vs Maryland
An interesting match up of offensive minds in Friedgen and Tiller

Liberty Bowl Memphis, TN Dec 29 4:30
Houston vs South Carolina
The Gameocks were hoping for better than this

Music City Bowl Nashville, TN Dec 29 1:00
Clemson vs Kentucky
The Tigers can turn around a disappointing end to the season with a win

Independence Bowl Shreveport, LA Dec 28 4:30
Oklahoma State vs Alabama
Alabama fans are not even sure how to get to Shreveport

Emerald Bowl San Francisco, CA Dec 27 8:00
Florida State vs UCLAYou will never see so much hair gel in San Francisco again

Deacons Greetings From Reggie Claus

ACC Championship Game
Wake Forest 9 Georgia Tech 6

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons won their first conference championship since 1970 and are headed for Miami and the Orange Bowl. The Deacs got three field goals from Game MVP Sam Swank and forced 2 Georgia Tech turnovers on a rainy day in Jacksonville to prevail over favored Georgia Tech. Reggie Ball had an awful game for the second week in a row competing just 9-29 and throwing 2 interceptions. Wake Forest did not turn the ball over once and used a single wing formation for some of the game when their passing game was struggling. But ACC Freshman of the Year Riley Skinner completed the big pass, a 45-yard completion to Willie Idlette setting up the winning field goal.

This game was more about what Georgia Tech did not do than what Wake Forest did do. The Yellow Jackets drove right down the field on their first possession facing just two third downs on the way. However, an errant pass from Reggie Ball to a wide-open Calvin Johnson forced a field goal. During the fourth quarter, Georgia Tech held the ball for just 3:54 electing to run the ball just 2 plays in the final period despite having the ACC’s leading rusher in their backfield. I think some around this program have gotten fed up with the lack of production from the offense despite the talent it has. Some of this blame falls on the coaching and some falls on the players. Wake Forest managed this game very well, took care of the ball, and came out victorious - nothing flashy, but they got the job done.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Urban Renewal Headed to the BCS Championship Game

SEC Championship Game
Florida 38 Arkansas 28

The Florida Gators found out at halftime of USC’s loss and then took matters into their owns hands by defeating the Arkansas Razorbacks for their first conference title since 2000. Percy Harvin scored twice (one run, one pass) and the defense and special teams came up big with a fumble recovery in the end zone on a punt and a game-clinching interception. Florida held Darren McFadden in check for much of the game not allowing the speedster to get loose many times. Florida’s offense scored more than 28 for the first time since September.

In just his second season, Urban Meyer has led Florida to a BCS Championship Berth against Ohio State. The Gators survived a brutal conference schedule and did enough in the pollsters’ eyes to jump Michigan for the number two spot. Chris Leak finally got his signature win and did it with out having to look over at his shoulder much at Tim Tebow in this game. Arkansas will have to bounce back for the Capital One Bowl versus Wisconsin after two close defeats at the hand of two of the best teams in the conference – LSU and Florida.

Friday, December 1, 2006

ACC, SEC Championship Predictions

SEC Championship Atlanta 6:00 CBS
#8 Arkansas vs #4 Florida
Line: Florida -3.5, 44.5

Steve Spurrier always told his Gators that our goal was to win the SEC because if you did that you would be in the national title mix.  Not much has changed as Florida is looking for its first conference title since 2000 and a berth in the BCS Championship Game.

I think this game will come down to two things:  the offensive balance of Arkansas and ability of Florida's offense to move the ball consistently.  Last week, Casey Dick had an awful game at QB in the Razorback's loss to LSU.  This allowed LSU's defense to stick 8 in the box and string out the reverses and sweeps of Arkansas' Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.  Dick must be able to find his receivers, especially Marcus Monk, and keep Florida's defense off balance.  On the other side, Florida has been carried at times by their defense this year.  The offense will need to control the ball as much as they can with long scoring drives and keep it out of Arkansas hands as they have scored 26 touchdowns in five plays or less this year.  Turnovers, of course, will play a big part as well when you have two very evenly matched teams.  

I like Florida in this game to win, but I am not sure they can cover.  Florida has not scored more than 28 points on a DI team this year and it won't happen this week, so I also like the Under.
Prediction: Florida Wins, Arkansas Covers, Under

ACC Championship Jacksonville 1:00 ABC
#23 Georgia Tech vs #16 Wake Forest

Line: Ga Tech -2.5, 40.5

Not exactly the game in the dreams of the ACC, but someone is going to a BCS bowl from this game.

Custer had his last stand at Little Big Horn and this may be Reggie Ball's last stand.  If the four year starter does not win this game, he will be remembered as a disappointment no matter what happens in the bowl game.  Georgia Tech has the ACC's leading rusher in Tashard Choice, but this team lives and dies by Reggie Ball.  The Senior does not have to do anything special, but he does have to hold onto the ball.  Historically, he has rebounded well from playing poorly the prior week.  Wake Forest is not a particularly ball-hawking defense, but they could force Ball into some bad decisions creating turnovers.  I think Georgia Tech has more talent and speed, but they need to execute at a similar level to Wake Forest and that will fall squarely on Ball's shoulders.

I like Georgia Tech to bounce back and defeat Wake Forest behind Tashard Choice.
Prediction: Georgia Tech Wins, Covers, Over

Some Interesting Numbers

To give you an idea of how good Darren McFadden of Arkansas is check
out these numbers. 1,485 yards rushing…that is a really good season,
but it isn't 2,000 yards like Troy Davis did at Iowa State
twice(wonder what he is doing now?). To put this into perspective,
DMac has out rushed teams like Florida State, Miami, Tennessee, Boston
College, and Virginia Tech. He is just six yards behind Notre Dame as
well and beat out 45 teams in the Division formerly known as Division
I-AA.

McFadden is not only a runner, but a pretty good passer too completing
all five of his pass attempts and throwing for 2 TDs. That is good
for a 349.6 QB rating. Expect at least three throws from McFadden
against Florida.

The Razorbacks are second in the nation with 26 scoring drives of five
plays or less. Hawaii is number one with 30.

But, Florida has a pretty good stat on their own – 17. The Gators
have not allowed a rusher over 100 yards in 17 games. The last to do
it, Joe Addai, just scored another TD for the Colts against
Philadelphia in the NFL.

SEC East vs SEC West this season? A deadlock at 9-9 for each side.

So how good of a season is this for Wake Forest? Considers these stats

Wake has just seven winning seasons in 54 years of ACC play. They had
only finished more than one game over .500 in conference play twice
before going 6-2 this year.

Also, Wake went 6-0 on the road. They are the first team ever to do
that in the history of the ACC out of the 113 teams that have played
six road games in a season. Florida State had gone undefeated on the
road, but did not play six road games.

If Reggie Ball throws more TD and than INT, mark it down as a Tech
win. If he throws more picks than touchdowns, Wake will win. This
stat is true 80% over his four years.

Both Georgia Tech and Wake Forest's ACC opponents were 26-30 in league
play. Wake was the only team to play NC State, North Carolina, and
Duke in the ACC.

The Atlantic Division was 12-6 versus the Coastal this season. Both
Tech and Wake were 2-1 with the opposing division.

Some of these numbers are from an ESPN.com column by Dave Revsine
while finding some others on my own