Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Week 1 Lines and Predictions

Georgia vs Oklahoma State 6:45 ESPN2
Line: Georgia -6.5; 54

OSU returns nucleus of an offense that ranked 7th nationally in scoring and was one of only two teams in the country to avg 200 yards rushing and passing (Boise St) per game. RB Dantrell Savage was at his best in some of the biger games rushing for 112 or more vs TAM, NEB, TT, Baylor, Alabama. New DC Tim Beckman comes from Ohio State trying to correct a glaring weakness - Defense. Cowboys special teams usually one of the better units in teh nation and returns PK, P, and KR. Despite all of that offensive fire power, Okie State would have trouble stopping a good high school team on defense. Georgia is at home, they are well coached, and have a budding star at QB. Now I don't think this will end up like Boise State's visit a few years back, but I do think Georgia will win. Their defense is good enough to slow the Cowboys a few possessions each half. The underrated Georgia offense will be able to gain a lot of confidence and put up some points. I think Oklahoma State keeps it close for 3.5 quarters, but Georgia pulls away at the end.

Georgia Covers, Over

Notre Dame vs Georgia Tech 3:30 NBC

Line: Notre Dame -2.5; 46

A lot of questions surrounding this Notre Dame team. Charlie Weis has yet to name a starting QB even though he knows who it is. My guess is Demetris Jones, a running QB similar to Pat White who tore through the GT Defense in the Gator Bowl (don't think Weis overlooked that). But I definitely expect to see true frosh Jimmy Clausen at some point in the first half as well. Georgia Tech's Taylor Bennett will be starting his first road game ever and despite a great performance in the Gator Bowl last year it has to be said that he did sit behind Reggie Ball for three years, so I am tepid on what exactly he can do in the first game. I think Georgia Tech has better talent than ND, but the Irish will force the Jackets to beat them left-handed - that is to say they will stack the line and make Bennett beat them with his arm. If Tech can slow a running QB and get pressure on the passers, they will make for a long day for the ND offense. I think eventually Tashard Choice will break free for some big games. It will be a very close game, but i think Georgia Tech comes out on top.

Georgia Tech Wins, Covers, Under

California vs Tennessee 8:00 ABC

Line: Cal -6; 53.5

The late news heading into this game is the status of Erik Ainge's broken pinkie. The Vols have said he will play and it should have little impact. Cal remembers the thrashing they took last year in Knoxville and has been talking about it. Tennessee has not made much mention of it. This game is huge for the perception of Cal and the Pac -10. The Bears have the most dynamic playmaker in the country in DeSean Jackson, a returning QB (Nate Longshore), and a capable back (Justin Forcett). I think it is important for Cal to grab momentum early (like Tennessee did last year) and jump on top. If they can do that, the crowd and emotion of the first game will carry them through. If they let Tennessee hang around, then the depth and talent of the Vols may overcome late in the game.
I think Tennessee is in flux right now with new starters on offense, a previously suspended RB, and know an injury to Ainge.

Cal Wins, Covers, Over

Clemson vs Florida State 8:00 ESPN (Monday 8:00)

Line: FSU -3.5; 45.5

Clemson has won three straight in this series and has FSU at home for a shot at four in a row. Jimbo Fisher is calling the plays now, but it remains to be seen whether Drew Weatherford can improve his consistency over his first two years. Clemson will be starting a QB without a college start (either Cullen Harper or true freshamn Wily Korn). FSU will stack the line with 8 or 9 guys near the line of scrimmage to stop that potent Clemson backfield tandem and make the Tigers throw to win. I think this game will be a low scoring, defensive struggle. I have seen some book giving Clemson even money on the line, which leads me to believe that a lot of money is going FSU's way. I like FSU to break Clemson's three game winning streak, but not cover the spread.

FSU Wins, Clemson Covers, Under

SEC Predictions

My predictions for how the SEC will turn out. I see a three way tie at the top of the SEC East with a triangle of wins and losses amongst Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee. I see Florida getting the SECCG bid because they will be ranked the highest at the end of regular season (partly due to being ranked the highest to begin the season). In the West, LSU emerges unscathed despite a very tough schedule. Alabama enjoys some big wins in their first year under Saban (including a win over Auburn).

I see and LSU, Florida rematch in the SECCG with the Tigers coming out of top in a very close game.

East Division
South Carolina3575
West Division
Ole Miss1757
Miss St0839

ACC Predictions

Here they are... my predictions for the ACC in 2007. I see FSU with a rise back to power (somewhat) to take the Atlantic Division and Virginia Tech holding off Georgia Tech in the Coastal.

I see Virginia Tech over Florida State in Jacksonville for the ACC title and Orange Bowl Berth.

Atlantic Division
Florida State6293
Boston College4484
Wake Forest4475
NC State3566
Coastal Division
Virginia Tech 71102
Georgia Tech62102
North Carolina3557

Georgia, Georgia Tech Season Previews

9-4, 4-4

Returning Starters: 10, 7 Off, 3 Def
Letterman Returning: 45 (19 Off, 23 Def, 3 ST)
Letterman Lost: 26 (13 Off, 10 Def, 1 ST)

2006 ATS:
4-6-1 ATS
2-5-1 Fav
2-1 Dog
3-3-1 Off SU Win
1-3 Off SU Loss
1-3-1 Home Fav

Last 7 Years ATS:
31-29-1 Fav
9-8-1 Dog
29-27-2 Off SU Win
9-8 Off SU Loss
17-19-1 Home Fav
12-6 Away Fav

Many are saying Georgia could snatch the SEC East away from Florida and Tennessee despite just 10 starters returning from a team that needs a flurry of a finish to get to 9 wins for the year. Matt Stafford is back and should be much improved over his freshman campaign. The sophomore from Texas should have plenty of options to throw the ball to this year, but the wide receiving corps suffered from the drops big time last year. The Bulldogs have really struggled to establish a consistent ground game in recent years due to lack of cohesion on the offensive line. The biggest acquisition was coach Stacy Searels from LSU. The defense should be stout again led by SS Kelin Johnson and DT Jeff Owens. The big question will be at LB where two starters are being replaced and the new faces have had inconsistent or inexperienced careers thus far. Losing Paul Oliver at CB was a big blow to the secondary. Oliver was a shut down type corner, but was lost to academics and subsequently entered the NFL Supplemental Draft. Brandon Coutu is back at PK and kickoff. Coutu was first team All SEC despite missing significant time with a hamstring injury. The senior has accurate range out to 50 yards.

Sep 1 vs Okla St – could this be Boise St part two? The Cowboys have a very powerful offense, but can’t stop anyone; should be good practice for Stafford and the offensive
Sep 8 vs So Car – always a tough game that could break Georgia’s season if they lose the SEC home opener
Sep 22 @Alab – the Tide’s first big time opponent at home; Georgia has not had much success in Tuscaloosa (1-7), but won their in 2002
Oct 6 @ Tenn – Georgia’s biggest hurdle IMO to an SEC title is a trip to Knoxville; Bulldogs are 3-0 in Neyland Stadium under Richt
Oct 27 Fla (Jax) – This time it is Georgia who has the bye week beforehand. I think the Dawgs break the streak this year
Nov 10 v Auburn – It seems the road team always wins this game; Georgia dominated the Tigers last year on the Plains
Nov 24 @ Ga Tech – Georgia has won 6 in a row in this series, but the last 3 decided by a total of 16 points; Reggie Ball is no longer play for Georgia or Georgia Tech

Best Case: 11-1
Worst Case: 7-5

Georgia Tech
9-5, 7-1

Returning Starters: 15, 7 Off, 8 Def
Letterman Returning: 49 (20 Off, 24 Def, 5 ST)
Letterman Lost: 12 (8 Off, 4 Def, 0 ST)

2006 ATS:
6-5-1 ATS
4-4 Fav
2-1-1 Dog
4-4-1 Off SU Win
1-1 Off SU Loss

Last 7 Years ATS:
21-24-1 Fav
17-15-1 Dog
23-25-1 Off SU Win
12-11-1 Off SU Loss
12-9-1 Away Dog

You lost arguably the best player in College football, but you think are going to be better this year without him? That is the talk down in Atlanta where Georgia Tech has high hopes for this season ending with an ACC Title. Taylor Bennett takes over the oft-maligned Reggie Ball at QB. The junior signal caller looked very impressive in the Gator Bowl and gives the Yellow Jackets a more complete passing game. However, most of those yards were to Calvin Johnson who is no longer there. Trivia question – who led the ACC in rushing last year? Branden Ore, James Davis?? Nope, Tashard Choice who is looking for even bigger things in new OC John Bonds’s offense. At wideout, Georgia Tech will look to Demaryius Thomas and Greg Smith along with returning starter James Johnson to fill Calvin’s shoes. The o-line returns four starters as including All-ACC candidate Andrew Gardner. One thing you know you are getting with Jon Tenuta’s defense is a lot of blitzing. The d-line is one of the best in the South with three starters and a deep rotation returning. Roaming the middle will be All-American candidate Phillip Wheeler. The secondary is the big question, especially at CB. Avery Roberson and Jahi Word Daniels will be the starters, but the backups are not very experienced. Tenuta is hoping the talent and experience at safety can mask issues on the outside. First team All ACC safety Jamal Lewis and Djay Jones return combining for seven picks last year. Durant Brooks is a game changer at the punter position earning 2nd Team All American honors last year.

Sep 1 @Notre Dame – the season gets off to fast start in South Bend; the Irish are rebuilding and barely beat the Jackets last year
Sep 22 @ Virginia – an important road game for a team who has not won in Charlottesville since 1990
Sep 29 vs Clemson – usually a very close game between these two “friendly” rivals; 9 of the past 11 decided by 5 pts or less
Oct 13 @ Miami – Tech goes for three straight against the Canes, who would have thought that when Miami joined the league
Nov 1 vs VT (Thur) – after a bye week, the Hokies come into Atlanta; GT is 8-13 on Thurs night games
Nov 24 vs Georgia – lost 6 in a row to the Dawgs; Gailey needs this one bad to keep the critics at bay

Best Case: 10-2
Worst Case: 7-5

Florida, Tennessee Season Preview

9-4, 5-3

Returning Starters: 11, 6 Off, 5 Def
Letterman Returning: 44 (20 Off, 23 Def, 1 ST)
Letterman Lost: 26 (13 Off, 11 Def, 3 ST)

2006 ATS:
8-4 ATS
5-3 Fav
3-1 Dog
5-3 Off SU Win
2-1 Off SU Loss
4-0 Away Fav
1-3 Home Fav

Last 7 Years ATS:
27-35 Fav
11-9 Dog
22-32 Off SU Win
12-9 Off SU Loss
14-27 Home Fav
12-7 Away Fav

Tennessee enters the 2007 with a wide range of predictions. They only return 11 starters total, but man feel Erik Ainge will have a big season in his second year under the tutelage of David Cutcliff (Peyton and Eli Manning). Running back LaMarcus Coker had some off season issues, but it appears he will be reinstated in time for the first game. The main area of concern is the wide receiver where all three starters were lost. Former FSU Seminole Kenny O’Neal could be the go to guy for Ainge. Eight of the top 10 lineman from a year ago returns, but the Vols did lose their best lineman in Arron Sears. Defensively, the top returns are FS Jonathan Hefney and LB Jerod Mayo. Watch out for freshman Eric Berry at one corner. The Georgia player of the year figures to be in the mix early.
Sep 1 @ Cal – rematch from last season where the Vols introduced Cal to the SEC; Cal will be looking for revenge on their turf
Sep 15 @ Fla – loser of this game is all but eliminated from the SEC East (hasn’t made it to SECCG since 97)
Oct 6 vs Georgia – most likely chance for a Georgia loss before the Fla game; Vols have week off before and play Ark St the week before that so they should be ready
Oct 20 @ Alabama – first game in Tuscaloosa with Saban at the helm; Vols have won 10 of the last 12
Oct 27 vs So. Car – back to back tough games with Spurrier going 8-4 vs Fulmer all time
Nov 10 vs Arkansas – Ainge did not play last year in a beatdown by the Razorbacks
Nov 24 @ Kentucky – Tennessee has won 24 straight in this series, but this is the Wildcats best chance in years

Best Case: 10-2
Worst Case: 7-5


13-1, 7-1

Returning Starters: 8, 6 Off, 2 Def
Letterman Returning: 38 (21 Off, 13 Def, 4 ST)
Letterman Lost: 27 (8 Off, 16 Def, 3 ST)

2006 ATS:
4-7-1 ATS
4-7-1 Fav
0-0 Dog
3-6-1 Off SU Win
0-1 Off SU Loss
0-4 Away Fav

Last 7 Years ATS:
31-34-2 Fav
9-4 Dog
29-27-1 Off SU Win
6-9-1 Off SU Loss
6-14 Away Fav

The defending national champions are really hoping those last two stellar recruiting classes are ready to play. With just 8 starters and 38 letterman back, the Florida Gators will have a lot of new faces on the field. Tim Tebow will take over for four year starter Chris Leak and is much more suited for Urban Meyer’s offensive. Percy Harvin will become more of focal of the offense this year lining up at RB, WR, TE, QB, just about everywhere; they have to get the ball in his hands as much as possible. The o-line lost 1 starter from last year and a potential starter before the year began (RG Ronnie Wilson). On the defensive side of the ball, just Derrick Harvey and Tony Joiner return as starters. A lot of speed and talent, but not very much experience will be the headline for this unit early on. Biggest concern is at CB where sophomore and redshirt freshmen are likely to be the starters.

Sep 15 vs Tenn – first real test for the Gators; this game will tell the story if the Gators are going to repeat in the SEC or turn into a Ron Zook type year
Sep 29 vs Auburn – payback for their only loss last year; Auburn has made a living off beating the Gators when they are highly ranked
Oct 6 @ LSU – LSU won the yard battle last year, but Florida won the turnover battle (5-2); could be a rematch in the SECCG
Oct 20 @ Kentucky – this game is more important because this is the first time in many a moon that Florida will play the week before the Ga game – and Kentucky is no pushover
Oct 27 Georgia (Jax)- fourth tough game in five weeks; Florida owns Georgia as of late, but Georgia could be a sleeper this year in the East

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Palmetto State Preview - Clemson, South Carolina

8-5, 5-3

Returning Starters: 12, 5 Off, 7 Def
Letterman Returning: 50 (24 Off, 25 Def, 1 ST)
Letterman Lost: 28 (14 Off, 11 Def, 3 ST)

2006 ATS:
6-6 ATS; 4-3 Home Fav; 0-0 Home Dog; 0-3 Away Fav; 1-0 Away Dog; 4-4 Off SU Win; 1-2 Off SU Loss

Last 7 Years ATS:
36-39-2 ATS; 13-18-1 Home Fav; 7-4 Home Dog; 4-10-1 Away Fav; 11-7 Away Dog; 22-22 Off SU Win; 11-14-2 Off SU Loss

Another football season and another hot seat for Tommy Bowden. After a 7-1 start, the Tigers fizzled to an 8-5 season despite having two nearly unstoppable tailbacks in James Davis and CJ Spiller. The Tigers are hoping they can finally get back to an ACC Championship, but that will be tough with uncertainty at QB and a young offensive line. True Freshman Wily Korn is battling Cullen Harper for the starting QB, but neither will probably provide the balance the Tigers needs on offense at least early on. Defensively, the Tigers will be in experienced on the D-line, but return nearly the rest of the defense in tact.

Keys to Success:
Take their lumps with Korn-
I think if Korn is their guy,then he needs to go ahead and play early. He is talented enough that with experience by the end of the year, he can be a weapon. See Matt Stafford at Georgia.

Establish the run-
You may be thinking how hard is that with Davis and Spiller, but the Tigers need to stick with the bread and butter even with teams stacking the box against them. These guys are too talented to not utilize somehow in the offense.

Avoid Early Season Bump-
The Tigers have failed to get out of the gate undefeated through September due to a triple over time game or allowing a big lead to slip away. This year, those games are at NC State and at Georgia Tech.

The gut check is done in game one as FSU comes to Death Valley for the Atlantic Division title possibly. Four weeks later, the Tigers travel to Atlanta where they have had some tough losses as of late. The following Va Tech struts into Death Valley having beaten the Tigers by double digits each of the last four meetings. BC is the Tigers home finale where the Tigers are out for revenge after two straight OT losses. South Carolina finishes the season in what should be a very good game. The Tigers had a four game winning streak broken last year.
Best Case: 10-2
Worst Case: 6-6

South Carolina
8-5, 3-5

Returning Starters: 17, 7 Off, 10 Def
Letterman Returning: 54 (23 Off, 30 Def, 1 ST)
Letterman Lost: 12 (7 Off, 3 Def, 2 ST)

2006 ATS:
8-3 ATS; 2-0 Home Fav; 1-3 Home Dog; 3-0 Away Fav; 2-0 Away Dog; 4-2 Off SU Win; 3-1 Off SU Loss

Last 7 Years ATS:
39-38-1 ATS; 13-13-1 Home Fav; 7-11 Home Dog; 7-4 Away Fav; 12-10 Away Dog; 24-19 Off SU Win; 12-16 Off SU Loss

Steve Spurrier believes this is the year the Gamecocks can challenge for an SEC East title. Losing just 12 letterman and returning 54, 17 of which are starters, South Carolina has a lot of experience coming back from a team which played Fla, Tenn, and Auburn all within 7 points last year. Offensively, the biggest issue will be at QB where an inconsistent Blake Mitchell returns. Spurrier needs his senior QB to be successful this year if the Gamecocks are going to take that leap. The Defense returns 10 starters led by the Brinkley brothers and LB (Casper and Jasper).

Keys to Success:
Keeping Players out of trouble-
This is really turning into an issue in Columbia as both Mitchell and highly touted Stephen Garcia had off the field incidents in the off season.

Keep that running game going-
Cory Boyd quietly had a very solid year last year while all the attention was on Mitchell and Sidney Rice. He and Mike Davis need to keep up the misconception that Spurrier only wins with pass. The duo combined for over 1200 yards last season.

Get a Big Win-
South Carolina has been playing Georgia and Florida very tough for the last five years, but they really need to beat both of these teams if they want to be in Atlanta come December.

The Gamecocks did not get an easy draw from the West with trips to LSU and Arkansas this season. Game 2 at Georgia will eliminate one teams East title hopes before they really got started. South Carolina has a very interesting out of conference game at North Carolina, which could be a trap game if Butch Davis has his club in order by then. Eleven straight games before a bye week prior to Clemson.
Best Case: 9-3
Worst Case: 5-7

FSU, Miami, Virginia Tech Previews

Florida State
7-6, 3-5

14 Returning Starters – 8 Offense, 6 Defense
61 Returning Letterman – 25 Off, 33, Def, 3 ST
16 Letterman Lost – 10 Off, 4 Def, 2 ST

2006 ATS:
5-7 ATS; 2-5 Home Dog; 1-0 Home Dog; Away Fav 1-2; 1-0 Away Dog; 1-5 Off SU Win; 3-2 Off SU Loss

Last 7 Years ATS:
40-42 ATS; 18-22 Home Fav; 1-1 Home Dog; 16-15 Away Fav; 3-3 Away Dog; 23-30 Off SU Win; 12-10 Off SU Loss

The buzz around Tallahassee this year is the improved offense because of the arrival of Jimbo Fisher from LSU. Also, the Seminoles have 61 returning letterman and lost just 16 from last years disappointing 7-6 squad. Many feel FSU will have a bounce back year and that this may be Bobby Bowden’s last chance for another national title. I see a few chinks in the FSU armor though beginning at QB. Neither Drew Weatherford nor Xavier Lee has distinguished themselves in their first two years. The running game has been downright awful, but Rick Trickett comes over from West Virginia. The defense will be very fast and very good again this year. Despite losing their top two tacklers, the next 10 are returning. FSU will only go as far as their offense (and especially the QB position) will take them.
Keys to Success:
Find a dependable ground game early in the season-
If I am an FSU fan, the last thing I want to see is Weatherford chucking the ball 40 times a game to move the ball.

Limit the turnovers and mistakes-
Weatherford doesn’t have to be great; he just needs to be not so bad and let the defense win games for them on a full field – not with short fields after turnovers

Clemson game-
I usually don’t say one game will dictate a season, but I really think the opener at Clemson could be for the Atlantic Division title and really set the tone for the season.

FSU opens at Clemson whom they have lost the last two against. A bye before the Alabama game in Jacksonville, which should be very interesting. The Noles must go to Wake Forest on 5 days after a home game versus NC State. Wake shutout Bowden at home last year for the first time ever. Miami in Tallahassee on October 20; we can only hope there is more offense than the last two years. FSU finishes with three of the last four on the road with a tough home game against Maryland. BC, Virginia Tech, and Florida are all winnable, but also very “loseable”.
Best Case: 10-2
Worst Case: 6-6

7-6, 3-5

Returning Starters: 16, 9 Off, 7 Def
Letterman Returning: 61 (29 Off, 28 Def, 4 ST)
Letterman Lost: 15 (8 Off, 4 Def, 3 ST)

2006 ATS:
4-7 ATS; 2-2 Home Fav; 1-1 Home Dog; 0-2 Away Fav; 1-2 Away Dog; 2-3 Off SU Win; 2-3 Off SU Loss

Last 7 Years ATS:
37-41 ATS; 2-1 Home Dog; 14-15 Away Fav; 5-2 Away Dog; 30-30 Off SU Win; 4-8 Off SU Loss

I am sure the Miami Hurricanes breathed a big sigh of relief after last season came to an end. The Hurricanes gutted out a bowl game berth and win despite all of the on and off the field incidents last year. Randy Shannon is exactly what this team needed; a guy from the program, from Miami, who is a disciplinarian. The Canes defense should be very stout again led by DE Calais Campbell and a tough secondary featuring potential All American S Kenny Phillips. Offensively, Miami brought in Pat Nix to help a struggling unit that has had issues at the QB position. Shannon will choose between Kirby Freeman or Kyle Wright to be the starter, but expect to see both early on. Javarris James is back for his sophomore campaign behind what should be an improved offensive line. Miami’s toughness will be measured very early at Oklahoma and I think we will find out how close the Hurricanes are to returning to elite status in Norman.

Keys to Success:
Get something going on offense-
This defense has a chance to be one of the best in the nation, but they have lost games because the offensive is horrible and turns the ball over.

Find some leadership-
The Miami teams of the 80s and earlier this decade were built on having strong leaders in the clubhouse. That has faded in recent years, but hopefully Shannon can bring back the aura of Miami football where they knew they were better and were going to show it.

Miami finds out right away how good they are in Norman on September 8 as an old Orange Bowl rivalry is revived. The Canes play Fla Intl the following week hoping not to revisit last years ugly brawl. After that, Texas A&M comes to Coral Gables on just five days rest for the Canes. The home game against Georgia Tech will either vault Miami into the Coastal Division race or leave the paddling upstream for the rest of the year. FSU is always a tough game and the Canes find themselves in unfamiliar territory – in a two game losing streak. The season finishes with two straight road games at Virginia Tech and Boston College.
Best Case: 10-2
Worst Case: 6-6

Virginia Tech
10-3, 6-2

Returning Starters: 16, 8 Offense, 8 Defense
Letterman Returning: 42 (19 Off, 21 Def, 2 ST)
Letterman Lost: 19 (7 Off, 9 Def, 3 ST)

It will be tough to predict how this Virginia Tech will react after the tragedy back in April. Spring practice was cut short and the team did not all reconvene until Fall practice started. Still, a lot of excitement is surrounding this Hokie club with the return of 16 starters, including two of the best LB in the nation (Vince Hall, Xavier Adibi). You know the Hokies will be pretty good on defense and in special teams, but the real question lies at QB. This seems to be a trend in the ACC? Sean Glennon looked like he was really turning the corner last year at times, but at others you wondered if this guy was ever going to be successful at the D-I level. Branden Ore is back at tailback behind a line returning five players who have started. However, the Hokies will go as far as Glennon can take them.
2006 ATS:
7-4 ATS; 3-3 Home Fav; 1-0 Home Dog; 3-1 Away Fav; 0-0 Away Dog; 6-3 Off SU Win; 1-1 Off SU Loss

Last 7 Years ATS:
47-33 ATS; 24-18 Home Fav; 3-0 Home Dog; 17-12 Away Fav; 2-2 Away Dog; 35-25 Off SU Win; 8-6 Off SU Loss

Keys to Success:
Consistent QB play-
An often quoted phrase you will hear in the ACC, but Va Tech really has everything else except for this

Top Notch Special Teams-
While the Hokies special teams have been good the last few years, it hasn’t been that game breaking unit that has won so many game for them over the years. Make the special teams special again.

Outside of the trip to LSU, the Hokies first five games set up very nicely. That trip to LSU is going to a tough one though. Clemson presents the only real challenge in conference before their bye week on Oct 20. After the bye, the schedule gets serious with BC, @ Georgia Tech (back to back Thurs), FSU, Miami at home, and closing at Virginia. The Hokies season will be made or broken in that four-week stretch (BC, GT, FSU, Miami). Those four games could vault themselves into the ACC Championship Game a possibly the national title or picture or be staring at a Meineke Car Care Bowl berth.
Best Case: 11-1
Worst Case: 8-4

Don’t miss the upcoming previews for Florida, Tennessee, Clemson, and South Carolina!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

ACC Previews Part I

Virginia (5-7, 4-4)

Returning Starters: 9 Offense, 10 Defense
Letterman Returning: 35 (16, 17, 2)
Letterman Lost: 19 (12, 5, 2)

A team that looked downright awful early last season turned into a semi-formidable one by years end. Jameel Sewell returns at QB for his sophomore campaign. The Cavaliers are still looking for a proven tailback and a go to receiver though. Defensively, Chris Long may be one of the best DEs in the nation. Virginia needs to get a big win or two to get over that mid ACC slump.
Best Case: 8-4
Worst Case: 4-8

Virginia Last 7 Years-
45-37 SU
40-40 ATS
16-11 Home Fav
12-3 Home Dog
6-8 Away Fav
6-18 Away Dog
22-19 Favorite
18-21 Dog
16-27 Off SU Win
21-9 Off SU Loss

North Carolina (3-9, 2-6)

Returning Starters: 5 Offense, 4 Defense
Returning Letterman: 46 (20, 24, 20 )
Letterman Lost: 16 (7, 8, 1)

Butch Davis is the new sheriff in Chapel Hill and looking to build a sleeping giant into an ACC powerhouse. However, the talent present in John Bunting’s first few years is no longer roaming Franklin St and Davis will have his work cut out for him. The QB situation is still up for grabs with redshirt freshman TJ Yates and sophomore Cam Sexton dueling for the starting position. Davis did have a very good first recruiting class led by DT Marvin Austin who will push for playing time.
Best Case: 5-7
Worst Case: 3-9

UNC Last 7 Years Stats:
32-49 SU
38-41 ATS
5-12 Home Fav
12-12 Home Dog
4-2 Away Fav
17-15 Away Dog
9-14 Favorite
29-27 Dog
9-18 Off SU Win
26-20 Off SU Loss

Duke (0-12, 0-8)

Does it really matter…..?

NC State (3-9, 2-6)

Returning Starters: 8 Offense, 6 Defense
Returning Letterman: 41 (17, 24, 0)
Letterman Lost: 15 (5, 7, 3)

The Wolfpack fired Chuck Amato and brought in Boston College’s Tom O’Brien in hopes of improving the discipline of a talented roster. Andre Brown and Toney Baker are both back and could be one of the most talented duos in the nation. Speedster Darrell Blackman returns at wideout and returner, but the Pack will go as far as Junior QB Daniel Evans will take them. The talent level is not quite where it was a few years ago, but the defensive line should be strong again led by Demarrio Pressley.
Best Case: 7-5
Worst Case: 4-8

NC State Last 7 Years
45-36 SU
33-42 ATS
10-19 Home Fav
4-7 Home Dog
4-12 Away Fav
14-4 Away Dog
15-31 Fav
18-11 Dog
16-22 Off SU Win
15-18 Off SU Loss

Maryland (9-4, 5-3)

Returning Starters: 8 Offense, 6 Defense
Letterman Returning: 41 (19, 18, 4)
Letterman Lost: 14 (7, 5, 2)

Ralph Friedgen is trying to rebuild the Terps into ACC Champs around his style of offense. The former Frank Broyles Award Winner is still looking for a QB more suited to that strategy. Darius Heyward-Bey returns at WR for his sophomore campaign after a Freshman All ACC season. Leading the defense is Erin Henderson, brother of NFLer EJ Henderson.
Best Case: 8-4
Worst Case: 4-8

Maryland Last 7 Years-
52-29 SU
43-35 ATS
17-14 Home Fav
5-5 Home Dog
8-6 Away Fav
13-8 Away Dog
25-21 Fav
18-14 Dog
27-20 Off SU Win
15-10 Off SU Loss

Wake Forest (11-3, 7-2)

Returning Starters: 9 Offense, 5 Defense
Returning Letterman: 46 (26 Offense, 20 Defense, 2 ST)
Letterman Lost: 18 (8 Offense, 9 Defense, 1 ST)

Defending ACC Champions – the Demon Deacons will have to live a bulls-eye on their back this year (though I don’t think it is that big). Wake will not be given a chance again this year (much like this year) despite returning 9 starters on offense, including 2nd Team All-ACC QB Riley Skinner. However, on defense Wake lost its best player (Jon Abbate) and two of the better safeties in the conference.
Best Case: 8-4
Worst Case: 4-8

Wake Last 7 Years:
38-43 SU
35-39-3 ATS
Home Fav 3-15-1
Home Dog 11-7-1
Away Fav 2-5
Away Dog 18-11-1
Fav 5-20-1
Dog 30-18-1
Off SU Win 16-15-2
Off SU Loss 16-21-1

Boston College (10-3, 5-3)

Returning Starters: 7 Offense, 9 Defense
Letterman Returning: 44 (18 Off, 23, Def, 3ST)
Letterman Lost: 17 (8 Off, 7 Def, 2 ST)

Flying under the radar is a BC specialty and this year is no different. I think a lot of people are picking the Eagles for the bottom of the Atlantic is because they lost Tom O’Brien and replaced him with someone who has no head coaching experience (Jeff Jagodzinski). Matt Ryan (1st Team All ACC) is back at QB along with a two capable backs in LV Whitworth and Andre Callendar. The biggest loss on defense is from a guy who was expected to be back this year. Brian Toal will be out this year after shoulder surgery, which is a big blow to what would have been a very formidable defense.
Best Case: 9-3
Worst Case: 4-8

BC Last 7 Years:

53-27 SU
43-33-2 ATS
19-11-2 Home Fav
6-3 Home Dog
9-10 Away Fav
9-9 Away Dog
28-21-2 Fav
15-12 Dog
27-21-2 Off SU Win

14-7 Off SU Loss

Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Miss St Previews

SEC West

Ole Miss (4-8, 2-6)

Season 3 of the Ed Ogeron tenure in Oxford. Brent Schaeffer is out at QB and Seth Adams is in. Benjarvus Green Ellis returns as one of the better running backs in the SEC that no one knows about. Ogeron has improved the recruiting in Oxford, but the wins have yet to come. The Rebels are getting closer as shown by close losses to LSU and Georgia last year. I still think the Rebels will have a tough time getting out the cellar of the SEC West.
Best Case: 6-6
Worst Case: 3-9

Stats Under Ed Ogeron-
7-16 SU
6-7 Home
1-9 Away
0-6 vs Top 10
0-8 vs Top 25
5-10 Off a Loss

Miss State (3-9, 1-7)

Returning Starters: 9 Offense, 5 Defense
Returning Letterman: 43 (23, 18, 2)
Letterman Lost: 22 (6, 13, 30

Sly Croom came out of Spring with a full depth chart for the first time in his coaching stint at Miss State. The Bulldogs will have Michael Henig back at QB, but are still going to struggle on offense. The defense, however, should be pretty stout again but may get wore down by the end of the year.
Best Case: 5-7
Worst Case: 2-10

Stats Under Sly Croom-
9-25 SU
6-14 Home
3-11 Away
0-7 vs Top 10
1-10 vs Top 25
6-18 Off a Loss

SEC East
Kentucky (8-5, 4-4)

Returning Starters: 7 Offense, 8 Defense
Letterman Returning: 59 (29, 28, 2)
Letterman Lost: 20 (10, 7, 3)

The wildcats may have the best QB in the SEC in Andre Woodson. Rafael Little is back at running back after an injury-plagued season last year. One area Kentucky will need to improve is their defense. Rich Brooks main problem is that he has South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida all in his own division (not to mention LSU, Auburn, Arkansas also in the conference).
Best Case: 7-5
Worst Case: 4-8

17-30 SU
13-13 Home
3-17 Away
0-6 vs Top 10
0-15 vs Top 25
11-15 Off a Loss

Vanderbilt (4-8, 1-7)

Returning Starters: 10 Offense, 8 Defense
Returning Letterman: 53 (26, 23, 4)
Letterman Lost: 13 (4,7,2)

The wide receiver no one has heard of – Earl Bennett. Chris Nickson is back at QB to lead the Commodore attack of offense. Jonathan Goff is another in the line of strong Vanderbilt linebackers. Nashville is a tough place to play and I think the Commodores can knock off a mid level SEC team this year.
Best Case: 7-5
Worst Case: 4-8

Stats Under Bobby Johnson-
15-43 SU
10-21 Home
5-21 Away
0-5 vs Top 10
1-16 vs Top 2510-29 Off a Loss

Sunday, August 19, 2007

2008 BCS Champion Odds

Some futures and lines for for the first weekend of college football...

2008 BCS Champion Odds
USC 5 - 2
LSU 6 - 1
Florida 8 - 1
Michigan 8 - 1
West Virginia 8 - 1
Texas 10 - 1
Oklahoma 12 - 1
Louisville 20 - 1
Missouri 25 - 1
Miami FL 30 - 1
Wisconsin 30 - 1
Virginia Tech 30 - 1
Ohio St 30 - 1
Florida St 30 - 1
UCLA 35 - 1
Georgia 35 - 1

USC is a no brainer for the favorite. There is no secret to USC's success with a stable of players waiting to be the next Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, or Mike Williams (well maybe not Williams)
Sports By Brooks

I think Florida at 8-1 is a reach considering all of the talent the Gators have to replace on defense.

Michigan must prove it can beat Ohio State and not have a letdown game during the year

I like West Virginia at 8-1. They have Slaton and White back and have Louisville at home this time around.

Texas at 10-1 is intriguing as well. No Ohio State on the schedule and Colt McCoy returns after a strong first year under the helm.

Some ACC and SEC notables...

Miami and Virginia Tech at 30-1 and FSU at 35-1 with new OC Jimbo Fisher running the show now.

Aforementioned Florida (8-1) and LSU (6-1), while Georgia, an SEC darkhorse, comes in at 35-1

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Auburn Tigers 2007 Preview

Auburn Tigers
11-2, 6-2, 6-2 Home, 4-0 Away, 1-0 Neutral

Quick Facts:
Returning Starters 12, (5 Offense, 7 Defense)
Returning Letterman: 51 (22 Off, 27 Def, 2 ST)
Letterman Lost: 23 (10 Off, 9 Def, 4 ST)

2006 ATS:
5-7 ATS, 2-5 Home Fav, 1-0 Home Dog, 2-2 Away Fav, 0-0 Away Dog, 4-7 Favorite, 1-0 Dog, vs Conf 4-4, vs Non Conf 1-3, Off SU Win 2-7, Off SU Loss 2-0

Tubberville at Auburn (9 years)
71-29 SU, 44-12 Home, 22-13 Away, 5-4 Neutral, 45-21 Conf, 13-10 Top 10, 19-16 vs Top 25, 6-8 vs BCS Teams, 5-3 Off A Bye, 14-9 Off A Loss

A team with 33 wins over the last years, but may be finishing as low as fourth in the SEC West. Auburn lacks the sizzle it has had in the recent past – no Ronnie Brown, Cadillac, Carlos Rogers type players this year. Brad Lester will look to fill the void left by Kenny Irons departure to the NFL. Four of the top five pass catchers return but the combined for only 13 more catches than Courteney Taylor. Brandon Cox returns for his senior year after an injury hobbled junior year. The o-line is a concern with just 1 starter from a year ago. The defense should be stout again with the return of 7 starters from a unit, which allowed just 13.9 ppg last season. The D-line returns three starters including Quentin Groves who had 9.5 sacks last years. Tray Blackmon’s status is still up in the air, but if he is eligible then he will be a force at WLB.

Keys to Success:
-Keep Brandon Cox healthy, which will keep defenses honest. Last year, some teams were able to key on Irons knowing Cox had limited mobility.
-Protect a young, inexperienced LB corps early on with a solid pass rush and good secondary coverage
-Find a reliable kicker and punter. Auburn has been very fortunate with the departure of Kody Bliss and John Vaughn.

Top Incoming Freshman:
OL Lee Ziemba
RB Enrique Davis
DB Michael McNeil
OL Ryan Pugh
QB Kodi Burns

The Tigers have 8 home games this year and just 4 road games. However, the road schedule is brutal with trips to Florida, Arkansas, LSU, and Georgia. The first real test comes at Florida on September 29. The Tigers did not manage an offensive TD in last year’s 27-17 win (fumble return covered for Auburn). Road trips to Arkansas and LSU are back-to-back weeks – the home team has won the last seven in the LSU series. The visitor is 11-3-1 in the last 15 in the Georgia-Auburn series. This will be Auburn’s 11the straight game in a row, same as last year. The Iron Bowl comes after a bye week. Auburn has won five in a row and Tubberville is 4-0 against Bama at home.
Best Case: 10-2
Worst Case: 7-5

Auburn is staring a lower finish
than they are used too in the SEC West

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

SEC West Preview: Arkansas Razorbacks

Arkansas Razorbacks
10-4, 7-1, 6-2 Home, 4-0 Road, 0-2 Neutral

Quick Facts:
Returning Starters: 12 (6 Offense, 6 Defense)
Returning Letterman: 49 (23 Off, 24 Def, 2 ST)
Letterman Lost: 20 (9 Off, 9 Def, 2 ST)
Avg Score in SEC Play: 27.6 – 16.8

Fun Facts:
All four of Arkansas’ losses came against teams who finished in the top 10.

2006 ATS:
4-8 ATS, 2-3 Home Fav, 0-2 Home Dog, 1-2 Away Fav, 1-0 Away Dog, 1-3 Dog, 4-5 vs Conf, 0-3 vs Non Conf, 4-5 off SU Win, 0-2 off SU Loss

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Nutt at Arkansas:
47-15 Home; 18-22 Away; 2-7 Neutral
4-6 vs Top 10; 13-25 vs Top 25; 8-6 Off Bye; 14-18 Off Loss

The Razorbacks endured a tumultuous off-season with the departure of QB Mitch Mustain and OC Gus Malzhan. Houston Nutt again had to face an unhappy fan base despite and SEC Championship Game berth last year. Darren McFadden is a Heisman favorite after finishing second last year.

Impact Players:
#5 RB Darren McFadden – 2nd in Heisman voting, 1st team AA, SEC Offensive Player of the Year, 1647 rushing yards
#25 RB Felix Jones – 2nd team All SEC despite being a backup; 1,168 rushing yards, 24.1 KR avg
# 85 WR Marcus Monk – 35 consecutive games with a catch, 11 TD in ‘06
#63 C Jonathan Luigs – 3rd team AA, 1st team SEC

QB: #11 Casey Dick – 5 starts in 2006, 992 passing yards, 49.2% completion, 9TD to 6 INT.

Impact Players:
#97 DE Antwain Robinson – 68 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 6 tackles for loss
#9 CB Matteral Richardson – 63 tackles, 10 pass break ups, 1 INT

Impact Freshman:
TE Grant Freeman
OL Seth Oxner
RB DJ Williams

OL Grant Cook
LB Tim Dial

Keys to Success:
- McFadden and Jones have as good of seasons as last year
- Dick can keep defenses honest with two talented wideouts
- Ball control allows inexperienced defense to gain confidence early on
Arkansas is hoping McFadden can run wild this year

Schedule:Bye week in 2nd week with trip to Alabama the following week. Play Kentucky (home), South Carolina (home), and Tennessee (road) from the east. Has to play 11 straight weeks including two of last three on the road at Tennessee and LSU. Houston Nutt is 6-3 vs Tommy Tubberville.
Best Case: 9-3
Worst Case: 8-4

Monday, August 13, 2007

SEC West Preview: Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama Crimson Tide
6-7, 2-6, 6-2 Home, 0-4 Road, 0-1 Neutral

Quick Facts:
Returning Starters: 14 (9 Offense, 5 Defense)
Returning Letterman: 46 (19 Off, 24 Def, 3 ST)
Letterman Lost: 19 (6 Off, 12 Def, 1 ST)
Avg Score in SEC Play: 16.6-21.9

2006 Lines:
ATS 5-6-1; Home Fav 2-5; Home Dog 0-1; Away Dog 3-0-1; Favorite 2-5; Dog 3-1-1;
Vs Conf 3-4-1; vs Non Conf 2-2; Off SU Win 3-3; Off SU Loss 2-2-1

Last 7 years:
ATS 34-44-3; Home Fav 15-24; Home Dog 3-6-1; Away Fav 5-7-1; Away Dog 11-7-1; Favorite 20-31-2; Dog 14-13-2; vs Conf 22-31-3; vs Non Conf 12-13; Off SU Win 20-19-2;

Off SU Loss 12-20-1

Interesting Fact:
Alabama won 3 SEC titles from 1978-1981. Alabama has won 3 since 1981.

Got Saban? Resident college football guru Nick Saban returns to college to resurrect an Alabama program stuck in mediocrity in the SEC. The tide faithful have 4 million reasons to expect a lot of Saban, not limited too beating Auburn (5 straight losses) and winning the SEC (last in 1999).

Saban brought in Major Applewhite from Rice to open up the offense for QB John Parker Wilson. The junior will have a couple of deep ball threats in Keith Brown and DJ Hall (2nd team SEC). The Tide are still looking for a capable back; Redshirt Terry Grant looks to be the favorite (Most Improved Player in Spring). Nine of the top ten offensive linemen return including all five starters. Andre Smith is just a sophomore, but played more snaps than any lineman last year. Applewhite set school records at Rice for most points scored and led the Owls to their first bowl since 1961.

The Tide uses a 3-4 defensive scheme under 1st DC Kevin Steele who came FSU as their LB coach. The Tide return their top players from the DL and should see some improvement in this area. The linebacking corps will rely on a few returning starters, but will also depend on some very young players including true freshman Rolando McClain who was a Parade All American last year. One year that will likely see improvement is the secondary due to the influence of Saban. Simeon Castille looks to build off his 1st team All-SEC performance last year. Five players return who have started in the past.

Special Teams-
K Jamie Christensen has endured an up and down career. PJ Fitzgerald was Freshman All SEC last year. Tyrone Prothro would have been a demon at returner, but will miss his second straight year and is likely done with football.

Impact Freshman:
Rolando McClain LB
Kerry Murphy DT
Michael Ricks SS (JC)

The Tide upped the non-conference schedule this season with the addition of Florida State in Jacksonville. From the East, they play Georgia (home), Tennessee (home), and Vanderbilt (road). I really think the game in Nashville will tell you about this Crimson Tide team. If they lose that game it will be a long year; if they win convincingly against a good Vanderbilt team then they will be a force in the West. Tennessee comes at the end of 8 straight games with a bye week and then LSU at home. Auburn is on the road and is looking to extend the streak to a second hand (6 in a row).
Best Case: 9-3
Worst Case: 7-5

SEC West Preview: LSU Tigers

11-2, 6-2; 8-0 Home, 2-2 Road, 1-0 Neutral

Quick Facts:
Returning Starters: 14 (6 Offense, 8 Defense)
Returning Letterman: 46 (24 Off, 20 Def, 2 ST)
Letterman Lost: 21 (9 Off, 10, Def, 2 ST)
Avg Score in SEC Play: 27.5-16.4

2006 Lines:
ATS: 5-7; Home Fav 4-4; Away Fav 1-1; Away Dog 0-2; Favorite 5-5; Dog 0-2;
vs Conf 2-6; vs Non Conf 3-1; Off SU Win 2-7; Off SU Loss 2-0

Miles at LSU
22-4 SU, 13-1 Home, 7-2 Away, 2-1 Neutral, 4-3 vs Top 10, 8-4 vs Top 25; 1-1 off bye; 3-0 off a loss

Interesting Fact:
LSU has finished either 1st or 2nd in the West every year since 2000

2006 Review:
The Tigers still finished the season as a top 5 team after stubbing their toe early in the season with losses at Auburn and Florida taking them out of SEC Championship picture. LSU ended the season very hot with impressive wins at West Champ Arkansas and a drubbing of Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl.

Returns more talent than any team not named USC. Seems like LSU fans are more upset that Nick Saban returned to college football in their backyard than they are happy to have Les Miles. Miles is still working on winning over the LSU faithful – a win over Alabama will go a long way towards achieving that.

The offense should have a pretty solid passing game with Matt Flynn (2005 Peach Bowl MVP) taking over for #1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell, however the running game will just be average as the Tigers search for a dependable #1 back. Jimbo Fisher left to join Bobby Bowden at Florida State, so the Tigers brought in Gary Crowton who was OC at Oregon in ’05 and ’06. The Ducks were 9th in the NCAA in total offense and 1st in the Pac 10 in total offense and rushing. Flynn’s go to guy with be senior Early Doucet (8TD in ’06) with the departure of 1st round selections Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis. If Flynn falters, highly touted Ryan Perrilloux will be called upon. The O-Line returns three starters with Herman Johnson also bringing 11 careers starts to the LG position.

Where do you start? The D-line is just nasty led by likely ’07 first round pick Glenn Dorsey. Tyson Jackson returns at DE off a second team SEC performance. Ali Highsmith (seems like he has been around for 10 years) returns at WLB leads a group of three starters returning. One of Nick Saban’s legacies in Baton Rouge was the defensive back corp and although All American Laron Landry is gone, the Tigers are very strong led by cornerbacks Jonathan Zenon and Chevis Jackson. Bo Pellini has a lot of weapons to use on defense and will need them in the rough SEC.

Special Teams:
Remember the name Trindon Holliday - 4.27 speed; 32.7 avg on kick returns.

Impact Freshman:
Joseph Barksdale DT
DeAngelo Benton WR
Terrance Toliver WR
Chad Jones S

The Tigers get 5 of 6 toughest games at home where they were 8-0 last year and are 20-1 in the last 3 years. Virginia Tech comes calling in week 2 in what will be round 1 of the regular season playoff. Two weeks South Carolina comes calling hoping to make a name for themselves with an upset. On October 6, the schedule really begins with Florida visiting, then a road trip to Kentucky, Auburn at home, and then a much earned bye week. Nov 3 is a date circled for the reasons discussed above – Nick Saban will be ready in Tuscaloosa for his old team facing many players he recruited. LSU has won beaten Ole Miss in the last 5 meetings, but 4 of those were by 3 pts or less. On Thanksgiving weekend, the Golden Boot is on the line as the Hogs come calling in Baton Rouge.
Best Case: 12-0
Worst Case: 9-3