Thursday, September 27, 2007

September 29 Predictions

Georgia Tech vs Clemson 3:30 ABC
Line: Clemson -3, 49.5


Two teams headed in two different directions is the storyline for this game. Georgia Tech started off 2-0, but has sputtered in their last two games in losses to BC and Virginia. Meanwhile, Clemson is off to 4-0 start and is turning into an offensive juggernaut with the unexpected play of QB Cullen Harper. Harper has thrown 12 TD passes and 0 INT this year, but he will be facing Georgia Tech’s complex blitzing scheme that ranks 8th in the nation in sacks.

The key to Clemson’s offensive success is on first down where the Tigers are averaging 8+ yards per play. On the other side of the ball, Georgia Tech has struggled mightily on 3rd down ranking 119th in conversions out of 120 teams. On third down and in the red zone is where the Yellow Jackets really miss a guy like Calvin Johnson. Clemson’s offensive strength is running the ball. Georgia Tech’s defensive strength is pressure on the QB and stopping the run. Clemson was able to run the ball last year on Tech when they blocked man to man. Tech did not have the depth at LB to play 8 or 9 men in the box like they needed.

What Clemson has to do to win:
-Negate the blitz with the running ability of Davis and Spiller between the tackles.
Clemson ran at will against Tech last year amassing over 300 yards rushing
-Protect Harper on passing plays
Georgia Tech’s defense ranks 8th in the nation in sacks and Harper has yet to throw a pick this year
-Make Taylor Bennett beat you with his arm
Reggie Ball’s replacement has not been much of an improvement completing just over 50% of his passes with just 1 TD

What Georgia Tech has to do to win:
-Get the running game established, especially on first down
Georgia Tech needs to help out their offense and Bennett to prevent 3rd and 8+
-Convert 3rd and short
Durant Brooks is a great punter, but the doesn’t put any points on the board.
-Pressure Cullen Harper
Harper has played really well early on, but I don’t think he be forced to do a whole lot playing with big leads and two great running backs.

Don’t be fooled by last year’s blowout by Clemson as this has been a very close series over the last 10 years. The underdog is 11-1 ATS in the last 12 meetings.

Prediction
Clemson and Georgia Tech have also been Jekyll and Hyde under their current coaches – winning when they are down and losing when they riding high. Clemson fans are aware of this fact, but smell blood when it comes to this game with Virginia Tech next week. I think this game will come down to the wire and the Tigers have a lot of weapons, but this game is ripe for a Georgia Tech upset.
Georgia Tech Wins, Under


Georgia vs Ole Miss 1:00PM
Line: UGA -15, 47.5



Last year, Georgia was really struggling and nearly got defeated by Ole Miss in Oxford. The Bulldogs are coming off a big win over Alabama in overtime last week. Ole Miss put a lot of heart into the game last week versus Florida, but came up short and must go on the road for another tough game.

What Ole Miss must do to cover:
-Exploit a young Georgia secondary
Ole Miss will use a bunch of trick plays and misdirection to confuse a young Georgia secondary.
-Rush Matt Stafford
The Rebels need to try and get some pressure on Matt Stafford as he is still prone to trying to do to much with arm.
- Get Benjarvus Green-Ellis going
Except for a big game against Missouri, he has not been the factor they thought he would be.

What Georgia must do to cover:
- Dominate the line of scrimmage
Despite their troubles on the o-line, the Dawgs have better depth than the Rebels and should be able to wear them down
- Play within their limits
Georgia has better talent and they shouldn’t have to prove anything after last week’s win. Just execute and the talent rise to the top.
- “Special” Teams
Thomas Brown and Mikey Henderson are two of better returners in college football and could be poised for a breakout game.

Prediction:
I don't think Georgia will have much trouble with Ole Miss despite the Rebels improvement this year. The only thing I worry about the Bulldogs is a late score against backups. Ole Miss has to be a little drained after last weeks game.
Georgia wins, Covers, Over


Florida vs Auburn 8:00 CBS
Line: Fla - 17.5, 55

Florida will try to avenge their only loss of 2006 against Auburn. The Gators have surprised some with how dominant they have been especially with how many starters they lost. Auburn has really struggled on offense with turnovers and their QB play. Brandon Cox did regain his starting job after going 13 for 19 with 1 TD against New Mexico State, but backups Kodi Burns may still get some looks too.

Tim Tebow’s offensive production is nothing short of remarkable. At 363.5 yards per game, he out gains four teams in the SEC (South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Auburn, Miss St). As a Florida fan, you would have to be little nervous with how many hits he is taking each game though even if he is your leading rusher. The last time Auburn was a big underdog to Florida was in 2001 where they shocked the Gators 23-20.

What Florida must do to cover:
-Pressure Auburn QB’s
Cox is like a statue in the backfield and Burns is still learning the passing game at the college level -Spread the ball
Gators have the most weapons on offense of any team in the country, including a very special one in Percy Harvin. Utilize all of them.

What Auburn must do to cover:
-Protect against deep ball.
As great as Tebow has been, I still think he has some work to do in the short passing game
-Get an early lead
Auburn’s offense is not built to come from behind and they need to get some confidence early in a hostile environment. Plus, the can play their style of game because they cannot survive a shootout with the Gators.

Prediction:

I think Florida will struggle a little bit on offense as this is best defense they have played all year. But the Gators will turn Auburn turnovers in points quickly and be able consistently stop the Auburn offense.

Florida Wins, Covers, Under


FSU vs Alabama Jacksonville, FL 5:00 CBS
Line: FSU -2, 43.5

These two coaches have some history with each other. Bobby Bowden offered Nick Saban a job in Saban’s native state of West Virginia a long ways back. Bowden was also a strong candidate for the Alabama job back in the 80s. "I thought that my calling was to go back there (to Alabama). But it wasn't meant to be. And of course now, as I look back, it's a good thing I didn't go there. That's Bear Bryant. Nobody will ever top him up there. That's his. This is mine." -Florida State coach Bobby Bowden to the Orlando Sentinel. Bowden interviewed for the Alabama job in 1986 before the Tide hired Bill Curry. I think Bowden want this one real bad.

What FSU has to do to win:
-Convert on 3rd downs
FSU is 118th in the nation in 3rd down conversions
-Get consistent QB play
If Drew Weatherford struggles, don’t be surprised to see the more versatile Xavier Lee get a shot off the bench. Jimbo Fisher expressed his displeasure after the win at Colorado two weeks ago.

What Alabama had to do to win:
-Move the ball vertically
FSU has a very stout run defense allowing just under 75 yards per game, but they have been susceptible against the pass giving up 230 yards through the air.
-Make QB beat you
For the past few years, FSU has struggled to run the ball although they are doing better this year. I would still take my changes with Weatherford or Lee trying to beat me by stacking the line.

Prediction:
When i first saw this line I was miffed. How can Alabama be an underdog in this game? I know Jax is closer to Tallahassee, but this will not be Doak Campbell Stadium. Everything points towards an Alabama victory which makes me think something has go to be up in Tuscaloosa.... who knows how many scouts are hanging around there these days. Maybe somebody broke up with their girlfriend or something. It is hard to believe a middle of the road ACC team could beat a middle of the road SEC team right now.

Alabama Wins, Over

Other SEC, ACC Action
South Carolina – Miss St
Despite loss of star LB Jasper Brinkley and a new starter at QB, the Gamecocks will beat the upstart Miss St Bulldogs.

Miami – Duke
Miami almost lost this game last year after the suspensions levied from the brawl against Florida International. I think the Hurricanes don’t have any trouble with the Blue Devils this time.

VT – UNC
The Tar Heels are really struggling under Butch Davis out of the gate and it does not get any easier this week. VT will win this one in a defensive struggle.

Boston College – Umass
BC will win this one but only by 3 TD as they don’t seem to blow out much lesser opponents.

Louisville – NC State
Syracuse did it, why not NC State? I think Louisville gets the Cardinal ship righted this week and beats the Wolfpack going away.

Rutgers-Maryland
The Scarlet Knights first real test comes against a Maryland team reeling after losing a big lead to Wake Forest. Rutgers should win this one going away, but it could be a shootout.

Virginia-Pittsburgh
Two teams that I cannot figure out in this one. Lose to bad teams, play well against good teams. I will take Virginia at home.

LSU-Tulane
Get serious here

Kentucky – Florida Atlantic
Kentucky… the new powerhouse of football in Kentucky claws the Owls of Florida Atlantic

Arkansas – North Texas
McFadden leads the nation in rushing and Arkansas leads the nation in collapses, but they will win this one.

Vandy – Eastern Michigan
Vandy wins… I hope they would.

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