Friday, November 9, 2007

Auburn Georgia The South's Oldest Rivalry

The SEC East and ACC Atlantic Division title pictures could be a lot clearer after this weeks games.
Season: 23-19, 24-15-1, 21-20-1

Georgia vs Auburn 3:30 CBS
Line: UGA -2, 44.5
Open: UGA -1, 44

A renewal of the South's Oldest Rivalry with a lot at stake in the SEC race as usual. The two hot topics coming into this game- the road team's success as of late and Auburn's run defense against a suddenly dangerous Georgia rush offense. The first topic is very true with another edition last year when Auburn was ranked 5th and Georgia was 6-4. The Bulldogs came in a took the Tigers behind the woodshed from the get go.

There has also been a lot of talk regarding Auburn's run defense and how they stopped Arkansas cold on the ground. I agree that the Tigers are very stout, but the game vs the Razorbacks is a little misleading because Arkansas could not pass the ball downfield at all without Marcus Monk allowing Auburn to stack the line. Georgia's Matt Stafford is a much better QB than Casey Dick and Georgia has better receivers - watch for Mikey Henderson on the edge.

It has been well documented about Tubberville's success against top 10 teams. Another trend is Auburn as an underdog in the last 3 years (6-0 ATS). Georgia is 8-15 ATS as a favorite and 5-10 at home over the last 3 years. Auburn is also 6-1 SU at Georgia since 1992.

Auburn is playing their 11th straight game, but was allowed some rest by not preparing too hard and playing long against Tennessee Tech last week. Georgia has not beaten Florida and Auburn in the same season in 25 years. This Bulldog team has improved a lot over the course of the season, but I don't think they break that string this year.
Auburns Wins, Under
Auburn 21 Georgia 20

Tennessee vs Arkansas 12:30
Line: Pick, 64
Open: Ark -1, 63.5

The Tennessee Volunteers - all the talk of firing Phil Fulmer, the porous defense, bad losses to rivals Tennessee and Florida - controls their own destiny in the SEC East.

Now to the bad news. Tennessee allows 168 ypg on the ground, which is 9th in SEC; they gave up 248 to La-Lafayette last week. The Vols are doing a little better at allowing points on the board, especially at home where they allow just 18ppg vs 29 in all games.

Tennessee has won all 5 of their home games this year. They have not won 6 in a row at home in the same season since 1999. Arkansas has lost 2 games on the last drive (Alabama, Auburn) and a third they lost after leading in the fourth quarter. The key for Arkansas is the return of WR Marcus Monk who did not play in any of those losses and gives the Razorbacks big play ability down the field. He has caught a TD pass in every game he has played at Arkansas and his presence will not allow the Vols to put 9 men in the box like Auburn did. The Vols will lose causing uproar in Athens, but it is short lived.
Arkansas Wins, Under
Arkansas 31 Tennessee 30

Virginia Tech vs Florida State 3:30 ABC
Line: VT -6, 40
Open: VT -6, 39.5

The win over Boston College last week was the most complete game FSU has played in 3 or 4 years. They face another stiff road test this weekend against a Virginia Tech team coming off a big win of their own. Frank Beamer is mum on who the starting QB will be, Sean Glennon or Tyrod Taylor. Glennon has played well in Taylor’s absence and I was dead wrong about him last week against Georgia Tech. I think Beamer would be smart to start Glennon again considering the momentum the Hokies have with him. Taylor could easily be used as a change of pace in spot situations.

This is the first regular season meeting between the two in ACC play, but they did play in the first ACC Championship Game in 2005. Bobby Bowden is 15-0 all time vs VT and 7-0 against Frank Beamer. The aura surrounding FSU is no longer there and I think the Hokies get it done at home this time around.
Virginia Tech Wins, Covers, Under
Virginia Tech 23 Florida State 14

South Carolina vs Florida 7:45 ESPN
Line: Fla -6.5, 59.5
Open: Fla-6.5, 59.5

How times have changed in Columbia? For a while, it looked like this could be the year South Carolina broke through and won the East division. After three straight losses, the title hopes are out the window and the focus now is to stop the bleeding and still have a good year. Steve Spurrier will have his club ready to play as he is usually does in big games where he is the underdog. Florida’s Tim Tebow and his bruised shoulder are much healthier after a rough couple of weeks in October.

The Gamecocks cannot stop the run as Arkansas clearly exposed last week, so I expect the Gators to pound the ball early with Tebow, Percy Harvin, and Kestahn Moore. Adding further insult to injury is that South Carolina will likely be without Captain Munnerlyn their best cover corner and DB Emmanuel Lewis will be limited if he does play. So where did the South Carolina meltdown begin? Many point to the week leading up to the Vanderbilt game where Spurrier referenced then backup Blake Mitchell getting more reps against the Commodores despite the good play of starter Chris Smelley as of late. Smelley played awful that game and has since been relegated to the backup role. Spurrier has pulled Mitchell numerous times in the last 3 years, but he is back as the starter (for now).

This game should provide a lot of offense and points as neither defense has been very stout this year, especially against the run. Now that Tebow is healed, Urban Meyer can fun his full offense again and that does not sound good for a depleted Gamecock defense (star LB Jasper Brinkley is also out for the year). I think Spurrier keeps the Cocks in the game with trick plays and sound coaching, but the Gators have too much on offense. I see this game playing out a lot like the Florida Kentucky game where the Wildcats hung around for 3 quarters, but did not have enough at the end.
Florida Wins, Covers, Over
Florida 38 South Carolina 30

Clemson vs Wake Forest 12:00
Line: Clem -9, 51
Open: Clem -8, 51

A very important game in the Atlantic Division as Wake Forest looks to knock off Clemson in Death Valley. If Clemson wins, then it sets up a winner take all showdown against Boston College next week. Wake needs a little more help if it wants to win a second straight conference championship. Since their two game losing streak earlier in the year, Clemson has played very well on both sides of the ball. QB Cullen Harper is quietly having one of the best passing season’s in Tiger history and Clemson ranks 2nd in total offense and 1st in total defense in the ACC.

However, the Tigers have been in these situations before and have stumbled down the stretch the reason for many fans calling for Bowden’s job. Wake Forest has won 8 of its last 10 ACC road games and once again nobody is expecting them to win. The Deacs are overmatched on both sides of the ball ranking just 6th in total offense and 9th in total defense. Where Jim Grobe’s club holds an advantage is on special teams. They have one of the best punter/kicker combos in the nation and a very good return game.

I think this is a game of superior talent (Clemson) vs superior coaching (Wake Forest). In past years, Clemson has folded like a lawn chair under the spotlight late in the year, but this team has flown under the radar with most of the attention on BC thus far. I like Clemson to get it done, but they cause a few heart attacks in Death Valley doing so.
Clemson Wins, Wake Covers, Over
Clemson 31 Wake Forest 27

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