Friday, November 30, 2007

Championship Weekend

ACC Championship
Virginia Tech vs Boston College 1PM ABC

Jacksonville FL
Line: VT –4, 46

A rematch of the late October thriller where the Hokies frustrated then Heisman candidate Matt Ryan for 56 minutes in a driving rain storm until the senior came up with two TD passes in the final 4 minutes to give BC the win and remain undefeated at the time. Fast forward six weeks and the two teams meet again this time with an BCS bowl at stake (most likely the Orange Bowl).

The biggest difference for Virginia Tech is that they come into this game with a healthy Tyrod Taylor. The true freshman did not play in the first matchup and since his return a few weeks ago has given Frank Beamer’s club a different look on offense with Glennon and Taylor seeing time in the pocket. Taylor will likely start, but we will definitely see Glennon also in the first half. The tandem has worked so far, but you have to wonder if Glennon might press a little coming off the bench knowing his snaps may be limited if he cannot move the ball.

Boston College won its way into this game with another come from behind victory over Clemson on the road. In the first matchup, their defense played very well allowing the Eagles to stay within 10 points of VT the entire game. However, their offensive line was beaten like a drum for most of the night against a fast Virginia Tech defensive line. The Hokie D will also have LB Vince Hall for this contest; he was injured back in October.

Keys to Victory for Boston College:
-Rattle the VT quarterbacks
Like I said, the VT QBs may press a little knowing they want to impress in the snaps they have. The Hokies have been very good at holding onto the ball, especially late in the season.
-Give Matt Ryan time
Ryan was being chased all night by DE Chris Ellis. The BC o-line needs to find a better way to protect because Ryan will find an opening if given time. Ask Clemson.
-Establish a running game
The BC run game has been non-existent since the beginning of the year. A solid run threat will prevent the Hokies form pinning their ears back on the pass rush.

Keys to Victory for Virginia Tech:
-Get a rush with just 4
The Hokies were very good at this in the first game allowing them to shut off the quick pass BC likes because they could drop 5 or 6 defenders into coverage
-Keep BC defense off balance
This goes with the VT QB dual threat and specifically to Tyrod Taylor. It is assumed that when Glennon is in the game, the passing game will be more present and Glennon will not run. When Taylor is in, he needs to be a threat to throw the ball down field to keep the Eagles secondary out of the box.
-Beamer Ball
This has come to mean special teams over the years and Virginia Tech was beaten at their own game allowing BC their final score with an onside kick recovery. The Hokies are their best at special teams when a potential momentum change is apparent. Just ask Georgia Tech.

I like Virginia Tech in this game because they have been playing better football than they were in October and Boston College is not playing as good. Virginia Tech should also travel very well leading to more a home field advantage at the old Gator Bowl. VT will not experience the same disappointment again.

Virginia Tech 24 Boston College 17
Virginia Tech Wins, Covers, Under

SEC Championship
LSU vs Tennessee 4PM CBS

Atlanta, GA
Line: LSU – 7.5, 61

One team was expected to be here while the other was left for dead in Tuscaloosa about a month ago. I do not think Tennessee is the best team in the East, more like the third best, but they won it on the field. The Vols come into the game with all the momentum having won their last two by a combined 3 points and 4 OTs, but have they used up their 9 Lives? Tennessee has overcome a porous defense with brilliant QB play from Erik Ainge and an offensive line who keeps Ainge’s orange (or white) jersey clean.

LSU will have a tough time getting up for this game. Wait, this is for the SEC Championship? Well, expectations were for a national title this year and those faded dramatically when an Arkansas DB stepped in front of Matt Flynn’s pass in the end zone last week. Throw in that Les Miles is the subject of rumors of his departure to Michigan next week and DC Bo Pellini is rumored to be heading to Nebraska and you have a tired, confused Tiger team. Somebody needs to tell this team that an Oklahoma win and a Pittsburgh win could land the Bayou Bengals in the BCS Championship or that if they lose then they could fall from BCS Championship to Cotton Bowl in a two week span.

Keys to victory for Tennessee:
-Ainge has a signature game
The senior has accomplished a lot in Knoxville, but if he even wants to be mentioned in the same breath as the great UT QBs, then he has to have a great game to give the Vols a chance
-Pound the ball
The Vols would much rather pass then run, but they need to take a look at what Arkansas did to LSU on the ground especially inside the red zone. Ever since Glenn Dorsey went down to a questionable chop block at the hands of Auburn, he has not been a force on the line and the Tigers have struggled stopping the run.
-Make LSU pass the ball
For some reason, the Tigers want to throw the ball 40+ times a game. Matt Flynn is an ok passer, but he is not a pocket gunslinger. The LSU offensive line is huge and Jacob Hester is almost guaranteed yards out of the backfield. This may sound crazy to Vol fans who think their young secondary is vulnerable to LSU’s speed, but I would take may chances with Flynn or Perrilloux throwing the ball.

Keys to Victory for LSU:
-Use both Flynn and Perrilloux
Matt Flynn may be the starter, but Perrilloux brings a different element especially in the red zone with his size and running ability. This may be more out of necessity than design as Flynn has a bum shoulder that could limit his action.
-Run the ball
I thought LSU got lucky to win the Alabama game. They were passing the ball nearly every down against Alabama’s undersized front 7. What did the Tigers do when they got the ball for the winning score? Gave the ball to Jacob Hester. What did they do in the Florida game? Gave the ball to Jacob Hester.
-1 Game Season
It does not look like the Tigers will reach the BCS Championship, but they need to realize the importance of winning the SEC. It is the toughest conference in the nation and at worst would leave them in the Sugar Bowl, which is nearly a home game for them in New Orleans. Forget the game last week, forget the BCS, forget who may or may not be coaching next year.

I think LSU will bounce back and win this game. They have showed a fearless attitude all year and their talent advantage will overcome the Volunteers momentum

LSU 30 Tennessee 24
LSU Wins, Tennessee Covers, Under

LSU needed a comeback from
#1 pick JaMarcus Russell last year in Knoxville

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