Sunday, September 28, 2008

SEC Power Rankings After Week 5


Games in the SEC are not played on paper. Just ask Florida. But the Gators were not the only team immune to upsets as Georgia was dominated by Alabama at home. Tennessee's woes continued in a loss to Auburn.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
Like the picture shows everyone, myself included, is drinking the Alabama kool-aid being served by Nick Saban. They dominated Georgia leading 31-0 at halftime!

2. LSU Tigers
I think the Bengal Tigers suffered a little bit of a physical letdown against Miss State, but the game was never in doubt.

3. Georgia Bulldogs
Back to the drawing board for Mark Richt whose team got whipped up front.

4. Florida Gators
The Gators were bitten again by the Noon 30 game start. I have said over and over again how Florida needs an inside runner besides Tebow and I was proven right again.

5. Vanderbilt Commodores
I would not want to face Vandy right now...unless I was Alabama.

6. Auburn Tigers
Thank god for that defense. Auburn's offense only scored 7 points on Saturday, but they played Kodi Burns like I said and did a little better..just a little though.

7. Ole Miss Rebels
Hotty Toddy was served up plentifully in Oxford about 3PM CST yesterday as the Rebel Congregation enjoyed the huge win over Florida - their 3rd in the last 4 tries against Florida.

8. Kentucky Wildcats
Defense still going strong for Kentucky. Big test comes this weekend when they travel to Alabama who is bound for a letdown.

9. Tennessee Volunteers
Last time Phil Fulmer started 1-3 it was Peyton Manning's freshman year. Manning is not walking through that door right now.

10. South Carolina Gamecocks
Second week in a row South Carolina has been lackluster against a grossly inferior opponent. Hopefully it is because Spurrier has been spending most of his time prepping for the upcoming weeks instead of these past two weeks.

11. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Ok...a little bounce back from last week by Sly Croom's Bulldogs as they put up a decent fight against LSU whom they usually get blown out by.

12. Arkansas Razorbacks

It will get better Razorbacks' fans. I think it will at least.

Last Week: 2-1 ATS, 1-2 SU
Season: 13-5-1 ATS, 12-7 SU


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ACC Power Rankings After Week 5

The ACC had a pretty good weekend out of conference with two wins over Big 12 teams. Wake Forest suffered a huge upset to Navy though. Maryland and North Carolina won conference thrillers and Duke got their first ACC win of the season (and I think there will be more).

1. Virginia Tech Hokies
Hokies went on the road to Nebraska and won a tough out of conference game. For the second time this season, a personal foul benefits Va Tech late allowing to extend a game sealing drive.

2. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
An off week but all the chaos allows the Jackets to move up. You saw what Paul Johnson' former team did to Wake, now put better athletes with it.


3. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
I am not lowering Wake as much as some others may be. One really bad week for Riley Skinner. Lets see how they rebound before we write them off.

4. Maryland Terrapins
The Terps have really turned their season around these last 3 weeks and suddenly Ralph Friedgen is looking like a genius again.

5. North Carolina Tar Heels
Looks like Butch Davis heard my forecast on Mike Paulus being terrible. Big road win at Miami keeps UNC in the title race.

6. Clemson Tigers
What else can you say about Tommy Bowden? Spiller and Davis went for over 200 total on the ground and Clemson still lost.

7. Miami Hurricanes
I saw progress with Miami this week despite the loss. They are definitely better than last year, they just have to learn how to finish. Remember how young this team is.


8. Florida State Seminoles
Noles bounce back with a big win over an undefeated Colorado Buffalo squad from the Big 12. ACC 2-0 vs the Big 12 this weekend

9. Duke Blue Devils
Devils make it into single digits with a strong performance against Virginia. David Cutcliffe has his team primed for next week against Georgia Tech.

10. Boston College Eagles
I don't think BC is this bad, but they haven't beaten a BCS team yet to show me anything.


11. NC State Wolfpack
The injuries are really starting to mount for the Pack and that did not help them against a fast South Florida team.


12. Virginia Cavaliers
When exactly do the Cavs fire Al Groh? A 28 point loss to Duke should seal the deal on that one.

Last Week: 2-1 ATS, 1-2 SU
Season: 13-5-1 ATS, 12-7 SU

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Looking Around the South For Predictions

Taking a gander at the rest of the games around the South this weekend besides the biggies in Athens, Auburn, and Miami. Just picking the winners in these...

Alabama-Georgia Preview & Prediction
Auburn-Tennessee Preview & Prediction
North Carolina-Miami Preview & Prediction

Ole Miss @ Florida
Florida wins this one relatively easy.
Pick: Florida

Arkansas @ Texas
An old Southwest Conference rivalry renewed after a two week delay due to Hurricane Ike. Arkansas does not have a whole lot this year and Texas does. Longhorns roll.
Pick: Texas

Western Kentucky @ Kentucky
Battle of the Bluegrass goes to the Wildcats. No one yard line game saving tackles necessary.
Pick: Kentucky

UAB @ South Carolina
Eventually this Spurrier offense has to click, right? Gamecocks win, but that spread is an awful lot to cover.
Pick: South Carolina

Mississippi State @ LSU
LSU has destroyed Miss State when they have met recently. The Bulldogs best hope is that LSU is tired and beat up from last week. But Miss State may be the same way after giving up 438 on the ground. LSU rolls big time.
Pick: LSU

Virginia @ Duke
Duke is a favorite against a conference opponent! I like the direction this Duke program is headed. Virginia on the other hand dismissed their starting QB a week ago…and he was not even that good. Duke is a tough place to play because the crowds are so small with no energy. I like Duke at home. This may be the final straw for Al Groh at Virginia. Skip Holtz anyone?
Pick: Duke

Maryland @ Clemson
This is the type of game over the last few years Clemson would blow. Double digit favorite at home against an up and down team. Maryland has been playing much better as of late. I really like Maryland covering this spread. Not as sure about them winning. Take Clemson for the win.
Pick: Clemson (but close)

Rhode Island @ Boston College
BC wins…next game
Pick: BC

Colorado @ Florida State
Game will be played in Jacksonville. Colorado coming off a big high after beating a West Virginia team that looks in shambles with Bill Stewart as the coach. FSU has a shamble at QB…again and can’t run the ball….again. This one could be really close and really low scoring. I will take the Seminoles and their defense and home crowd.
Pick: FSU

Navy @ Wake Forest
Despite Wake’s recent success, Jim Grobe has maintained the ability to keep his team focused against lesser opponents. Navy’s offense will not be totally foreign to the Deacs as Grobe’s system uses some similar techniques. Wake wins this one but will have to score some points to do so.
Pick: Wake Forest

South Florida @ NC State
South Florida has underperformed so far this season going 0-3 against the spread. Their defense is still fast especially DE George Selvie. NC State is coming off an emotional high of beating East Carolina in OT last week. I think they rise to the challenge, but don’t have quite enough in the tank at the end. South Florida wins.
Pick: South Florida

Virginia Tech @ Nebraska
Some are building this as Nebraska’s return to college football relevance. They are undefeated because they have not playing anybody. Virginia Tech wins this one with defense.
Pick: Va Tech

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Georgia vs Alabama: Blackout and Smash Mouth SEC Football Included



Alabama (4-0) @ Georgia (4-0)
Line: UGA -7

ESPN Gameday travels to Athens for this top 10 SEC match up. The Alabama Crimson Tide have cruised since opening the season with a big win over Clemson. Georgia started off the season as number one in the nation and is coming off a big road win dominating Arizona State.

Alabama Offense vs Georgia Defense
The Crimson Tide likes to run the ball right at you with their two talented running backs, Glen Coffee and Mark Ingram. They do it behind one of the best offensive lines in the SEC with two potential All-Americans in C Antoine Caldwell and T Andre Smith. QB John Parker Wilson has had an up and down career in Tuscaloosa, but is now the Tide's all time leading passer. Talented freshman Julio Jones is turning into one of Wilson’s favorites targets. But don’t be mistaken, because Alabama wants to run the ball first and foremost.

Alabama’s strength of inside running is the same as Georgia’s defensive strength which is up the middle with the tackles and linebackers. LB Rennie Curran is tackling machine and will meet Mr. Coffee and Mr. Ingram up close and personal many times on Saturday. The Bulldog defense has allowed just 45 ypg on the ground this season and made Arizona State one-dimensional last week. The secondary has shown a weakness in coverage this year, but last week Georgia was able to get pressure from the line to help out the secondary.

Key: Can Georgia defenders force Alabama to run around the ends by clogging up the middle?

Georgia Offense vs Alabama Defense
The story is not a whole different when Georgia’s offense trots out on the field against Alabama’s defense. Georgia has their best offense yet under Richt gaining 450 ypg this season with a solid balance between the run and the pass. Everyone knows about Knowshon Moreno’s ability running the ball, but the nation was introduced to the combination of AJ Green and Matt Stafford last week through the air. Green, a true freshman, had UGA’s first 100 yard game by a receiver since October of 2006. Stafford also had a career high in passing yards. The o-line has been shuffled around this season, but will keep the same line up that was successful in Tempe last week.

When you talk about Alabama’s defense it starts right in the middle with big DT Terrance Cody. The JUCO transfer burst onto the scene disrupting the vaunted Clemson rushing attack a month ago. Overall, the Alabama defense is doing a fantastic job of keeping points off of the board. They are allowing 243 ypg, but are giving up less than 10 ppg; this equates to a 25 yards per point average which is very good. The Alabama defense picked off Arkansas QB Casey Dick four times last week, partly due to the pressure put on by their defensive line. However, Alabama must fly to the ball this week with all 11 defenders because Moreno is that tough to bring down. He may even slip out of the grasp of battleship Cody once or twice.

Key: Can the Alabama defensive line disrupt Georgia’s rushing and passing attack enough to allow their back seven enough time to get to the ball?

Other News and Notes
Gameday will be in Athens for the first time in 10 years. Georgia will be holding a “Blackout” wearing black jerseys like they did against Auburn last year. Some comments have been made back and forth between coaches regarding this blackout, including the head coaches. The blackout…bulletin board material…doesn’t really mean anything. Everyone has a plan until they get hit so if Georgia or Alabama is relying on these for motivation then they are looking in the wrong places.

Prediction…
I think this one has the makings of being a classic, smash-mouth game in the SEC. Alabama’s rushing attack will be tough to stop, but so will Georgia’s. The difference in this game lies at QB where Georgia has the advantage with Matt Stafford. I think this game could either be an upset win for Alabama if they can run the ball really well or a Georgia cover. I will go somewhere in between.

Georgia 24 Alabama 20
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Last Week: 3-3 ATS, 4-2 SU
Season: 11-4-1 ATS, 11-5 SU

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tennessee, Auburn Look For Redemption


Tennessee 1-2 @ Auburn 3-1
Line: Aub -6.5

Two teams coming off disappointing home losses meet in a redemption game Saturday afternoon. Tennessee head coach Phil Fulmer is feeling the heat after a 30-6 home loss to Florida last week. Meanwhile, Auburn showed improvement on offense, but it was not enough to hold off LSU at home. The loser of this game can start thinking Independence Bowl for their holiday plans.

Tennessee Offense vs Auburn Defense
Tennessee’s problem has not been moving the ball, it is pointing points on the board. The Volunteers are averaging nearly 400 ypg with a good balance between the run and the pass. QB Jonathan Crompton has been solid, but he needs better receivers to really become a big threat in the passing game. Auburn’s run defense has been very good allowing just 84 ypg, but LSU did get significantly over that last week. The Tigers defense has done a fantastic job of stopping teams in the red zone allowing just 1 point for every 25 yards of offense – this is the definition of a bend but don’t break defense.

Key: The line of scrimmage will be key with these two units as UT is averaging 5 yards per carry while Auburn is giving up just 2.7.

Auburn Offense vs Tennessee Defense
Neither of these two units excites me. Auburn’s offense is moving the ball on the ground well (171 rypg), but has not been able to put very many points on the board. Tennessee statistically has done pretty well on defense allowing only 268.7 ypg, but they are still allowing 20 ppg due to the offense’s turnovers and special teams. The best player on the field with these two units will be S Eric Berry for the Volunteers. It seemed like the sophomore was the only Vol defender playing inspired football in the second half last week. I think Auburn showed improvement moving the ball last week against LSU, but I think they need to mix in Kodi Burns with starting QB Chris Todd.

Key: Can Tennessee make Chris Todd beat them by throwing under pressure?

Other News and Notes…
Tennessee’s punt game has been terrible this year. Britton Colquitt is still suspended for drinking too much in the off season and his backup is not cutting it. The return coverage allowed a touchdown return from Florida, but they will not be last team that happens to this season. Two weeks ago, Auburn officials sent emails to Auburn students asking them not to boo the offense. While that was not necessary vs LSU because Auburn scored 14 on offense against a good defense (also scored 1 def TD), it is safe to say OC Tony Franklin is feeling some heat in only his first season. Fulmer has had is back to the wall before and come out swinging the last couple of years. LSU in ’05 and Georgia in ’04 come to mind.

Prediction:
Many will just go on the notion that Auburn will not lose two home games in a row under Tuberville, but you cannot discount Fulmer with his back to the wall because he is the longest tenured coach in the SEC for a reason. I think the difference in this game will lie with Auburn’s defense being better than Tennessee’s offense when they match up. I like Auburn to turn to the running game a little more and pull this one out late.

Auburn 20 Tennessee 14
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Last Week: 3-3 ATS, 4-2 SU
Season: 11-4-1 ATS, 11-5 SU


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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Miami Faces a UNC Team Without Their Starting QB



North Carolina 2-1 @ Miami 2-1
Line: Mia -7.5

North Carolina travels to Miami to face the Hurricanes in an important Coastal Division game. The Tar Heels are facing a must win to keep pace with leader Virginia Tech whom they lost to last weekend. Miami is playing their first conference game a week after blowing out Texas A&M on the road. Can the Tar Heels pull off the upset without their starting QB TJ Yates?

North Carolina Offense vs Miami Defense
The aforementioned Yates is out for at least 6 weeks with an ankle fracture. Backup Mike Paulus came in last week and promptly threw two interceptions to spark and seal the Virginia Tech rally. UNC HC Butch Davis mentioned new backup QB Cam Sexton may get some reps this week as well. Unless Paulus can have a Jarrett Lee-LSU type turnaround, then the Heels will have to count on a punishing ground game to move the ball consistently. Miami’s front seven is starting to show flashes of brilliance allowing just 75 ypg on the ground. The secondary is inexperienced is giving up over 200 yards passing per game. Expect Miami to blitz Paulus and try and stuff the run.

Miami Offense vs North Carolina Defense
The Hurricanes offense has shown a solid ground game behind Graig Cooper’s running. The other tailback Javarris James is out with an injury this week so expect Cooper to carry the load. QB Robert Marve has been good, but not great in three games thus far. He needs some help from a young receiving corps. The Tar Heel defense has given up some yards this year (347 ypg), but is only allowing 20 ppg. I think Miami needs to show they stretch the field with the pass so UNC cannot stack the box to stop the run.

Other Areas…
Butch Davis used to coach at Miami and will be returning for the first time since he left after the 2000 season. UNC won last year in Chapel Hill due to a bunch of Miami turnovers, but the ‘Canes did stage a second half comeback. I cannot stress enough how night and day North Carolina’s offense was with Yates in there versus Paulus. If Yates does not get hurt then I think UNC beats Virginia Tech.

Prediction
7.5 points seems like a lot when these two teams are compared statistically, but I think Vegas agrees with me as to how much difference there is in UNC’s offense with Yates vs Paulus. I expect Miami to be able to run the ball with success. The Hurricanes defense will blitz Paulus trying to force him into bad throws like Va Tech did. I like Miami in this one to win and cover the 7.5.

Miami 28 North Carolina 20

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Last Week: 3-3 ATS, 4-2 SU
Season: 11-4-1 ATS, 11-5 SU

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

SEC Power Rankings After Week 4

SI.com

The big boys of the SEC all showed their worth on Saturday beating back the contenders and pretenders. Isn't it great that the top 3 teams will play a round robin this year?

1. Georgia Bulldogs
UGA went out to the desert and showed the Pac 10 who is boss.

2. Florida Gators
The Gators are showing they can win in multiple ways and without 4 TDs from Tim Tebow

3. LSU Tigers
Anyone still doubting me on Les Miles' coaching or recruiting ability? Those aren't Saban's players any more.

4. Alabama Crimson Tide
Tide get first real SEC test this weekend in Athens

5. Auburn Tigers
Offense was better this week, but defense was not as good in loss

6. Vanderbilt Commodores
Knocking on the door of bowl eligibility and the top 25.

7. Kentucky Wildcats

8. Tennessee Volunteers
Phil Fulmer's seat is a little warmer in Knoxville with a 4th straight loss to Florida

9. South Carolina Gamecocks

10. Ole Miss Rebels
It is 1 step forward, 1 step back for Ole Miss right now

11. Arkansas Razorbacks
Arkansas finally met a real team and a 4th quarter comeback wasn't happening

12. Mississippi State Bulldogs
This is the same defense that allowed 3 points last week and 438 yards rushing this week?

I base these rankings on how each team would fare against one another on a neutral field.

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ACC Power Rankings After Week 4


The ACC had a great weekend winning 3 big out of conference games over the SEC, Big 12, and previously unbeaten East Carolina out of Conference USA. Wake Forest still tops my rankings with big movers in Georgia Tech & NC State. I base these rankings on how these teams would fare against each other on a "neutral field".

1. Wake Forest

The Deacs have won three straight over FSU and can win in a variety of ways. A testament to the ability of head coach Jim Grobe.


2. Virginia Tech
The Hokies stay at #2 after a big road win at North Carolina giving them a firm hold on the Coastal.


3. Clemson


4. Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets offense finally clicked and that meant 438 yards rushing against what was thought to be one of the best defenses in the SEC.


5. North Carolina

I still like the Heels this season. They play a very important road game at Miami this week.

6. Miami
The 'Canes are definitely showing improvement in year two under Randy Shannon and still have a shot to match my prediction for second in the Coastal


7. Boston College


8. Maryland

9. NC State
What a big win for Tom O'Brien and NC State. Now if they can just keep this momentum going.

10. Florida State

A huge drop for the Seminoles this week. I will say that 7-10 right now in the ACC is very close and could see big movement next week.

11. Duke

12. Virginia

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Southern Football Week 4 Wrap up

SI.com

Last Week: 3-3 ATS, 4-2 SU
Season: 11-4-1 ATS, 11-5 SU

What a weekend around the South! We had some big time matchups live up to their billing (LSU-Auburn, UNC-VT) and some that did not (Florida-Tennessee, UGA-Arizona State). Before we put week 4 to bed, lets take a look at what went right and what went wrong in week 4.

LSU QB Jarrett Lee was the difference in the second half for the Tigers. I thought at half time there was no way this guy could lead LSU from behind, but he did. Lee looked like a totally different QB in the 2nd half and capped the night off with a perfectly placed pass to Brandon LaFell to score the go ahead TD for LSU. You didn't really think Les Miles was going to play for the field goal did you? LSU also outrushed Auburn 178-70 to win the rushing battle.

Florida dominated Tennessee in all phases of the game in a 30-6 blowout. Maybe Emmanuel Moody heard my criticism?...not likely though. Moody did have 55 yards on 9 carries. Still Tebow had 12 rushes for a sometimes unimpressive Gator offense. I said Florida dominated Tennessee so that tells you how bad UT's offense was. The Vols actually out gained Florida, but turnovers in the red zone and special teams did them in.

Georgia was in control from the opening whistle in Tempe shutting down the Sun Devils run game. ASU QB Rudy Carpenter was sacked 4 times on the night while the Sun Devils D managed just 1 sack of their own. Knowshon Moreno rushed for 149 yards on 23 carries...I would say he bounced back alright. The Bulldogs won this game by making ASU one-dimensional on offense all night.

Wake Forest used 7 FSU turnovers to win 12-3 on the road. I thought the two QB system would help the Noles, but both Ponder and Richardson played so bad, I think FSU might have been better just running the wing T formation. The Seminoles did manage 102 yards rushing, but needed 28 carries to do it. Not exactly a stellar performance. Just when I thought FSU was turning it around this season, they proved me wrong. If you want to know what has been the biggest downfall of the Noles the last 5 years, it is by far the QB play. Where have you gone Chris Weinke?

I thought VT's passing game would be key in their game with UNC. The Hokies got 141 yards passing, more than 40 yards over their average! What did the Heels was when they lost starting QB TJ Yates. Backup Mike Paulus, brother of Duke PG Greg Paulus, was awful in relief and could not move the ball against the stingy Va Tech defense. The Hokies offense may not be pretty, but their defense is strong once again..and has them 2-0 in the ACC.

So Georgia Tech kind of surprised me with their play on Saturday. They dominated Mississippi State by running the ball for over 430 yards on the ground and no turnovers. That should not happen against an SEC team! The Yellow Jackets now have a bye week followed by home games with Duke and Gardner Webb before they travel to Clemson. Ga Tech is not out of this ACC race yet. The Bulldogs could be in for a long year. Their vaunted defense was shredded on Saturday and they cannot get consistent play from their QB or offensive line.

Elsewhere in the SEC...
Alabama crushed Arkansas in their first SEC game. This Tide re-validated themselves before heading into Georgia next week. And Vandy is 4-0 beating Ole Miss on the road with a late fumble recovery in their own end zone. That bowl streak could be coming to an end.

Elsewhere in the ACC
Miami went on the road and dominated Big 12 opponent Texas A&M. Good out of conference win for the 'Canes and the ACC. But the big win was NC State over previously unbeaten East Carolina. The Wolfpack's Andre Brown scored the winning TD in OT to propel the Pack to a huge win for Tom O'Brien. Maryland and Clemson took care of business out of conference as did Boston College.

Big Games for next week:
Alabama @ Georgia, North Carolina @ Miami, Tennessee @ Auburn


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Friday, September 19, 2008

LSU-Auburn Match Strong Defenses and Shaky QB Play



LSU @ Auburn
Line: LSU -2.5, 37.5

This game has gone a long way to deciding the SEC West in recent years and the home team has won the last eight games between these two. Auburn is still struggling to implement its spread offense as evidenced last week against Miss. St.. LSU has played two patsies thus far, so this will be their first big test.

Keys to the Game:

1. Quarterback Play

LSU is a 'Ryan Perrilloux' away from being right up there with the USC’s and Oklahoma’s of the college football world, but Andrew Hatch is now their guy after Mr. Perrilloux was dismissed in the off season. Hatch has not had to do a whole lot except hand off to Charles Scott and watch his defense dominate thus far. Meanwhile, Auburn’s Chris Todd has struggled to move the ball in Tony Franklin’s spread offense. Kodi Burns looked a lot better last year in the Chick Fil A Bowl. Not trying to start a QB controversy. Just saying…

2. Run Defense

Both teams are averaging over 200 ypg on the ground from their offense. Both teams are holding their opponents to under 60 ypg rushing. Auburn has done their work against better competition than LSU thus far. However, I like LSU's offensive line more than Auburn's because of LSU's experience here. It will be interesting to see which defense blinks first here.

3. 4th Quarter Big Play

This game has come down to the wire in recent memory and a big (and sometimes controversial) play has been the deciding factor. Whether it be a last second pass, or a tipped ball/non pass interference call, I do not think this year will be any different. Which player is going to step up this year? It probably be someone the casual SEC fan has not heard of.

Prediction

This game is going to close. I do not put a lot of stock in how bad Auburn looked last week because I think they will bounce back and play much better at home this week. They are too good to play that bad two weeks in a row. LSU has more "knowns" right now than Auburn and like I said in my Florida/Tennessee preview I have to go with the "known" in big games. LSU wins, but it is an absolute nail biter.

LSU 17 Auburn 16
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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rushing Game Will Decide Florida and Tennessee



Florida @ Tennessee
Line: UF –7.5, 51.5

Everyone looked at the schedule at the beginning of this season and thought this would be the first test of the season for UF and UT, but the Gators were pushed for three quarters against Miami and Tennessee lost to UCLA in week 1. Florida is coming off a bye week while the Vols dispatched UAB with ease last week.

Keys to the Game:

1. Pushing Florida to the Middle

What do I mean by this? I am talking about Florida’s speed advantage on the edge with guys like Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps, and Percy Harvin. If the Gators can get to the edge, they will win this game going away. Tennessee needs to force Florida to run between the tackles where they haven’t shown they can with anyone except for QB Tim Tebow. Sorry Emmanuel Moody. You have not shown me you can do it yet. Tim Tebow running between the tackles mean a sore Tim Tebow.

2. Run Defense

If you want to run the ball on these two teams, then you may have a long day. Both Florida and Tennessee are allowing less than 70 ypg on the ground. The team that has won the rushing battle has a very good record in this series. The Vols have the advantage at running back, but can’t fall in love with the pass like they did at UCLA.

3. Crompton’s Health

Tennessee QB Jonathan Crompton missed practice early in the week and has been using a walking boot most of this season due to a sore ankle. If Crompton is injured in this game, the Vols have very little experience behind him. The Tennessee offensive line, which really protected Erik Ainge well last year, needs to come up big in pass protection for the Vols to pull off the upset.

Prediction

This is the biggest spread for a road team in this series in a long time. The Vols backs are to the wall from bettors after seeing how BYU dismantled a UCLA team that UT lost to in week 1. Tennessee has the talent to beat Florida, but they have a lot more unknowns than the Gators do. In a big game, I go with the sure thing even if it is on the road.

Florida 30 Tennessee 17
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Georgia-Arizona State Duel In The Desert



Georgia @ Arizona State

Line: UGA –7, 50.5

Georgia will travel west of the Mississippi for the first time in a long, long time when they meet up with Arizona State in Tempe. The Bulldogs got a hard fought road win last week against South Carolina. The Sun Devils may have been caught looking ahead when they lost to heavy underdog UNLV at home last week.

Keys to the Game:

1. Pressure on Rudy Carpenter

Last year, the Arizona State QB was throttled in the pocket getting sacked over and over because of a young offensive line. When Georgia was on top of their game last year against Florida and Hawaii they were getting loads of pressure from the defensive line. The Sun Devils are averaging 325 ypg through the air this season. If Georgia can rush Carpenter with just four linemen, it will be a big help to the Bulldogs average secondary. If ASU is to win this one, they have to protect Carpenter and give him time to pick on Georgia’s defensive backs.

2. Georgia O-Line Shuffling

Georgia lost their best offensive lineman of the season back in August and now may have to do more shuffling with an injury to Kiante Tripp. The Bulldog o-line struggled to open holes last week against South Carolina for the running game. Offensive line coach Stacy Searles has his job cut out for him again this year it looks like. It will interesting to see how much continuity this group shows in the heat of Tempe.

3. Knowshon Bounce Back?

Arizona State needs to study the South Carolina game film and figure out how the Gamecocks were able to string out Knowshon’s blockers and keep him bottled up. As long as they can keep the sophomore out of open space, they have a good chance of holding him to under 100 yards and making Georgia rely more on the arm of Matt Stafford.

Prediction

The travel, the heat, and possible letdown because of ASU’s loss last week are three factors that could affect UGA, but I am just not sure how much. Mark Richt has only 2 losses out of conference in his time at Georgia. I think Georgia wins this one going away behind Moreno’s running.

Georgia 28 Arizona State 20
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Wake Forest Goes For Three Straight Over Florida State


Wake Forest @ Florida State
Line: FSU – 4, 48

Wake Forest is going for their third straight win against Florida State. Say that again out loud. Wake had a bye week to get ready while FSU was chopping up their second straight FCS opponent. The Seminoles have switched from Drew Weatherford to Christian Ponder at QB and the offense appears to have responded well. This game could go a long way to deciding the Atlantic Division in Separation Saturday in the ACC.

Keys to the Game:

1. Field Position

Wake Forest has done a fantastic job of winning games despite being out gained over the years. A lot of this has been with a great kicking game and winning the turnover battle. This season Wake is averaging a point for every 11 yards of offense. That’s efficiency.

2. Two QB System

FSU will likely employ two QBs in this game. Christian Ponder is more of the classic drop back passer while his backup D’Vontrey Richardson is more of a runner. If they can keep the Wake defense off balance and mix these QBs well, I expect the Seminoles to move the ball well.

3. FSU Rushing Offense

The Seminoles have really struggled running the ball in previous years, but this season FSU is averaging 243 ypg. Now this is against two FCS opponents, but still that is a big number. Wake’s run defense is very solid again allowing just over 100 ypg. If the ‘Noles can run the ball well, then I like their chances in this game and this season because that has really been holding them back lately.

Prediction

I think this one is shaping up to be a classic. As good of a coach Bobby Bowden is, I have to give the coaching edge to Jim Grobe. Also, Wake has a great kicking game again this season. But I am going to go with the new Seminoles offense. The two QBs and newly found running game give the ‘Noles the offense production they need, but it is very close.

Florida State 31 Wake Forest 30
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