Tuesday, September 29, 2009

SEC Power Poll After Week 4

1. Florida

Gators are still number one in my book unless Tebow is ruled to be out for the next game or two.

Tebow's status, until fully known, should not change the outlook for the Gators right now

2. Alabama

The Alabama defense made Ryan Mallett look a whole lot more like a first year SEC starter this week. I thought McElroy would not be better than JPW – so far I am being proven wrong.

The Alabama defense looks even stronger this year

3. LSU

The Tigers flight to Starkville got delayed on Friday, but I bet they could not wait to get out of there on Saturday. I am not sure survived or escaped is even the right word for LSU’s win over Miss State.

4. Georgia

One week it’s fire (DC) Willie Martinez; next week it’s fire (OC) Mike Bobo. If Georgia stops the turnovers I think they are fine, but four games in and they have not yet.

5. South Carolina

Is the Chicken Curse broken with a win over a top 5 team? I thought ESPN’s Craig James’ comment about the energy Spurrier had this year was very revealing. Maybe the Gamecocks can make a run this year and avoid the last season swoon.

6. Ole Miss

Rebels come back to Earth after loss to South Carolina. Their offensive line looks nowhere near last year and honestly, the defensive line has not been superior this year like some thought.

7. Auburn

Gus Malzhan’s offense just keeps rolling with a healthy Chris Todd at QB. One more win for Chizik and he has doubled career win total. The first real test awaits in Knoxville this weekend.

8. Miss State

I thought it was very important how the Bulldogs dealt with success after last week. Now, lets see how they deal with bitter disappointment. I would be optimistic they will do well again this week.

9. Tennessee

Vols run defense looked really good again, but the pass defense struggled against an inferior opponent. Not a good sign with Auburn coming to town this week.

10. Kentucky

Kentucky’s early season schedule is great for season ticket holders, but not for Rich Brooks. Last week they got to see Florida and this week its Alabama!

11. Arkansas

Ryan Mallett performed much different when he had pressure on him, but most QBs do.

12. Vanderbilt

Vandy took it to Rice by running the ball and playing SEC football. Good OOC win for the ‘Dores.

Now breaking the conference up into groups of "like" teams...

Tier I
Florida, Alabama

Tier II
LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Ole Miss

Tier III
Auburn

Tier IV
Miss State, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Vanderbilt



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ACC Power Poll After Week 4


1. Virginia Tech

Hokies bounced back in a big way on Saturday with their win over Miami. Despite their early struggles they have to be considered the class of the ACC….right now.


Virginia Tech's defense came up big in the win over Miami

2. Miami

Before we all jump off the band wagon lets see how the Hurricanes react to their first defeat. We won’t have to wait long with Oklahoma coming to Landshark Stadium this Saturday.

3. Georgia Tech

I guess North Carolina left that blueprint in Chapel Hill as the Yellow Jackets dominated the previously unbeaten Tar Heels. GT steps out of conference against an improved Miss State this week in a big game for the ACC.

4. Florida State

FSU did get back on the plane from Utah, right? That looked like a totally different team dressed in garnet and gold this week.

5. Clemson

A tough loss against a good TCU team that would be a title contender in the ACC consistently. The Tigers are very close to getting over the hump. Dabo’s job to find a way.

6. North Carolina

It’s time to regroup for the Tar Heels after their first loss. Looks like the defense is going to have to carry this team for the foreseeable future.

7. NC State

Wolfpack get a big non conference win defeating a potential Big East champion by fighting back in the 4th quarter. That loss to South Carolina does not look so bad now either.


Russell Wilson led a 4th quarter comeback for the Pack against Pitt

8. Boston College

9. Wake Forest

10. Duke

11. Maryland

12. Virginia

The situation of this offense smells like Auburn last year, just with a lot less talent.



This gets harder and harder every week with such inconsistency in the conference. It looks like we are headed for another 6-2 or 5-3 conference champion.

Tier I
Virginia Tech

Tier II
Miami, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Clemson

Tier III
North Carolina, NC State, Boston College, Wake Forest

Tier IV
Duke, Maryland

Tier V
Virginia


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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Georgia vs Arizona State Prediction: Saturday September 26


Arizona State Sun Devils at Georgia Bulldogs
Saturday Sept. 26 7PM ESPNU
Line: UGA -12 (open -12.5)

Arizona State travels to Athens for the return game with Georgia in a 7PM tilt Between the Hedges. The Sun Devils are off to a 2-0 start this season under less expectations than years past. The Bulldogs are 2-1 after two shootout SEC wins over South Carolina and Arkansas. Vegas has set the line at 12 in favor of the Dawgs.

You can't blame ASU players for being distracted from football

Last Meeting - 2008, Georgia 27 Arizona St 10 Tempe, AZ

Georgia held ASU to four yards rushing while carrying the ball for 176 yards of their own in a 17 point win. Matthew Stafford threw for 285 yards in the win. Arizona State was just 2 for 11 on third downs and QB Rudy Carpenter was sacked four times and hurried numerous others.

Keys To The Game:

1. Turnovers

UGA is -7 in three games this year losing the turnover battle each game. Sooner or later the math will catch up with them especially with their schedule. ASU has not turned the ball over once this year while forcing eight from their opponents. Another three turnover game could spring the Bulldogs for an upset.


2. Pass Protection

The Sun Devils offensive line made Georgia's defense look like world beaters allowing four sacks and numerous hurries last year. So far in 2009, ASU is not faring a whole lot better giving up 2.5 sacks per game against weak competition.

But Georgia has not fared as well this season rushing the passer getting 1.3 sacks per game. This could be a great opportunity for Bulldog pass rushers to gain some confidence. Same goes for the Sun Devils against a mediocre pass rush.


3. Offensive Balance

Both teams are good at throwing it, one (at least) is not very good at stopping it. Arizona State is averaging 12 yards per completion, but UGA is hitting an astonishing 14.8. So far, Georgia's secondary is struggling allowing opponents 13.6 yards per completion. We don't truly know how good ASU's pass defense is with their first two opponents being Idaho State and UL-Monroe.

More importantly, Arizona State is rushing for 153 yards per game this year. They have to do much better than last year vs UGA so they are not one dimensional on offense. UGA has had great success passing the ball, but I don't think Dennis Erickson's club is going to give up as many deep balls as Arkansas did. UGA OC Mike Bobo will have to mix in the run and be successful at it. UL-Monroe averaged 4.1 ypc last week.


Prediction

Arizona State was truly over matched and over rated last year in their game with Georgia. This year they have much lower expectations and seem to be responding well. And we know Erickson can coach from his days at Miami.

The Sun Devils gain a break with the game time after traveling cross country. But their poor o-line play again this year really concerns me on the road. They will have to continue to create turnovers and hold onto the ball themselves while executing better than Georgia to pull off the upset.

Georgia 35 Arizona State 21
Georgia Covers +12


I guess we should have one football related picture

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Miami at Virginia Tech Prediction: Saturday September 26


Miami Hurricanes at Virginia Tech Hokies
Saturday 3:30 PM ABC
Line: Mia -2.5 (open -2)

After a 2-0 start, Miami travels to Blacksburg to face Virginia Tech in a game that could decide the Coastal Division in the ACC. Virginia Tech is 2-1 after home wins over Marshall and Nebraska.

Last Meeting - Miami 16 Va Tech 14 Miami, FL 2008
The Hokies were playing their second straight Thursday night game and lost a close one to Miami briefly relinquishing control of the Coastal Division. Va Tech's o line allowed six sacks in just 20 pass attempts and 126 yards rushing to Miami.

Keys to the Game

1. Pressure on the QB

Miami's Jacory Harris has not faced much of it in throwing for 656 yards in two games this season. His play and that of the offensive line are the two biggest reasons Miami's offense has been so potent this season.

The Hokies line is doing a little better this year giving up five sacks in three games. But Miami's defensive line is looking more like the Miami's defenses of old with mammoth DT Allen Bailey leading the way. With QB Tyrod Taylor's rushing ability, it will be important for Miami to maintain containment against the speedy Hokie QB.


Tyrod Taylor has to be a play maker on Saturday

2. Rush Defense

The Hokies have to do a better job than the 200 ypg they have been giving up so far this year. While Miami has preferred to throw the ball, they are still averaging 137 rush yards per game. If Miami can run the ball close to their average then they keep Bud Fosters' Hokie D off balance.

On the flip side, Miami wants to make Taylor beat them with his arm where he is completing just under 48% of his passes. The Hurricanes kept ACC leading rusher Georgia Tech to under 100 yards rushing last week.


Frank Beamer may use some body english to get his defense going Saturday

3. Special Teams

Beamer Ball kept the Hokies in the Alabama game for three quarters despite being grossly out gained with a kickoff return and great containment of Javier Arenas.

Miami PK Matt Bosher, normally very reliable, missed two short field goals last week. In a close game he may be called upon late and needs more focus than he had last Thursday. Miami's Travis Benjamin can be very dangerous on punt returns.


Randy Shannon is quietly confident his team can start 3-0 in the ACC

Prediction

Nobody is hotter than Harris and the Miami offense right now. If VT cannot solve their woes stopping the run then it could be a long day for Frank Beamer's team. For the Hokies to win this game, they have to win the turnover battle, keep Miami's offense off the field, and get some big plays on special teams.

But the recent meetings point to a Tech cover. Miami is 1-7 ATS in the last 8 meetings with Va Tech; the underdog is 6-2 ATS.

I see this game coming right down to the end, but the Hurricanes solid kicking game wins it for them in the end.


Miami 24 Virginia Tech 21
Miami Covers -2.5

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

UNC @ Georgia Tech Prediction: Saturday September 26


North Carolina Tar Heels @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Saturday 12PM Raycom
Line: GT -2.5 (open -2.5)

Paul Johnson's Yellow Jackets try to bounce back against UNC after being embarrassed by Miami last Thursday. The Tar Heels are off to a 3-0 start for the time in 12 years led by a smothering defense. Vegas has installed GT as a 2.5 point favorite.

Last Meeting - North Carolina 28 Ga Tech 7 Chapel Hill, NC 2008
UNC used 21 4th quarter points to pull away from Ga Tech in the 4th quarter for a 28-7 win despite being out gained 423-314. The Yellow Jackets had 326 yards rushing but turnovers did them in on numerous drives.


UNC is looking for a repeat of 2008 against Ga Tech

Keys to the Game

1. Line of Scrimmage

If Tech thought Miami's and Clemson's defensive lines were impressive, they may not have even seen the ACC's best that could reside in Chapel Hill. In three games, the Heels are giving up just 52 yards per game on the ground. A big key to slowing down the spread option offense is pressure up front and not allowing the backs and QB to get to the edge.

In the loss to Miami, GT was manhandled up front by the Canes. To win this game they have to play better than they have in their last six quarters. Also, their defensive line was not able to get any pressure on Miami last week.


Paul Johnson has not been pleased with the blocking thus far

2. Turnovers

As I mentioned previously, GT out gained and out first downed UNC last year, but lost the game when they lost the ball. North Carolina also has to take better care of the ball than they have thus far with seven turnovers in three games.

When you have two evenly matched teams in talent and coaching, turnovers could be the deciding factor.

3. Red Zone Scoring

North Carolina is a blistering 10 for 10 in red zone scores this season scoring touchdowns on seven of those 10 times. Their vaunted defense has allowed the opposition inside the 20 just six times and only three of those went for TDs.

Georgia Tech has had 11 chances in the red zone, but has punched it in the end zone just three times! Their opponents are scoring TDs 50 percent of the time. The Yellow Jackets cannot settle for FGs against a defense like Butch Davis'.


Jonathan Dywer has to re gain his 2008 form for the Jackets to win

Prediction

The score last year was not indicative of how close the game was. GT had played 3 games in 13 days by last Thursday and was simply out of gas. Coming off a SU loss, Paul Johnson was 3-0 last year and 18-10-1 ATS in FCS.

For Ga Tech to win this game they have to block much better than they have thus far this year. And that will be a tall task against UNC's defense.

I think Georgia Tech bounces back this week after getting some rest and a renewed focus, but North Carolina makes it close enough to cover.


Georgia Tech 23 North Carolina 21
North Carolina Covers -2.5


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Ole Miss at South Carolina Prediction: Thursday September 24


Ole Miss Rebels at South Carolina Gamecocks
Thursday 7:45 PM ESPN
Line: Miss -4 (open -3.5)

The first test for the highly ranked Ole Miss awaits in Columbia as the Rebels travel to face South Carolina on a Thursday night ESPN game. Vegas has installed Houston Nutt’s Rebels as a four point favorite over the 2-1 Gamecocks of Steve Spurrier.

Last Meeting: South Carolina 31 Ole Miss 24 Oxford, MS
The Gamecocks benefited from three Rebel turnovers and a great day passing the ball from QB Chris Smelley as South Carolina defeated Ole Miss just one week after the Rebels had taken down Florida. The Gamecocks had 327 yards passing in the upset win.

Three Keys:

1. Turnovers

Thus far this season, Ole Miss is turning the ball over 2.5 times per game. They cannot continue this trend as they enter SEC play. This cost the Rebels in last year’s meeting losing the turnover margin by two.

South Carolina has done a pretty job protecting the ball turning it over just three times this season. QB Stephen Garcia has been much better in taking care of the ball, a key to his increased success this year.

2. Fast Start…Strong Finish

South Carolina’s best quarter this year has been the first where they average 11 of their 27 ppg. In the second half, the Gamecocks are averaging about the same number of points as in the first quarter. The Rebels D has not given up a first quarter point in two games.

The 4th quarter has been very good to Ole Miss averaging 21 points in the final period. But if they need 21 points this Thursday I think they are in trouble. The Gamecocks defense is averaging just 4 points in the second half.

3. Run Defense

Something has to give here as Ole Miss is averaging 216 ypg on the ground, but South Carolina is giving up just 87 per game against much better competition. The Gamecocks have found life in their own running game churning out 170 ypg on the ground.

Both teams offensive success this year is predicated off of being able to run and throw the ball. The team that can slow the other’s run game down gains a big advantage.

Prediction

Thursday nights are always tough on a short week, especially for the road team. But Ole Miss had a bye in week 2 and played SE Louisiana last week so I think they have been slowly preparing for this game for a while.

I think Steve Spurrier is still one of the best in over scheming his talent level when he has extra time, but that will be very tough on a short week. Surprisingly, Spurrier is just 3-7-1 ATS as a home underdog in Columbia. Nutt, the guy who cannot win as a favorite some say, is 5-4 ATS as a road favorite going back to Arkansas days.

On a short week, I think talent wins out and Ole Miss has more of it.



Ole Miss 30 South Carolina 24
Ole Miss Covers -4


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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

SEC Power Poll After Week 3

This is how my SEC Power Poll looks for Week 3.

1. Florida

We found out the Gators don't have very many play makers on the edge. We found out Tebow can still get it down on the ground. Florida did not dominate as some expected Saturday but got the job done never the less with a few players under the weather.


This didn't happen as Tennessee was able to stop Tebow's passing TD streak

2. Alabama

Bama covers the first game against the big time opponents, falls asleep in the second one, and then wakes up for the third one. Now onto the games that really count on their march back to Atlanta.

3. Ole Miss


No let downs yet in Oxford. The Rebels face their first challenge this Thursday at South Carolina. If they are an SEC Championship contender they win games like this.


4. LSU


Tigers finally cover a spread and show off an improved defense. But something tells me Miles isn't letting the Tiger out of the bad just yet, especially on offense.


5. Georgia


Two straight offensive outbursts though this one was much more expected. UGA fans have to be worried about their defense though that was so maligned at the end of last year.


UGA needs more of this on defense to contend in the East

6. South Carolina

Gamecocks shake off early woes to defeat a decent Florida Atlantic team.


7. Auburn

I am probably rating the Tigers lower than some and a 4-0 start likely awaits after
this week. Is it Chizik or Malzhan where the turn around lies?

8. Kentucky

Wildcats get their big chance in Lexington with #1 Florida coming to town this week. I hope that guy with the Lou Holtz sign "sufferin succatash" is there again this year (I looked but couldn't find a picture of it)


9. Arkansas


Razorbacks and Ryan Mallett showed they can move the ball, but cannot stop anyone; vintage Bobby Petrino

10. Tennessee


Vols beat the 30 point spread with relative ease (and some help from the Gators) so that ignited Lane Kiffin to take a shot at Urban Meyer!


Monte got a great effort from his defense but he wishes Lane would open the playbook a little more

11. Miss State

Bulldogs get a big road win over Vanderbilt and some confidence. Now the next step is to play well in back to back weeks.

12. Vanderbilt


Commodores missed a prime opportunity for an SEC win. Might not be too many more for Bobby Johnson's team this year.


Now that I have ranked the teams from 1-12 lets place each of the teams into tier with their SEC peers.


Tier I

Florida, Alabama

Tier II

Ole Miss, LSU


Tier III

Georgia, South Carolina, Auburn, Kentucky


Tier IV

Arkansas, Tennessee

Tier V

Miss State, Vanderbilt


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Sunday, September 20, 2009

ACC Power Poll After Week 3

Miami vaults to the top this week after dominating Georgia Tech on Thursday night. FSU gains some respect for the conference with a big win at BYU and Va Tech comes from behind to defeat Big 12 North favorite Nebraska.

On the down side Virginia remains win less and Maryland loses (again) to Middle Tennessee State. Week 4 has some big games with UNC traveling to Ga Tech and Miami traveling to face the Hokies.

1. Miami

The 'Canes proved the win over FSU was not a fluke by playing even better in blowing out Georgia Tech


Randy Shannon has found a QB and an o-line that could lead Miami to an ACC title

2. Virginia Tech

Hokies gain some pride for the ACC with a last second win over Nebraska

3. Florida State

Seminoles travel all the way out to Utah and take care of a top 10 BYU team with ease

4. Georgia Tech

Time to regroup for the Yellow Jackets who had played 3 games in 13 days; North Carolina awaits this Saturday


Ga Tech was stymied for 95 yards rushing, their second lowest under Paul Johnson

5. Clemson

Tigers dominate Boston College by holding the Eagles to 54 total yards

6. North Carolina

Heels go to Atlanta for first ACC showdown looking for a 4-0 start

7. NC State

Wolfpack put together second straight good offensive performance albeit against weak competition, but progress is progress

8. Wake Forest

Riley Skinner throws for a career high 289 yards passing in win over Elon

9. Boston College

Justin Tuggle really struggled against Clemson and those early season wins don't look as impressive now

10. Maryland

Terps have second straight loss to Middle Tennessee State just a week after barely beating James Madison

11. Duke

Blue Devils hung with Kansas for a while, but were blown out in the second half by the Jayhawks

12. Virginia

We thought the Cavs might have their first win until Southern Miss comes from 10 points down to keep Al Groh's seat scalding hot

Now that I have ranked the teams 1-12, lets put them into peer groups.

Tier I
Miami, Virginia Tech, Florida State

Tier II
Georgia Tech, Clemson, North Carolina

Tier III
NC State, Wake Forest, Boston College


Tier IV
Maryland, Duke, Virginia


Al Groh cannot believe his team let a win slip away Saturday


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Friday, September 18, 2009

West Virginia at Auburn Preview: Saturday September 19

Editors's Note: Robert is back again this week following up on the revenge week theme this time featuring West Virginia and Auburn. This game features a matchup between two maligned head coaches that are going for 3-0 starts.

Robert Ferringo
www.docsports.com

Well, Gene Chizik against Bill Stewart isn’t exactly Woody Hayes against Bo Schembechler but we are in a recession so we’ll have to make due with that we have.

Stewart’s West Virginia heads to Jordan-Hare Stadium this weekend to take on Chizik’s Auburn squad in one of the key nonconference matchups on this weekend’s slate. Auburn was instilled as a 6.5-point favorite early in the week but has since been bet up to 7.5-point favorites. The total is set at 54.0 for this 7:45 p.m. kickoff on Saturday.

As usual, revenge is the operative word in this matchup and is likely what is driving the betting. Auburn went up to Morgantown last year and was working over the Mountaineers early, posting a 17-3 lead in the second quarter. However, 31 unanswered points from West Virginia led to an easy cover (of a three-point line) and a 34-17 blowout win.

But that was then, and this is now. And things are looking decidedly different in Auburn.

Tommy Tuberville and his Barbeque Bunch are out and Gene “5-19” Chizik are in this season. But while Chizik has led his team to 2-0 start and an 86-37 point differential the real difference between last year’s Tigers and this year’s has been the offensive stylings of new offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. Gus’s group has been getting things done on offense and it has made Auburn a dangerous, dangerous team in the SEC this year.

Auburn has averaged 43 points and 550 yards of total offense through its first two games. And while Louisiana Tech and Mississippi State aren’t world-beaters, they are a pair of decent teams from name conferences that have each been bowling over the last two years. Last year’s shoddy and whimsical introduction of Tony Franklin’s spread offense was a disaster and one of the main reasons why Tuberville isn’t in Auburn anymore. But I think that some experience with running that type of attack has helped pave the way for Malzahn – architect of the Tulsa scoring machine – and opened the door for this year’s Auburn explosion.

For West Virginia, they have undergone a sort of transformation on that side of the ball as well. With less read-option and more let-‘er-rip passing the Mountaineers are not attacking opponents in the same way. The results, in my opinion, have not been nearly as convincing. WVU is tallying 474 yards per game and 34 points per. But their competition – Liberty and East Carolina – has been decidedly weaker. Also, the decline in production from gamebreaker Noel Devine is a troubling indicator. If WVU has any chance of pulling the upset, Devine needs to be a featured weapon.

One of the keys to being a good handicapper is to expect the unexpected and to be able to “swim against the tide” when everyone else is positive that a game will go a certain way. So while all of the talk – by myself, and by just about everyone breaking down this game – has been about the shifting and successful offenses, I think that this game is clearly, clearly going to be decided by defense. Whichever team can get key stops in the second half is going to win this game. And if one defense gets thrown back on its heels than the other can pull up some crooked numbers faster than you can say “War Eagle”.

Last year West Virginia smothered Auburn in the second half, allowing just 79 yards. However, this is a decidedly different Tigers attack so I don’t see that happening again. But the bottom line is that WVU clearly has the athletes and the speed to play with the boys from the SEC. That is, as long as Reed Williams and Scooter Berry make it through four quarters. Both are a bit banged up (Williams has a sprained foot; Berry a shoulder injury) but word is that both will play. Those are the only two three-year starters on that defense, they are the two best defenders, and they are the two leaders of the unit. If anything happens to either one of them then the Mountaineers could be in trouble.

Auburn’s defense is not as talented as some of the units that they trotted out from 2004 to 2006. However, they are not to be trifled with. Antonio Coleman is an absolute beast at defensive end and an experienced and talented secondary is going to be able to tighten the screws on the fledgling West Virginia passing attack.

With all of the focus on the offenses the easy mode of thought here is that this game will be a shootout. And it very well may be (and if so, that 54.0 total seems like a steal). But if that’s the case then the team that is going to win this game is the one whose defense plays the best. Because of the injury issues cropping up for the Mountaineers I give the Tigers the edge on that side of the ball.

Also, this is where I feel the coaching and experience comes into play. Chizik is kind of playing with house money right now and is able to lean on Malzahn. Stewart looks like Grandpa Simpson and I have to say that I have little confidence in him A) having a solid game plan to counter both the Auburn offensive and defensive schemes and B) having his team prepared to go into a rowdy Jordan-Hare and take on a revenge-minded, and seemingly more talented, opponent. Auburn has 10 three-year starters in its lineup and will have the benefit of the homefield edge. WVU has just five senior starters and this is a game where I feel they will miss last year’s dominating offensive line.

The line movement on this game is significant because 7.0 is a key number in betting because of the percentage of games that are decided by a final score difference of seven points. So for the oddsmakers to have crossed over that 7.0 threshold is indicative of heavy, heavy betting action on Auburn. They are taking about 67 percent of all bets on this game but it’s clearly the size, not the volume, of the wagers that are pushing this number. It looks like the general consensus is a blowout by the SEC rep. Even though Big East underdogs are always one of the best bets on the board and my natural instinct is to go against the grain I would have to say that I agree with them.

Robert Ferringo is a professional sports handicapper for Doc’s Sports Services. You can find more of his ramblings at http://www.docsports.com/.

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Georgia at Arkansas Preview and Prediction: Saturday September 19


Georgia Bulldogs @ Arkansas Razorbacks
Saturday 7:45 PM Fayetteville, AR ESPN
Line: ARK -1 (open +1)

An early season SEC matchup that could go a long way to determining the middle of the pack in the SEC as Georgia travels to Arkansas. The Razorbacks have had a week off after destroying Missouri State in the opener. Meanwhile, UGA is going for their second SEC win after a thrilling victory over South Carolina last week. This will be the Bulldogs third tough game in as many weeks with a opening loss to Oklahoma State on the road the week before last.

UGA is 8-3 against Arkansas all time with the last win coming in 2005 23-20. QB DJ Shockley got hurt in the game in Athens as the Razorbacks easily covered the 19 point spread.

Keys To The Game:

1. Pass Rush

Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett is 6'7" 248 lbs and a classic drop back passer...and not very mobile. But if given time he has the arm to beat you all over the field. The Razorbacks line gave up 46 sacks last year so they have to protect the Michigan transfer better than than they did their QBs a year ago.

UGA has trouble getting to the QB without blitzing. They do get one of their best pass rushers back this week in Justin Houston. Stephen Garcia scrambled easily last week and was 31-53 on pass attempts for South Carolina.

Georgia starting QB Cox is not very mobile either and has not shown great pocket awareness in his two starts this year. Arkansas' defense managed 23 sacks last year.


Where has a pass rush like this gone for Georgia?

2. Kicking Game

Both teams have shown big play ability on kick returns. UGA's Brandon Boykin had a 100 yard return leading the way to 252 yards in kick returns last week. Arkansas started the season with a 91 yard return from Dennis Johnson on his way to 115 return yards.

Georgia may have an advantage in their FG department with Blair Walsh who hit a 42 yarder and 50 yarder last week in addition to a couple of touch backs. Arkansas' Alex Tejada's long in his last 13 games is 30 yards.

3. Offensive Balance

It is a big misnomer about Bobby Petrino that he likes to throw the ball all over the field. In the first game, Arkansas had 30 rushes and 30 passes. The Arkansas coach likes to use the run to set up the pass with the run. It would be tempting to go deep on UGA's pass defense after watching the Gamecocks go for over 300 yards plus through the air, but the Hogs need to stay balanced.

On the other side, UGA needs to stick with the run and establish a ground game to open up the passing game. Otherwise, Arkansas is going to make Cox beat them with his arm. OC Mike Bobo has a tendency to go away from the run even when it is working well. This Arkansas offense is very explosive and the Bulldogs need to chew some clock to pull the upset.


AJ Green can get one on one coverage if UGA sticks with the run

Other Thoughts:

-Arkansas had a week after their opening win and Petrino has stated his team spent considerable time in the preseason preparing for this game
-ARK is 5-2 in last 7 ATS
-Petrino is 22-6 as a head coach with more than one week to prepare
-UGA is 2-8 ATS in last 10
-UGA is 24-4 in conference road games under Mark Richt;
-UGA is on a five game SEC road winning streak
-UGA is 7-2 ATS as a road dog under Richt


Bobby Petrino came out and said this game has been circled for a while.

Prediction

Arkansas had more total offense in one game than Georgia has in two, but the Bulldogs have played one of the toughest schedules in the country thus far. Even after being out gained last week, UGA won the kicking game and special teams handily and they should have an advantage here again this week.

I like UGA on the road in the SEC where they are on a five game winning streak and 24-4 under Richt. I think RB Richard Samuel has a better game this week (4.3 ypc last week) and Cox does just enough to keep the Hogs defense off balance. This one comes down to the fourth quarter, but UGA's defense again comes up with a big play late.

Georgia 28 Arkansas 24
Georgia Covers +1


Last Week: 1-1 ATS 2-0 SU
Season: 2-3 ATS, 3-2 SU


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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Georgia Tech at Miami Preview and Prediction Thursday September 17


Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets @ Miami Hurricanes
Thursday 7:30 PM Miami, FL ESPN
Line: MIA -5.5

Two teams looking to go 2-0 in the ACC and gain the top spot in the Coastal Division meet Thursday night in Miami as Georgia Tech travels to South Florida to face the Hurricanes.

Last Meeting: GT 41 Miami 23 GT -3 Atlanta, GA
The Yellow Jackets racked up over 500 yards of total offense, including 472 on the ground on a cold Thursday night last November. The game was not as close as the score indicated with Miami getting a late TD pass from Jacory Harris with under two minutes remaining against Tech backups.

GT out gained Miami by 130 total yards and won the turnover battle 2-1. Current Miami starter Harris split time with former starter Robert Marve; Harris was 13-18 with 2 TDs and 1INT. Miami allowed 8.4 ypc in the loss.


Jonathan Dwyer helped lead the GT rout of Miami last year

Keys To The Game:

1. Run Defense

That may sound silly considering GT is very likely to have more yards rushing than Miami, but Clemson found a way to slow Tech's offense in the second and third quarter last week and the Hurricanes need to do the same. They aren't going to stop it and force Ga Tech to pass, but if they can limit the big plays they have a great chance to win.

Conversely, Georgia Tech would like to make Miami one dimensional. Miami is 6-2 when Graig Cooper and Javarris James have 25 rush attempts and 4-9 when they do not. Although, the 'Canes were not overly successful running the ball against FSU (90 yds on 30 attempts). They were able to do it enough to keep the FSU defense off balance.

GT is averaging 6.4 yards per rush (ypr) versus Miami allowing 3.0 ypr this season; something has to give here.

2. Turnovers

In the Hurricanes six losses last season, they were minus 7 in turnover margin, including minus 1 last year against GT that scored a defensive TD off a Miami pick. Although Harris showed a lot of poise in the pocket vs FSU, he did throw two picks.

Georgia Tech so far in 2009 has put the ball on the ground 5 times and lost three of them. They also had two picks in the Clemson game. The Yellow Jackets were minus 9 in turnovers in their four losses last year.

With the talent and coaching on both sides very even, turnovers could be the difference maker.

3. Play Makers

Both of these teams have some of the best play makers in the ACC. Miami is very deep at wideout with Travis Benjamin, Leonard Hankerson, and Aldarius Johnson leading the way. Both Cooper and James have big play ability running the ball and James showed some good vision last week on pass plays.

Ga Tech will counter with a trio of backs - Jonathan Dwyer (ACC POY 2008), Anthony Allen, and Roddy Jones along with pre season first team WR Demaryius Thomas.

Both teams have big play ability and I expect several big yardage scoring plays on Thursday night. The team that can land more of them or limit the other team forces the other's offense to grind out drives where neither team has been great this season.


Ga Tech will need big plays like this one to pull of the road upset

Other Thoughts....
Each game has certain statistics and intangibles that jump out. Here are this week's:

-Miami did not spend any extra time in the off season on GT's offense, but has made adjustments in last 10 days according to players quoted in the AJC.
- In Miami's last four losses, they have been out gained in all four
-Miami gave up just one sack in 34 attempts vs FSU; last season they gave up a sack every 15 attempts
-Miami is 13-32-1 ATS in last 46 home games
-Miami has had 10 days off since FSU, GT playing its 3rd game in 13 days
-Miami is 3-9 under Randy Shannon ATS as a Home Favorite
-GT playing their second straight Thurs game, this time on the road
-GT won 4 straight over Miami
-GT defense hasn't allowed a rushing TD this season and no run longer than 20 yards
-GT 3-1 against ranked opponents under Coach Johnson
-Paul Johnson is 20-7 ATS as a road dog since 2002 (Navy, GT)
-GT has won their last 5 road openers - BC, Notre Dame, VT, Auburn, Clemson
-GT is 1-4 on Thursday road games
-The two teams average over 900 yards of total offense per game
ranking first and second in the ACC

Miami hopes the FSU win represents a turning point in the program

One more interesting note from the AJC regarding Miami's defensive preparations this year.

"The Hurricanes have made some other adjustments to try and keep Tech from running over them. As noted by the Miami Herald, in last year’s game the Hurricanes’ defensive linemen said they were lining up too far away from the ball, which gave Tech’s offensive linemen chances to either cut-block them or go by them and engage the linebackers."

Prediction

ESPN could not have asked for a better game on a Thursday night. Some big things are swinging in Miami's favor for this game though. They have had 10 days off since FSU, while GT is playing in their 3rd game in 13 days. This could be big down the stretch. It is very tough to win back to back Thursday games, especially the second one on the road; VT lost at Miami in their second and in turn Miami lost at GT last year.

Harris looks much improved over last season and showed a confidence in the pocket we have not seen since Ken Dorsey was in Coral Gables. He has plenty of play makers to get the ball to under new OC Mark Whipple. Meanwhile, GT's offense is sputtering a little early in the season compared to late last year.

The line in this one made a big jump from MIA-4 to -5.5 this week which says a lot of people are betting the Hurricanes. I said during the pre season that this would be a tough game for GT to win and that was before how good Miami look vs FSU. I like Miami for the win but I will head the other way on the spread with GT covering in a offensive showcase full of big plays.

Miami 31 Georgia Tech 27
Ga Tech Covers -5.5


Last Week: 1-1 ATS, 2-0 SU
Season: 2-3 ATS, 3-2 SU


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