Saturday, October 31, 2009

Georgia-Florida Prediction: Worlds Largest Cocktail Party Preview


Florida Gators vs Georgia Bulldogs
Jacksonville, FL 3:30 CBS
Line: Florida -14.5

One of the greatest spectacles in all of college football convenes on Saturday afternoon when Georgia and Florida meet in Jacksonville. The number one Gators come into this game stumbling a bit after three tough games against SEC West foes, but have survived all three to remain undefeated.

Georgia had a bye week last week, but is suffering through a disappointing 4-3 campaign thus far. Back to that bye week because the team with it has won the last 13 times. UGA had one before their 2007 win. Vegas has installed the Gators as a 14.5 point favorite after opening up at 16.



Three Keys For A Georgia Cover

1. Establish A Running Game

Even as disappointing as Florida's offense has been this season, I think Georgia's has been even more disappointing. A big reason for this is the lack of running game where the Bulldogs rank last in the SEC at 108 ypg. If UGA wants to pull off the upset they have to establish the run like they did on their first drive in 2007.



2. Pressure Tebow

The Gators offensive line has struggled the last two weeks allowing Arkansas and Miss State to hit the former Heisman Trophy winner plenty. That pressure created two turnovers that turned into two touchdowns for Miss State. Tebow is the type that never wants to give up on a play and UGA can force him into bad ones by getting in his face.

3. AJ Green Superstar

The sophomore wide receiver has to be the best player on the field. It will tough against two of the best corners in the country, but Green is probably the most talented receiver in the country. Green needs to have his best game of the season.



Three Keys for a Florida Cover

1. Hold Onto The Ball

The Gators have turned the ball over 13 times this season, including nine fumbles. Six of those turnovers have come in their last two ball games, arguably their two worst of the season. If Florida wins the turnover battle, I think they cruise. But if not then they give a talented UGA team a chance at the upset.

2. Move the Ball Vertically

Florida's lack of play makers on the outside has been much discussed and is still not solved. I expect UGA to come out stacking the box making Florida throw the ball deep. If the Gators can then it is game over, but if they cannot they are forced to grind out drives where turnovers and field goals are more likely to happen. Deonte Thompson needs to step up for the Gators at wideout.


3. Get Up Early

Much has been discussed of Florida's recent dominance winning 16 out of the last 19. These two teams have relatively equal talent each year, but a big difference has been the confidence and intimidation Florida has brought ever since Spurrier arrived in 1990. If Florida gets up early by two scores then I think doubt creeps into the Bulldogs' heads. If not, then a talented and hungry UGA team will hang around and you never know what the final quarter may bring.


Prediction

I think Florida's offense is ready to bounce back this week and plays better than it has as of late. I also think Georgia comes out playing much better off the bye week.

I really want to pick Georgia to cover this game and maybe even win it. The Gators are beat up physically while Georgia is rested. Also, this season resembles 2007 for Georgia and this game is when they got it on track.

But I just can't do it. Florida's defense is too much for UGA to consistently move the ball. And unlike 2007, Tebow is relatively healthy. I like Florida to break this one open in the second half.

Florida Wins by 17
Florida Covers -14.5



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Friday, October 30, 2009

Georgia Tech-Vanderbilt Prediction: Yellow Jackets Try To Avoid Letdown


Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Vanderbilt Commodores
Line: GT -12

The ACC and SEC match up on Saturday night when ACC leader Georgia Tech travels to Nashville to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Yellow Jackets have the ACC Coastal Division title in their sights but cannot afford a let down against a pesky Vandy team that nearly beat South Carolina last week.

The two head coaches have some history against each other competing for Southern Conference titles at Furman (Bobby Johnson) and Georgia Southern (Paul Johnson) in the late 90s and early 00s. Vegas has installed GT as 12 point favorites after opening at 13.5.

Three Keys For A Vanderbilt Cover

1. Stop The Option Inside Out
There is no blueprint to stopping this offense, but the teams who have the most success have stopped the run up the middle first and forced the pitch outside. On the pitch is where GT is likely to make the most errors and bog down their offense.

2. Get Some Offense

The anemic Commodores offense is averaging just 323 yards per game and 17 points on the season. It has gotten even worse as of late scoring 11 per game over their last three with under 300 yards of offense. The 'Dores have to be able to move the ball to keep with GT and cannot rely solely on special teams and defense to keep them close.

3. Get Some Turnovers
When you are an overmatched opponent physically you need something big to break your way and that usually involves turnovers. A wet field and ball would help Vandy as would forcing the pitch. See point one.


Three Keys For A Georgia Tech Cover

1. Control The Ball

Georgia Tech is tops in the nation in time of possession at nearly 35 minutes per game. It is hard for the other team to score when they do not have the ball. And if they cannot score they cannot win.

2. Cover Kicks

Vandy freshman Warren Norman has two kickoff returns for touchdown this season and averages nearly 30 yards per return. GT opponents have already taken one back this season and are getting nearly 25 yards per return. Also, GT has just one touchback this season.

3. Come Out With Energy

As I mentioned earlier, this game is a little different for Ga Tech because it is a non conference game in the middle of season against an SEC bottom feeder. Also, the atmosphere is not going to be even close to what Miss State has espcially if the weather is sour. The Yellow Jackets need to put this game away in the first half and not allow Vandy to gain confidence at home.

Prediction

Georgia Tech has really turned it up in their last three games especially on offense and if they keep executing teams will have a very tough time stopping them. But, if any coach is going to know GT's offense it is Bobby Johnson from his days at Furman.

However, Vandy simply does not have the players to line up man for man and beat Georgia Tech. The Commodores rank 87th nationally in stopping the run while GT is second in rush offense. Barring losing the turnover battle, I see Georgia Tech winning and covering.

Georgia Tech by 14
Georgia Tech Covers -12

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

SEC Predictions October 24: South Carolina, Tennessee Headline Undercard

The SEC East will shake out considerably after this week with the top four teams squaring off against each other. In the West, Ole Miss tries to stay on track facing a struggling Auburn team on the road. The East and West clash when Miss State and Kentucky meet in Lexington. Arkansas steps out of conference to face winless Eastern Michigan.

Last week I was 6-0 SU and 0-1 ATS in the SEC. I am going to pick all the games ATS this week and hope my luck with the SEC continues.


Ole Miss at Auburn
Line: Miss -4

The panic button is being hit in Auburn right now after three straight losses and an offense losing its steam after a fast start. Meanwhile, Ole Miss is starting to hit their stride winners of three of their last four.

Auburn is averaging half the points in their last three games as they were during their five game winning streak. But their defense is getting even worse allowing 32 over their last three. I don't think the Tigers are experienced or deep enough to overcome the negative energy surrounding the program right now.

Ole Miss by 13
Ole Miss Covers -4



Eastern Michigan at Arkansas
Line: Ark -38

The Eagles of Eastern Michigan are 0-7 on the season, but did run with Michigan down just 24-17 at the half. Arkansas should be over their sulking after the Florida loss as the SEC has all new officiating conflicts to worry about this week.

Neither defense is very good, but Arkansas offense is definitely better. The Razorbacks should run away with this one, but I do not think they cover this massive spread.

Arkansas Wins by 35
Eastern Michigan Covers +38



Miss State at Kentucky
Line: UK -3.5

The Dan Mullen shows goes to Lexington this week to face the resurgent Kentucky Wildcats. The Bulldogs have to be running low on energy after the effort expended against Florida last Saturday.

Miss State has played pretty well on the road this season beating Vandy and Middle Tennessee State. Kentucky has had trouble stopping the run and Miss State is averaging over 200 yards per game on the ground. I think this one comes down to the wire.

Kentucky Wins by 1
Miss State Covers +3.5



South Carolina at Tennessee
Line: Tenn -5.5

The two biggest mouths in the South meet in ESPN's Saturday Night game when Lane Kiffin's Volunteers meet Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks. Tennessee is coming off a gut wrenching loss to Alabama missing three field goals. South Carolina struggled but beat Vanderbilt at home.

Tennessee has really turned up the defense lately giving up just 319 total yards over their last three. And QB Jonathan Crompton has picked up his game after a rocky start to the season. Meanwhile South Carolina is still struggling on offense and relying heavily on their defense. I like the Volunteers at home with the confidence they brought back from Tuscaloosa.

Tennessee Wins by 10
Tennessee Covers -5.5


Updated 10/30

Realized I forgot LSU-Tulane...
LSU is 35 point favorites but I like the Green Wave to cover.

Tulane Covers +35



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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

ACC Predictions For Oct 24: Two Potential Upsets of ACC Favorites

It is almost the weekend, so time for some predictions. I am going to switch it up a little a try and do every ACC game by the spread. Last week I was 3-3 SU, 0-1 ATS in the ACC while going 6-0 SU and 0-1 ATS in the SEC. See if my luck changes at all this week in the ACC.

Thursday, October 22



North Carolina at Virginia Tech
Line: VT - 16.5

Virginia Tech is coming off a bye week having lost to Georgia Tech the week before. With Miami's loss, the Hokies have to hope GT slips up or else the Hokies can do no better than second in the Coastal. There has been a lot of talk surrounding the plays Frank Beamer submitted to the ACC about illegal and unsafe blocks in the GT. But I have not seen a lot about the UNC game and its importance. This makes me think VT may not be as focused as it should be.

North Carolina played last Thursday and lost at home to FSU. It is very tough to do back to back Thursday night games especially when the second one is on the road. The Heels have yet to play to their talent level this season.

Looking at the home and away stats it is pretty rough for UNC as compared to VT at home. But on the season it compares relatively favorable for the Heels as do the last three games.

Normally, I would go blindly with the Hokies at home on a Thursday night, but Beamer is just 26-23 off a bye week coming into this season. Plus, I don't think the Hokies are as focused as they should be and UNC is due for a good game.

Virginia Tech 28 North Carolina 14
North Carolina Covers -16.5


Saturday, October 24



NC State at Florida State
Line: FSU -9

This line opened at -7.5 and has moved to 9. The Wolfpack are coming off a bye week which was much needed after a three straight losses. Tom O'Brien has done fairly well off a bye week at 15-9 in his career.

On the season, NC State's stats look good against FSU's, but the Wolfpack have not been near that level in their last three and especially in their two road games. The Seminoles should have renewed confidence after the come from behind win at UNC last Thursday.

Florida State 38 NC State 27
Florida State Covers -9




Central Michigan at Boston College
Line: BC -6

The Eagles are coming off a heartbreaking loss to Notre Dame last week. Central Michigan beat Bowling Green last week. The Chippewas are 1-1 against BCS competition this year beating Michigan State in East Lansing on an onside kick recovery and losing at Arizona 19-6 to start the season.

The Eagles have been two different teams at home versus on the road this season furthering my argument that BC is a tough place to play. But BC is giving up more points than their opponents and 65 yards more per game in their last three games. Watch out for Central Michigan's QB Dan LeFevour who is as good of a dual threat QB in the nation.

Central Michigan 31 Boston College 28
Central Michigan Covers +6




Miami at Wake Forest
Line: Mia -7.5

The Hurricanes suffered a devastating loss last week against Clemson probably dashing their ACC title hopes. This young team will need to bounce back quickly though against a cornered Wake team losers of two straight.

Miami's offense is getting better statistically as the season goes on. Wake has maintained an even keel on the road versus at home and recently as compared to the entire season. I like Wake to make this one close at home.

Miami 31 Wake Forest 24
Wake Forest Covers +7.5



Duke at Virginia
Line: Virginia -7

The Blue Devils have their first back to back ACC wins since 1994 and are going for a third straight to move one step closer to bowl eligibility. The Cavaliers ride atop the ACC Coastal is over after last week's defeat to Georgia Tech. Duke won this game handily last year in Durham blowing it open in the second half to win 31-3.

Home field has not been nearly as kind to UVA as in the past going just 1-3 thus far in 2009. Meanwhile, Duke has held its own on the road scoring 33 and giving up 30 per game. I really like the momentum Duke has right now and call for the upset!

Duke 28 Virginia 27
Duke Covers +7



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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

ACC's National Hopes Done Before They Even Got Started?

The ACC has not had a participant in the BCS Championship Game since 2000 when a one loss Florida State team was defeated by Oklahoma. This season there is some chatter about the ACC having a chance to return to that game if some (actually, alot of) chips fall their way.

I wrote a piece over at the Bleacher Report where I am featured columnist for ACC Football and SEC Football discussing the ACC's BCS Title aspirations. Below is excerpt with a link to the full article.

The ACC, long a basketball-first conference, has not sniffed the BCS Championship game since 2000, when Florida State faced Oklahoma. Outside of Virginia Tech's win last year in the Orange Bowl, the ACC was 1-9 in BCS bowls, with the lone win coming 10 years ago.

Those 10 appearances were the minimum number of bids, as the champion getting a bid each year. Contrast that with the SEC's 17 BCS bowl appearances, and the Big 10—who leads all conferences with 19.

The ACC's best chance in 2009 is the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, currently 7-1 and ranked No. 11 in the most recent BCS standings. But history is not on the Yellow Jackets' side either ,as no team has made it to the BCS Championship game after being ranked lower than eighth with six weeks or less remaining.

It will be hard for the Jackets to make up ground, as they have largely finished the strength of the schedule. Only games against Vanderbilt, Duke, Wake Forest, and Georgia remain. Meanwhile, GT's neighbors in the standings all have a season-making game left. Oregon has a game with No. 4 USC, LSU plays Alabama, Iowa and Penn State have Ohio State remaining, and TCU faces Utah.

To add insult to injury, the Atlanta Journal Constitution thinks Georgia Tech can make it to the BCS Championship game in 12 easy steps—all they need are teams like Texas, Boise State, Cincinnati, Iowa, USC, Oregon, and TCU to lose.

And of course, Georgia Tech needs to win out and finish with a 12-win season—something they have never had.
Full Article


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Sunday, October 25, 2009

SEC Power Rankings After Week 8: Did Alabama Hang Onto Number 1?

Both Florida and Alabama survive scares from first year coaches Saturday and cement their status at the top of the SEC. LSU bounces back to remain firmly in third. Tennessee showed a lot of fight and determination to break into my top 5 with a showdown looming against South Carolina this week.

Auburn continues its slide and Arkansas suffered a hangover from last week that traveled all the way to Oxford with them. It was pretty good week picking games going 6-0 SU, but 0-1 ATS. How does the SEC stack up after Week 8?

1. University of Terrance Cody's Forearm (Alabama)

Forget Ingram for Heisman, how about Terrance Cody for Heisman! He would have no problem with that dinner circuit. But seriously, Alabama has to find a passing game to win the national title.

2. Florida

I was going to put Florida number one if they looked good against Miss State but they did not. The offensive line is having issues on the interior and a down field threat has to yet to emerge.

3. LSU

The hat got back on the right track by beating up on Auburn. A new Saturday night winning streak begins.

4. South Carolina

What is it with South Carolina and Vanderbilt? The Gamecocks just cannot ever put these guys away.

5. Tennessee

The laughing at Lane Kiffin has gotten a lot quieter with Tennessee's performances against Alabama and Florida. But the anger is still pretty high in Gainesville with Kiffin calling Alabama the number one team in the nation by far. It's these kind of remarks that make the rivalries in the SEC the best.

6. Georgia

The Bulldogs have about the best situation they could hope for heading in to Jacksonville. Decided underdogs against a team who has struggled their last two weeks. And UGA played pretty well in the second half vs Vandy and had a bye week to prep.

7. Ole Miss

Jevan Snead, is that you? We have been looking for you in Dallas since last January.

8. Kentucky

This team is getting better as the season goes on and could be in line for their fourth bowl bid in a row.

9. Arkansas

I bet Bobby Petrino wishes the SEC would have not made such a big deal about the refs because I think it distracted his players this week.

10. Auburn

Dennis Green is still standing at that podium.

11. Miss State

A valiant effort by Miss State against Florida, but they proved once again you cannot win in big time college football without a QB no matter what kind of offense you are running.

12. Vanderbilt

If you watched the Vandy-South Carolina game it was a microcosm of Commodore football over the last 20 years - close counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, not SEC Football.


Here is how I would rank the teams by groupings.

Tier I

Florida, Alabama

Tier II

LSU

Tier III

Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Kentucky

Tier IV

Arkansas, Auburn, Miss State

Tier V

Vanderbilt


Top Storylines for Week 9

1. World Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party
The last time Georgia beat Florida in 2007, the Bulldogs were coming off a bye week and had gotten blown out by Tennessee a few weeks earlier. I am not sayin', I'm just saying.

2. Lane Kiffin vs Steve Spurrier
The new big mouth in town meets the old big mouth as South Carolina travels to Knoxville for an important SEC East game. Kiffin has not been a favorite in the Palmetto State after telling prized recruit Alshon Jeffery if he went to South Carolina he would end up pumping gas for the rest of his life.

3. Auburn In A Slide
The Tigers started out 5-0 but have come back to Earth with a three game losing streak. Can they get it going against Ole Miss who looks they are after some early season stumbles?

After eight weeks of action, here is my Southern top 10 from the ACC and SEC.

1. Alabama
2. Florida
3. LSU
4. Georgia Tech
5. Virginia Tech
6. South Carolina
7. Clemson
8. Miami
9. Tennessee
10. Georgia


My National Top 10

1. Alabama
2. Florida
3. Texas
4. USC
5. Cincinnati
6. TCU
7. Iowa
8. Boise State
9. LSU
10. Georgia Tech


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ACC Power Rankings After Week 8: Georgia Tech Leads ACC

Things are starting to shake out in the Coastal Division just as they become even more jumbled in the Atlantic Division after Week 8. Georgia Tech now sits atop the Coastal tiebreaker by virtue of their win over UVA and Clemson's win over Miami.

The Atlantic Division has three teams with two losses and three teams with three losses. But this side of the conference picked up two big road wins over the Coastal with FSU also taking down North Carolina.

Not a great week on picks for the ACC going 3-3 SU and 0-1 ATS.

1. Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets dominated Virginia out gaining the 'Hoos 447 to 198. And then became big Clemson fans as Georgia Tech now holds the Coastal lead by virtue of their tiebreaker over Va Tech.

2. Virginia Tech

Bye week to get ready for a down North Carolina this Thursday. Hokies know they have to win out to have a shot at another ACC title or BCS at large bid.

3. Clemson

Kinda fitting that two Florida guys, CJ Spiller, Jacoby Ford, lift Clemson to victory at Miami. The Tigers look like they are beginning their annual second half of the season rise.

4. Miami

The youth of the 'Canes finally caught up to them yesterday as Miami turned the ball over four times. This Miami team is better this year but they have to show it coming back from adversity, something they failed to do late last year.

5. Boston College

The Eagles come up just short of a seventh straight win at Notre Dame. If this team had an average ACC Quarterback I think they are the favorites in the Atlantic.

6. Florida State

The Seminoles showed a lot of fight coming back from 18 on the road last Thursday in Chapel Hill. There is still talent here enough to win the Division, but FSU cannot suffer any more lapses.

7. Virginia

The Dennis Green Award goes to Virginia this week.

8. North Carolina

North Carolina's defense really let them down on Thursday and their offense has been letting them down all year.

9. Duke

Duke gets back to back ACC wins for the first time since 1994 and needs just two more wins to become bowl eligible.

10. Wake Forest

Even great coaching cannot overcome mediocre talent every year. Navy did not throw the ball once in their 13-10 win over the Deacs. And bad news Wake fans, you face the same offense with better athletes in two weeks.

11. Maryland

How is the Maryland basketball team looking this season?

12. NC State

The Wolfpack's bye week could not have come at a better time. Just think this team beat the second best team in the Big East a few weeks ago.


Are the Tech's clearly at the head of the conference? How much farther down are NC State and Maryland than everyone else? Here are my grouping for the ACC after Week 8.

Tier I

Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech

Tier II

Clemson, Miami

Tier III

Boston College, Virginia, Florida State, North Carolina

Tier IV

Duke, Wake Forest, Maryland, NC State


Three Storylines For Week 9

1. BCS Hopes
Georgia Tech is the front runner in the ACC now, but if Virginia Tech keeps winning the conference could get two BCS bids for the first time ever.

2. Out of Conference
The ACC hopes to flex its muscle against weaker opponents out of conference. Georgia Tech travels to Vanderbilt, BC hosts Central Michigan, and Clemson hosts Coastal Carolina.

3. Bowl Bound Blue Devils?
Duke hopes to make it three straight ACC wins when the travel to Charlottesville to face Virginia who they stomped last year.


After eight weeks of action, here is my Southern top 10 from the ACC and SEC.

1. Alabama
2. Florida
3. LSU
4. Georgia Tech
5. Virginia Tech
6. South Carolina
7. Clemson
8. Miami
9. Tennessee
10. Georgia


My National Top 10

1. Alabama
2. Florida
3. Texas
4. USC
5. Cincinnati
6. TCU
7. Iowa
8. Boise State
9. LSU
10. Georgia Tech



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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tennessee-Alabama Preview and Prediction


Tennessee Volunteers at Alabama Crimson Tide
Saturday October 24 CBS 3:30 PM
Line: Alab -14

What used to be the biggest rivalry in the SEC played on the third Saturday in October has fallen off the radar a little bit the last few years and will be played on the fourth Saturday in 2009. The Tennessee Vols are coming off a bye week where they smoked Georgia 45-19 the week before to get to 3-3. Alabama just keeps rolling with a victory over South Carolina last week to move to 7-0.

Vegas has installed the Tide as a 14 point favorite but that has moved down from an opening of 16.5. Lets take a look at three questions for each team that will help us pick a winner.

Three Questions For Tennessee

1. Letting Loose

Urban Meyer was right. Tennessee played very tight to the vest against Florida hoping to keep it close and look for a late turnover that could win it. UT was running the ball down two scores with under five minutes left. UT opened up the offense a lot more in their last SEC game blowing out UGA. Do the Vols open the playbook and go for the win or do they play conservative, try to stay in the game, and hope for a turnover late?

2. Crompton - Helpful or Hurtful

On the season, Tennessee starting QB Jonathan Crompton has respectable stats with 1210 yards and 13 touchdowns. But those stats are padded by games against Western Kentucky and Ohio. At times Crompton has been unbearable (UCLA). Last time out against UGA he completed 20 of 27 for 310 yards and four touchdowns. Can he have a similar performance against Alabama? I think he needs to for UT to pull off the upset.

3. Put the Brakes on Ingram

Alabama ranks ninth in the nation in rushing yards per game led by Heisman Candidate Mark Ingram. Last game against South Carolina, the sophomore ran for 246 yards on just 24 carries. Tennessee has a pretty good defense but it has been better against the pass (9th) than the run (32nd). Can Monte Kiffin get enough guys in the box to hold Ingram to under a 100 yards?


Three Questions For Alabama

1. Greg McElroy Better Play Better

After starting the season hot, the first year starter as cooled off considerably. Last week, McElroy threw for just 92 yards on 10 completions with two picks. He has good receivers in Julio Jones and Marquis Maze but has not been able to find them down field much of late. McElroy has to get in some kind of rhythm so that UT cannot just stack the box on Saturday.

2. Red Zone Woes

The Tide is having success in the red zone scoring on 86% of their attempts. But only half of their 31 conversions are for touchdowns. Conversely, Tennessee has allowed just 20 red zone trips and given up two touchdowns inside their 20.

3. Dominant Rush Defense

Alabama ranks third in the nation in rush defense giving up just 63 ypg on the ground. I know Tennessee wants to establish the run and get Crompton settled in with play action pass. If the Tide defense can stop the Vols running game then they can tee off on the passing game. If that is the case then watch out because this could turn into a blowout.

Prediction

I normally like teams coming out of bye week who played well going into it. Tennessee's offense has really picked up the last three games averaging 427 ypg, nearly 30 more than their season average. But the Vols defense is not nearly as dominating as it was early on giving up 347 per game over their last three.

The Tide defense just seems to get better and better each week and I think they really hamper this Tennessee offense and make them win through the air. A 2.5 point move in the line tells me a lot of money is getting put on UT. I am going to pick the other way and take Alabama.

Alabama 27 Tennessee 10
Alabama Covers -14


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Thursday, October 22, 2009

SEC Predictions Week 8: Fla-MSU, LSU-Aub And More

Tennessee at Alabama highlights this week's SEC action, but lets take a look around the rest of the league. Florida travels to Miss State to face their old OC and sidestep a potential land mine before facing Georgia next week. Auburn goes to LSU in a game that used to decide the West, but not likely to this year. And South Carolina gets a third crack at Vandy whom they have lost to the last two seasons.

Last week was a good week going 5-1 SU so lets start with the picks for this week.

Florida at Mississippi State

I circled this game a long time ago as a potential trap game for the Gators. They have Georgia next week and are playing their old OC who Tim Tebow has a lot of respect and love for. Also, the mighty Gators have really struggled in Starkville losing their last three trips in '92, '00, and '04. But it seems Florida suffered the big let down last week almost losing to an improved Arkansas team at home.

Miss State runs a nearly identical offense to Florida just with much less talent so there is a familiarity on both sides. I do not see Florida playing poorly two weeks in a row, but I also don't see them pouring it on late. I think they want to get out of Starkville with a win and get ready for UGA.

Pick: Florida (but closer than the experts think)


Auburn at LSU

The Auburn Tigers hope to bounce back from a two game losing skid against West rival LSU.
Auburn's offense has really struggled the last two weeks throwing the ball. The Tigers of LSU are coming off a bye week after the Florida loss looking to maintain pace with Alabama.

LSU's offense was almost non existent in the loss to Florida as Jordan Jefferson really struggled to move the ball. But the Bengal Tigers have more talent than Auburn right now and get a boost from the home crowd. LSU starts a new Saturday night winning streak by beating Auburn.

Pick: LSU in an ugly game


Vanderbilt at South Carolina

Almost as big of nemesis as Clemson or Georgia in the side of the Gamecocks has been Vanderbilt the last two seasons. In '07 Vandy ruined a perfect season for South Carolina and last year knocked the Gamecocks off before they even got going in September.

But this Commodores team is not getting the same bounces it did last year. Meanwhile, South Carolina's defense is keeping with the upper crust of the SEC while the offense tries to find its way. That final in Tuscaloosa last week was a little misleading because South Carolina was with Alabama all game.

Pick: South Carolina


Arkansas at Ole Miss

You got a pretty good conference when Arkansas/Ole Miss is your third or fourth best game of the week. This game last year was the launching point for Ole Miss' skyrocket to the top 10. The Rebels won a close game but really took over after that. But Jevan Snead is really struggling at QB completing under 50 percent of his passes and only a 12 to 9 TD to INT ratio.

Arkansas resurgence has come from an improved defense that is creating turnovers, including four last week from Florida. It will be very important for them to have their emotions in check after such a narrow defeat against the Gators last week. I think they come out a little flat against their former coach and have trouble on the road.

Pick: Ole Miss


La Monroe at Kentucky

The Wildcats finally broke through last week at Auburn breaking a 15 game losing streak to the Tigers. With starting QB Mike Hartline out, UK used three QBs to confuse Auburn's defense in the fourth with two TDs. Kentucky should not have much trouble with La-Monroe this week.

Pick: Kentucky


Alabama-Tennessee Prediction Here

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Ga Tech-UVA, FSU-UNC And Other ACC Predictions

Besides Clemson-Miami, the ACC has a few other compelling games this weekend including out of conference tilts with Notre Dame and Navy. Last week was a good week going 5-0 SU in the ACC. Here is how I see the games shaping up this weekend.

Florida State at North Carolina

What the ACC thought might be a prime time game between top 25 teams has turned into a game of division cellar dwellers. We have one of the ACC’s best offenses (FSU) going up against one of the best defenses (UNC). But we also have one of the ACC’s worst defenses (FSU) matching up with one of the worst offenses (UNC).

The Seminoles tried to rally the troops after a trustee came out calling for an end to the Bowden tenure two weeks ago but lost to Georgia Tech. What do they do now for an encore? North Carolina is playing at home on Thursday usually a tough spot for road teams.

Pick: North Carolina


Georgia Tech at Virginia

With all the hubbub about Ga Tech’s win over Va Tech last week you might have missed that the 2-0 Cavaliers actually lead the Coastal Division. Last season, GT was also 6-1 and a two touchdown favorite versus UVA, but the Cavs came into Atlanta and shocked the Yellow Jackets.

Virginia was once again finds itself under dog to Georgia Tech. Can a team that lost to William & Mary beat a top 15 team?

Pick: Georgia Tech (but close)


Boston College at Notre Dame

The Eagles have won six straight against the Fighting Irish who are coming off a bitter last second defeat to USC, their eight straight to the Trojans. Notre Dame is considerably better on offense than last year when BC shut them out. Boston College has struggled at QB using Montel Harris in the Wild Cat formation a lot last week in blowing out NC State.

BC has beaten NC State, FSU, and Wake Forest while losing to Clemson and Virginia Tech. I think ND is closer to the latter teams and picks up the home win.

Pick: Notre Dame in thrilling and controversial fashion


Maryland at Duke

The Blue Devils had a bye week to get ready for the Terps while Maryland lost at home to Virginia last Saturday. Duke has already beaten NC State by 21 this season and has their eyes on a bowl bid with three wins already. It says a lot about Maryland when they are nearly a touchdown underdog and the line has stayed there.

Pick: Duke


Wake Forest at Navy

These two teams will meet for the third time in 13 months both winning one game last season. The Deacons certainly have a familiarity with the Mids offense and have had decent success in slowing it. In Wake’s regular season loss last year in Winston Salem they had trouble holding onto the ball. If the Deacs limit the turnovers then I like them in this one.

Pick: Wake Forest


Clemson at Miami Preview and Prediction

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Clemson - Miami Preview and Prediction


Clemson Tigers at Miami Hurricanes
Saturday October 24 ABC 3:30 PM
Line: MIA -5

The Miami Hurricanes find themselves squarely in the mix for the ACC's Coastal Division title at 5-1 but so do the Clemson Tigers in the Atlantic Division even with two losses. The two meet on Saturday for the first time since 2005 and a thrilling OT win by Miami in Clemson's Death Valley. Both teams need this game to keep pace in their divisions and hopes alive for an ACC Championship.

Three Questions For Clemson

1. Road Struggles

The Tigers have played just two road games this season losing both of them. Clemson has especially struggled to establish a running game away from Death Valley gaining just 103 ypg on the ground versus a 145 average on the season. Are the struggles just a coincidence or do the Tigers truly play different on the road?

2. Pass Rush

A consistent pass rush makes even really good QBs like Jacory Harris look average. At Va Tech Harris really struggled with the pressure the Hokies were able to put on him. Clemson cannot let Harris sit back in the pocket pitching it to his speedy WR group. Clemson already has more sacks this season (17) than all of last (15). Can the Bamberg Ends Ricky Sapp and Da'Quan Bowers get in Harris' face?

3. Special Teams

I will be straight up - I do not think Clemson can go toe to toe with Miami for 60 minutes on offense and defense. They will need the third dimension, special teams, to be in their favor. CJ Spiller and Jacoby Ford need to be special in the kicking game.


Three Questions For Miami

1. Establish the Running Game

In Miami's only loss of the season they rushed for just 59 yards on 34 carries. As good as the passing game has been under new OC Mark Whipple it success derives partly from the play action pass set up by the run. The Hurricanes may need their running game in the fourth when looking to keep it away from CJ Spiller and Clemson.

2. Stack the Box

Miami front seven should be able to manage Clemson's running game but if they really want to turn up the pressure they could put a safety down in the box and make Clemson QB Kyle Parker beat them. Parker is hitting just 49 percent of his passes and the Tiger rank 96th in passing offense. I say make Clemson beat you "left handed".

3. Injuries

The 'Canes are a beat up football team and their injury report lists several contributors as doubtful or questionable including second leading rusher Graig Cooper. Does the young Miami team have enough quality depth to overcome these injuries?

Prediction

I am surprised a little bit by how the line has moved so much in Clemson's favor opening at MIA -7 and now down to -4.5 to -5.5. I think the Hurricanes have more talent, better coaching (especially on offense), and are playing at home. They have also shown better maturity by beating teams they should in convincing fashion and not have letdowns after big wins or losses like in years past.

Miami 27 Clemson 20
Miami Covers -5



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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

SEC Power Rankings After Week 7

Two things I know about the SEC - Florida and Alabama are clearly the two best teams and Vanderbilt is the worst. After that it is anybody's ball game. LSU on paper looks to have the third best team but they are again having struggles at QB so they are a couple of turnovers from losing to Auburn this week.

I know Auburn beat Tennessee who beat Georgia who beat Arkansas who beat Auburn, but here is my stab at the SEC rankings this week.

1. Alabama

Tide take care of business again with defense and the running game. I have them slightly above Florida after the Gators performance on Saturday.

2. Florida

Gators survive a huge scare on Saturday in three point win over Arkansas. Not much time to mope as they travel to Starkville to play their old OC Dan Mullen. Florida's record in the state of Mississippi is not too good as of late either.

3. LSU

Tigers had a bye week after the Florida loss and now get ready to host Auburn. Hopefully Jordan Jefferson was able to re light the fire he started in the bowl game last season.

4. Georgia

Is Georgia really the fourth best team? They have not played like it for some of the season, but they have the talent to be here just a matter of going out on the field and proving it.

5. South Carolina

Gamecocks kept it close for three plus quarters in Tuscaloosa but could not muster any offense when they had to. South Carolina's nemesis the last two seasons, Vandy, comes to Columbia this Saturday.

6. Arkansas

Razorbacks have found a defense over the last two weeks! A big game in the West traveling to Ole Miss to face their former coach looms on Saturday.

7. Ole Miss

The Arkansas game last year was where Ole Miss turned it on for the rest of the year and so far their 2009 performance has been about the same as 2008. Can Ole Miss kick it into high gear again?

8. Tennessee

The Vols had a week off to get ready for Alabama. But something tells me Nick Saban's defense is not going to make Jonathan Crompton look as good as UGA's did.

9. Kentucky

The Wildcats finally break through for a win in a game I knew would be close (
just not that close).

10. Auburn

Is
Dennis Green lurking somewhere in Auburn after a home loss to Kentucky?

11. Miss State

Bulldogs break through with a resounding win over Middle Tenn State and await the Gators. Cowbells will be ringing on Saturday.

12. Vanderbilt

I am not sure if I see a conference win for Vandy this year. Just not getting the same breaks they did last year.



A much better (and easier) way would be to look at the teams in like groupings.

Tier I

Florida, Alabama

Tier II

None

Tier III

LSU

Tier IV

Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, Auburn, Ole Miss, Arkansas

Tier V

Miss State

Tier VI

Vanderbilt


Top SEC Story lines for Week 8

Florida barely escaped Arkansas on Saturday. Is another close game waiting in Starkville when they go up against their old OC Dan Mullen and Mississippi State?

Tennessee has had an off week to soak up the glory of the resounding defeat of UGA and to prepare for Alabama. Can the Vols hang with the Tide like they did Florida?

The race for number two in the West hits full stride as Arkansas travels to Oxford to face Ole Miss. Can the Hogs carry the momentum of last week against the struggling Rebels?

The two Tigers tangle in Baton Rouge Saturday night as Auburn looks to be a two game losing streak. But does LSU have its offensive woes solved after a bye week?

And what is with the SEC officials? Now another
personal foul is found to be wrong by the SEC office. Could the conference back up their officials any less?

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Monday, October 19, 2009

ACC Power Rankings After Week 7

It just wouldn't be an ACC football season if we didn't have tiebreakers and unbalanced division races. Georgia Tech's upset of Virginia Tech (I didn't think it would be an upset) puts all three teams at a tie atop the Coastal Division. Whoa! Not so fast my friend as Virginia actually leads the division at 2-0! The Fighting Al Grohs got it done again this Saturday beating Maryland and they host Ga Tech this weekend.

With VT, Miami, and GT all with one loss I couldn't really separate them in the rankings. You could make excuses for each one's loss to the other and varying margins of victories, but I do know home field held at all three. So here goes it...

1a. Virginia Tech

Hokies came up short in Atlanta and now have a bye week to regroup before hosting North Carolina in Blacksburg next Thursday. VT should be pumped for that one.

1b. Miami

Canes again show their maturity by going on the road and taking care of business against a team they should beat soundly in Central Florida.

1c. Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets put themselves squarely in the mix for the Coastal Division. But another land mine awaits in Charlottesville where they have not won since 1990.

4. Clemson

If you have ever seen the movie "Sybil" then that pretty much sums up this Clemson team.

5. Boston College

Eagles pound their old coach for a third straight year and they suddenly have a QB in RB Montel Harris.

6. Virginia

Carruthers is getting is camel hair ready for the showdown between Ga Tech and his Coastal Division leading Cavaliers.

7. North Carolina

The Tar Heels are this weeks opponent for the train wreck that is FSU on Thursday night in Chapel Hill. UNC looks to climb out of the Coastal cellar currently at 0-2.

8. Wake Forest

We saw what happens on Saturday when lesser talent under performs and good coaching cannot make up for it.

9. Florida State

I feel bad for Bobby, I really do. He should leave when he wants because he built FSU. But FSU's bowl streak is in serious jeopardy if they lose to UNC on Thursday and I know Bobby does not want to go out like that.

10. Maryland

Terps could not pull off the upset at home against Virginia and at 2-5 looks like a losing season for Ralph.

11. Duke

Duke has a real shot at their second ACC win hosting Maryland and that would climb their win total to 4. You never know, the Blue Devils could sneak into one of the ACC's 47 bowl slots.

12. NC State

Two straight blowout losses, including one to Duke at home gets you put at the bottom.


Let's look at the conference by team groupings. The ACC is its usual mess with three teams clearly at the top followed by the two leaders in Atlantic and then everyone else. I really think the ACC could get two BCS bids if two of these Coastal teams go undefeated the rest of the way.

Tier I
Virginia Tech, Miami, Georgia Tech

Tier II
Clemson, Boston College

Tier III
Virginia, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Florida State, Maryland, Duke, NC State


Top Storylines For Week 8

Coastal leader Virginia takes on surging Georgia Tech. Can the Jackets finally sting the Cavs in Charlottesville where they have not won since 1990?

A resurgent Clemson team travels to Miami where the Tigers look to maintain the pace in the Atlantic Division. A loss could virtually eliminate Miami in the Coastal. Are the Hurricanes up to the challenge?

FSU travels to UNC for a Thursday night game with questions of infighting and potential coaching vacancies swirling in the air. With another loss, does the Seminoles 27 year bowl streak come to an end?

Boston College travels to Notre Dame hoping to extend their six game winning streak against the Irish and catch them moping after and eighth straight loss to USC. If ND loses this one, is Charlie Weis is definitely gone?

The ACC has three teams in the top 15. If Miami, GT, and VT all win out, does the ACC get two BCS bids for the first time?


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Friday, October 16, 2009

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech Preview and Prediction


Virginia Tech Hokies at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Saturday October 17 ESPN2 6PM

Line: VT -3

Georgia Tech's ACC title hopes could get a big boost or become a big bust on Saturday night when they face off against Va Tech Saturday night in Atlanta. Both teams have 5-1 records, but the Hokies are undefeated in ACC play already with a win over Miami, who GT lost to. These two teams are the only teams to represent the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship Game.


Three Questions For Virginia Tech


1. Can The Hokies Win The Line Of Scrimmage?


Va Tech's front seven will need to close gaps and create pressure to disrupt GT's spread option offense. GT's worst offensive game and only loss was to Miami who got great penetration up front. If GT cannot block VT then they cannot run the ball and if they cannot run the ball they will not win.

2. Will Va Tech Establish The Run?

I know VT usually is a run first team, but OC Bryan Stinespring has to be licking his chops at GT's pass defense. But if the Hokies are smart they do what they do best and make GT stop them as opposed to attacking the other team's weakness first.

3. Will The Hokies Take Advantage of Poor Kick Coverage?

Va Tech was able to stay in the Alabama game with a kick return for a touchdown. GT's kick coverage is some of the worst in the ACC. Neither team punts a whole lot, but GT already has one bad snap for a safety this year. And we all know about Beamer Ball and put blocks.



Three Questions For Georgia Tech


1. Can Ga Tech Get Pressure On The QB?


The Yellow Jackets poor pass defense has less to do with poor coverage and more to do with a lack of a pass rush. Tyrod Taylor is not your classic drop back passer, but if you give him enough time he can beat you with his arm. And if Taylor is threading the needle then GT is in for a long night.


2. What Impact Does WR Thomas Have?


The leading receiver in the ACC this season did not play in this game last year and his absence limited GT's pass options. Demaryius Thomas has had some of his best games lately taking advantage of one on one coverage. I would not expect VT to do anything different than other teams so Thomas should have opportunities in single coverage.


3. Can GT Punch It In The Red Zone?

The Yellow Jackets have struggled getting touchdowns in the red zone (14 of 27) this season and the kicking game has not been very reliable lately. VT does not let teams inside their 20 many times, but if GT wants to pull off the upset they have to punch it in. You don't beat the number four team in the nation kicking field goals and missing opportunities.


Prediction


Georgia Tech played Virginia Tech tough last year losing just 20-17 in their third game under Paul Johnson. The Yellow Jackets out gained the Hokies by 140 yards last year. I think getting Thomas this year on offense opens up a lot more options for Ga Tech. The Yellow Jackets defense cannot be much worse and they bounced back well the last time after a poor outing against North Carolina. I like the Yellow Jackets as a home underdog.

Georgia Tech 28 Virginia Tech 24

Ga Tech Covers +3


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