Sunday, November 29, 2009

Rivalry Weekend Thoughts: SEC Dominates ACC

Sometimes rivalry games bring out the best in teams and sometimes they bring out the worst in teams. The best was squarely in the SEC's corner this weekend with three wins over the ACC, two in upsets.

The day started off with South Carolina beating up on Clemson 34-17. The Tigers were never able to get CJ Spiller on track after returning the opening kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown. The senior had just 22 yards rushing on the day with his longest gain only five yards.

I thought the Gamecocks had to establish a running game and boy did they running for 223 yards. Where has that been all year?


The Gamecocks dominated the line of scrimmage and that was the difference. That was a theme for rivalry weekend.
Clemson must regroup quickly for the ACC Championship Game next Saturday. This week is very important as this upcoming game presents a cross roads for Dabo Swinney's program. A loss brings an 8-5 season with defeats in your two biggest games. A win gets you to a BCS bowl and a possible 10 win season.

Which way will the Tigers go?

FSU came up short, way short in spoiling Tim Tebow's Senior Day. The guy who may go down as college football's greatest ever had five touchdowns and passed Herschel Walker's record for total rushing touchdowns in an SEC career. The Gators were also four for four on red zone conversions, one of their best outings all year.

I thought the Seminoles had to establish a run game to have shot in this one, but they failed miserably with only 83 yards on the day.

Florida now turns their attention to next week's SEC Championship Game after winning the state championship. Florida State is left to ponder what bowl game they will be in at 6-6 and what to do with Bobby Bowden who has said publicly he wants to come back.

Georgia took a page right out of Georgia Tech's play book out rushing the Yellow Jackets 339 to 205. The Bulldogs dominated the line of scrimmage especially on offense. There is that theme again.

By establishing the run, UGA was able to control the clock and keep GT's offense off the field just like I thought they had to. Georgia regained state pride by doing it the way Vince Dooley would have.

Ga Tech QB Josh Nesbitt was injured in the first quarter sitting out a few series before returning from an ankle injury. His backup Jaybo Shaw threw an interception in his second series. UGA also recovered a Nesbitt fumble later in the game.

The Bulldogs turned the ball over just once and won the turnover margin for just the second time this season after coming into the game ranked 116th in the nation. Both of those game were wins too.

For Georgia Tech, they face Clemson next week for the ACC Championship and like the Tigers that game is big for the future of the program. Paul Johnson's club still has a chance at a conference title, a 12 win season, and a top ten finish by finishing strong.

A loss in Tampa will put a very sour note on what looked like a special season.

Was it me or did Alabama look like they were in quick sand on defense in the first quarter against Auburn? It looked like the Tide didn't come out with the same passion as the Tigers and it almost cost Nick Saban's club a shot at the national title.

But Alabama recovered and got the late drive they needed spearheaded by a guy who had kind of fallen of the map during the season in Julio Jones.

The passes completed on that last drive by QB Greg McElroy has to give 'Bama fans confidence heading into next week against Florida.

Auburn finishes 7-5 in a season that started out great but ended on a down slide. Recruiting will be very important this off season for Gene Chizik to be able to rebuild this program into an SEC power again.

Miss State made the Egg Bowl their bowl game taking down Ole Miss for the third straight time in Starkville. Dan Mullen pressed to his team all off season how big the game against the Rebels was he followed it up with a win. You have to like that for the future of the Bulldogs.

Kentucky came up short again against Tennessee extending their losing streak to the Vols to 25 straight, the longest active streak in FBS. Randall Cobb had a good game, but Montario Hardesty had a great game rushing for 179 to lead UT to an OT win.

Looks like the Liberty or Music City Bowl may be the destination for the Wildcats while the Vols could be headed to the Outback or Chick Fil A Bowl.

The ACC wasn't able to beat the SEC, but they were able to beat up on themselves.

Virginia Tech took UVA behind the woodshed and sent Al Groh packing. If I am Virginia, the two guys at the top of my list are Al Golden and Mike London.

Golden took Temple to nine wins this season after taking over a program in danger of losing FBS status a few years ago.


London has the Richmond Spider back in the FCS playoffs after winning it all last season. I am believer that if you can win in FCS, you can win in FBS and London knows the state of Virginia for recruiting.

The NC State Wolfpack were led by QB Russell Wilson in an upset of North Carolina beating the Tar Heels for the third consecutive season. This should be a nice boost for NC State in an otherwise disappointing season and may convince Wilson who is a baseball prospect to come back for another season.

The Tar Heels miss out on the possibility of a 10 win season which would have been their first since Mack Brown left.

This past weekend was not the greatest for my picks going 7-5 Straight Up and 4-8 Against the Spread. I was taken down by the home underdogs just like those SEC lines took down the ACC.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Florida-Florida State Preview: Can FSU Spoil Tebow's Senior Day?


Florida State Seminoles at Florida Gators
Saturday 3:30 ET TV: CBS

Line: Florida -24

Tim Tebow will play his final game in front of the Florida faithful in The Swamp Saturday against arch rival Florida State. The Seminoles are bowl eligible, but a win here would make their year in an otherwise disappointing season.

This rivalry was arguably the best in the nation during the 90s with the two teams vying for national titles nearly every year.

Florida is en route to a third national title in four seasons, led by Tebow who is looking for an undefeated record against FSU in his career on Saturday.

However, he Seminoles have fallen on rough times as of late losing five straight to the Gators and some are calling for legendary head coach Bobby Bowden to step down in Tallahassee.


Keys For Florida:

1. Red Zone

The Gators rank 98th in red zone conversions this season scoring on just 74 percent of their trips inside the opponent 20. Even worse, they are scoring touchdowns less than 50 percent of the time. The culprit many times has been turnovers which the Gators will need to reverse against FSU.

FSU is about average nationally ranking 47th in opponent red zone conversions. This maligned defense will need to step up to have a chance at the upset.

2. Experienced Defense vs Inexperienced QB

With Christian Ponder out for the season, Sophomore EJ Manuel has taken over at QB for FSU. But the Virginia native has thrown four picks on the season in just 51 attempts.

This Gator defense is tops in the nation in pass defense and ranks seventh in interceptions. If Florida can rattle Manuel early they have a good chance at blowing the 'Noles out.

Keys For Florida State:

1. Plug The Middle

To slow down an option team like Florida, you have to stop it from the inside out. The Gators favorite and most successful play is the dive.

If FSU can force the ball outside then it puts Tebow at a bigger risk of getting hit and forcing turnovers.

2. Establish A Running Game

Over their last three games, the Seminoles have done a much better job running the ball at a clip of 181 per game. They need to continue this trend to help out their young QB and to play keep away from the explosive Gator offense.

Florida is pretty good at stopping the run ranking seventh, but if they have a weakness it may be up the middle with their defensive tackles. If I am Charlie Strong, I try to plug the middle and force the 'Noles outside and let my speed pursue.

Prediction

If Florida were to lose on Tim Tebow's Senior Day with a BCS Championship berth on the line it would go down as one of the most disappointing losses in Florida history.

The Heisman trophy and two time national champion has kept his promise since the Ole Miss game last year leading the Gators to 21 straight wins.

I don't see that changing Saturday.

Florida Wins
Florida Covers -24



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Friday, November 27, 2009

Georgia-Georgia Tech Preview and Prediction: Clean, Old Fashioned Hate


Georgia Bulldogs at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Saturday 8PM ET TV: ABC/ESPN2


Line: Ga Tech -7.5


This may be the most heated rivalry in the South. So much so that the schools can't even agree on the series record. Georgia Tech says it is 59-39-5, while Georgia claims a 59-37-5 series lead not counting Tech's victories in 1943 and 1944.


You can throw the series record out this year as we find a role reversal with Georgia Tech's eyes set on a BCS bid while Georgia is fighting for a 7-5 season.


UGA Head Coach Mark Richt started out 7-0 against Tech after arriving in 2001 largely because of the Bulldogs three straight losses to the Yellow Jackets.

Before last season though, Georgia Tech hired Paul Johnson to restore this game to rivalry status and he did in year one beating UGA in Athens. With Johnson's arrival, Georgia Tech is 19-5 in two seasons and favored over their in state nemesis by a touchdown.

Things are not as rosy in Athens where Richt and his staff have come under fire with two straight disappointing seasons.


Friendships are lost, families are divided, and coaches fired over
Clean, Old Fashioned Hate.


Keys For Georgia Tech

1. Don't Beat Yourself

Georgia Tech's offense is on a roll and has largely avoided coughing the ball up this season.
But the option is a high risk, high reward offense that can be slowed by turnovers. Quarterback Josh Nesbitt needs to continue his good decision making this season and not give UGA any easy scoring chances.

The Bulldogs have only recovered one fumble this season so they will have to reverse recent fortune. But Nesbitt is third in fumbles among active players.


I think Defensive Coordinator Willie Martinez has to force the ball out to the pitch where turnovers are more likely.

2. Pass Defense


Despite the success on offense, Ga Tech's defense has left something to be desired with their pass defense ranking 78th nationally.


Star WR AJ Green's status is doubtful so guys like Mike Moore, Rantavious Wooten, and Orson Charles will need to step up and take advantage of a porous Jackets' defense.


The Yellow Jackets' pass defense will be greatly aided if they can get pressure from the front four and especially from guys other than star DE Derrick Morgan.
Georgia's offensive line has played pretty well in pass protection allowing just one sack per game.

Keys for Georgia

1. Control The Clock


Georgia Tech leads the nation in time of possession and that time on the field combined with a punishing running game wears opposing defenses out. Georgia has to establish a running game to hold onto the ball and keep it away from the explosive Yellow Jacket offense.


GT's key to holding onto the ball is their conversion rate on third down ranking third nationally. UGA ranks 27th nationally in opponent third down conversions.


2. Pass Coverage

I know you are scratching your head Georgia fans, but hear me out. Everyone knows Ga. Tech is going to run the ball and UGA is going to try and load the box to stop it.


But when Nesbitt can consistently connect with his receivers down field, especially Demaryius
Thomas, this offense is nearly unstoppable.

For GT, they have to get the ball to the edge enough to keep those corners and safeties peeking into the backfield. Those DBs peeking is a reason why Nesbitt is second in the country in passes completed over 50 yards.


Prediction

Last year, Georgia Tech won the game by out scoring Georgia 33-14 in the second half and has never looked back.

I think this game goes back and forth in the first half, but in the second half Georgia Tech's
offense makes the necessary adjustments leaving Mark Richt, Willie Martinez, and the Georgia Bulldogs befuddled again.

Georgia Tech Wins

Georgia Tech Covers -7.5


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Clemson-South Carolina Preview and Prediction: Battle For The Palmetto State


Clemson Tigers at South Carolina Gamecocks
Saturday Noon ET TV: ESPN

Line: Clemson -3

The Gamecocks and Tigers will tee it up for the 107th time on Saturday in the Battle For The Palmetto State.

There is no love lost between these two as was evidenced when I asked bloggers from both teams what this rivalry means.

Clemson would like a sixth win in a row this season and a seventh win in the last eight meetings between the two. But they also have an ACC Championship Game to look forward to next week.

South Carolina on the other hand is hoping to break a three game losing streak this season and beat a potential conference champion and their arch rival.
Keys For Clemson:

1. Spiller Time

CJ Spiller is the most dynamic player in college football having scored running the ball, receiving the ball, returning the ball, and throwing the ball this season.

The Tigers have done a very good job at making sure he gets plenty of touches this season. That needs to continue on Saturday.

South Carolina must know where the Heisman candidate is at all times, especially coming out of the backfield on receptions.

The Gamecocks may just decide to kick the ball out of bounds too instead of allowing a fourth return for TD by Spiller this season.

2. Pressure Garcia

Clemson's defense is at its best when it can rush the passer and allow ball hawking safety DeAndre McDaniel to roam the secondary. McDaniel is second in the nation with eight interceptions.

If the interceptions weren't enough, the Tigers lead the ACC and rank 11th nationally with 33 sacks.

South Carolina's Stephen Garcia has really improved his pocket awareness this season, but he needs to be extra sharp on Saturday.

Getting the ball out of his hands quickly will be necessary and preferably the ball is going a lot to talented freshman Alshon Jeffery.

Keys For South Carolina

1. Establish a Running Game

The reason here is two fold. To keep the ball away from a Tiger team averaging 39 points per game over their past three with ball control. And to keep the "Bamberg Bookends" from pinning their ears back to rush Garcia.

The Gamecocks have not had much success running the ball this year, but Brian Maddox emerged in the Florida game as a potential threat with 82 rush yards.

For Clemson, if they stuff the run early I can see where Steve Spurrier would go almost exclusively with the pass.

2. Eric Norwood

The Senior from Acworth, Ga is to South Carolina's defense what Spiller is to Clemson's offense. Norwood has come up big in the Gamecocks wins this season and will need to again on Saturday.

The Tigers had trouble blocking another great pass rusher in Georgia Tech's Derrick Morgan this season.

Norwood would be greatly helped by a healthy Cliff Matthews on the other side to create their own pass rush tandem. Matthews status was questionable early in the week.

Just like Spiller, QB Kyle Parker and the Clemson backs will need to know where Mr. Norwood is at all times since he lines out up at end and linebacker throughout the game.
Prediction

If I mention the words "Chicken Curse" to my South Carolina blogger brethren they get upset. But it looks like it could be rearing its ugly head again this season.

The Gamecocks always have a tough time in November (probably due to their schedule of Tennessee, Florida, and Clemson than any "curse") and it looks it is continuing this season.

Despite a hostile road crowd, I think Clemson's offensive talent and ball hawking pass defense is too much for South Carolina.

Clemson Wins
Clemson Covers -3



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ACC vs SEC Rivalries Combine History, Passion, and Hatred

When you follow the ACC and the SEC, this week is the biggest of the year with three rivalry matchups on the schedule. These games split friends, work places, and even marriages due to the close proximity of the schools.

In these three games you even cross former conference alliances that have enhanced the rivalry over the years.

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets played in the SEC for many years making their annual game with Georgia a conference affair. Now with the Jackets in the ACC, the game is not only for state pride, but conference pride.


Same goes for South Carolina who was an original member of the ACC. The Gamecocks joined the SEC in 1992.

I asked bloggers from around the South to get their take on the ACC vs SEC rivalries. What this game means to the fan base, what a win would mean, what a loss would mean, and how the history has made the rivalry what is today.

These are some of the best bloggers in the ACC and SEC so be sure to check out their sites.
Garnet and Black Attack - South Carolina
Leftover Hot Dog - South Carolina
All Sports Discussion - Clemson
Shakin The Southland - Clemson
From The Rumble Seat - Georgia Tech
Alligator Army - Florida


Clemson-South Carolina

From Garnet and Black Attack

This is the biggest game of the season for us. As in most big in-state rivalries, Carolina and Clemson people work together, go to school together, and sometimes are even part of the same family.


This dynamic is probably stronger in
South Carolina than other states, as South Carolina is a small state in which the fan bases aren't really all that divided by region. All of this means that along with victories comes the right to gloat to your friends and colleagues for a year, and losing means a year of suffering and humiliation.

One of the great stories of this rivalry occurred back in 1902. That year, an underdog Carolina team handed John Heisman's powerhouse Tigers their only loss on the year.

After the game, a group of triumphant Carolina students marched through the streets with a large banner that depicted a gamecock whipping a beaten tiger.
The students were assaulted by a group of Clemson students, and in fact there ended up being a showdown between the two student bodies on the Carolina campus that police had to intervene to stop. This incident apparently gave birth to the "Gamecocks" nickname.


As a Carolina fan, I should stress that because we've tended to struggle against Clemson--the Tigers own a 65-37-4 record against us and have absolutely dominated in the past 15 years or so--any win in this series is huge for us.

Victories are truly joyous occasions, and because Tigers fans think they're entitled to wins over us, it's fun to watch the utter meltdowns that ensure any time they lose to us. See 2006.


I'd argue that this one is as big as any in recent memory. This Carolina team needs a victory in this game to call this season a success; indeed, it needs it to erase the sting of the poor finishes of the past three two seasons. Steve Spurrier also needs a win here to win back the support of some of the more skeptical elements in the fan base.

Finally, all year our players have been talking about how this is a "New Carolina" that won't suffer the fate of teams past.
If they want to prove that's true, they're going to have to beat Clemson.

A win would equal positives on all of these fronts.
A loss would mean that this season would be deemed a complete failure, even if we go onto to win a lower-tier bowl game.

I don't think Spurrier would be fired or anyone would be ready to sell their season tickets if we lose, but the fan base would certainly be very unhappy with the way things are going.


The fact that this game is at home only adds to the gravity of the game; losing such a big game on our own turf would make matters all the worse. It's worth saying, though, that we've lost plenty of games to Clemson and suffered through many mediocre seasons, so a loss wouldn't be too surprising. Sad but true.


From Leftover Hot Dog

Winning in the Clemson and USC rivalry is everything to these two schools that lie 129 miles apart. Folks in South Carolina will tell you one thing with certainty—beating the rival is a must.


Most in South Carolina like one or other, rarely do you see a person that likes both so it creates a love/hate arrangement in the state. In the eyes of many, the biggest game of the year is about to take place in South Carolina.

The type of game that divides families or can ruin friendships; this is not just any old rivalry game but it is the “Battle of the Palmetto State.”


Clemson leads the football series 65-37-4, but approximately forty games have been decided by a touchdown or less. The USC/Clemson rivalry game is the longest uninterrupted series in the South, and the third longest uninterrupted series overall, having been played every year since 1909.

The
University of South Carolina football team is in desperate need of a win to reverse another late season slide, and at the same time create a new chapter in the “Palmetto State Rivalry” that has been dominated by Clemson of late, winning seven of the last nine games.

Saturday’s game is huge for South Carolina – “must win!” If the Gamecocks were to win they would finish the season 7-5 and avoid another late season total collapse. USC would end a two-game losing streak to Clemson and give its fans a year’s worth of bragging rights.


Spurrier would take a fairly positive attitude into the final stages of recruiting and onto the speaking circuit with Gamecock Club meetings. Spurrier would improve his record to 2-3 against Clemson and 1-1 against Dabo [Swinney].


A loss for South Carolina Saturday would mean another 6-6 season. It would mean another late season slide by losing four in a row and five of their six games.
It would mean Clemson would have beaten the Gamecocks 11 of the past 13 seasons.

Recruiting would be more difficult for the Class of 2011. The fan base would be depressed and I wonder what Spurrier could tell the faithful to inspire them to get excited about the 2010 season.
South Carolina cannot afford another poor effort against the Tigers.


From Shakin The Southland

Well, to tell you the truth from my perspective, there are two camps of
Clemson fans this year: the ones who would rather we rest guys for Georgia Tech and don't care about Sakerlina whatsoever; and the ones that despise the Gamecocks with a passion and want to wipe them from the Earth. I'm one of the latter.

I hate them and pull against them in every game they play.
I think most of us would rather take an ACC title over beating South Carolina though, if we had to choose only one. I would.

The problem is just that in-state rivalries are hard for the loser, because your family is divided in many cases, and sometimes your closest friends are opposing fans.


One of my best friends for 20 years is a Cockfan. I don't want to hear about it from him for the next year. So for the fans, its huge...for the team, maybe a little less so.


A win for us would just mean bragging rights, but it really doesn't shut the opposing fans up, they still talk trash like it never happened when we beat them every year.
Carolina fans immediately go into "wait til next year" mode halfway through any given season, and concede defeat. They're used to it after 100 years of sucking.

A loss might hurt in recruiting, but each team gets its share of prospects every year. In this state you pick Clemson or Carolina at birth and that's just how it stays. The ones we fight for are the ones who grew up not caring about either team.


A loss coupled with an ACCCG loss would be a real downer for the fan base, because we'd never hear Carolina fans shut up. A loss coupled with an ACC title would probably keep us smiling and give us something to throw in their faces, since SC will never ever win an SEC title.


I would like to say that there are a large group of Clemson fans, and I'm one, want to pick up Georgia again on the schedule. Throughout the '80s this was a huge rivalry with Danny Ford vs. Vince Dooley.

I wouldn't take SC off the schedule (and we can't, its state law) but I would love to play Georgia more often. We're closer, a bit more similar fan base, similar areas, and we fight for the same recruits every year. I know many UGA fans would feel the same.

From
All Sports Discussion

Clemson dominants this rivalry. The lead the rivalry 65-37-4 and have won 10 of the last 12 games.
All year long Clemson fans are subjected to the endless ramblings of South Carolina fans about playing in the SEC. I hear this myself from Carolina fans as a constant excuse for their usual 4, 5 or 6 losses preceding this game.

When Clemson wins this game it's a source of pride and state bragging rights to say we beat you on the field and we don't care what conference you play in.
As I said this is state bragging right game, but for Clemson the game is much more this season. Clemson is putting together it's best season in nearly 20 years.

A win would give the Tigers momentum heading in the ACCCG with Georgia Tech, and a strong possibility for a 10+ win season.
It would further endear Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney to Tiger fans. Atlantic Division title and 2 straight wins over South Carolina, yea life would be good for Dabo. In addition a big game by C.J. Spiller enhances his Heisman status.

I think Clemson and Georgia Tech are in very similar situations. Both are considered the ACC's best teams playing middle of the road SEC teams.

A loss by either would be in a word, embarrassing, for each team and the ACC. Both teams would suffer the indignity of losing to mediocre SEC squads.
Fans of either South Carolina and Georgia would never let Clemson and Georgia Tech fans hear the end of it. "Our average teams are still better than your ACC Champions", they'll say.

In the state of South Carolina this is the biggest game of the year. Other states have more colleges or professional teams, but here its 365 days of non-stop Clemson\Carolina. It's a very intense rivalry that's underrated nationally.


There's no question this is each team's biggest rival.



Georgia-Georgia Tech
From The Rumble Seat

Well, this rivalry is incredibly important for Georgia Tech. We've got beating Georgia in our fight songs sung at every game, function, and alumni wedding for Dodd's sake.


Georgia Tech fans hate UGA. There's no question. We see dog license plates everywhere, we work with dog fans, we may even sleep with dog alumni.

This is a quote from the Atlanta Journal after our first meeting with Georgia's football team in 1893:
"At one time early in the last half of the game, a stone was hurled at one of the Tech players, striking him a cruel blow in the head... At another time, one of the Athenians drew a knife and threatened one of the Techs' better players... The Techs were also poked and gouged with canes on plays toward the boundary lines... Some of the crowd had the privilege of the gridiron equally with the players."

The rock the UGA fans threw hit our first superstar,
Leonard Wood. Wood stitched up his own forehead and kept playing despite the injury. Tech won 28-6 with the help of Wood and quarterback John Kimball (a UGA transfer). They may have hurled the first stone but Tech has the first and most recent wins in the series, which is a huge talking point for Tech fans.

A win gives us gratification equivalent to say winning the lottery every day for a year until the next Thanksgiving game.

There's a long
history of why we hate them but it mostly stems from having to deal with their arrogance and bravado on a daily basis. There is not a happier fan base in America when the Bulldogs struggle.

A win is huge for a multitude of reasons. Since Mark Richt's arrival, he has dominated GT on the instate recruiting trail. He's also rebuilt the ravenous horde that is the UGA bandwagon.
A win shows that there isn't this gaping disparity between our two programs. A win constitutes a winning streak over the dogs - something Tech fans haven't known since 1998-2000.

In a slightly sick way, Tech fans want to win because we know it's driving Mark Richt out of Georgie. He's their best coach since Dooley but he happened to land a job during Tech's best coach since Bobby Ross' tenure and Florida's best coach ever. Hence, the comparisons in annual rivalry games are killing his reputation amongst the Bulldog faithful.

A Tech win distances the doggie fan base even more from Richt and may ultimately put their program back in the realm of Jim Donnan-esque futility if they force him out.


A loss would be the ultimate punch in the face to the ACC. It would say, "Tech won the ACC handily but couldn't beat a third tier SEC squad." A loss cannot happen. Tech has to pull it out. Tech's reputation is on the line as well as the ACC's.

A loss also confirms that Tech still hasn't reached the next level as a contender. Big out of conference, national television games are what winning programs feed off of.
If we can't win the state, there's no reason to believe Tech deserves any more than a division title this season.


Florida-Florida State
From Alligator Army

This is our biggest rival. On the football side,
Florida and Florida State fight for the same recruits and each game is a chance to show the most talented high schools in America that Gainesville or Tallahassee is the best place to attend.

For those of us in the stands or alumni/students, this is class warfare. The histories of Georgia and Georgia Tech, South Carolina and Clemson are far more controversial than Florida and Florida State.
But, there is a much greater difference in academics and culture between UF and FSU than the previously mentioned rivalries.

The University of Florida is the Flagship University; Florida State is the Safety School.
We have an elite teaching hospital and brain research center; FSU has a circus and wanted a chiropractic school in a money grab to stay ahead of the surging USF and UCF medical programs. I will admit, UF grads can be snobs. But we've earned it.

FSU was originally the women's college and UF was the men's college. This changed after World War II. That is why older alums and fans still look at Miami and Auburn (former annual rivals) with more disdain than current generations.

The rivalry did not become a big deal until the 1970s and the success of Bowden, Florida's rebirth in the 1980's (and NCAA sanctions that followed), and Spurrier never defeating Bowden in Tallahassee.


Florida fans take a lot of pride in that Ron Zook's only victory against FSU was on the day they dedicated "Bobby Bowden Field" in Tallahassee.

The last time FSU won in the series was 2003, when an ACC officiating crew handed the game to FSU with six blown calls.
If you wonder why college football has the "review everything" replay system, that game is the reason.

Defeating FSU would be the sixth consecutive win in the series for Florida and might finally send Bobby Bowden to the retirement home, since he can't beat Urban Meyer.
Tim Tebow, the greatest player to come out of Florida's high schools, would finish 4-0 against the Seminoles, 3-0 as a starter. UF fans will be pleased, but Alabama is the bigger concern a week later in Atlanta.

A loss would be the worst in Florida's history. There is precedent as UF's upset victory in 1997 over FSU ended the Seminoles' undefeated season and chance at a National Championship.


If FSU wins, it would be payback for that game. It might finally send Bobby Bowden to the retirement home since he finally beat Urban Meyer. Yeah, win or lose, they all want Bowden gone.


Thanks again to the Blogs who participated in this round table.

Garnet and Black Attack
Leftover Hot Dog
All Sports Discussion
Shakin The Southland
From The Rumble Seat
Alligator Army



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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

LSU-Arkansas Preview and Prediction: Tigers Season On The Brink


Arkansas Razorbacks at LSU Tigers
Saturday 7:00PM ET TV: ESPN

Line: LSU -3.5

Deja Vu for the Bayou Bengals in 2009? LSU is coming off a loss to Ole Miss last week and a loss to Alabama few weeks before just like 2008.

Arkansas is getting it together as they come down the stretch to face a reeling LSU team, one they have upset the last two seasons for the Golden Boot.

When you look at how these teams have played lately, you have to give the edge to Arkansas, but their schedule has not been nearly as difficult over the last three games.


I wish LSU would just run the ball behind their mammoth offensive line. But for some reason they cannot and now will not with their top two tailbacks out

Les Miles will be looking at the Arkansas pass defense stats and be licking his chops to thrown the ball down the field. Arkansas' leading rusher Michael Smith is also out so expect a lot of passing from both teams.

With the line at only 3.5 points for LSU they are barely getting the home field advantage which says the public thinks these two teams are even.

I don't if LSU comes to play and plays smart.

I like the Bayou Bengals to snap their two game losing streak in this series by nipping Arkansas in the fourth quarter of what should be a high scoring, back and forth game.

LSU Wins
LSU Covers -3.5



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Ole Miss-Mississippi State Preview and Prediction: Rebels Look To Retain Egg Bowl


Ole Miss Rebels at Mississippi State Bulldogs
Saturday 12:20PM ET TV: SEC Network

Line: Ole Miss -7.5

For the 106th time the Ole Miss Rebels and Mississippi State Bulldogs will battle it out in a game that has come to be known as the The Egg Bowl.

Ole Miss comes into this game riding high after defeating LSU last week to raise their record to 8-3. The Rebels may have locked up a Capitol One Bowl bid with the win over the Tigers.
The same cannot be said for Miss State who is riding a two game losing streak, but the Bulldogs hope to bounce back and exact revenge for a 45-0 blanking last year in Oxford.

Both teams like to run the ball, but Houston Nutt's Rebels are doing a better job of stopping the run especially as of late. Ole Miss is giving up just 87 yards per game on the ground.

To pull off the upset, Miss State is going to have to convert on third down, win the turnover battle, and score in the red zone. But the Bulldogs rank in the bottom three of the SEC in all of those categories.

I think the lack of depth is really coming through here at the end for Dan Mullen in his first season in Starkville. But I think the future looks bright for the Bulldogs with some more recruiting.

Davis Wade Stadium will be rocking for this one, but I think the cow bells quiet down in second half when Ole Miss takes over the game.

Ole Miss Wins
Ole Miss Covers -7.5



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Miami-USF, VT-UVA, UNC-NC State, BC-Maryland, Duke-Wake Predictions


Miami Hurricanes at South Florida Bulls
Saturday 3:30PM ET TV: ABC/ESPN

Line: Miami -1

An interesting note about this game is that it is off most boards; I had to dig to find a line on it.

Despite the close proximity, these teams will be meeting for just the second time ever on Saturday. Miami defeated USF in the only other meeting in 2005.

The Bulls have played much better at home this season, but those numbers are skewed with two contests coming against 1-AA competition early on.

Miami is playing better on both sides of the ball in their last three games after a brief mid season slump.

I like an improving Hurricanes run defense to slow down BJ Daniels and South Florida enough to gut out a win.

Miami Wins
Miami Covers -1




Virginia Tech Hokies at Virginia Cavaliers
Saturday 3:30PM ET TV: ABC/ESPN

Line: Va Tech -16

The swan song for Al Groh begins at 3:30 in Charlottesville when his Cavalier team takes on arch rival Virginia Tech. It is hard to imagine a scenario where the ninth year coach keeps his job unless he beats the Hokies for just the second time.

Now that I have basically told you I think Va Tech will win lets see if they will cover a pretty big spread of 16 points. Last season, UVA came into Blacksburg seven point underdogs and nearly pulled off the upset.

The problem this year is that UVA's offense and defense has gotten seemingly worse down the stretch.

Meanwhile, the Hokies have righted the ship on defense and have found a punishing offensive weapon in leading ACC rusher Ryan Williams.

I think the only way Virginia has a chance to keep this one close is to come out with something VT hasn't seen. Oh yeah, they did that last year with Vic Hall at QB.

Never mind, Virginia Tech rolls.

Virginia Tech Wins
Virginia Tech Covers -16




North Carolina Tar Heels at NC State Wolfpack
Saturday Noon ET TV: ESPN2

Line: UNC -5.5

The Tar Heels hope to break a two year losing streak against NC State, but continue their own streak of four straight wins. UNC has made an appearance back in some top 25 pools by pushing their record to 8-3.

Things could not be more opposite down the road in Raleigh where the Wolfpack are in a deep slide having lost six of their last seven.

The team that has won the rushing battle has won 16 of the last 17. This year the two are very close in rushing yards per game, but UNC has gotten better as the season has gone on while State has gotten worse.

Also, UNC's rush defense ranks at the top of the ACC allowing just 94 ypg on the ground.

I like North Carolina to exact revenge for the 31 point beat down they suffered last year by covering this 5.5 point spread.

North Carolina Wins
North Carolina Covers -5.5




Boston College Eagles at Maryland Terrapins
Saturday 3:30PM TV: ESPNU

Line: BC -6.5

Boston College hopes to stop their losing streak at one just like they have all year bouncing back after a loss. Maryland has not won since beating Atlantic Division champ Clemson back on October 3rd.

BC QB Dave Shinskie had a rough game last week, but just like his team he has bounced back the following week.

The Eagles don't have flashy statistics, but are winning by capitalizing on their opportunities. BC ranks second in the league in red zone offensive and defensive efficiency.

But I did see some improvement last week in Maryland who should have beaten FSU. And Boston College has not been the same team away from Chesnut Hill this season needing a late touchdown to over come Virginia for their only road win of the season.

I think BC pulls this one out, but closer than Vegas thinks.

Boston College Wins
Maryland Covers +6.5




Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Duke Blue Devils
Saturday Noon ET TV: Raycom

Line: WF -4.5

Wake looks for their 10th straight win in this series when they travel to Durham to face the Blue Devils. After a fast start by Duke standards, David Cutcliffe's club has dropped their past three and is out of bowl contention.

The Deacons have had some close calls against them this season losing five games by three points or less.

I think this game goes right down to the wire with two Senior QBs wrapping up their careers in what amounts to a bowl game for both teams.

I like Wake to come out on top and finally win a close one.

Wake Forest Wins
Duke Covers +4.5



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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tennessee-Kentucky Preview and Prediction: Wildcats Look To End Another Streak


Tennessee Volunteers at Kentucky Wildcats
Saturday 7:00PM ET TV: ESPNU

Line: Tennessee -3

The nations longest winning streak is put on the line when the Tennessee Volunteers try to take down the Kentucky Wildcats for a 25th straight time. The Vols have also won 26 straight season finales coming into this game.

But if Kentucky wins, it will not be the first streak they have broken this season. Just last week the Wildcats won at Georgia for the first time since 1977 and earlier this season won for the first time in 43 years at Auburn
.


Tennessee bounced back nicely from the debacle in Oxford with a win over Vanderbilt last week. Lane Kiffin's offense has improved as the season has gone on with QB Jonathan Crompton leading the way. But the defense has not been as dominant as it was early on.

Kentucky is not really good or bad in any particular category, but they take care of the ball and don't beat themselves with penalties.

This one is a very close on to call. Tennessee has not played very well on the road this season, but you do have to consider their opponents were Florida, Alabama, and Ole Miss.

I am going to go with the hot hand and Kentucky in this one though. I think Randall Cobb makes enough Dexter McCluster type plays to keep the Wildcats around and they capitalize on a late Vol mistake.

All streaks must come to an end.

Kentucky Wins
Kentucky Covers +3




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