November 25, 2006
There’s only one true game of consequence today, and that’s Notre Dame @ USC. It’s going to be a game of consequence in the Warbiany household as well, since the wife is From Southern Cal but grew up a Notre Dame fan. She actually wants to watch this game, and I think we’re going to be rooting for opposite teams.
Then, I need to figure out how to either watch or listen to the Purdue @ Hawaii game. Purdue is now a 19-point underdog, so I’m thinking I really don’t want to pay the $10 to order it and watch it online. So that might be internet radio all the way…
South Carolina (6-5) @ #24 Clemson (8-3)
Vegas Says: Clemson -5.5
South Carolina has lost 5 games this year. Every one of those games was lost to a ranked (at the time) opponent. Two of those losses are to teams currently ranked in the top 10, two to teams ranked in the top 20, and the final loss (to Georgia early in the year) was a blowout to a team currently not ranked. Of their last four losses (to the teams all currently ranked in the top 20), no game was decided by more than 7 points.
Clemson looks like a tough team this year, with a high-powered offense and dominating defense. But it appears that they’ve dropped off in recent weeks, failing to score more than 20 points in each of the last three games.
South Carolina is going to keep this one close. Given the spread, and that Clemson is at home, I’ll still predict a Tiger victory, but I don’t see this being a blowout. I don’t like 5.5, because a one-touchdown margin is a loss on the bet, but I’m going to call this one for Spurrier leading the ‘Cocks to beat the spread.
Prediction: South Carolina beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Clemson 20, South Carolina 17
Final Score: South Carolina 31, Clemson 28
#4 Florida (10-1) @ Florida State (6-5)
Vegas Says: Florida -9
Usually, there is a war in Florida between the Gators, ‘Canes, and ‘Noles, to see who is the dominant team. Florida won that war in mid-September, as Miami and FSU have both imploded, with Miami firing their head coach yesterday, and FSU’s nepotism-hired offensive coordinator resigning a few weeks ago. Florida, though, has been rolling offensively, with the two-headed monster of Leak and Tebow taking snaps.
This is a rivalry game, so again, stats mean little. What does mean something is what these teams are playing for. Florida State is already bowl-eligible, and this isn’t a conference game, so it really won’t affect which bowl they attend. Florida is working to impress poll voters in the hopes that they can amass a ranking high enough to get into the MNC game.
Another loss on their record, and Florida would be likely resting their starters a bit after they get a lead today. But they’re trying to make a statement, so I don’t see them taking their foot off the throttle. I think Florida is going to get an early lead, break FSU’s spirit, and then run it up.
Prediction: Florida covers
Predicted Final Score: Florida 34, Florida State 17
Final Score: Florida 21, Florida State 14
#16 Georgia Tech (9-2) @ Georgia (7-4)
Vegas Says: Georgia -3
An interesting line here… Georgia has been inconsistent all year, with their strongest showing a surprising blowout of Auburn a few weeks ago. Yet they lost to Kentucky and Vanderbilt, and just barely beat Miss St. Georgia Tech has beaten most everyone they should, with a close loss to Notre Dame, and a blowout loss to Clemson.
This game comes down to defense. Georgia Tech has enough defensive power to slow down Georgia’s offensive attack. That matchup should favor Tech. But the defense on the other side will decide this game. Can this Georgia defense force Reggie Ball into bad decisions with the football. Georgia didn’t defeat Auburn with offensive fireworks, they did it by intercepting Brandon Cox. Likewise, if Georgia doesn’t get the win in the turnover battle, they’re not going to win today.
I think we’re going to see Reggie Ball and Calvin Johnson hook up for a TD or two, and Georgia Tech’s defense make sure that they can cause more turnovers than the Georgia Tech offense will cough up. This is the year that GT has experienced offensive skill players, and Georgia is rotating through unproven QB’s. Today that’s too much for Georgia to overcome, and their win streak over GT comes to an end.
Prediction: Georgia Tech beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Georgia Tech 24, Georgia 20
Final Score: Georgia 15, Georgia Tech 12
Prediction: NO DECISION
#12 Boise State (11-0, 7-0) @ Nevada (8-3, 5-2)
Vegas Says: Boise State -3
This is a pressure-cooker game for Boise State. Had they lost a game earlier this season, I’d be picking them to easily cover. But they know that the only thing standing between them and a BCS bowl berth is a win over Nevada. Nevada doesn’t have much on the line in this game as far as bowls are concerned, but the ability to claim an undefeated Boise St as a pelt will be a major victory for their team, and will win them respect.
Nevada had a rough start to the season, but has come on strong over the last 4 weeks. Boise State had a scare against SJSU, but outside of that has been solid all year. This game comes down to who wants it more, and I have to give the edge to Boise. They’ve endured a scare in that SJSU game, and I think they understand that you have to bring your A game if you want to go to the BCS. They’ll have the memory of San Jose State in their mind when they look at a tough Nevada team. I think they’ve simply got more to play for today than Nevada, and when you add that to the talent they’ve been building over several years as a WAC powerhouse, they should be able to take care of business today.
Prediction: Boise State covers
Predicted Final Score: Boise State 41, Nevada 27
Final Score: Boise State 38, Nevada 7
#20 Wake Forest (9-2, 5-2) @ Maryland (8-3, 5-2)
Vegas Says: Maryland -1.5
This is a big one. With Boston College losing to Miami on Thursday, the winner of this game goes to the ACC championship game to face Georgia Tech. The loser basically drops to somewhere between 3rd and 6th place in the conference, in a group of teams that will all be battling for prominent bowl selections. There’s a huge amount on the line for both teams. With a 1.5 point line for the home team, it seems that Vegas thinks they’re pretty evenly matched.
Statistically, the offenses look identical: somewhat anemic. Wake’s defense looks a bit better, but neither team’s defense looks all that bad. Wake’s two losses have come to Clemson and VATech, two very dominant defenses, to which Maryland doesn’t compare. Maryland, though, has been the king of close games, with seven games this year decided by a TD or less (they’re 6-1 in those games).
But a couple of stats stick out at me. Wake has had decent sack numbers this year. While their pass defense leaves a lot to be desired, they should be able to get to the Maryland QB. The second stat is that Maryland is giving up 48% on third-down conversions. Wake, though they don’t have a great offense, should be able to sustain drives a little better than Maryland, especially since they’ve got a more balanced offensive attack. Last week I picked VATech to beat Wake, because they have the defense to do it. Maryland doesn’t have the defense to do it.
Prediction: Wake Forest beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Wake Forest 17, Maryland 13
Final Score: Wake Forest 38, Maryland 24
Purdue (8-4) @ @ #25 Hawaii (9-2)
Vegas Says: Hawaii -19
This game worries me… Purdue cannot afford a big blowout before facing their bowl game. The only bowl-eligible team we’ve beat this year has been Minnesota (6-6), and if we get ourselves embarrassed in Honolulu it will be damaging to the team’s psyche heading into Orlando. If any team has the ability to do it to us, it’s Hawaii, with the #1 offense in the land. Judging from what the coaches are saying (Tiller doesn’t want to be anywhere near this game), this could be a bad day for the Boilers.
But this could also be a statement. Hawaii is a heck of a football team, but let’s face it, they’re not in a power conference. Purdue should have the size and power advantage in this game. Purdue doesn’t have a great defense, but it’s probably better than most Hawaii has faced. Purdue doesn’t have the offensive consistency that Hawaii has, but then, they’ve been playing tougher defenses than Hawaii as well.
I firmly believe that Purdue CANNOT let this game become a shootout. We simply don’t have enough consistency in our passing game to be sure we can keep up. Purdue needs to play a ball-control offense and let their superior size grind it out against Hawaii. The O/U in this game is 74 points, and if it gets anywhere near that, Purdue loses big. But I want to see Purdue keeping the ball on the ground, milking the clock, and reducing the number of times Hawaii gets to touch it. If Purdue can keep the score down in that fashion, and it’s within 10 points heading into the 4th quarter, Purdue might just be able to win this game. If they let Hawaii off to an early lead, though, and get into a game of trading scores, it’s going to be ugly. As usual, there’s no official prediction in this game, but I don’t think Purdue is going to get embarrassed today. I think we can play them to within 13 or so, and if a few breaks come our way, we can win this game.
Prediction: No Official Prediction
Final Score: Hawaii 42, Purdue 35
GAME OF THE WEEK
#6 Notre Dame (10-1) @ #3 USC (10-1)
Vegas Says: USC -8
In my opinion, both teams are a bit overrated. I think USC is at least more accurately rated, as they haven’t gotten themselves blown out at home by 26 points. I think USC is a very talented team, but they don’t stand a chance against Ohio State. I think Notre Dame is even less of a team than USC, with a defense that Ohio State would absolutely shred (again). But neither of these thoughts has much to do with what happens today.
Today we’ve got two very good coaches matching up, in possibly the second-most storied rivalry in football. You’ve got Pete Carroll and USC, who almost never lose at home, against Charlie Weis, who I also think is overrated, but is still a very, very good coach and nearly led his team to a defeat of USC last year. These teams are very well-matched, and I think this is going to be a very interesting game.
But USC is more tested. USC has been through a number of close games this season, and I think they are going to be more of a test for Notre Dame than anyone ND has faced outside of Michigan. I think USC will win this game, and they’ve got the talent to cover the spread. But I don’t think they’ll cover. There is too much emotion in this game, there is too much on the line for Weis and Notre Dame here. This is Brady Quinn’s last game against USC, and you know he’s still upset about last year’s loss. Charlie Weis, it has been said, has spent far more time preparing for the USC game in both of his years with Notre Dame than any other game. This game isn’t going to be a blowout for USC.
I’m picking Notre Dame with a score of 28. There’s a reason I’m not picking any field goals. I think Weis is going to outcoach himself today, and go for it on 4th and short at least once or twice in USC territory. I think he’ll do this and either ensure a ND touchdown on that drive, or give the ball up. Either way, I don’t know that they’ll attempt a field goal all day, despite the fact that they’ve got a good FG kicker.
Prediction: Notre Dame beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: USC 31, Notre Dame 28
Final Score: USC 44, Notre Dame 24
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