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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Games to Watch in Week 3

So far this season I am 9-1 picking winners and 6-3 against the spread-7-2 if Urban Meyer hadn't insisted on kicking that last second field goal against Miami. If I had avoided emotional picks (i.e. games involving Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and BYU), I'd be perfect.

Ohio State (+10.5) [-22] at USC [+25.5]

Why we care: These two schools have combined for 9 AP national championships and 1,451 wins.

What to watch for: 1) The condition of Beanie Wells' toe. Ohio State's backups proved to the world last week that the OSU O-line is overrated because it has been blocking for a super-premiere back, and when they are blocking for mortal runningbacks, the Ohio State running game suffers. The USC defense will not get worn down like that of Ohio. No Beanie, no W for the Buckeyes.
2) The matchup of the USC receivers and Ohio State secondary. Ohio State has the advantage here, and if they are able to rely on a lot of man coverage and stack 8 in the box, USC could have trouble moving the ball. Sanchez will not be able to make plays with his feet the way "Boo" did last week for the Bobcats (especially if their are still some subconscious concerns about the infamous knee) which will make USC predictable offensively.

Misc: A 10 point spread historically means that OSU has about a 1 in 5 chance of winning this game (which is remarkably consistent with Hubdub).

Pick: USC by 5

Kansas (+2.5) [+.75] at USF [-7]

Why we care: A win for USF will rank it officially as the class of the Big East, a title it might then hold indefinitely.

What to watch for: The Kansas pass rush. Kansas may have the best linebackers and secondary in the Big XII (which, by the way, is a much better conference than the Big East). But if the pass rush gives Bulls' QB Matt Grothe time to move and create, he will. On the other side, Todd Reesing is completing more than 3 of every 4 passes and Kansas has two backs getting more than 5 yards a carry. They will score their points, but USF's George Selvie will put enough pressure on an untested line to get a few stops. Kansas will also, then, need some stops to avoid getting outscored (aka losing).

Price for Kansas at South Florida. Fri Sep 12 2008 at

Misc: In 2004, these teams combined for 8 wins, a mark both surpassed individually last year.

Pick: Kansas by 5

Georgia (-7) [+15.5] at South Carolina [+2.75]

Why we care: The wrong team came out on top of this one last year.

What to watch for: The over/under. The line opened at 8, but money was heavy on South Carolina +8. This tells me that people expect the game to be low scoring. If South Carolina can stay within 7 into the 4th quarter, this could be anyone's ball game. If Georgia can score some points early, SC won't be able to keep up.

Misc: Its been a really, really long time since Spurrier had a quality season.

Pick: Georgia by 10.

Michigan (+1.5) [-5] at Notre Dame [-14.5]

Why we care: If you thought Ohio State and USC had combined for a lot of championships and wins . . .

What to watch for: Can Sam McGuffie break out? I see no reason to believe that Notre Dame will score an offensive point in this game. Last year, ND finished 116th in scoring (near the bottom) and 119th in total yards (that is the bottom). To kickoff this season, Cal Poly outgained them by 141 yards against a mutual opponent. And Michigan actually plays solid D.
On the other side, Notre Dame returns a secondary that was 2nd in the nation in pass D. Against a typical Rich Rodriquez team, that stat would be pointless, but Michigan, if you haven't noticed, doesn't have a mobile quarterback. The Domer run defense, though, was exploitable and had to be rebuilt after last season. With a good scheme and better execution, UM RB McGuffie could have a big day, helping Michigan score those 3 points it will need to win.

Misc: Scouts Inc. gave ND the advantage in terms of coaching. Huh?

Pick: Michigan by 3

Temple (+6.5) [+12.5] at Buffalo [12]

Why we care: (Bet you weren't expecting this one) In 4 games against D1A opponents, these two perennial crappers are +39 in margin of victory and +24.5 against the spread.

What to watch for: I'll be frank-I haven't watched either of these teams in a couple of years, so I could regurgitate something I've read in Athlon or Scouts, but instead I'll advice you to seek it yourselves. I am excited to watch these two teams duke it out on ESPN360, though.

Misc: Temple does actually have a football team and they, like the more distinguished BB team, are called the Owls. Both Buffalo and Temple are in the MAC (East). Eleven of the 119 D1A teams play in smaller stadiums than Buffalo.

Pick: Buffalo by 6.5

Other Don't Missers: Wisconsin at Fresno, UCLA at BYU--When power conference reps travel to meet the mid-majors, interesting things can happen.

BallHype: hype it up!

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