After last week’s essential “bye” week for many of the top rated teams in the country they are now getting back to some quality football matchups. I say last week was a bye week for many teams based on the sheer number of point spreads above 20 with many Top 25 teams thoroughly embarrassing their opponents in what can only be described for lack of a better word, a shellacking. A few of the more notable examples include the following:
- No. 7 Louisville beat Florida International University 72-0 in such an inhumane manner that FIU finished with only 3 net rushing yards.
- No. 16 Miami had to agree to a 12 minute 4th quarter with Savannah State to avoid death by boredom during their 77-7 rout of the Tigers.
- No. 4 Ohio State was playing members of their marching band by the end of their 76-0 pitiless stomping of Florida A&M.
I understand that the reason for many of these “fill in” games is to give flexibility to the schedule and surely to produce even more revenue for the top schools. However, scores and matchups like these are all the more reason to push for a shorter regular season and longer post season. But I’ll leave that debate for another post.
On to some real football matchups for this Saturday, September 28th.
At 12:00pm est. on ABC we will see No. 12 South Carolina (2-1) travel to central Florida to take on the Knights of UCF (3-0). The Knights come into the game fresh off a close win against Penn State and are boasting some higher than usual rankings for a school of their stature. According to ESPN they are ranked 14th overall in points allowed and 34th overall in passing yards, not too shabby… Don’t read into this too much, you have to consider that before the Penn State game they played FIU (see opening segment) and Akron. Not to say that the Game Cocks are going to walk all over them, they have made more than their fair share of mistakes this season and the 2 wins on their record do come from North Carolina (a basketball school) and Vanderbilt (aren’t they famous for turning out fashion designers?). Regardless, you expect more from a team coached by Steve Spurrier and they no doubt will give the Knights everything they can handle. With the current spread SC -7 and the total at 53, taking the Game Cocks -7 now is a bargain and will likely move against them as we get closer to kick off.
In the afternoon at 3:30pm est. on CBS will no doubt be the featured game of the week between the No. 6 LSU Tigers (4-0) at No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs (2-1). The Tigers are coming some high scoring wins and it’s safe to say that they have a balanced offense that can get it done both on the ground and in the air. LSU QB Mettenberger whose 1026 yards passing and 10 TD’s through 4 games no doubt has him on track to be a serious Heisman contender will surely be hyped up for this SEC rival that promises to be a shootout. The Bulldogs are coming off an easy win against North Texas so mentally they may be a little soft. The RBBC approach of Gurley and Marshall has been very effective to date racking up nearly 500 yards through 3 games and they will no doubt continue their ground efforts this week against a LSU defense that is currently ranked 37th in points allowed.
With the current spread favoring the home town Bulldogs at -3 with a total of 61.5 I would expect this game to go over the total being that each team is averaging over 40 points per game. Grab it now as the weather appears to be perfect for a high scoring game and it will likely start moving as soon as the wise money comes in.
The early evening game at 7:00pm est. on FOX will be a Pac 12 matchup between the Arizona Wildcats (3-0) and No. 16 Washington Huskies (3-0). This will be the first Pac 12 matchup for each team and thus their first real tests of the season. The problem with trying to analyze this game is that neither team has really played anyone of note and thus their national rankings in categories like points scored and points allowed are in the Top 10; however they don’t reflect the true standings of either team. For a game like this I think the best bet is to go to the historical statistics and make a judgment call based on that. The Wildcats have won 4 of the last 6 meetings; however they have lost the last 2. Both teams are going to come out running, that is no secret and with a 60% chance of rain in Seattle, I would take a long hard look at the under 63.5 total. Neither of these teams has faced tough defenses yet so the total definitely looks inflated.
The Saturday night prime time game of note is at 8:00pm est. on ABC between Big 10 powerhouses No. 23 Wisconsin (3-1) at No. 4 Ohio State (4-0). This will be the first true test for Ohio State and they know it. The Badgers mean business, like an angry ex-wife taking your message chair in the settlement and they are going to give the Buckeyes all they can handle. Wisconsin comes into the game ranked 3rd in the nation in rushing yards per game and 10th in points allowed. So it’s safe to say that Ohio State will be tried on both sides of the ball. Wisconsin’s only loss came on a fluke referee error in the final seconds of a game against Arizona State which deprived them from an easy game winning 30 yard field goal so they are definitely fuming and ready to make a forgotten memory of the one asterisked loss on their record. Ohio State is no slouch, but the lack of competition thus far in the season may have made them soft and over confident. With a current spread at -7 favoring the Buckeyes at home it seems like a good time to jump on the Badgers before it start moving. The weather should be favorable for football with a high of 79 degrees and only 10% chance of precipitation. I expect a real ground and pound gridiron matchup so the total of 54.5 is probably spot on and you should stay away from it if you can help yourself.