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Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend
13) Mack Brown appears to have Texas back on right track after LY’s 5-7 fiasco, but playing Oklahoma in Cotton Bowl has always been a yardstick game for both teams. With Garrett Gilbert transferring out of Austin this week, it becomes especially important for the Longhorns to at least be competitive with Oklahoma, to sustain the perception of improvement.
12) John Brantley has a high ankle sprain, so Florida turns to true freshman QB Driskill for its game at LSU this week; luckily for the Gators, it’s a 3:30 CBS game, and not a night game. I am told there is nothing like the atmosphere on a Saturday night in Baton Rouge.
ESPN’s Jesse Palmer told a story on-air this week about an LSU fan threatening Palmer from the stands while he was a Florida Gator. When Palmer turned to see who was threatening to climb the fence and do physical harm to him, Palmer saw that his tormentor was a woman!!!!
11) Hopefully Nebraska’s first Big Dozen home game will go better than the road opener at Wisconsin; the Buckeyes come into Lincoln using a freshman QB who put up only one score at home vs Michigan State last week, and that was in the game’s last minute. Cornhuskers need a decisive win in this game.
10) Tampa Bay Bucs are 9-0-2 vs spread in last 11 road games, but they’ve got a West Coast trip on a short work week, which is a very tough scheduling spot, especially against a 49er squad doing the little things (+8 turnover ratio) right.
9) Can NC State beat a I-A team, even if it is Central Michigan? Has any team ever looked dumber than the Wolfpack does for basically giving Russell Wilson away?
8) How will Eldrick Woods do this week in San Jose with his new caddy, as he placates the Presidents Cup people and plays a tournament before heading to Australia?
7) Eagles were called the Dream Team this summer; now they’re 1-3, struggling on defense and playing a 3-1 Bills team that has 28 guys who were either not drafted or drafted in rounds 5-7. Interesting game.
6) Larry Fitzgerald goes home to Minnesota this week; his Arizona Cardinals lost their last three games by total of 8 points. Vikings haven’t won a game yet. Loser is going to be in deep trouble.
5) I’m curious to hear how Terry Francona is on TV; if he’s good, his managerial career could be over. Still can’t believe the Red Sox let him get away. Interesting to see where he winds up and who the Red Sox replace him with. Its a very tough act to follow.
4) Hockey season starts this weekend; if you haven’t seen a pro hockey game in person and you get a chance, go. Hockey is the one sport that loses the most in translation to TV. Great fun in person.
3) By Tuesday we should have a much better idea if there’s going to be an extended work stoppage in the NBA; my gut says there’s going to be. Too bad. Players would still be big winners, even if they gave the owners everything they wanted, but there are huge egos involved, so that ain’t happening.
2) Couple interesting playoff revenge scenarios Sunday. Jets won in Foxboro last January, are now struggling and are on road for third week in row; they seem vulnerable to a Patriots team that has it rolling on offense. Packers made like Sherman going thru Atlanta in last winter’s playoffs; now they’re 4-0 and going back to Georgia Dome, facing a Falcon squad that hasn’t hit its stride yet this season, but won its only home game.
1) Monday is Detroit’s first Monday night home game in a decade; Lions are going to have a very good home field advantage in that dome— offensive lines are going to struggle getting off the ball well. Chicago’s line has had troubles anyway. Am concerned about huge deficits Lions faced the last two weeks, but think this will be big game for them, especially with all the positive energy in the Motor City surrounding the Tigers. Restore the Roar .
4-0 Texas steps way up in class after big win at Iowa State; Longhorns won four of last six games vs Oklahoma, with losses by 8-7; favorites are 5-2-1 vs spread in last eight series games, with Sooners 3-2 in last five games as series favorite. Oklahoma (-3.5) won 23-13 at Florida State in its only road game so far, outgaining Seminoles 310-246-- they gave up 524 yards to Missouri the next week, but won 38-28. Big 12 favorites are 2-3 vs spread in conference play.
Iowa won eight of its last nine games against Penn State, winning four of last five visits here, all as underdogs. Lions are 1-6 vs spread as favorite in this series- they've scored 16 or less points in three of four contests vs I-A opponents, as lack of quality QB play is evident. Iowa was off last week- they lost only road game, in OT at Iowa State, then were down in next game before rallying late for unlikely 31-27 win over Pitt. Penn St has wins 14-10 vs Temple, 16-10 vs Indiana. Unimpressive, but wins.
Auburn kept South Carolina off-balance last week with no-huddle and strong running game, pulling upset in Columbia. Underdogs are 7-3 vs spread in last ten Auburn-Arkansas games; Tigers won three of last four visits here- they thrashed Hogs 65-43 LY. Dogs won four of last five in series SU. Auburn ran ball for 572 yards in last two meetings. Hogs came back from down 35-17 at half to beat Aggies last week, after they lost at Alabama the week before, so third tough game in three weeks for them.
Georgia gaining momentum after 0-2 start with wins over Ole Miss and Miss State last two weeks- they lost to Boise State/So. Carolina. Vols are young/improving, beating Cincinnati/Buffalo but losing SEC opener by 10 at Florida. Home side won last four Georgia-Tennessee games; Dawgs lost last two visits here, 45-19/45-14. Average total in last five series games, 58.4. Tennessee coach Dooley is son of Vince Dooley, former great Dawgs' coach.
Virginia Tech won six of last eight games vs Miami, covering four of last five as series favorite; Hurricanes lost five of last seven visits here, with 31-7/44-14 losses in last two visits. Tech got hammered 23-3 at home by Clemson last week; since 2004, Hokies are 9-5-2 vs spread in game after a loss. Home teams are 6-3 vs spread in ACC games so far this season. Miami lost to Maryland/Kansas State, then beat shorthanded Ohio State. Tech has scored only 10 second half points in last three games.
Air Force had huge rivalry win last week, holding off Navy in OT when they blocked PAT in OT; Falcons gave up 334 rushing yards week, 204 in earlier 35-19 loss to TCU- they're 9-7-1 in last 17 games as road dog. Air Force-Notre Dame haven't met since '07, when Falcons beat the Irish 41-24, but much has changed since then. Irish won last three games with defense allowing only 11.7 ppg. Since 2003, Notre Dame is 13-29-2 as a home favorite- they're 1-1 as home faves this season.
Navy had 608 rushing yards in last two games, but lost two tough ones, 24-21 (+17.5) at South Carolina, 35-34 (-3) in OT to rival Air Force last week, a big rivalry game for Middies. Southern Mississippi split pair of road games, losing 26-20 (-8) at Marshall, winning 30-24 (+3) at Virginia they had 370 rushing yards vs Rice last week. C-USA toad underdogs are 8-10-1 vs spread in non-league games. Southern Miss is 6-4 as a road underdog under Fedora, after being 7-15 in previous 22 games.
Michigan won eight of last ten games vs Northwestern, winning three in row here by 12-16-31 points; underdog covered last three series games. Wolverines won last three games overall by a combined score of 117-10 after the close win over Notre Dame, running ball for average of 353 ypg in wins by 28-21-58 points. Wildcats lost last two games 21-14/38-35 at Army/Illinois, despite being +4 in turnovers in those games. Wildcats are 12-7 vs spread in their last 19 games as a home underdog.
Texas A&M led 20-3/35-17 at halftime of their last two games, but lost both games; now they have first true road game in Lubbock, where they lost six of last seven visits, so they have confidence issues. Aggies beat Texas Tech last two years 45-27/52-30. Since 2006, A&M covered six of last eight games as road favorite. Tech is 5-1 as a home underdog since '06- they're 4-0 this year, but giving up 34 points in each of last couple games to Nevada/Kansas, two suspect teams, is a major red flag.
Missouri scored 41.4 ppg in winning its last five games vs Kansas State by average of 18 points- they won last two visits here, 38-12/49-32, as visitor covered last four series games. Mizzou lost both its road games so far, 37-30 in OT (+7.5) at Arizona State, 38-28 (+20) at Oklahoma- they had last week off, while K-State was pulling out 36-35 home upset of Batlor (+3.5), their second straight dramatic win (28-24 at Miami). Mizzou covered nine of its last 11 games as a road favorite.
Florida is 8-6 in last 14 games vs LSU, with only one loss by more than 7 points, but freshman QB Driskel is making first start here, in front of hostile crowd, with starting QB Brantley hurt. Miles is 13-24-1 as home favorite at LSU- their defense is so good- all five of their wins this year are by 13+ points. Gators were outrushed 226-15 last week, fell apart in second half after Brantley got hurt, losing 38-10. Florida is 7-2 as a road dog since 2003, but were 0-2 LY. SEC home favorites are 4-2 vs spread.
Nebraska got spanked 48-17 in its Big Dozen debut last week, giving up 486 yards, now they get struggling Ohio State coming into Lincoln with two losses in last three games, scoring 6-7 points in two losses. Huskers gave up 38 points to Washington in last home game, so their defense is suspect. Nebraska is 9-3 as home favorite under Pelini, failing to cover in earlier wins over Fresno/Washington. Buckeyes completed only 23 of 49 passes last three games. Four of five Ohio State games went under.
San Diego State had last week off after 28-7 (+10) loss at Michigan, in a game Aztecs gained 376 yards. Aztecs lost their last six games vs TCU, losing games here 55-12/45-33/23-20, but Horned Frogs have already lost couple of close games, 50-48 to Baylor, 40-33 in OT to SMU. Frogs are 1-3 as a favorite this year, after being 22-9 as a favorite from '08-'10. All four TCU games went over the total. Since '05, San Diego State is 11-8 as a home underdog- they're +7 in turnovers this season.