Friday, September 11, 2009

College Football Picks - Week 2: USC vs Ohio State

by M Roberts

South Carolina @ Georgia UNDER 39.5: This battle has gone under the total in their last 8 meetings where ever they have played. Steve Spurrier doesn’t want to throw, eliminate mistakes, and take his chances late in a close game. The last two season even with Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno leading a high powered offense, Georgia could only muster 26 points combined. Hard to figure out why the line has moved up, but it has from 38.

Michigan +3 vs. Notre Dame: The last few games have not really been close. The home team has won eight of the last 10 in this series. ND’s last win at Michigan came in 2005 with Brady Quinn. It looks like ND has another good one with Jimmy Clausen, but the home team should prevail in the Big House. Whether it’s good, or bad, the Vegas bettors agree too as the line has dropped from the opener of ND -4.

Ohio State +7 vs. USC: The Buckeyes got a nice wake up call last week with a scare against Navy. The Columbus faithful have had this game circled since getting buried 35-3 in Los Angeles last year. The Buckeye faithful feel that since USC lost most of it’s defense from last year as well as their starting QB, that they’ll be just fine at home with their own seasoned QB running a swanky new offense.

Apparently, Las Vegas doesn’t agree with Columbus. The game originally opened up as USC a -3 point favorite on an early line two months ago raising a few eye-brows that such a young team would be favored in Columbus. The combination of the occurrences from last week in each of their games made the opening line on Monday -7 where it has stayed all week.

USC reloads every year and they showed it last week with Freshman QB Matt Barkley leading the charge with 56 points against San Jose State. The greatest stat of the week involves USC and Pete Carroll in their last nine games against the Big 10 that has seen the Trojans win and cover all nine. In all nine instances, USC won by double digits.

On a positive note for Ohio State, their 12th man, the Fans - all 106,000 of them get to rattle a freshman QB. No matter what Barkley says to shrug off the daunting task of calling plays in front of what is arguably the most hostile crowd in College Football, he’ll still be affected. He may have all the tools and make up to make him great down the road, but not in his first road game a s a collegian, and not there.

This is only the third time the Buckeyes have been a home dog under Jim Tressel’s watch and overall, Tressel is 55-8 at home. With the spread being relevant, only two times has a Tressel team been beaten by double-digits (11 and 12).

There lots of reasons why USC should be favored, but I’ll base my choice of Ohio State winning the game on my faith in the crowd to do their job and create easy opportunities for Buckeye scores by letting the Freshman have it. This game is under the lights which means most of the older alumni and supporters stay home because night games bring out the freakiest of freaks in Columbus.

UCLA +10 @ Tennessee: The Vols opened up a -7 point favorite on Monday and has been bet up to -10 in Las Vegas. There is an opinion by many that new Head Coach Lane Kiffin is looking to instill a winning confidence in his team by running up scores at a rate beyond sportsmanship. They pummeled Western Kentucky last week scoring 63 points with QB Jonathan Crompton tossing five TD passes.

UCLA played a tougher opponent last week in their 19 point win against San Diego State. The two question marks coming into the season for the Bruins were answered quickly. The offensive line opened up holes and protected the QB. Freshman QB Kevin Prince showed he has the ability to lead the team comfortably by connecting accurately on tough out patterns and also nice touch on balls down field. He didn’t look like a Freshman.

However, Prince does come into a situation similar to Barkley of USC at the ‘Shoe this week. Neyland Stadium will be rocking this week with their desire to get back on top of the SEC and ride their maverick coach to a title. They believe it starts this Saturday. The big difference between the this game and the USC/OSU game is the start time which is 4 pm (ET), and Ohio State is a top notch program.

The Vols likely will get there soon, but UCLA will play them much tougher than anticipated by Las Vegas bettors and could pull off another upset like they did at the Rose Bowl last yea to kick off their seasons.

Last Week: 3-5
Season: 3-5

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