Wednesday, October 7, 2009

College Football Notebook: At least 6th Top 5 Team to Fall Again This Week

by Micah Roberts
Gaming Today

SEC’s Florida, LSU battle in Baton Rouge

This week we get another chance to watch a top-5 team fall out again, which will be the sixth time this season. The No. 1 ranked Florida Gators travel to Baton Rouge to face LSU for what is sure to be an epic battle and help shape the face of the 2009 season between the two teams that have won the last three National Championships.

The winner of the big game under the lights will be in the driver’s seat and if the winner is LSU, things could get real interesting just because LSU has a much tougher road ahead of them. Following Florida, the Tigers have to play Auburn and then they have two tough road games later in the season at Alabama and Mississippi.

Florida’s road gets much easier if they are able to dispose of the Tigers this week with only a road game at South Carolina presenting any real danger. They don’t have to play either Alabama or Mississippi on their schedule unless it’s in the SEC Championship game.

The big story coming into the game is the status of Tim Tebow after suffering a concussion in Florida’s win at Kentucky last week. Team officials have been quiet about all reports which causes some concern, but it would be a major shocker if he didn’t play.

Since 2000, the two teams have played to a near stalemate with Florida holding a 5-4 lead. Over the same time span, each team has won two BCS Titles and three SEC Titles. Needless to say this game is huge and it will be interesting to see what side the bettors lean towards.

New Ranked Teams This Week

Hard to believe a 5-0 SEC team is just getting introduced to the top-25 this week, but Auburn under new coach Gene Chizik made that leap and find themselves No. 17. South Florida’s win at Syracuse gave them a 5-0 record and they joined the party at No. 23. Missouri was ranked earlier last month and fell out of the polls without losing, but they’re back in at No. 24. South Carolina is also ranked for the first time this season at No. 25.

Undefeated Hawkeyes Hopes Alive, Barely

No. 13 ranked Iowa is 5-0 for the first time in the current coaching regime after surviving a big scare from Arkansas State, winning 24-21 as a big 21 point favorite after being up 21-7 to start the fourth quarter. It’s possible the Haweyes were looking ahead to their game this week against Michigan and the dreams that could be as the Conference representative in BCS play. Iowa has now won 8 straight dating back to last season and just as a refresher note, Iowa was the only Big-10 team to win a bowl game last season.

Buffs Bettors get Win Gift Wrapped

Colorado got a nice back door cover on Thursday night at West Virginia. With the score 35-17, the Buffs heaved a deep pass down the sideline for a touchdown to cover the 17 point spread with only three-seconds remaining, much to the joy of the folks who pushed the game down to 16 by kickoff.

Herbstreit Finds the Best Dogs

The former Ohio State Buckeye quarterback turned analyst for ESPN’s Gameday is worth listening to for bettors just for his insights on the live underdogs he chooses. He caught my attention when he called for UNLV to upset Oregon State, which they almost did, losing 23-21, but still covering the 7 points.

A week later he went through all kinds of reasons why Washington would beat USC as a 19 point dog, and sure enough he was right on the money, not only with the cover, but the straight up win. Who calls for that type of dog to win outright?

Last week he had a feeling about Virginia Tech being in a let down spot at Duke, a 17-point dog. Duke ended up playing an inspired game and moved the ball well against the tough Hokie defense but fell 34-26.

College Line Move of the Week

The best move came early and often on Michigan State at home against Michigan. The original line had Michigan favored by -1, but quickly moved to State being favored until it eventually closed with the Spartans being a -4 point favorite.

This was one of the strongest plays by a top service and it came through with a 26-20 win in overtime, but not without causing some sweat thanks to more late game heroics by Michigan Freshman QB Tate Forcier who tied the game with seconds left. In the end, it was Forcier who forced an errant pass, intercepted in overtime that doomed Michigan.

Because Michigan failed to tackle following the OT interception, State ran it in 25 yards out for the clinching score meaning that all the late followers of the service play got paid too because most of them laid -3.5 or -4, when the suggested send was laying up to -2.5. It was likely State was just lining up for the game winning field goal when the Wolverines true weakness, tackling, exposed itself again.

USC Good or Cal Just Bad?

The best assumption after USC’s 30-3 win at Cal last week is that Cal is not quite the team many of us thought they were as they go tumbling out of the top-25. USC on the other hand can have their struggles attributed to just being a young team that will experience some leadership issues with their freshman quarterbacks.

USC’s system is sound and when they click on all facets of special teams, defense and the running game like they did Saturday, the QB becomes less of an issue. The Ohio State win gave them some pre-mature confidence, but the Cal game gave the young USC uniform their swagger back.

Despite getting romped in their last two games by conference teams, Cal still feels they have some ball to play.

"I have confidence in these guys," Cal coach Jeff Tedford told reporters after Saturday night’s loss to the Trojans. "There is a lot of football left to be played. There is no way in the world that we are folding our tent. I don’t believe that about this team."

Mater Dei High Can’t Even Do That

UNLV was tied 28-28 with winless Nevada Saturday and then it got ugly as the Wolf Pack reeled off 35 straight points to close the game out 63-28. What’s worse is that UNLV allowed three different Nevada runners to rush for over 170 yards and compile 773 total yards on offense.

Boise State Drops

Not quite sure why Boise State decided to play UC-Davis at this juncture of the season, but their 34-16 win Saturday cost them one spot in the poll. Despite winning the game, they got passed by Virginia Tech for the No. 5 position.

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