Posted by Walter
Miami +10.5 over @Oklahoma
The first of four very interesting non conference games this weekend. Both the Sooners and the Hurricanes looked awesome in their season openers, with Oklahoma being slightly more impressive (albeit against North Texas). However, aside from the name recognition and obvious cache, this game will be extremely entertaining because it pits arguably the top offensive line in the nation (Oklahoma) against the arguably the top defensive line in the nation (Miami). Seriously, all 5 Sooner OL and all 4 Hurricane DL will probably be playing on Sundays at some point so this should be an absolute war. Another intriguing matchup will be new Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford against an extremely talented Miami secondary. Bradford lit up North Texas to the tune of 21 of 23 passing, but completions expect to be a little harder to come by against Miami. The bottom line in this game is that I like Oklahoma to win. They are one of the few teams in the nation that can match Miami’s physicality at the line of scrimmage and, unlike the Hurricanes, they have a two true gamebreakers on offense in Demarco Murray and Malcolm Kelly. With two really good defenses, this game should be a knock ‘em down drag it out type game, for which a 10.5 point spread is just ludicrously high. Oklahoma wins because the game is in Norman, but Miami will make them earn it. Call it Sooners 20, Miami 13.
Oregon +7 over @ Michigan
The sentiment around the nation is that it’s put up or shut up time for the Wolverines. Well, to me put up or shut up time was last Saturday in the fourth quarter against Appalachian State. Now it’s just shut up time. It’s not that I want to pile on Lloyd Carr, but it’s just so easy. Expecting a Lloyd Carr coached team to bounce back after such a devastating defeat might be just wishful thinking. Look at recent history. Last year Michigan lost a heartbreaker to Ohio State (a game they played well in) and then followed it up with a clunker against USC. Moreover, for all the Ron English love there was during the first 12 games of 2006, do people realize that the Wolverines defense has given up over 100 points in its last three games? The task gets no easier this Saturday with an extremely talented, and hungry, Oregon team in town. Dennis Dixon, Jonathan Stewart and Jaison Williams are a strong trio of skill position players, but more importantly the Ducks have a veteran offensive line that should have the edge over a very inexperienced Michigan front four. Henn and Hart should put up huge numbers against a suspect Oregon defense, but this game sounds more like a Pac-10 shootout to me. Michigan squeaks it out, but they need a late charge from Henne to do it. Michigan 38, Oregon 35.
TCU +9 over @ Texas
I’d bet a year ago this line would have been closer to 2 touchdowns, no matter how good TCU is playing. In fact, the 9 point spread is indicative of what we are going to be seeing from oddsmakers ever since Boise State toppled Oklahoma last bowl season. TCU is a very solid team. Defensively they are every bit as strong as Texas, and one could argue that with Chase Ortiz and a healthy Tommy Blake there isn’t a better combination of defensive ends in the country. With Texas’ lackluster performance in the opener, I didn’t have faith that they could move the ball consistently against a swarming TCU defense that is particularly stout against the run. After losing starting WR Billy Pittman to suspension, Colt McCoy has one less weapon in the passing game, a factor that the Longhorns will need to rely on this Saturday. All that said, TCU probably isn’t going to score a ton against an underrated Texas defense. The Horned Frogs can run the ball but that plays to the Longhorns strength. If TCU can get one or two big plays from their passing game against a suspect Horns secondary, they may be able to steal one in Austin. Chances are, though, that it’s Colt McCoy who will make that big play. Texas wins, but it’s close. Call it Texas 17-10.
@ LSU -11 over Virginia Tech
If you ever needed proof that we live in a “what have you done for me lately” society, take one look at this line. There is no denying that Virginia Tech struggled at home in their opener, but this line would have been laughed out of Vegas if it had been proposed 3 weeks ago. That said, I think the oddsmakers got this one right. I’ve though the Hokies were overrated all offseason and they did nothing to dispel those thoughts against East Carolina in the opener. Sean Glennon looked terrible (no surprise there), and Brandon Ore showed very little explosiveness and big play ability (something the Hokies are going to need). East Carolina played the game about as well as they could. Their offense wasn’t going to score on a strong Hokie defense, but they weren’t stupid and didn’t get a punt blocked. It’s a whole new ballgame against LSU. Along with USC, LSU has the only defense in the nation that is hands down a better unit that VTech. Frankly, I just don’t see how the Hokie offense is going to put up a single point in this one. Unless the defense or special teams score (which is possible), this should be a shutout. On the other side, Matt Flynn and LSU looked OK in their opener. But Flynn is a veteran, he will perform fine. The big question will be how much they get from Keiland Williams, who has big play ability. Even so, no matter how fiercely the Hokies play on defense they are going to wear out late in the game if the offense can’t put drives together to give them a rest. I expect LSU to put this one away in the second half thanks to short fields, and a tired Tech defense. LSU takes it at home 23-3.
@ Georgia -3.5 over South Carolina
More than a field goal makes it tempting to take the points and the Ole Ball Coach, but I am not going to for two reasons. First, Georgia really played well last week. The defense looked stronger than one would expect for a unit starting so many new players, and the offense is in fine hands with Matt Stafford. Aside from his big arm and pinpoint accuracy, Stafford brings this team an heir of confidence they haven’t had since David Greene left Athens. Stafford makes everyone in that huddle believe they can score on every play, and that is something you simply cannot underestimate in football. The second reason I am going with Georgia is because Blake Mitchell didn’t play in the first game due to suspension. This is the type of game, on the road, where South Carolina needs its best offensive player to play perfectly. It is going to be exceedingly difficult for Mitchell to do that coming in not having played in a game in almost 8 months. One or two mistakes, or one or two slightly overthrown balls could be the difference in this game. This game will be a statement game either way. If South Carolina wins it’s a major statement that they deserve a seat at the table in the SEC. If Georgia wins it’s a statement that they are back, and everyone else better watch out. The game is in Athens so I’m betting the latter, but to be perfectly honest nothing would make me happier than for Steve Spurrier to make me eat my words. Call it Georgia 28, South Carolina 21.
Season Record: 4-1