Posted by Walter
Georgia Tech +2.5 over @ Notre Dame
Classic Notre Dame line. Do the Fighting Irish deserve to be favorites in this one? No way, but it's Notre Dame so all the die hard golden domers out there are going to throw there money away driving the spread up all week just so they don't have to face the grim reality that their team sucks this year. As I've stated many times, this Georgia Tech team is one of the most underrated teams in the entire country. Sure they lost Calvin Johnson, but they return the best tailback in the conference (Tashard Choice) and they've replaced Reggie Ball with a QB who can actually throw the ball. More importantly, they return 8 starters from a suffocating defense that held the Brady Quinn led Irish attack in check for the entire game last year. This year, Notre Dame returns only 4 starters on the offensive side of the ball. The Yellow Jacket defense is simply going to be too much for new QB Evan Sharpley to handle. I expect poor production from the Irish offense, a steady dose of Tashard Choice, and a couple of big plays from Taylor Bennett and the Tech passing game (hey, who can't throw on the Irish secondary?). Is this the beginning of the end for Charlie Weiss at Notre Dame? Probably not. But this will be the beginning of a LONG season in South Bend. Call it Tech 27, Notre Dame 10.
Oklahoma State +6 over @ Georgia
This is the first of three very interesting SEC non conference games this week. I like this Oklahoma State team a lot. They've got a ton of firepower on offense, and have an extremely balanced attack. The defense, well that's another story. But the same could be said for Georgia. Matt Stafford showed marked improvement last season, and appears ready to assert himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. He returns 7 starters on offense, so the Dawgs should be all set on that front. The problem for Georgia is going to be the other side of the ball. The dismissal of all everything CB Paul Oliver could really hurt this team in this game. Georgia will be breaking in 8 new defensive starters against an experienced Cowboys offense that has a ton of big play potential. The bottom line, this game should turn into a shootout very quickly. This game could play out like a boxing match, with both teams punching and counterpunching. My guess is that this is the Matt Stafford coming out party, and he makes one more play than Adarious Bowman, Bobby Reid and Co., but not before Oklahoma State pushes the Dawgs to the brink of an upset. The over might be a better bet here, but I'll take the points with Georgia pulling out a tight one 34-32.
Kansas State +14 over @ Auburn
This line is very indicative of the deference and respect just heaped on the SEC. Kansas State might not be Texas or Oklahoma, but they are a very solid Big 12 team that won 7 games last season including a spanking of Texas late in the season. In fact, offensively this team really improved as the season progressed, thanks in large part to the solid play of then freshman QB Josh Freeman. Well Freeman has the reigns this year and starts off with an incredibly tough Auburn defense. There is no doubt that the Tigers D is the best KState will face all year. Big 12 defenses are slow, plodding, and very very powerful. SEC defenses are mean, nasty and really really fast. Expect the Kansas State offense to struggle mightily trying to adjust to the speed on an SEC style game. The only chance the Wildcats have is to stick to the running game early, and hope Freeman can make a few big plays. But even still, 14 points is WAY to high a number to lay for an Auburn team that is replacing 6 starters on offense, including 4 offensive lineman and their two biggest playmakers from a year ago (Kenny Irons and Courtney Taylor). In fact, that offensive line could be a major problem in this game. The Kansas State defense is not great, but with Ian Campbell they can rush the passer very effectively. Auburn should get plenty of yards on the ground, but looks like an ugly, mistake laden game waiting to happen. 14 points is just too much. Call it Auburn 17, Kansas State 7, and expect a slew of three and outs.
@ California -6.5 over Tennessee
This, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call a classic revenge game. Let's see, last year Cal visited Knoxville looking to shed its reputation as a soft Pac-10 team by banging heads with the rough and tough SEC. How'd it work out? Well, very poorly. Tennessee absolutely embarrassed the Golden Bears who lived up to every stereotype SECers have about Pac-10 teams. To say that California played soft last year would be an understatement. To say that they looked like a team that had never heard the word "tackle" before would be about accurate. Anyways, this year the game is in Berkely, and wouldn't you know, that performance last season has badly skewed the line. Cal is at home, they have far more talent that Tennessee, and the Vols starting QB (Erik Ainge) is hurt. Yet, the line is still under a touchdown. Look, TN is one of those teams that is overrated every year. This is no exception. California has just too much firepower coming back on offense not to put up monster numbers on their home field. Tennessee is not going to be able to cover DeSean Jackson (who can?) and Robert Jordan, and the Vols lost a lot on that defensive line so consistent pressure on Nate Longshore might be hard to come by. Frankly, I expect Cal to roll up and down the field all night on what will be an overmatched Volunteer defense. Last year the game was in Knoxville and we learned that California cannot play an SEC style game. This year the game is on the Left Coast, and we'll learn that Tennessee cannot play a Pac-10 style game.....especially when their star QB is not 100%. Call it California 35, Tennessee 24 in a game that isn't as close as the score.
@ Clemson +3.5 over Florida State
Does anyone really care that this is the Bowden Bowl anymore? I mean Jeez, how many of these have their been? 100? Eh, maybe it just feels like that many. Anyways, this game should be a great one. I love Clemson as a sleeper this year, mainly because they return key pieces on offense. True they only have a few returning starters, but they have three all american caliber players in RB's James Davis and CJ Spiller, along with LT Barry Richardson. Gotta love a team that can, and will, run the football. The running game should be huge for Clemson in this game. Florida State always has a great defense, but their has been a HUGE talent drain from FSU over the past two seasons and the front 7 has been hit the hardest. In fact, although the Noles return 6 defensive starters only three of them are in the front 7. Davis and Spiller should be able to find some holes early on, and both backs (especially Spiller) are good enough to take it to the house every time. Look for at least one big play early from the Clemson running attack. On the other side of the ball, Clemson returns 7 starters from an underrated defense that should be every bit as good as last year despite the absence of Gaines Adams. FSU still hasn't figured out that Drew Weatherford is terrible, and even though I love Jimbo Fisher as an offensive coordinator, an old proverb about making chicken salad comes to mind. This has the makings of another ugly game. Gotta take Clemson though, because (1) they are at home, and (2) they have the best player in the game (Spiller). That they are home dogs only sweetens the pot. Call it Clemson 17, FSU 13.
Georgia Tech +2.5 over @ Notre Dame
Got to love this line. It's never fun taking a road team when you're getting so few points, but this one is too easy. Brady Quinn and company squeaked one out last season, putting up a paltry 14 points. This year the Irish have lost their quarterback, two best receivers and their best offensive player (Walker, who made an atrocious decision to come out). Their offensive line is no great shakes, their defense is terrible, including the most overrated defensive player in the country (I am looking squarely at you, Zbikowski, and I'm not afraid because I don't think you could catch me in the open field). Also, they don't have Reggie Ball to bail them out if Georgia Tech starts playing well (yes, I know Ball was the Jackets quarterback, he was also a train-wreck). Notre Dame is not going to be very good, and the administration is going to have a lot of explaining to do as to why Weiss got a huge contract extension after one nice bounce-back year, and Willingham did not, especially since their eras are beginning to resemble eachother a little more than any Domer can like. Let's say the Jackets prevail 27-17.
Kansas St. +14 @ Auburn
I like Auburn in this game. I just don't like them by two touchdowns. I know they came out blazing against Washington St. last season, but I don't see it happening again. In Ron Prince's first season he led K-State to seven wins (including one over Texas) and a bowl game. It's definitely fair to assume that Prince will continue to help his troops improve this year. Josh Freeman will keep them in this game, and the probably with such a big spread is that even if Auburn is totally in control, a garbage touchdown can easily prevent them from covering. Auburn will win, but fail to cover, something to the tune of 31-20.
Georgia -6 vs. Oklahoma St.
The Oklahoma St. yo-yos only won 2 road games last season, against Kansas and whipping-boy Arkansas St. That does not bode well for them. This is a team that is famously up and down, and I expect them to be down between the hedges. Georgia is a really overlooked team this year, but Richt is a fine coach, and I expect good things from them. Matt Stafford should make a huge leap forward starting against this suspect defense. Georgia should win fairly easily, possibly 27-14.
Tennessee +6.5 @ Cal
This line makes ZERO sense to me. I understand that this is a road game, so things should be a little different, but where does this come from? The Vols wiped the floor with Cal last year in the opener, and both teams seem to return similar personnel. Frankly, the loss of Marshawn Lynch is the biggest lost either team suffered. This is simply too many points for me to ignore. It's never an easy task to go across the country and score a win, and I know Cal will be up for this game, but the last time these two teams met it was not close. I think the Vols will have a chance to win outright, but Cal should prevail in a close one, 27-23.
Clemson +3.5 vs. Florida St.
This is another line that makes no sense to me. Clemson won AT Florida St. last year, and they have a more reliable quarterback and the incredible CJ Spiller back for more this year. Death Valley is NOT a fun place to play, and Florida St. hasn't given me any reason to buy their hype. They return the same mediocre quarterbacks for about the hundredth year in a row (Drew Weatherford, Xavier Lee, Dan Kendra, Wyatt Sexton, Chris Rix). Hell, even Weinke was horribly overrated. Clemson has the three best offensive players, and their defense should be solid. This isn't 1998, and everyone has to get over it. The Seminoles are no longer unbeatable in the ACC, and they're going to start this season with a loss by a final of 17-13, with FSU's anemic offense getting nothing done.