Week 2 Action
September 8, 2012
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USC TROJANS (1-0) vs. SYRACUSE ORANGE (0-1)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: USC -26 & 65
Opening Line & Total: Trojans -26.5 & 58
Despite curiously losing its No. 1 ranking in the AP Poll, the second-ranked USC Trojans head east to take on Syracuse in New Jersey on Saturday afternoon.
Two of the top-five passers in the nation will meet in East Rutherford, NJ for a neutral-site game that will have many more fans dressed in orange with Syracuse's campus located less than 250 miles away from MetLife Stadium. Heisman front-runner Matt Barkley (372 passing yards last week) and Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib, fresh off a 470-yard, 4 TD performance, expect to make this an entertaining air show. While USC crushed Hawaii 49-10 last week, Syracuse gained 596 yards against Northwestern, but still lost 42-41. Barkley outdueled Nassib in last year's 38-17 home win over the Orange, throwing for 324 yards and 5 TD, while Nassib had just 230 passing yards and one score. With the home loss to Northwestern, Syracuse has now dropped six straight games (SU and ATS) dating back to last year. Meanwhile, the Trojans, who led Hawaii 35-0 at halftime last week, don't usually stumble after a huge offensive showing. Since 1992, USC is an impressive 39-23 ATS (63%) after scoring 42+ points in its previous game. Another favorable trend for the Trojans is that all favorites of 21.5-to-31 points off a non-cover where the team won as a favorite, with 4+ more total starters returning than the opponent, are 40-14 ATS (74%) since 1992.
Barkley has a ton of weapons at his disposal, in particular the WR duo of Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. Woods caught eight passes for 82 yards and a TD against Syracuse last year, while Lee tallied 63 yards and a touchdown on just two receptions. The duo also shined against Hawaii last week, especially Lee who racked up 197 yards on 10 catches, including a 75-yard TD catch. Lee also returned a kick 100 yards for another touchdown. Woods scored twice against the Warriors, but gained just 42 yards on six catches. USC's air attack could be the best in the nation, but the Trojans will be looking to ratchet up their ground game after rushing for a mere 81 yards on 23 carries last week. Penn State transfer Silas Redd was impressive though, gaining 56 yards on just nine carries and adding a 41-yard reception. He will likely assume a bigger role in his second game with his new team. USC's defense sometimes gets overlooked, but it was certainly impressive in holding Hawaii's offense to 10 points and 264 total yards, well below the 31.5 PPG and 404 total YPG the Warriors posted in 2011. The Trojans limited them to 1.8 yards per carry and 5.3 yards per pass attempt last week.
Nassib completed a school record 44 passes last week, connecting with nine different receivers. His top option was Marcus Sales, who tallied 117 yards on his 11 receptions, but Jeremiah Kobena scored a pair of second-half TD receptions, finishing with 79 yards. The Orange will likely try to establish the run more to sustain longer drives to keep USC's offense off the field. Junior Prince-Tyson Gulley rumbled for 50 yards on just seven carries, but his teammates gained a mere 76 yards on 23 attempts (3.3 YPC). But if Syracuse wants to hang around in this game, it has to be more disciplined in all facets. The Orange turned the ball over three times, committed 12 penalties and surrendered an 82-yard punt return TD in the loss to Northwestern last week. They also trailed 35-13 late in the third quarter before their offense got back on track and scored 28 unanswered points.
WASHINGTON HUSKIES (1-0) at LSU TIGERS (1-0)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: LSU -24 & 53
Opening Line & Total: Tigers -23.5 & 53
LSU head coach Les Miles looks for yet another non-conference victory when his third-ranked team invites Washington to Tiger Stadium on Saturday.
Miles is a perfect 28-0 in non-conference games since becoming the head coach at LSU, and his team has won 18 straight home games. When these schools last played in 2009, it was closer than the Tigers had hoped, as they won 31-23, but failed to cover the 18½-point spread. Last week, Keith Price threw for 222 yards, but his Huskies scored just seven points in the final three quarters of their 21-12 win over San Diego State. Meanwhile, the Tigers outrushed North Texas 316-76 in a 41-14 blowout win. Although LSU's defense did not record a sack against North Texas, don't expect them to go sack-less against a Washington team with a suspect offensive line. Also, the Huskies don't have their top RB Jesse Callier (torn ACL), and will try to run on this defense with Bishop Sankey, who needed 22 carries to gain 66 yards against SDSU last week. And don't expect a letdown from the Tigers, who are 12-0 ATS in the past three seasons after outgaining a team by 125+ yards.
If the Huskies are going to hang around in this game, they'll need Keith Price to be nearly perfect on Saturday. Price, who threw 33 TD last year, had a solid game against San Diego State, completing 25-of-35 passes (71%) for 222 yards, 1 TD and zero picks. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins was Price's main target, as the 6-foot-6 sophomore hauled in nine passes for 82 yards. Sophomore WR Kasen Williams also had a strong game against SDSU, finishing with six receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, the Huskies will have a hard time stopping the Tigers. They allowed 35.9 PPG (108th in nation) and 453 total YPG (106th in FBS) last year, and LSU piled up 508 total yards in its season opener.
Zach Mettenberger had a strong first collegiate start last week for LSU, connecting on 19-of-26 passes for 192 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. Sophomore WR Jarvis Landry was his favorite target, catching eight passes for 82 yards. The three-headed rushing attack of Kenny Hilliard, Alfred Blue and Michael Ford ran all over North Texas, combining for 314 yards on just 37 carries (8.5 YPC) with Hilliard scoring two first-half touchdowns. This ground game will provide quite a challenge for Washington, which allowed 199 yards (5.0 YPC) to the Aztecs last week. LSU's defense is widely considered one of the top units in the land, but the coaching staff wasn't pleased with the way the defensive line performed in the opener. However, the Huskies' makeshift offensive line will provide little resistance to LSU's formidable front four.
GEORGIA BULLDOGS (1-0) at MISSOURI TIGERS (1-0)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Georgia -2 & 54.5
Opening Line & Total: Bulldogs 3 (-115) & 55
Missouri makes its SEC debut on Saturday nights when it hosts No. 7 Georgia at Faurot Field.
The Bulldogs didn't look like a top-10 team in an unimpressive 45-23 home win over 37½-point underdog Buffalo last week. However, Aaron Murray still threw for 258 yards and three touchdowns, while freshman Todd Gurley had 100 rushing yards and three scores in his collegiate debut. The Tigers crushed Southeastern Louisiana 62-10 behind two punt return TD from Marcus Murphy and two rushing scores from Kendial Lawrence, who had 121 yards on 10 carries. This should be a tight contest, with Missouri fans partying all day to get ready for the conference debut. Both teams have great offenses, which bodes well for Georgia, considering the school is 11-2 ATS (85%) in road contests where the total is between 52½ and 56 points since 1992. Also, the Tigers have been prone to letdowns after big victories, as they are just 8-20 ATS (29%) after a win by 28+ points since 1992.
Much has been made of Georgia's suspect rushing attack that has lost its top running backs to injuries and suspensions in recent years. Freshman Todd Gurley had quite a collegiate debut against Buffalo, getting his 100 yards on just eight carries and running back a kickoff 100 yards as his third score. Fellow freshman RB Keith Marshall also shined against the Bulls with 46 yards on just 10 carries. Expect Georgia to attack through the air in this game with Murray who averaged 17.2 yards per completion last week. He should have little trouble lighting up a Tigers secondary that allowed 253 passing YPG last year (94th in nation). The Bulldogs are expected to be short-handed on the defensive end with the suspensions of star LB Alec Ogletree and safety Bacarri Rambo. Two lesser-known defenders, LB Chase Vasser and CB Sanders Commings, also anticipate missing this game due to lingering suspensions.
Missouri received bad news shortly before the opener that star RB Henry Josey (knee) would indeed miss the entire 2012 season. However, Lawrence, who gained 566 yards (4.8 YPC) last season, was a fine replacement and should be able to find running room on Saturday night against a Bulldogs defense that allowed 199 rushing yards last week. QB James Franklin also uses his legs a lot, amassing 981 rushing yards and 15 TD in 2011. His passing versus Southeastern Louisiana was also pretty effective, as he went 13-of-21 for 131 yards, 1 TD and 0 INT. Missouri's improved defense up front really stuffed the run in last week's victory, allowing the Lions to gain just 58 yards on 34 carries (1.7 YPC).