Under the Lights
September 22, 2012
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CLEMSON TIGERS (3-0) at FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (3-0)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Florida State -14 & 56
Opening Line & Total: Seminoles -13 & 58
Two of the top-10 teams in the nation open their conference schedule Saturday night when No. 4 Florida State hosts No. 10 Clemson.
The home team has come out on top nine times out of 10 in this series, but Clemson is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings with FSU. Last year the Tigers won 35-30 as Tajh Boyd threw for 344 yards and scored four times, including 2 TD passes to Sammy Watkins who had 141 receiving yards. Boyd has 822 total yards and 6 TD so far this season despite not having Watkins for two of those games. 'Noles QB EJ Manuel did not play against the Tigers last year, but he has seven total TD this year as FSU has outscored its opponents by an astounding 176 to 3 margin. Clemson has not enjoyed visiting Tallahassee, losing seven of eight at Florida State in ACC play. In the eight trips, the Tigers have been within 14 points just twice, their lone pair of ATS victories during this string. Also, history shows that road teams after gaining 475+ total yards in their previous meeting with an opponent after gaining 6.75+ yards per play in two straight games are a woeful 12-42 ATS (22%) in the past decade. Also, since 1992 the 'Noles are 12-3 ATS (80%) in home games after gaining 525+ total YPG over their past three contests.
Boyd has gotten better in each game this season, throwing for 208 yards against Auburn, 229 versus Ball State and 310 last week against Furman. In these past two wins, he's completed 39-of-52 passes (75%), while rushing just eight times, 11 fewer than he did in the season opener. Boyd's favorite target has been DeAndre Hopkins, who has 26 catches for 319 yards and 4 TD in the three games. Watkins was suspended for the first two contests and returned to post a pedestrian four catches for 52 yards in the 41-7 drubbing of Furman last week. But the reason Clemson has won three straight ATS versus Florida State is because the Tigers have dominated on the ground, outrushing the 'Noles 504-254 in these past three meetings. Andre Ellington leads the ACC with 328 rushing yards, scoring 4 TD and gaining 6.2 yards per carry. He rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown in last year's win over FSU, but it took him 23 carries (3.1 YPC) to produce those numbers. On the defensive side of the ball, Clemson has given up just 17.7 PPG and 188 passing YPG, but the run defense has been burned for 181 rushing YPG (84th in nation). Also, the Tigers have a paltry three sacks in three games.
FSU has put forth a balanced offensive attack with 279 rushing YPG (11th in FBS) and 265 passing YPG. Senior RB Chris Thompson rushed for 197 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries (21.9 YPC) against Wake Forest last week, but was held to 36 yards on 11 carries (3.3 YPC) in the loss to Clemson in 2011. The last time Manuel faced the Tigers was in 2010, when he threw for 210 yards, 0 TD and 1 INT in a 16-13 win. He has been very efficient in the passing game in the past two contests, completing 26-of-37 passes for 337 yards (9.1 YPA), 5 TD and 0 INT. The defense has been unbelievable in all facets, leading the nation in scoring defense (1.0 PPG) and total defense (103 YPG), while dialing up 11 sacks, 6½ of those by star DE Bjoern Werner.
KANSAS STATE WILDCATS (3-0) at OKLAHOMA SOONERS (3-0)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Oklahoma -14.5 & 57.5
Opening Line & Total: Sooners -13.5 & 58.5
No. 8 Oklahoma looks to retain its series dominance over No. 15 Kansas State when the Big 12 schools clash Saturday night in Norman, OK.
The Sooners are 8-1 SU (5-4 ATS) in this series since 2000, scoring a hefty 46.4 PPG during a five-game series win streak. Last year Landry Jones threw for a school-record 505 yards in a 58-17 blowout for Oklahoma, giving him 799 passing yards and 9 TD in two meetings with the Wildcats. KSU's Collin Klein was held to 58 passing yards in last year's loss to the Sooners, but he has thrown for 609 yards and run for 210 more with 9 total TD this season. Oklahoma rushed for 8 TD (4 by Damien Williams) in last week's 69-13 win over Florida A&M, and ranks 11th in the nation in both scoring (46.5 PPG) and total offense (545 YPG). This is a tough Big 12 opener for KSU, who rushed for a paltry 143 yards against North Texas last week. The Sooners are not a team to bet against on their home field, going 16-8 ATS (67%) in Norman over the past five seasons. Also, Bob Stoops is 13-3 ATS (81%) as a home favorite of 7½ to 14 points as Oklahoma's head coach. Speaking of Stoops, the Sooners are 14-0 SU at home against ranked opponents under Stoops, winning these games by a whopping 27.4 PPG. This will be a close game for a half, but the Sooners have too much firepower and will eventually pull away for the 17-point victory.
Since he stumbled against Oklahoma last year, Klein has scored a total of 25 touchdowns in eight games. Klein hasn't missed many throws in the past two contests, completing 24-of-31 passes (77%) for 440 yards (14.2 YPA), 3 TD and 2 INT. Junior WR Tramaine Thompson has been the top receiver for the Wildcats this year, gaining 211 yards on 13 catches, including three for touchdowns. In addition to Klein's 210 rushing yards and four scores, the Wildcats have two other players with three rushing touchdowns, John Hubert (296 rush yds, 6.9 YPC) and Daniel Sams (127 rush yds, 12.7 YPC). Hubert ran for 71 yards on 12 carries (5.9 YPC) in the loss to Oklahoma last year. Another big reason this offense is scoring 46.0 PPG (13th in FBS) is due an elite return game. K-State leads the nation with 36.3 yards per punt return and Tyler Lockett ranks second among FBS players in kickoff returns (43.3 yards per return). The K-State defense has allowed just 14.3 PPG this year, but the secondary has given up 251 passing YPG (80th in nation). The Wildcats have also recorded zero sacks of Landry Jones in the two times they've faced him.
Jones struggled last season after top receiver Ryan Broyles was injured, and he's also had to adjust this year without suspended WR Jaz Reynolds. However, Jones and Kenny Stills have certainly been clicking, as Stills has caught 16 passes for 241 yards and 2 TD in just two games. Stills gained 101 yards on four catches against KSU last year. But the Sooners ground game has been even more impressive than the Jones-to-Stills air show. The team ranks 12th in the nation with 277 rushing YPG, thanks to Big 12 rushing leader Damien Williams (130 rushing YPG). The Sooners defense has not been tested yet, as they have allowed just 20 points and rank 10th in FBS in total defense (245 YPG). Oklahoma's defensive line is tough to penetrate, and despite the Wildcats attempting just 16 passes in last year's meeting, OU still produced seven sacks. This season, the Sooners have six sacks in their two games.
MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (2-1) at NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (3-0)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Notre Dame -5 & 49
Opening Line & Total: Fighting Irish -6.5 & 51.5
No. 11 Notre Dame looks for its first 4-0 start to a season in 10 years when No. 18 Michigan comes to South Bend for a Saturday night matchup.
Although the Wolverines are 5-1 (SU and ATS) in the past six meetings of this series, the past three matchups -- all Michigan wins -- have each been decided by exactly four points. Denard Robinson compiled 446 total yards and 5 TD in leading the Wolverines to 28 fourth-quarter points in a crazy 35-31 comeback win over Notre Dame last year, throwing a TD pass with two seconds left on the clock. But this season's Irish defense is much improved, limiting two straight Big Ten opponents (Purdue and Michigan State) to a combined 20 points and 140 rushing yards on 55 carries (2.5 YPC). Michigan has not impressed this year, as it was blown out by Alabama on a neutral field and then barely beat 21½-point underdog Air Force at home by six points before crushing UMass last week. The Wolverines have not been able to beat excellent teams sporting a PPG margin of 17+ points in the past three seasons, going 0-6 ATS. And Notre Dame is 6-0 ATS after allowing 17 points or less in a two-game stretch since the start of 2010. The Irish also have this historical trend in their favor: Favorites of 3½ to 10 points after allowing nine points or less in its previous game against an opponent coming off a first half of 24+ points are 70-26 ATS (73%) since 1992.
Robinson has scored multiple touchdowns in eight straight games, but he's also thrown at least one interception in seven of those eight contests. Not only did he explode on the Irish last year, but he also amassed a school-record 502 total yards and scored the game-winning TD run with 27 seconds left in his lone trip to South Bend in 2010, a 28-24 victory. All told, Robinson has 387 rushing yards on 48 carries (8.1 YPC) in his career versus Notre Dame. Junior RB Fitzgerald Toussaint was suspended for the season-opening loss against Alabama and played sparingly against Air Force, but he is finally starting to help this offense again, rushing for 85 yards on 15 carries in the win over UMass. This will be his first career game against the Irish. The passing game has been balanced, as no Michigan player has more than eight receptions. Devin Gardner leads the team with 155 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Although Michigan has been steamrolled on the ground so far, allowing 211 rushing YPG (104th in nation), the Wolverines rank 12th in the nation against the pass (158 YPG). They'd be even greater if they pressured the quarterback more, as Michigan has mustered just three sacks in three games.
Notre Dame will once again start sophomore Everett Golson, despite his 14-of-32 performance at Michigan State last week. Backup QB Tommy Rees is also expected to play though. Rees, who helped lead the Irish to a win over Purdue two weeks ago, played against Michigan last year, completing 27-of-39 throws for 315 yards, 3 TD and 2 INT. Senior RB Cierre Wood also had a big game at Michigan last year with 134 rushing yards and a touchdown. He also looked strong in his season opener last week, gaining 56 yards on just 10 carries in East Lansing. Although Notre Dame's defense has been outstanding with 10.0 PPG allowed (8th in FBS) and 289 total YPG allowed (18th in nation), it will not have starting safety Jamoris Slaughter, who tore his left Achilles tendon last week. The Irish have 11 sacks already this year, led by Stephon Tuitt's five sacks, and they have forced seven turnovers in the three games.
ARIZONA WILDCATS (3-0) at OREGON DUCKS (3-0)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Oregon -21.5 & 78.5
Opening Line & Total: Ducks -24 & 77
Offensive fireworks are expected when No. 22 Arizona visits No. 3 Oregon on Saturday night in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.
With the total set at a whopping 77½ points, these defenses are in for a long night. Since 1994, Oregon is 15-3 SU in this series, averaging an insane 50.8 PPG during a four-game series win streak. However, Arizona is 5-2 ATS in the past seven matchups with the Ducks. The Wildcats have lost their past 10 road openers, but have scored 115 points in the past two weeks thanks to QB Matt Scott's 724 total yards and 9 TD. Oregon is putting up 54.0 PPG and 596 total YPG this year behind 8 TD passes from Marcus Mariota plus De'Anthony Thomas' 158 all-purpose YPG and 7 TD. These teams appear to be much more even than the spread would indicate. The Ducks have moved the football at will, but they are having a hard time stopping FBS opponents, allowing 29.5 PPG and 448 total YPG in those two games. Meanwhile, Arizona's offense has been thriving both on the ground (252 rushing YPG) and in the air (343 passing YPG) in the past two games, turning the ball over just once in these two contests. Oregon has committed six turnovers in its past two games and was whistled for 12 penalties just last week.
The Wildcats are averaging 605 total YPG this year, the fourth-most in the nation. Arizona's biggest ground gainer has been sophomore Ka'Deem Carey, who rushed for 282 yards on 46 carries (6.1 YPC) with 4 TD in the two games versus FBS opponents (Toledo and Oklahoma State). He playing sparingly in the 56-0 trouncing of FCS school South Carolina State. Carey rushed for 48 yards on 12 carries in the 56-31 loss to Oregon last year. Scott has also been tough to bring down while running the football with 190 yards on 42 rush attempts (4.5 YPC) with a couple of scores. Scott has done a nice job getting everybody involved in the offense, as seven different Wildcats already have five receptions on the year. WRs Austin Hill (17 rec, 319 yds, 1 TD) and Dan Buckner (22 rec, 261 yds, 1 TD) have been Scott's favorite targets. On the defensive side of the ball, Arizona allowed 636 yards to a high-powered Oklahoma State offense, but just 512 total yards (256 YPG) in their other two contests. The Wildcats have forced six turnovers, but have mustered only three sacks this season.
Mariota, a freshman, will be making his Pac-12 debut on Saturday, but his decision-making has been top-notch all season. He's completed 58-of-77 passes (75%) for 674 yards, 8 TD and just 1 INT. Although sophomore De'Anthony Thomas has been outstanding this season, he did very little in last year's win at Arizona, catching just one pass (19-yard gain) and carrying the ball just one time (3-yard run). The Wildcats won't forget about Kenjon Barner though, as he scored three touchdowns in last year's blowout. This season, Barner ranks fourth in the conference with 108 rushing YPG, averaging 5.8 yards per carry with six touchdowns. On defense, the Ducks are giving up 200 passing YPG (43rd in nation) and 157 rushing YPG (157 YPG), but they do have eight sacks and have forced five turnovers already.