October 13, 2012
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TEXAS LONGHORNS (4-1) vs. OKLAHOMA SOONERS (3-1)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Oklahoma -3.5 & 59
Opening Line & Total: Sooners -3.5 & 61
The Red River Rivalry resumes on Saturday afternoon when No. 13 Oklahoma and No. 15 Texas hold their annual showdown at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
Oklahoma is 8-4 SU (7-4-1 ATS) in the past 12 meetings, including a 55-17 blowout last year. Landry Jones has thrown for 603 yards, 5 TD and 0 INT during OU's two-game win streak in the series, but has gone seven straight games overall without reaching 300 passing yards. Texas has scored 50.7 PPG in its past three contests, but the defense has allowed an average of 38.3 PPG and 478 total YPG during this stretch. Longhorns QB David Ash is third in FBS passing efficiency with 1,276 yards, 11 TD and 1 INT. Both teams certainly have the ability to put up points, but the Sooners have the superior defense here, allowing just 16.0 PPG this season. And when Bob Stoops plays in evenly-matched games such as this with a line between +3 and -3, he is 11-3 ATS (79%) as OU's head coach.
Ash is having a huge season, but he was dreadful in last year's game, completing just 11-of-20 passes for 107 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT, and finishing with minus-38 yards rushing. The Longhorns have missed top RB Malcolm Brown (ankle) for the majority of the past two games, as the team has rushed for just 271 yards on 81 carries (3.3 YPC). Brown is questionable for Saturday's game, which means sophomore Joe Bergeron will likely get the bulk of carries again. He has been held to fewer than 50 rushing yards in each of the past four games despite getting 11+ carries in each contest, totaling 195 yards on 54 carries (3.6 YPC). The Longhorns committed five turnovers in last year's Red River loss, but have just three giveaways over five games this season. The Texas defense has been giving up a boatload of yards recently, but it has also forced an average of two turnovers per game. In the past six meetings, Oklahoma has one total turnover in its three wins, but 12 miscues in its three losses, showing how important ball protection is for this series.
Jones needs to show some confidence in more than just his favorite receiver Kenny Stills, who has nearly twice the production of any of his teammates, catching 29 passes for 344 yards and 3 TD. Stills has been great in this series though, catching 10 passes for 129 yards and 3 TD in two meetings. Oklahoma's ground game has tailed off in the past two weeks with just 209 yards on 56 carries (3.7 YPC). Damien Williams has 82 rushing yards (3.4 YPC) and zero touchdowns in the past two weeks after starting the year with 259 rushing yards (13.0 YPC) and 5 TD. Williams did catch six passes for 82 yards in the 41-20 win over Texas Tech last week though. Senior RB Dominique Whaley has just 11 carries over the past two weeks, but he should be used more on Saturday based on his big performance against Texas last year, when he totaled 117 yards and a touchdown on just 17 touches. Defensively, Oklahoma was able to force three Red Raiders turnovers last week after tallying just one takeaway over its first three games. The pass defense has been outstanding all year, allowing just 160.5 passing YPG (9th in FBS), and the run defense was tough last week in holding TTU to just 89 yards on 32 carries (2.8 YPC).
STANFORD CARDINAL (4-1) at NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (5-0)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Notre Dame -7 & 43.5
Opening Line & Total: Fighting Irish -10 & 45.5
Sizzling hot No. 7 Notre Dame looks to showcase its dominant defense when it hosts No. 17 Stanford on Saturday afternoon.
After losing seven in a row to Notre Dame from 2002-2008, Stanford has won three straight meetings, 45-38, 37-14 and 28-14 last year behind four Andrew Luck TD passes. Last week, it was Luck's replacement Josh Nunes throwing for 360 yards and 2 TD in a 54-48 overtime win over Arizona. The Irish defense has been incredible during a three-game ATS win streak, allowing a total of 12 points to Michigan State, Michigan and Miami. Notre Dame also scored 41 points with 587 total yards versus the 'Canes last week. Despite last week's 376 rushing yards, the Irish have rushed the football very poorly during their three-game losing skid versus the Cardinal, gaining a paltry 208 yards on 2.6 YPC. Stanford is coming off a huge offensive output, which bodes well for this game, considering it is 7-0 ATS after scoring 42+ points in its previous game over the past two seasons. The Cardinal are also 11-2 ATS in this same time frame when coming off an SU victory.
After struggling at Washington (18-of-37, 170 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT), Nunes was outstanding in last week's win over Arizona, completing 21-of-34 passes for 360 yards and 2 TD, while rushing for 33 yards and three scores. Nunes will not likely have the services of WR Ty Montgomery (168 receiving yards), who is doubtful to play because of a lower body injury sustained last week. However, the key to Stanford's offense is wildly inconsistent RB Stepfan Taylor who has 555 rushing yards (including 142 last week), but hasn't put together two straight 100-yard games this year. But he does have consecutive century mark efforts against Notre Dame, galloping for 226 yards on 48 carries (4.7 YPC) in the past two meetings. Stanford's pass defense was atrocious last week, surrendering 491 passing yards, but it has been tough on the run all year, ranking seventh in the nation with 77.2 rushing YPG allowed. This low rushing number has been a product of the Cardinal's 2.8 sacks per game and 8.6 Tackles For Loss per game. Stanford has also done a nice job of creating turnovers with 11 takeaways over five games.
Everett Golson is coming off a great performance against Miami, completing 17-of-22 passes for 186 yards. He also ran for 51 yards on just six carries, helping the Irish surpass 125 rushing yards for the first time since their season opener. RBs Cierre Wood and George Atkinson III each topped 100 yards against the Hurricanes and combined for three touchdowns. However, Wood found little room to run against Stanford last year, gaining just 41 yards on 12 carries. The offense doesn't have a whole lot of pressure to score though, considering how tremendous the defense has been. Notre Dame is giving up just 7.8 points per game, three total touchdowns and 290 total yards per game, despite playing against Navy and four BCS conference members. LB Manti Te'o has been a tackling machine (9.5 per game), while adding two interceptions, three QB hurries and a fumble recovery. Sophomore DL Stephon Tuitt has anchored a stout defensive line, registering six sacks and five QB hurries in the five games. Notre Dame did not force a turnover last week, but tallied six takeaways versus Michigan in the prior game.
ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (5-0) at MISSOURI TIGERS (3-3)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Alabama -21.5 & 44 Opening Line & Total: Crimson Tide -21 & 43.5
The top team in the nation tries to win its 10th straight game overall when No. 1 Alabama visits struggling Missouri in search of its first-ever SEC win on Saturday.
The last meeting between these two teams was in 1978 when the Crimson Tide won 38-20. In 2012, Alabama has 33+ points in each game and hasn't allowed more than 14 points, but is just 2-3 ATS due to some lofty spreads. The Tide's past three opponents have averaged a paltry 155 total YPG. Missouri has alternated wins and losses all season, going 0-3 in SEC play and 3-0 in non-conference games, but has just one ATS win in its past five contests (1-3-1 ATS). Much of that has to do with a sputtering Tigers offense scoring just 18.0 PPG during this span. They gained 395 total yards last week, but scored only one touchdown in a 19-15 home loss to Vanderbilt. Missouri is in an absolute tailspin. The SEC has swallowed them up, QB James Franklin (knee) is hurt again, and the Tigers are just 2-2 SU and 1-2-1 ATS at home, including last week's loss to Alabama. Here's a telling trend: Road favorites, after five or more SU wins, are 73-36 ATS (67%) playing on Saturday over the past five seasons.
AJ McCarron is having an outstanding junior season, ranking fifth in the nation in passing efficiency (191.60). He has completed 66% of his passes for 999 yards, 12 TD and zero interceptions this year. Freshman Amari Cooper has been his favorite target, hauling in 17 catches for 222 yards and 3 TD on the year, after his season-high 84 yards and 2 TD in a 33-14 win over Ole Miss before last week's bye. Alabama's ground game hasn't been spectacular in 2012 (188 YPG, sixth in SEC), failing to reach 250 yards in any of its five contests. Last year, the Tide averaged 215 rushing YPG, which led the conference. Eddie Lacy has not been able to fill Trent Richardson's cleats, gaining a pedestrian 314 yards on 4.9 YPC for the season with zero touchdowns in his past two games. Freshman T.J. Yeldon has also been lackluster since the season opener, gaining just 181 yards on 39 carries (4.6 YPC) over four games. There is nothing wrong with the defense though, as the Tide lead the country in points allowed (7.0 PPG), yards allowed (192 YPG) and turnover margin (+2.4 TO per game). Thirteen different Alabama players have recorded at least 0.5 sacks this season, and the Tide have already picked off an SEC-most nine passes.
Missouri QB James Franklin will not play because of a sprained left knee, leaving redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser as the starter versus the best defense in the nation. Berkstresser has actually seen playing time in five of six games this year and his overall numbers are decent: 42-of-84, 501 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT. He has also rushed for a pair of scores. However, Berkstresser completed just 9-of-30 passes in the loss to Vandy. The good thing about Missouri's passing offense is that several receivers are capable of helping him out. Seven different players have already exceeded 100 receiving yards for the season. If the Tigers are to hang in with the mighty Tide, it will have to be senior RB Kendial Lawrence that carries them. He rushed for 92 yards last week, giving him 487 rushing yards (5.7 YPC) and five touchdowns for the season. Missouri's defense is led by a fierce front seven that has not allowed 150 rushing yards in any game this season. The Tigers have also forced 14 turnovers, which has helped offset the 219 passing YPG they've allowed (10th in SEC). Missouri averages 8.8 Tackles For Loss per game, which ranks third in the nation.
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS (6-0) at LSU TIGERS (5-1)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: LSU -2.5 & 39.5
Opening Line & Total: Tigers -2.5 & 40.5
No. 3 South Carolina seeks its 11th straight victory when it travels to Baton Rouge Saturday night for a showdown with a No. 9 LSU team riding a long home win streak.
The Tigers have won 21 straight home games and are 16-2-1 SU all-time versus the Gamecocks, but one of those losses came in 1930. South Carolina has surpassed 20 points just once in these 19 meetings, the last of which occurred in 2008, a 24-17 Tigers win. The Gamecocks destroyed Georgia 35-7 last week, marking their fifth straight ATS win and putting them at 8-2 ATS during the current 10-game SU win streak. Connor Shaw threw for 162 yards on just six completions and scored 3 total TD against the Bulldogs. LSU is on a three-game ATS skid, committing eight turnovers during this stretch and gaining a paltry 200 total yards (42 rushing) in a 14-6 loss at Florida last week. It's not often that LSU has the second-best defense in any matchup, but South Carolina has been outstanding all year, holding five of six opponents to under 300 total yards and giving up a mere 10.5 PPG despite facing all FBS opponents. Considering the Tigers offense has averaged 9.0 PPG in SEC play this year, they don't figure to generate a ton of points against a Gamecocks team that boasts one of the top defensive lines in the nation. Not only is Steve Spurrier 19-3 ATS (86%) after gaining 6.25+ yards per play in the previous game as South Carolina's coach, but Les Miles is 1-8 ATS at home versus excellent defenses (allowing 310 total YPG or less) since taking over the top spot at LSU.
Shaw has been unbelievably accurate in SEC play, completing 80% of his passes for 10.4 yards per attempt, 6 TD and just 1 INT in the four conference wins. Star RB Marcus Lattimore has also stepped up his game recently with back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, showing that his knee is close to 100 percent after tearing his ACL last year. Lattimore has scored at least one touchdown in 12 of the 13 games he's played in the past two seasons. Sophomore DE Jadeveon Clowney continues to lead this excellent defense, posting 6½ sacks and 11½ Tackles For Loss so far this season. South Carolina has allowed just 278 total yards per game, including 83 rushing YPG.
LSU's offensive woes in SEC play begin with QB Zach Mettenberger who is just 26-of-52 for 327 yards, 0 TD and 1 INT in the two conference games. However, the paltry ground game is just as troubling for Tigers fans, as they have decreased their rushing yards in each of the past four games, going from 250 to 182 to 158 to just 42 rushing yards last week. Kenny Hilliard leads the team with 382 rushing yards and 6 TD, but he has gotten only 11 carries over the past two weeks, picking up 39 yards in this limited workload. Defensively, LSU has been outstanding, allowing 14 points or less in each of its five games versus FBS opponents this year. The Tigers rank second in the nation with 122.5 passing YPG allowed and third in total defense (221 total YPG). They have done a nice job getting into the opposing backfield as well, tallying 2.7 sacks per game and 8.3 Tackles For Loss per game. LB Kevin Minter racked up 20 tackles (3 solo, 17 assists) in last week's loss to Florida, one shy of the school record.