Week 2 Showdowns
September 7, 2013
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FLORIDA GATORS (1-0) at MIAMI HURRICANES (1-0)
Sportsbook.ag & Total: Florida -3.5 & 48
Opening Line & Total: Gators -3.5 (-105) & 48
No. 12 Florida and Miami will battle for a claim to state supremacy when the two teams clash on Saturday at noon at Sun Life Stadium.
These two schools haven’t met since 2008 when a heavily favored Florida squad steamrolled Miami 26-3, but failed to cover the 24-point spread. Before that meeting, the Hurricanes had won six straight SU over the Gators. Both of these teams opened their seasons with easy SU victories against cupcake opponents, but they didn’t cover the lofty spreads. Miami, a 31-point week-one favorite, beat Florida Atlantic 34-6 while Florida, a 23-point favorite, won 24-6 over Toledo. Last season, the Hurricanes went an impressive 9-3 ATS but all three of those ATS losses were against non-conference foes. Miami was an impressive 5-1 ATS at home, however. Florida went 7-6 ATS last year while covering 4-of-6 times on the road. Its biggest weakness, like Miami, was against non-conference opponents, going 1-4 ATS.
The Gators’ season-opening win against Toledo was a complete one, led in the air by an efficient performance from junior QB Jeff Driskel, who completed 17-of-22 passes (77%) for 153 yards with a touchdown. Senior WR Trey Burton led the receiving corps with five receptions for 69 yards. On the ground, junior RB Mack Brown filled in for starting RB Matt Jones (viral infection) by running for two touchdowns as part of his 112 yards on 25 carries. Brown had a total of 25 carries for 102 yards all of last season, and will likely get fewer carries than Jones, who is probable to play this week. The defense looked equally dominant against the Rockets, giving up just two field goals. Junior CB Cordy Riggs led the team with six tackles (five solo) while the secondary limited Toledo to just 17-of-38 passing for 155 yards (4.1 YPA). Even freshman CB Vernon Hargreaves III excited with an interception, showing the Gators defense may have weapons for years to come. They will some big additions to their defense on Saturday with the return of star LB Antonio Morrison, starting CB Loucheiz Purifoy and DT Darious Cummings, who all served a one-game suspension last week for off-field issues.
The Hurricanes put up a whopping 503 yards in last week's win over FAU, 303 on the ground and 200 through the air. Star sophomore RB Duke Johnson stole the show with 186 yards on 19 carries, including a 53-yard touchdown. He also caught a pass for 38 more yards, and did all of this despite missing most of the second half with a head injury. He is expected to start on Saturday though. This comes one year removed from the 5-foot-9 stud posting 10 touchdowns and 6.8 yards per carry. In the air, senior QB Stephen Morris underwhelmed however, completing just 15-of-27 passes for just 160 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. The defense held FAU to 117 passing yards on 16-of-32 attempts. FAU ran 43 times for 133 yards, while the Miami defensive line also had five sacks and recovered a fumble. However, Miami did have some blemishes, converting 4-of-14 third downs, committing eight penalties for 67 yards and losing the time of possession by a wide margin, 33:18 to 26:42.
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS (1-0) at GEORGIA BULLDOGS (0-1)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Georgia -3.5 & 56.5
Opening Line & Total: Bulldogs -3 (-105) & 56.5
After a narrow three-point loss at Clemson, No. 11 Georgia continues its difficult start to the season when it hosts another top-10 team, No. 6 South Carolina, on Saturday afternoon.
Though star DE Jadaveon Clowney was relatively quiet in the season opener, his Gamecocks still came away with a 27-10 romp of North Carolina. The favored Bulldogs meanwhile opened their season with a 38-35 loss to the Tigers, who are now ranked fourth in the nation. South Carolina has owned this rivalry recently, going 3-0 SU and ATS in the past three meetings, including a 35-7 crushing last year and a 45-42 win in Athens in 2011. In the past 10 meetings at Sanford Stadium, Georgia is 6-4 SU, but just 4-6 ATS. Since 1992, the Gamecocks are just 8-13 SU in this series, but 12-7-2 ATS (63%), including a 9-2-2 ATS mark (82%) in their past 13 meetings with the Bulldogs. Last year, Georgia went 6-3 ATS against SEC opponents and 8-6 overall ATS for the second consecutive year. South Carolina was also an impressive 8-5 ATS last year (5-3 ATS in the SEC) and is now 30-24 ATS (56%) since 2009.
Georgia’s loss wasn’t for a lack of offense as sophomore running back Todd Gurley continued to tear his way through the SEC with 154 yards on 12 carries with two touchdowns. That included a 75-yard run. Last year he burst onto the scene averaging 6.2 yards per carry for 1,385 yards and 17 touchdowns, but was bottled up in the blowout loss at South Carolina, gaining just 39 yards on 13 carries. Senior QB Aaron Murray also had a dreadful game in Columbia last year, completing 11-of-31 passes (36%) for 109 yards, 0 TD and 1 INT. However, Murray looked sharp last week, racking up 323 yards in the air on 20-of-29 passing (69%), but didn’t find the end zone and threw one pick. This was despite missing top WR Malcolm Mitchell for the majority of the game after he injured his knee while celebrating the Bulldogs' first touchdown in the first quarter. Mitchell, who led Georgia with 52 receiving yards in last year's loss to the Gamecocks, was diagnosed with a torn ACL and is out for the season. Georgia’s main issues were with its revamped defense though, as it was unable to stop Clemson on the air or on the ground. The Tigers picked up three passing touchdowns on 270 yards and 197 yards on the ground as Tajh Boyd found the end zone a combined five times. The Georgia defense allowed more than 35 points just once all of last season, but lost a bunch of key players to the NFL, and those absences really showed.
South Carolina’s defense was great on all fronts in the opener. The defensive backfield limited North Carolina QB Bryn Renner to just 194 yards on 43 attempts (4.5 YPA) while the front seven kept the Tar Heels to 2.8 yards per carry and no touchdowns. Though the presumptive No. 1 overall pick in next year's NFL draft Clowney had just three tackles, the Gamecocks finished with three sacks for 30 yards while forcing one fumble. On offense, quarterback Connor Shaw was efficient, completing 11-of-20 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. But he was even better in last year's romp of Georgia, throwing for 162 yards and 2 TD on just 10 pass attempts, plus adding another 78 yards and a touchdown on the ground as part of his team's 230 rushing yards. Sophomore WR Shaq Roland showed his big-play ability last week with a 65-yard touchdown catch just 1:19 into the game, and RB Mike Davis kept the unit going all day though with 12 carries for 115 yards (9.6 YPC), including a 75-yard dash to cap the scoring midway through the third quarter. Sophomore RB Brandon Wilds also ran well with 64 yards on 12 carries (5.3 YPC).
NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (1-0) at MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (1-0)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Michigan -4.5 & 50
Opening Line & Total: Wolverines -3.5 (-115) & 50.5
No. 17 Michigan seeks payback on Saturday night when it hosts No. 14 Notre Dame.
These two schools have provided college football fans with some incredible games over the years, but this series will be put on hold after Saturday’s battle in Ann Arbor. Last season, these two teams played an ugly game that the Fighting Irish were able to win 13-6. The Notre Dame defense was huge in that game, forcing six Wolverines turnovers. However, Michigan still leads the all-time series with a record of 23-16-1, including 5-2 (SU and ATS) in the past seven meetings. After last season’s national title appearance, the Fighting Irish were expected to once again be contenders in large part to sophomore quarterback Everett Golson. However, Golson was kicked off the team for academics, putting Tommy Rees was back at the helm for Notre Dame. In week one, Rees threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-6 win over Temple. The victory moved Rees’ career record to 14-4 as a starter, and for a week, showed that the Fighting Irish may not miss Golson at all. While Denard Robinson was the stud quarterback for most of his career at Michigan, it was Devin Gardner who was taking the snaps at the end of the year. While Rees appeared to be in mid-season form in week one, Gardner had both positives as well as some negatives. In the Wolverines' 59-9 victory over Central Michigan, Gardner compiled 214 total yards and three touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions. Like Robinson, Gardner is an exceptional athlete that can beat you with both the pass and run. Both teams have very good defenses, so the quarterback that plays the best may go a long way in determining which side is able to get a victory in this bitter rivalry. Although Notre Dame is 15-5 ATS (75%) as a road underdog of seven points or less since 1992, home favorites of 3.5 to 10 points coming off a 35-point win like Michigan are 65-30 ATS (68%) in the past 10 seasons.
In the win over the Wolverines last year, Notre Dame’s offense also struggled, gaining only 239 yards from scrimmage. In that game, Rees completed 8-of-11 passes for 115 yards (10.5 YPA). One of the biggest reasons for Rees’ success last week was the performance by receivers TJ Jones (6 catches, 138 yards) and DaVaris Daniels (69 receiving yards, two touchdowns). The pair did damage in both the intermediate passing game, as well as attacking down the field. With the ground game gaining 188 yards against Temple, the Fighting Irish have a balanced offensive attack that is capable of moving the ball in any way. Add in their stingy defense, and you have a complete team that is going to be tough to beat. While he had only one assisted tackle against the Owls, senior DT Louis Nix III is an absolute monster on the defensive line. Weighing in at 357 pounds, Nix forces teams to double-team him, allowing linebackers to pursue. He was a huge key to the success of Manti Te'o last year. ILB Dan Fox appears to be filling in the role of Te'o nicely, getting 10 tackles (5 solo, 5 assist) against Temple. However, the kicking game really struggled against last week, as both Nick Tausch and Kyle Brindza missed their lone field goal attempt. If this game comes down to the play of the special teams, then the Wolverines may be in very good shape.
In their victory in week one, Michigan’s special teams got the season started with a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown by Joe Reynolds. The Wolverines under Brady Hoke have become much more aggressive on special teams, and they will look to continue that success against the Fighting Irish. With Gardner being inconsistent throwing the ball against Central Michigan, look for Michigan to really establish the ground game. The Wolverines were able to rush for 242 yards, led by freshman Derrick Green (11 rush, 58 yds, 1 TD) and senior Fitzgerald Toussaint (14 rush, 57 yards, 2 TD). Toussaint rushed for 58 yards on 13 carries (4.5 YPC) in last year's loss at Notre Dame. Michigan's ability to run the football could open up opportunities for Gardner to go deep to playmaking WR Jeremy Gallon, who caught four passes for 47 yards and a touchdown last week. On defense, the Wolverines have a playmaker in junior cornerback Raymon Taylor. Against Central Michigan, Taylor had an interception, returning it for 54 yards, to go with four tackles (2 solo, 2 assist). He will be tasked with stopping TJ Jones, in what could be one of the most exciting matchups in the game. Senior LB Cameron Gordon was all over the field against the Chippewas, compiling two sacks and four tackles. If he is able to wreak havoc and force Rees to run around, the Wolverines will be in great shape. With the history of these two teams and the animosity due to the fact that Notre Dame has ended the series, expect the two teams to come out with a lot of intensity.