Saturday's Top Action
November 1, 2013
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MIAMI HURRICANES (7-0) at FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (7-0)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Florida State -21 & 63
Opening Line & Total: Seminoles -22 & 62
No. 7 Miami travels to in-state rival and No. 3 Florida State for a battle between the two undefeated teams in the ACC on Saturday night.
The Seminoles enter this game as the heavy favorite despite playing another top-10 foe, having dismantled everyone in their path this season. They are now 7-0 SU and 5-2 ATS, having won their past three games—including one against then-No. 3 Clemson—by a margin of 169-31. They could be in for another win and cover, as favorites of 21.5 to 31 points are 52-13 ATS (80%) over the past 10 years after scoring 35 or more points against a conference rival. Miami, meanwhile, has stayed undefeated, but is 4-3 ATS, having lost two in a row ATS with narrow wins against North Carolina and Wake Forest. The Hurricanes have typically fared well covering against teams with prolific passing attacks like the Seminoles, going 7-0 ATS over the past three seasons against teams with a completion percentage over 62%. Overall, the Seminoles have beaten Miami three consecutive times, but the Hurricanes have covered in the past two matchups. Every game is big for the Seminoles, who currently sit third in the BCS standings and this is their final regular-season game against a ranked squad.
RB Duke Johnson is the star of the Miami offense, averaging 6.7 YPC for 823 rushing yards and six touchdowns this season. He was on top of his game last week, rushing for 168 yards against Wake Forest, his second game of at least 150 rushing yards in the team’s past three contests. He couldn’t figure out the Seminoles defense last year, however, rushing the ball nine times for only 27 yards. Supplementing him is red-zone back Dallas Crawford, who doesn’t have a gain of longer than 19 yards, but still has nine touchdowns already. Through the air, QB Stephen Morris has been serviceable, but not great. Completing 60% of his passes, he has thrown for 1,463 yards, 10 TD and 8 INT. He went 25-of-43 for 223 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT in last year’s meeting. Miami’s defense has been stout, giving up 17.7 PPG, good for 11th-best in the nation. The 'Canes yield just 3.7 YPC and allow opponents to complete a pithy 54.2% of their passes, averaging 6.2 yards per passing attempt.
Florida State’s offense ranks third nationally with 52.6 PPG, while its defense places fourth with 13.0 PPG. On the offensive side of the ball, it’s the Jameis Winston show. The freshman signal caller has thrown for 2,177 yards already while completing 70% of his passes, reaching the end zone 23 times through the air while throwing only four picks. He’s also a threat with his legs too, rushing for three more touchdowns. RBs Devonta Freeman (561 rush yards, 6.4 YPC, 6 TD) and Karlos Williams (349 yards, 7.9 YPC, 7 TD) have also been quite effective, forcing opponents to keep guys in the box, which opens up the field for the wide receivers. Freeman found the end zone twice on 10 carries last year against the Hurricanes. Leading the receiving corps has been Rashad Greene, who has a team-high 690 receiving yards on 39 receptions (17.7 avg.) and eight touchdowns. The Seminoles defense is great against the pass and run. They yield just 3.2 YPC on the ground while opposing quarterbacks are completing just 52.2% of their passes against FSU.
GEORGIA BULLDOGS (4-3) vs. FLORIDA GATORS (4-3)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Georgia -3.5 & 46
Opening Line & Total: Bulldogs -2.5 & 47.5
Both struggling in the ultra-competitive SEC, Georgia and Florida will clash for their annual meeting Saturday looking to avoid slipping to .500 on the season.
Both teams are 4-3 SU this season, with Georgia a poor 1-5-1 ATS and the Gators an almost as bad 2-5 ATS. They are both also coming off back-to-back losses, though each had a bye week to recuperate since then. The Bulldogs first fell to Missouri then to Vanderbilt in a 31-27 defeat last time out. The Gators' last two losses have been at the hands of LSU and Missouri. Will Muschamp is now 0-7 ATS as the Florida head coach coming off an SEC loss, and is 4-13 ATS (24%) coming off one or more consecutive ATS losses. Georgia is 15-3 ATS (83%) since 1992 after two or more straight up losses. The Bulldogs have won two consecutive meetings SU and ATS in this rivalry that takes place on a neutral field in Jacksonville, earning the 17-9 win in a defensive slugfest last season that had the two teams combine for only 26 points and 539 yards of offense.
The Georgia offense isn’t the problem with solid weapons both in the air and on the ground. QB Aaron Murray leads the way with 1,938 passing yards this season, completing 62.1% of his passes and finding the end zone 17 times while getting picked off only six times. He also has five rushing touchdowns, though he’s not really a threat on the ground with just 2.8 YPC. The big question for Saturday is if top RB Todd Gurley will play, as he has missed three consecutive games with an ankle injury. He’s been upgraded to questionable this week and would really boost the ground game with his 450 rushing yards (6.3 YPC) and four scores. Gurley was key in last year’s win too, rumbling for 118 yards and one touchdown while Murray struggled. The good news is that RB J.J. Green has been a more than serviceable replacement with 6.7 YPC. In the passing game, Murray distributes the ball well, as nine different players have caught TD passes. Chris Conley paces the way with four receiving touchdowns, 30 catches and 418 yards. The defense has been the real issue for this team, surrendering 30 or more points in six of the team’s seven contests. While it gives up just 3.7 YPC on the ground, opponents are completing 62.2% of their passes against them and averaging 7.7 yards per passing attempt.
After winning his first three games under center, Florida QB Tyler Murphy has struggled mightily in his past two, not scoring a TD in either game while throwing one interception. Overall, he’s completing 62.7% of his passes and has 5 TD and 2 INT through the air, while also adding two rushing scores. And with top RB Matt Jones out for the season with a knee injury, the weight of the rushing workload has been put on the shoulders of Mack Brown (359 rush yards, 3.6 YPC, 3 TD), who has yet to break through. He performed horribly against Missouri, carrying the ball eight times for only 19 yards. The Florida defense is solid against the run, giving up 3.7 YPC, but is at its best defending against the pass, with opponents completing a miniscule 47.5% of their passes this season. Last year they limited Murray to a 50% completion rate while forcing him into throwing three picks while he reached only 150 yards with one touchdown.
WISCONSIN BADGERS (5-2) at IOWA HAWKEYES (5-3)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Wisconsin -9.5 & 48.5
Opening Line & Total: Badgers -9 & 49
No. 24 Wisconsin will look to stay on track for another berth in the Big Ten championship game as it travels to Iowa City Saturday afternoon to take on Iowa.
Wisconsin has bounced back after losing two of three games, including a 56-32 victory two weeks ago over Illinois. These two schools have not played since 2010, when the Badgers won a 31-30 thriller on the road. While a lot has changed since then, one thing remains the same, and that is Wisconsin still running the football as effectively as ever. Sophomore RB Melvin Gordon has rushed for 1,012 yards so far in the season, while averaging an outstanding 9.5 yards per carry. Gordon and teammate James White, (672 rush yards, seven touchdowns) the Badgers have one of the most elite rushing attacks in all of the country. Wisconsin is very close to being undefeated, with its two losses being by a combined nine points. On the season, the Badgers are 6-0-1 ATS, with their 7-point loss at Ohio State being the push. They have also been dominant in their victories, winning by an average of 35.4 PPG. They will be going against an Iowa team that has also been very competitive in its losses this year. Two weeks ago, the Hawkeyes had Ohio State on the ropes in Columbus before falling 34-24. Iowa is very similar to the Badgers when it comes to trying to dominate the game on the ground, as the team averages 43 carries per game. They will need to run the ball very well to keep the explosive Wisconsin offense on the sideline. Both coaches have extremely favorable trends here as Gary Andersen is 19-3 ATS in games played on turf, while Iowa's Kirk Ferentz is 15-2 ATS versus excellent rushing teams (230+ rushing YPG) since becoming the Iowa head coach.
Wisconsin currently ranks eighth in the country with 296.9 rushing yards per game, but is not one-dimensional on offense in large part because of WR Jared Abbrederis. On the season, he has 43 catches for 752 yards and five touchdowns. Against Ohio State on Sept. 28, Abbrederis had a monster game, finishing with 10 catches and 207 yards. He is a big reason why sophomore QB Joel Stave has completed 64% of his passes for 1,486 yards (8.4 YPA), 13 TD and 6 INT this year. While the offense gets a lot of the talk, the Badgers once again have one of the best defenses in all of the country. In the first seven games, the defense has only given up 15.9 points per game (6th in FBS). Linebacker Chris Borland is terrific, averaging 8.2 tackles per game, but his status is in question after suffering a hamstring injury against Illinois last weekend. However, there are other players that are very talented on the defense, especially CB Sojourn Shelton. With another interception last week, the freshman now has three on the season. He is a little undersized at 5-foot-9, but is very physical and fast enough to run with any receiver in the country. Both teams like to grind it out on offense, and they both rely on outstanding defense.
The Hawkeyes are allowing only 18.1 points per game, which ranks 12th in the country. These two teams may be as comparable of opponents as there are in the country. Iowa will lean on running back Mark Weisman, who has 732 yards and three touchdowns on the season. He must get back to his early season form in this game, as he rushed for at least 100 yards in four of the first five Hawkeyes games. In the past three games, he has been able to run for only 117 yards. He is a big, strong and powerful back that can wear out the opposing defense. Iowa also has a capable sophomore to run the offense in QB Jake Rudock, who has completed 61% of his throws for 1,616 yards (6.9 YPA), and 12 TD this year, but has also thrown 8 INT, including at least one pick in each of the past four games. Like the Badgers, Iowa has a star linebacker in James Morris. On the season, Morris has 63 tackles, to go along with three interceptions and three sacks. He is a playmaker with the ability to run sideline-to-sideline, which will be huge against Gordon of Wisconsin. Look for this game to be a very low-scoring affair, with the team that does not turn the ball over winning the game.
OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS (6-1) at TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (7-1)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Texas Tech -1.5 & 69
Opening Line & Total: Red Raiders -1 & 67
Two Big 12 teams square off in Lubbock on Saturday night in what could be a conference elimination game as No. 18 Oklahoma State visits No. 15 Texas Tech.
Both teams are currently one game behind Big 12 leaders Baylor and Texas, and this game will go a long way in determining which team still remains in the race. Last season, these two teams squared off in Stillwater, and it was not close as the Cowboys defeated the Red Raiders 59-21 to give them four straight wins (SU and ATS) in this series by an average of 30.5 PPG. This includes a 66-6 drubbing the last time OSU visited Lubbock. In last year's contest, Cowboys quarterback Clint Chelf had a very solid game, throwing for 229 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. After losing the job to J.W. Walsh early in the season, Chelf has become the starter again, but really struggled in last week’s 58-27 win over Iowa State (10-for-26, 78 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT). However, it did not make a difference as RB Desmond Roland had a monster game with 219 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Roland figures to get the bulk of the carries once again, seemingly taking the job from senior RB Jeremy Smith. Texas Tech was unable to get the victory in Norman last week, but had a chance with 1:17 left to tie the game, before falling 38-30. Freshman quarterback Davis Webb played well, throwing for 385 yards and two touchdowns, but had two big interceptions that played a huge role in the outcome. Also, the Red Raiders defense, which had been playing so well, gave up 526 yards of total offense, including big play after big play. They must shore that up this weekend, as the Cowboys definitely have the playmakers to post similar numbers. Mike Gundy loves high-scoring games, going 21-10 ATS (68%) when the total is between 63.5 and 70 as the OSU head coach, but is just 12-22 ATS (35%) in the underdog role.
With Chelf in at the quarterback position, Oklahoma State has a guy that is going to keep the offense composed and not make many mistakes. While he is being counted upon to be more of a game manager, Chelf still has the weapons on the perimeter to make the big plays. Josh Stewart leads the Cowboys on the season with 34 catches and 483 yards, while also scoring two touchdowns. He is extremely quick and is able to turn a short pass into a long touchdown on any given play. He complements Tracy Moore, (26 catches, 332 yards, 1 TD) who is more of the possession receiver that Chelf will look for on the big third down conversion. While the offense has been solid (38.9 PPG, 23rd in FBS) this season, it is the play of the defense that has the Cowboys still in the Big 12 race. They are currently giving up just 19.6 PPG, which ranks 19th in the country. For many years, they have had a championship worthy offense, but the defense has let them down. Justin Gilbert is one of the best cornerbacks in the country, with the ability to lock down any receiver in the Big 12. Against the offense that the Red Raiders are going to throw at Oklahoma State, he will have plenty of opportunities to make the big play.
Kliff Kingsbury has been quite impressive in the Big 12 in his first year as the Texas Tech coach, but for the first time all year, his team will be coming off a loss. Per usual in Lubbock, the Red Raiders love to throw the ball around the field, ranking third in the country with 413 passing yards per game. Davis Webb, the highly touted freshman has gotten the job after fellow freshman Baker Mayfield’s injury, and has played very sound football. Webb is completing 61 percent of his passes, while throwing 13 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. TE Jace Amaro has become his favorite target, with a rare combination of size and speed at 6-foot-5, 260 pounds. After being suspended for the first half of the game this season, he has at least eight catches and 86 yards in each of the team’s past seven games. The Cowboys will have to slow him down over the middle of the field, so that could create opportunities on the outside for Webb to attack downfield. Like OSU, the Red Raiders are playing their best defense in years, giving up just 21.0 points per game. However, the big play really hurt Texas Tech last weekend in Norman. In that game, the Sooners also carried the ball 50 times for 277 yards, which could be a bad sign, as Roland and the Cowboys' ground attack was so successful last weekend.