Games to Watch - Week 14
November 26, 2013
By Brian Edwards
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Ohio State at Michigan – As of late Tuesday morning, most books had Ohio State (11-0 straight up, 6-4-1 against the spread) installed as a 14.5-point road favorite. The Buckeyes have won eight of the last nine head-to-head meetings against their arch rivals both SU and ATS, including last season’s 26-21 triumph as four-point home favorites. Since Urban Meyer took over before the 2012 campaign, Ohio State owns a 3-2 spread record in five games as a road favorite. OSU has failed to cover the spread in back-to-back games, including Saturday’s 42-14 win over Indiana as a 33.5-point home ‘chalk.’ Michigan (7-4 SU, 6-5 ATS) has played three straight nail-biters. Three weeks ago, the Wolverines gave up a late touchdown to lose a 17-13 decision to Nebraska. Two weeks ago, they beat Northwestern 27-19 in triple overtime as 2.5-point underdogs.
Brady Hoke’s squad needed a hastily attempted 44-yard field goal as time expired to force the extra sessions in Evanston. In Iowa City this past weekend, Michigan lost 24-21 to Iowa but hooked up its backers as six-point road underdogs. This is only the second time Michigan has been a home ‘dog during Hoke’s three-year tenure. In 2011, the Wolverines dropped Notre Dame 35-31 as 3.5-point home puppies thanks to the late-game heroics of Denard Robinson. Senior QB Braxton Miller is the catalyst for the Buckeyes. He has a 19/4 touchdown-to-interception ratio and has rushed for 738 yards and five TDs. Michigan junior QB Devin Gardner has had an up-and-down season. Gardner has a 17/11 TD-INT ratio and 10 rushing scores. The ‘over’ is 7-4 for Ohio State, 3-1 in its four road assignments. The ‘under’ is 6-5 overall for Michigan, but the ‘over’ is 4-2 in its home games. The Wolverines have seen the ‘under’ cash in four consecutive contests (regardless of venue). Kickoff is scheduled for noon Eastern on ESPN.
Florida State at Florida – Due to the uncertain status of FSU quarterback Jameis Winston, there was no line as of late Tuesday morning. However, the Associated Press reported on Saturday that a decision on whether or not to press charges against Winston for an alleged sexual assault won’t happen before Thanksgiving. Therefore, bettors should expect Winston to start at The Swamp. FSU (11-0 SU, 9-2 ATS) is enjoying its best season in 13 years. Winston has been the key, completing 69.6 percent of his passes for 3,163 yards with a 32/7 TD-INT ratio. Florida (4-7 SU, 3-8 ATS) is coming off perhaps its most embarrassing loss in school history, a 26-20 defeat against Georgia Southern as a 28-point home favorite. The Gators have lost six in a row and are going to have their first losing season since 1979. Their only win over a team with a winning record came vs. Toledo in the season opener.
Junior QB Tyler Murphy remains ‘questionable’ with a shoulder injury, so Skyler Mornhinweg will probably get his third career start. In his first two games, Mornhinweg has a pair of TD passes and one interception. UF’s offense has been downright abysmal all season, averaging only 19.9 points per game. FSU is second in the nation in scoring offense (55.2 PPG) and scoring defense (11.2 PPG). The ‘over’ is 10-1 overall for the ‘Noles, 4-0 in their road games. The ‘under’ is 6-4-1 overall for UF, but the ‘over’ is 3-2-1 in its home games. When these teams met in Tallahassee last year, Florida captured a 37-26 win as a seven-point underdog. ESPN will have television coverage at noon Eastern.
Georgia at Georgia Tech – The Aaron Murray Era at UGA ended this past Saturday when the senior QB tore his ACL during a 59-17 home win over Kentucky. Murray threw 26 TD passes compared to six interceptions during his last season in Athens. For his career, he had a 121/41 TD-INT ratio and 16 rushing scores. Hutson Mason will get his first career start Saturday on The Flats in Midtown Atlanta. Mason, a product of Lassiter High School about 25 miles north of the Georgia Tech campus, is a fourth-year junior with a 5/1 TD-INT ratio in his collegiate career. He will become the first UGA quarterback other than Murray to start under center since Joe Cox got the nod against Texas A&M in the 2009 Independence Bowl. Look for offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to lean on sophomore workhorse RB Todd Gurley even more without Murray. Despite missing 3.5 games with a severely sprained ankle, Gurley has still rushed for 781 yards and seven TDs while averaging 6.3 yards per carry.
Georgia Tech (7-4 SU, 5-5-1 ATS) has won four of its last five games, but it is mired in a 2-5-1 ATS slump. Paul Johnson led his team to a 45-42 come-from-behind win over UGA in Athens in 2008, which was his first game in this storied rivalry. Since then, the Bulldogs have won four in a row, including a 42-10 win as 14.5-point home ‘chalk’ at Sanford Stadium last year. Gurley ran for 97 yards and two TDs on just 12 carries. The ‘over’ is 8-3 overall for UGA, 3-2 in its road games. The ‘over’ is 7-4 overall for the Yellow Jackets, 3-3 in their home contests. The ‘over’ has hit at a 6-1 clip in Georgia Tech’s last seven games. Kickoff on ABC is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Eastern.
Clemson at South Carolina – As of late Tuesday morning, most books had South Carolina (9-2 SU, 5-6 ATS) favored by 4.5. South Carolina senior QB Connor Shaw has never lost a home game in his career. Due to a foot injury, Shaw was unable to go in last year’s regular-season finale when Dylan Thompson threw for 310 yards and three TD passes in a 27-17 win at Clemson. Thompson’s counterpart, QB Tajh Boyd, was intercepted twice and had just 183 passing yards. The Gamecocks, who have won four in a row over the Tigers by margins of 17, 22, 21 and 10 points, limited Sammy Watkins to four catches for only 37 yards. Steve Spurrier’s team will win its second SEC East title in school history if Texas A&M wins Saturday at Missouri. Shaw has had a spectacular season, throwing 20 TD passes and just one interception. He has also rushed for 417 yards and four TDs.
Mike Davis has enjoyed a breakout campaign by running for 1,112 yards and 10 TDs. Davis sat out last week’s 70-10 win over Coastal Carolina, but he could’ve played if it were a more important game and will start Saturday. Clemson (10-1 SU, 6-5 ATS) has won four in a row, going 3-1 ATS, since suffering its lone defeat at home against FSU by a 51-14 count. The Tigers are led by Boyd, the senior QB who has thrown for 3,248 yards with a 29/7 TD-INT ratio. Watkins, his favorite target, has hauled in 78 receptions for 1,144 yards and 10 TDs. Clemson owns a 7-3 spread record in 10 games as a road underdog since Dabo Swinney took over midway through the 2008 season. The ‘under’ is 6-5 overall for South Carolina, 3-3 in its home games. The ‘over’ is 7-4 for Clemson, 2-2 in its road assignments. ESPN2 will have television coverage at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
Texas A&M at Missouri – As of late Tuesday morning, most spots had Missouri (10-1 SU, 9-1-1 ATS) installed as a 4.5-point ‘chalk.’ The Tigers can clinch the SEC East with a win and would then meet the Auburn-Alabama winner at the Georgia Dome next weekend. After missing four consecutive games with a separated shoulder, senior QB James Franklin returned last Saturday to lead his team to a 24-10 win at Ole Miss as a three-point road favorite. Franklin completed 12-of-19 passes for 142 yards in frigid temperatures. He also ran for 42 yards on eight totes, while Henry Josey produced 95 rushing yards and two TDs on 15 carries. Franklin has a 14/4 TD-INT ratio and three rushing scores. Josey has rushed for a team-high 855 yards and 12 TDs while averaging 6.1 YPC. Gary Pinkel’s team has won its 10 games by margins of 14 points or more.
Texas A&M (8-3 SU, 5-6 ATS) saw its three-game winning streak snapped in a 34-10 loss at LSU last weekend as a 3.5-point underdog. For a second straight year, LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis stymied Johnny Manziel for four quarters. Manziel completed just 16-of-41 throws for 224 yards and was intercepted twice. However, he still has a 32/13 TD-INT ratio for the season. The Aggies, who are 0-3 ATS on the road this year, gave up 324 rushing yards to LSU. The ‘over’ is 6-5 for Mizzou, but the ‘under’ is 4-2 in its home games. The ‘over’ is 8-3 overall for the Aggies, 2-1 in their road assignments. When these schools met last season, Texas A&M cruised to a 59-29 win as a 23-point home favorite. Manziel threw for 372 yards and three TDs and also ran for a pair of scores. Kickoff is slated for 7:45 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
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