Two Top 25 College Football Thrillers in Store This Saturday
By David A. Lane Predictem.com
Just a short while ago the temperature was hot, the price of gas was four dollars a gallon, banks were in business making loans, and Ohio State was in the hunt for the Bowl Championship Series national title game in college football again. Ok, things may sometimes change pretty quickly but one thing that always goes by way too fast is the college football season which soon will be nearing an end leading to what should be a completely off the hook BCS bowl season. Two games that not only look to be extremely entertaining but also will have a significant impact on the national title picture take place Saturday- (#5) Florida Gators 6-1 vs. (#8) Georgia Bulldogs 7-1 (3:30PM Eastern) and (#1) Texas Longhorns 8-0 vs. (#6) Texas Tech Red Raiders 8-0 (8PM Eastern).
In the first tilt, ‘The Worlds Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party’ appears to be worth all the hype and more as these two heavyweight powerhouse Southeastern Conference foes go at it from Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Fl. The Gators have some extra motivation in this game after being disrespected in last year’s meeting by the ‘Dawgs entire team taking the field to celebrate wildly a one yard touchdown by Knowshaun Moreno in the first quarter. Coach Mark Richt seemed to have encouraged the idea saying, “If they didn’t get a celebration penalty after the first score then they would all be doing early morning runs.” Later, he would be reprimanded by the conference and ended up apologizing publicly however, the Gators haven’t forgiven him or the loss they suffered by the score of 30-42. To top that off, this week Coach Richt perhaps inadvertently called Gators Coach Urban Meyer ‘Coach Meyers’ in a press conference possibly further exacerbating an already tedious relationship.
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This time around, Florida (31’st rank offense/12’th rank defense) seems to have it all going its way outscoring the last three opponents by a score of 152-33. Quarterback and Heisman hopeful Tim Tebow’s (63.3% comp, 1415 yards, 12 td’s, 2 int, and 5 rushing tds) special blend of passing and running the ball has helped lead the Gators to be the highest scoring team in the SEC with an average of 42 points a game while the defense has been stingy allowing just under 12 per game. Tebow’s favorite target Percy Harvin leads the Gators in receiving (26 rec, 429 yds, 6 tds) and is also efficient at rushing (31 att, 212 yds, 6.8 avg, 3 tds).
The Bulldogs (25’th rank offense/22’nd rank defense) have a sparkling 28-4 record straight up on the road for Richts including 13-2-1 against the spread in non-home games during that span. While one of the keys to game is Moreno (925 yds rush, 12 Td’s, avg 6.2 per carry) who has led the offense with speed and power thus far, the Gators D will be more stingy than those he’s played recently. Quarterback Matthew Stafford (61.6% comp, 1946 yds, 12 td’s, 4 int) has proven to be more than capable in his role keeping defense’s honest having to respect both the run and the pass. If Moreno has success so will the ‘Dawgs and Uga will be barking loudly and often. Since the line is Gators by six, the Bulldogs are the value play here in what should be a very tightly played hard fought battle.
In the suddenly high flying Big 12, two of this years ‘greatest show on turf’ teams the Longhorns and the Red Raiders go at it from Lubbock, TX in what is sure to be a scoreboard operators nightmare. The ‘Horns Quarterback Colt McCoy (81.8% comp, 2285 yds, 21 Td’s, 4 int) is also its leading rusher with 412 yards, team MVP, and is also a strong Heisman candidate. He loves to throw to roommate and leading receiver Jordan Shipley (58 rec, 737 yds, 10 tds) among others. Texas averages scoring 45.6 points a game while giving up only 18.4 a game and its defense is much better against the run than it is the pass- a fact worth noting when the opponent they are playing is pass-happy Tech.
The Red Raiders are surely led by Quarterback Graham Harrell (71.1% comp, 3147 yds, 28 tds, 5 int) whose favorite target is receiver Michael Crabtree (60 rec, 794 yds, 14 tds) who he hopes to find early and often against Texas. The Raiders average scoring 48 points a game while only giving up 21.1. They are number 1 in the nation in passing yards and number 3 in total points scored but like the Longhorns on defense they are also much better against the run than they are against the pass- a possible by-product trait the two share from being ahead by a lot of points early which makes the other team pass often.
Though Lubbock can be a very tough place to play, the Nebraska Cornhuskers gave the Red Raiders fits there earlier this year before finally losing 31-37. In fact, after glancing at the schedules, the Raiders have feasted thus far on the weaker Big 12 North teams Kansas State, Kansas, and Nebraska, while only beating lowly Texas A&M in the Big 12 South. Meanwhile, in the Longhorns last contests they have beaten three highly ranked schools in Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Missouri, and have done so in dominant fashion. Their defense appears to be just good enough to withstand the best the Big 12 has to offer which says a lot. Texas by three and half points here is one of the best bargains on the board this weekend hands down as they continue to be undervalued.
Winner of the first contest takes control of the SEC East and most likely wins the right to face the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship game while winner of the second game takes control of the mighty Big 12 South and looks toward the Big 12 North winner who they’ll probably play in the Big 12 Championship game short of any slip ups before then. Rest assured that the season will reach its end way too soon once again. Meanwhile, hopefully someone else will rise up and hand the Ohio State Buckeyes another loss so we can rest assured that we won’t have to watch them ‘play’ again in the title game this year.