NCAAF: Let Down Time
NCAAF: Let Down Time
Let Down Time
By Judd Hall
I had horrible visions of 2007 this week. I dreamt that four Top 10 teams fell in very surprising upsets?
Wait…you mean that really did happen?!?
Yes, my friends all hell broke loose once again. Southern Cal fell once more on the road to the Beavers. Florida failed to convert an extra point at home against Ole Miss. Georgia turned out to be going to a funeral between the hedges versus the Crimson Tide…its own. And Wisconsin found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the Big House.
As if that group of upsets wasn’t enough, there were still a couple more surprises that happened last week.
The bait has been set for these programs this Saturday, but will the traps be sprung?
Scalping a Wolverine…
The era of good feelings has started for Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez after winning his first Big Ten game against the Badgers, 27-25. The sportsbooks are even giving the Wolverines some credit by making them 2½-point home favorites over Illinois.
It’s hard not to understand the reasoning for that move: Michigan Stadium is a difficult place to play and the Fighting Illini are licking their wounds following a 38-24 defeat at Penn State. Still, this shouldn’t be a problem for Illinois. Most people don’t realize how lucky the Wolverines were to win last week. The offense still struggles as a whole, but it converted three of six third downs that faced them during that fourth quarter comeback. The rest of the game saw UM moving the chains on just two of 10 third downs.
There was no bigger impression made by a team last week than by Alabama after throttling the Bulldogs on the road as a six-point pup, 41-30. The Crimson Tide controlled what Georgia did for much of that game. Now Nick Saban’s squad has added its name to the list of national title contenders. Of course, they just have to make it past Kentucky this week.
The sportsbooks have made the Tide large 16½-point home favorites, but that might be a little high. This isn’t the same Wildcat squad ‘Bama beat down 45-17 in 2004. Kentucky has allowed just 5.5 PPG this season. Don’t be surprised if Rich Brook’s team wants to prove that its close win over Middle Tennessee State was an aberration.
Fear the Turtle…
Maryland needed a 76-yard reverse by Darrius Heyward-Bey to get the offense rolling against the Tigers last Saturday. But once he set up the Terrapins’ first touchdown, it just seemed like a matter of time for them to win over Clemson. In the end, the Terps walked away with a 20-17 win as 11 ½-point road ‘dogs.
It would seem that the Terrapins would be set for the let down this Saturday when they go to Virginia as 13½-point road favorites. There is no doubt this is a stretch for us to back when the Cavaliers are averaging nine points per game this year. Yet Virginia is 3-1 ATS in the last four head-to-head matches.
Ole Miss-ing its chance…
I figured that the Rebels would get a signature win for Houston Nutt in his first running the show. I just didn’t figure that his Ole Miss team would go into Gainesville as a 22-point road underdog and come out a 31-30 winner. The Rebs were very successful at forcing Florida to punt by letting them convert just one of 11 third down chances.
As if beating the Gators wasn’t enough, now the trap for Mississippi is set against the Ol’ Ball Coach. The Rebels are listed as 2½-point home favorites over South Carolina. While an emotional let down seems likely here for Ole Miss, history tells us otherwise. Mississippi has went 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS in the past three against the Gamecocks.
Sink or Swim…
Navy may have lost Paul Johnson to the Yellow Jackets, but his offense lives on in Annapolis. The Midshipmen ran the triple option to perfection against Wake Forest, racking up 292 yards on the ground en route to a 24-17 win as 17-point road underdogs.
The scene now shifts for Navy to Colorado Springs, Colorado as the Air Force has been installed as a six-point home “chalk.” These Middies could run into a spot of bother here as the Falcons also run the option defense, as evidenced by the 281.8 rushing YPG they have this season.
While it might seem like Navy could be in over its head, remember that it has gone 5-0 SU and ATS in the past five meetings.
You don’t hear much about Florida International when it comes to football…well, except for when someone whips them thoroughly. Last week was a nice change of pace as the Golden Panthers upended Toledo as 18 ½-point road ‘dogs, 35-16. Even more impressive is that Mario Cristobal’s team was down 13-0 after the first quarter and 16-14 at the half. It was FIU’s first road victory since November 2005.
The Golden Panthers are benefiting from their road win at the betting shops this week as well, being tabbed 6½-point road favorites at North Texas. For them to win their second straight against the Mean Green, FIU has to upend history as they have never won two straight road tilts in their short history.