Thursday, October 18, 2012

CLAWS vs. PAWS - Week 8


Weekend of October 20, 2012

South Carolina at Florida
(Florida is favored by 3.5)


I don’t think anyone honestly had Carolina sweeping all three of the “gauntlet” games the SEC tossed at us to get Georgia back to the SEC Championship this year, so we’re right where I thought we would be and heading to Spurrier’s old fishing hole.  
We have now been left for dead and discarded as a 1-week wonder.  We’re old news all of sudden.  Meanwhile, everyone on Earth has declared Florida the East Champions and are just waiting to watch them tear apart the Gamecocks.  Fortunately, despite having been told it is a fruitless trip by many, we are going to go ahead and make the trip anyway. 

Florida will come out and try and replicate what LSU did.  Run right at us and hope we are as flat and listless as we were in Baton Rouge.  For this plan to work, we would not only have to play that poorly again, but Connor Shaw would have to have consecutive games where he is making bad decisions galore.  I don’t see that.  Shaw has laid an egg before and bounced back in a big way.  

The Gators will not find things as easy as LSU did.  We will be focused, ready to play and I can assure you if they beat us they will earn it folks.  Hopefully when this is done we can all go pull for LSU against Bama because I would LOVE to see those boys in Atlanta.  

Carolina 20, Florida 16 - Carolina wins the game and covers the spread.


After being physically manhandled last week at, the UCS fans are covered in bumps, bruises, and misdemeanors.  Unfortunately, their players have it worse.

For example:

  • Will Lattimore play?  And if so, how effective will he be?
  • Has the flu bug run its course?
  • Will Quarles be given the Sammy Watkins treatment, or the Stephen Garcia treatment?
  • Will Shaw ride on the team bus, or will Spurrier throw him under it again?

These are not easy questions for perennial powers to answer, nevertheless a group that’s never been there before.  So how will they respond?

I’m not sure and I don’t know that most UCS fans are either.  And when we don’t know what will happen, we focus on what won’t – and see where it leads us.

  • UCS’ defense will not give their offense the ball with a goal to go situation
  • UCS’ special teams will not put their offense on the plus side of the field
  • Florida’s offense will not run up the middle the way LSU did
  • Florida’s defense will not completely shut down the rushing game the way LSU did
  • Florida’s fans will not be as drunk as LSU’s
  • UCS’ fans will not get arrested
  • Herbstreit will not be attached by Sir Big Spur again

When two very similar teams face off, the game is typically decided by intangibles.  Things like momentum, crowd, fear, luck.  Who jumps out to an early lead?  Who lets the attention go to their head?  Who handles pressure and who’s in the right place at the right time?

Spurrier has been quiet this week, which means he’s not as confident as he has been.    And if he’s not as confident, you can bet his team isn’t.  And if they aren’t confident, then they have no shot at winning.

Florida scores early, plays great defense, and breaks UCS’ will.

Florida 20
UCS 13

UCS loses the game and Florida covers the 3.5 spread


Virginia Tech at Clemson
(Clemson is favored by 11)


This would be a perfect week to call for the “feelings hurter” to bite the Tigers, and I just may regret not doing that.  Clemson has now talked themselves back into “world-beater” status even though they haven’t done anything to warrant it.  

The ACC is just so dadgum awful now.  Outside of Florida State, this may very well be one of the worst conferences ever eligible to waste a BCS bid, which they will like they did last year.  So Clemson ought to be good enough on the Florida-bought talent alone to get through this one with a victory.  That’s why I just can’t make myself pick the Hokies.  Tech usually at least has a good defense to fall back on, but last year and this year that just isn’t the case.  

The final reason I will take the Tigers is that VT is starting games slowly this year and you can’t do that at Clemson.   This is likely a game that Dabo and crew will be a little flat early and Tech would need to pounce on that.  Tiggers win but once again only impress themselves. 

Clemson 30, Va. Tech 21 - Clemson wins but not by more than the 11 point spread


Just when you thought you were catching Virginia Tech at the perfect time, they go out and drop 41 straight on a decent Duke team.  So now they come in with decent momentum and a Heisman worthy quarterback.  And a thirst for revenge.

And while they’ll bring momentum, motivation, and a tall quarterback, they won’t be bringing their typical defense or special teams.  After holding GT to only 17 points, the VT defense has averaged giving up 32.5 points to BCS teams, including 48 to UNC.

But talent is still there, especially on the outside.  Duke made a living in the middle of the field, and Clemson will need to as well.  Look for big games from the tight ends and slot backs, with the occasional deep threat to keep everyone honest.

Also, look for Virginia Tech to take away the short stuff and challenge Clemson to beat them throwing the ball up the field rather than to the flats.  Same for the running game.  Expect them to take away the stretch, forcing Clemson to earn yard between the tackles.

Offensively, Virginia Tech has lived on the big play.  Just last week, four of their touchdowns came on plays longer than 40 yards.  Clemson will need to keep Virginia Tech in front of them and wait for the drive to stall, which it usually does.

Clemson has yet to face a ton of resistance defensively, nor have they put up much defensive resistance of their own.  Clemson jumps out to a double digit lead, but the big play abilities of Virginia Tech keep the game close.  Ultimately Clemson’s firepower keeps Virginia Tech at bay and wins a close game.

Clemson 37
Virginia Tech 31

Clemson wins but does not  cover the 11 point spread.

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