Thursday, September 10, 2009

On the Line: A Brief Look at This Week's College Football Match-ups

Let’s start this off with the pick of the weekend: USC over Ohio State.

The funny thing about this pick is that it doesn’t have anything to do with how the Buckeyes looked last weekend in the thriller against Navy, or Ohio State’s struggles with any team that has sweet tea that’s palatable. This is more than just a regular season game, it’s an epidemic. The Big Ten Conference has tried to keep up with the latest trends in game management and play-calling to combat against innovative match-ups coaches around the country create to gain a competitive edge. One trend that the coaches cannot control or manipulate is the national population trend, which has 47 of the 50 fastest growing metropolitan areas between 2007 and 2008 in the West and the South. (Wall Street Journal) And where the people go the players go. Just think about it. You are a nationally ranked high school player with innumerable college choices, where would you choose: Columbus, with all that tradition and pageantry, and don’t forget the Midwestern co-eds with strapping jaw lines and despicable winters, or Los Angeles, where a tough day consists of you walking/biking to class on a cloudless sunny afternoon while hordes of attractive college girls ravenously try to curry your favor with beach party invites? Yeah, I thought so. This is why I believe that USC - even with a retooled defense that lost eight starters to the draft and a true freshman starting at QB- will be victorious against Ohio State on Saturday evening.The climate difference is just a fraction of why these "can't miss" athletes are from and staying around these regional areas. Another is television exposure in major markets with weekly marquee match-ups. That topic alone could have a blog devoted entirely to itself- not written by me, and so we must press on. The seriously scary side story of this game will be if USC loses. We all know that the Trojans usually slip one game, on average, most seasons. And to think of losing to a national power like the Buckeyes would only put a chip on their shoulder, and propel USC to finish out undefeated and possibly playing for a National Championship anyways. I understand it sounds like a reach with them fielding a true freshman at QB, but he is thought of in the highest regard by his coach who has had a few decent QB's in the past(Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez) It’s all too early to tell, but whoever wins the game will be entered into the argument with Florida as early contenders and then the real squabbling starts.

Georgia Tech vs. Clemson

The line on this game as of right now is 5, and for good reason. These teams are much alike while being totally different. Clemson has a new coach with a plethora of athletes and has high aspirations of finding whatever approach is needed to guide the team into national consideration. Georgia Tech on the other hand has good athletes at key positions and a proven coach with a smash mouth offensive strategy. I take Tech although I think Clemson’s Defensive line has the advantage over Tech’s O-Line. I will not waffle over this pick even though Clemson has two players (Jacoby Ford and C.J. Spiller) who can completely take over a game if they get hot. The 15th ranked Yellow Jackets are a team in ascension, while the talented and fiery Tigers are finding their way in transition.

South Carolina vs. Georgia

"There's a fine line there between playing wide open and smart," Spurrier said. "Whatever it takes to win the game is obviously what we ought to try to do.”

And that is what the ole ball coach will do Saturday night. Spurrier will have to dig deep in the playbook and set up plays from the first snap of the game to score some points against the Dogs. But, after watching the Dogs last weekend against Oklahoma State, it looks like the Gamecocks D will have a great opportunity to keep South Carolina in the game. What I look to see is Spurrier letting it all hang out and scoring any way he can, and watching the swarming defense win the game for the Gamecocks.

Notre Dame vs. Michigan

I can’t wait to see how the media builds up this game between the 18th ranked Irish and the Wolverines. It’s going to be a long season this year with this blitz of unwanted Irish coverage on multiple networks. Notre Dame will win since they don’t have much of a choice or reason not to. Look for Weis’ bunch to probably move into the lower teens with a win. It still amazes me how college football looks out for the Irish. Unbelievable. I really wish I knew a great Notre Dame joke. Any suggestions, AB?

I could go 4-0 and have all the right answers, or I could go 0-4 and whiff on all the picks. The only sure thing here is that if you attend a Columbia University Lions home game this year you receive 4 free beers. Don’t believe me?

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