Biggest Games for Week Three in CFB
by Trevor Whenham - 09/12/2006
There are no games on the college football landscape this weekend to rival the Texas and Ohio State showdown last weekend. That kind of thing only happens once a decade or so. Still, there are five games this weekend that have the potential to be memorable. Not only will they be fun to watch, but some of the lines are particularly interesting. Have a look:
Nebraska (+18.5) at USC - With all due respect to Arkansas, neither of these teams have really played anyone yet this season. This is going to be the first test that USC has faced that will let us know if they are close to the same team they were last year. John David Booty also gets his first real chance to prove what he can do. Zac Taylor has completed 73 percent of his passes for the Huskers and leads the nation with seven touchdowns - irrelevant given the competition, but a sign that perhaps Nebraska finally has an offense. Nebraska is going to run the ball a lot, and the run defense was the one thing that didn't look great for USC in their only game, so that could be a match-up to watch.
The line opened at 17 and has widened since then, and you can find it as high as 19.5. Nobody believes that Nebraska is going to win, and neither do I, but the question is whether you believe that the Trojans are three touchdowns better. Is the difference between No. 2 and No. 19 almost three touchdowns? Bill Callahan hopes not. Speaking of coaches, the fact that Pete Carroll has had two weeks to prepare for this one has to give him a real edge, and it has to scare Huskers fans.
Florida (-3) at Tennessee - Without looking at the game at all you would take Florida in this one. They are 7-3-1 ATS in the last 11 match-ups. You would also look for a low scoring affair, since the under (45.5) is 7-3 in the last 10. Tennessee served notice that last year may have been an illusion when they handled Cal with ease, but then they just barely edged Air Force when the academy gambled on and missed a two-point conversion at the end of the game. You really can't tell what we will get from them here.
Florida has beat their opponents by a combined 76-7, but you, me and the next nine guys you see on the street could have at least played their two opponents to a tie so that hardly counts. In Erik Ainge and Chris Leak you have two talented QBs who haven't ever been quite as good as they should be, so it's a fitting match-up. The consensus so far is tilting towards Florida, but it's a much tougher game to call than it was last year.
Miami (-4) at Louisville - This is possibly the most important game that Louisville has ever played. The Cardinals showed how dominant they can be on the ground in both games so far. Miami limited Florida State to just one yard total rushing, which is astounding, but you really have to ask yourself if that was because Miami's run defense was really good or because Florida State's running game was truly terrible. There's one certainty here - if Louisville can find room for their offense to get loose and do what they do then the Canes are in trouble, because Miami doesn't have the firepower to match them.
Louisville is 8-1 ATS against the ACC and 13-3 ATS at home, so trends favor them. Miami won a shootout between the two teams in 2004, but a lot has changed for both sides since then. Lousiville definitely needs this win more than Miami does, if that counts for anything.
LSU (+3) at Auburn - A match-up of two teams that are bettors' dreams - LSU is 7-1-1 ATS on the road, and Auburn is 10-2 ATS in their last 12. The two teams have gone under in their last six matchups, so the 40 in this game may be worth a look if you can find a book that is offering it (betCRIS currently has a line up).
Both teams have clobbered Pac-10 squads this season, but that just tells us that the Pac-10 isn't very good. The defenses for both teams have been as good as expected to date, so it should be a real war in the trenches on Saturday.
The winner of this game has won the SEC West five of the last six years and will likely do so again this year, so this game between No. 3 Auburn and No. 6 LSU has very high stakes. Early action is tilting decidedly towards the favorites.
Michigan (+6.5) at Notre Dame - As a Michigan fan I may not sleep until this one is over. Both teams are as good as they have been in a long while. Notre Dame faltered against a decent team to start the season, then regrouped to crush a pretty good Penn State squad, while Michigan hasn't played anyone scary and hasn't broken a sweat or looked particularly good. We'll know early on if Michigan can find another gear. If so, it will be a war, but if not it could get ugly. Lloyd Carr has been incapable of winning at Notre Dame - Michigan last won at South Bend in 1994. Notre Dame has won but not covered the last two meetings. This time it will come down to the quarterbacks. Michigan needs to find a way to slow down Brady Quinn and his Superman cape while Chad Henne finally needs to play to his potential, like he did early in his freshman season.