College Football Weekly Predictions: Week 12
by Alan Matthews - 11/19/2009
In many respects, this is the final full weekend of the college football regular season because the Big Ten shuts it down after Week 12, although a few of the teams do have a non-conference game left. But the season is rapidly approaching an end, so we need a strong finish to end up at least +500 on the regular season. But you can look for some bowl prediction stories as well.
Last week, I hit on Michigan State giving 2.5 points at Purdue. I mentioned that I only liked that game at 2.5 because State had one of the best kickers in the country in Brett Swenson and that I probably would have passed if the line moved to three. Well, hopefully you got your money down at 2.5 because the Spartans won 40-37 on a late Swenson field goal. My other hit was Oklahoma State giving four to Texas Tech. The loss was a bad one, as I recommended taking Kansas State at home +1 against Missouri, but the Wildcats laid a big egg and lost 38-12. I am now 18-15 on the year.
On to Week 12:
North Carolina at Boston College, noon, Saturday
Current line: Boston College -3.5. This one's pretty unusual, because it really hasn't moved at all.
Who the public likes: It's about a 50-50 split (slight lean to Heels), so no wonder the line has stayed steady.
The Tar Heels have been playing as well as anyone in the ACC of late - outside of division leaders Clemson and Georgia Tech. The Heels have won three in a row (3-0 ATS) and four of five, and that lone loss was a game in which UNC blew a 24-6 lead at home to Florida State. The North Carolina defense has been very good all year and has held five of its last six opponents to double digits in rushing. On the other side of the ball, the offensive line has really improved of late and, thus, so has the running game. Since losing to Virginia on Oct. 3, UNC is averaging 178.2 rushing yards per game in its last five games after managing just 60.5 yards in its previous four. BC certainly has motivation, as it still is in the hunt for the ACC Atlantic title, even though Clemson controls its own destiny (Tigers can clinch later on Saturday). UNC has won the past two in the series, while BC really hasn't beaten a quality opponent yet this year - the Eagles were thumped by both Clemson and Virginia Tech. I expect a straight-up Heels win.
Take North Carolina and the points.
Connecticut at Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m., Saturday
Current line: Notre Dame -6. This is another that hasn't moved too much, maybe a half-point toward the Irish at some books.
Who the public likes: Approximately 62 percent on the Irish. It was at slightly over 80 percent when the line opened but has stayed fairly steady around 62 since dipping.
It's the Irish's home finale and possibly Charlie Weis' last one there as well. I foresee a possible blowout here, as it's appears unlikely that UConn's defense can stop the Irish offense, mainly the passing game. ND has the nation's No. 5 pass offense behind Jimmy Clausen's 3,053 yards passing. He has 21 touchdown passes and his passing efficiency number of 158.2 is among the best in the nation. The Huskies have dropped three in a row (2-1 ATS) and have allowed at least 28 points in all three. Two weeks ago, Cincy QB Zach Collaros put up a Big East record 555 total yards on this team. UConn starting QB Zach Frazier, by the way, left Notre Dame in May 2007 when he was fourth on the Irish depth chart. I realize that UConn's five losses have come by just 15 points, but this sets up well for Notre Dame even with the Huskies entering off a bye.
Take Notre Dame and the points.
LSU at Mississippi, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Current line: Ole Miss -4.5. This one opened at three.
Who the public likes: Approximately 63 percent on LSU. The line shift has affected the public lean on this a bit. Ole Miss was getting about 50 percent when it opened at three, but then when it moved to 3.5 it dipped to around current levels. That extra point to 4.5 hasn't moved the public; really, that's a wasted point.
LSU got caught in a bit of a trap game last week against Louisiana Tech, but the Tigers also were without four starters. Three of them are expected back this week, none more important that QB Jordan Jefferson. Backup Jarrett Lee completed just 7-of-22 passes against Louisiana Tech. The Tigers are allowing just 13.7 points and 311.8 total yards on defense, and their only two losses are to arguably the nation's top two teams (Florida and Alabama). LSU also has won six of seven in this series, although the Rebs did win 31-13 last year. But Ole Miss hasn't beaten LSU at home since 1999. Ole Miss is playing better, having won four of five (3-2 ATS). But none of those five teams remotely compares with LSU. The loss of star defensive end Greg Hardy will be felt in this one by the Rebels as well.
Take LSU and the points.
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