I live in the South, but I am not an SEC fan. I think SEC coaches and fans are incredibly arrogant -- often with good reason, sadly, because it's the best conference in college football. But sometimes it's overrated. I believe that was the case last season -- just look at the SEC West's bowl results -- and is again in 2015. Last week was not a good one for the SEC.
The worst loss was easily former No. 18 Arkansas falling at home to MAC school Toledo 16-12. And to think Hogs coach Bret Bielema had the audacity to criticize the nonconference schedule of Ohio State. Ex-No. 6 Auburn should have lost at home to FCS school Jacksonville State but got incredibly fortunate. Former No. 23 Tennessee blew a 17-point home lead and was beaten by Oklahoma. Florida squeaked by East Carolina and No. 22 Missouri did the same against Arkansas State. Ladies and gentlemen, the Pac-12 is the nation's best conference right now.
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Here's some news, notes and any line moves for some of Saturday's games around the country, in no particular order.
No. 14 Georgia Tech at No. 8 Notre Dame (+2.5): This line has grown a point, and if you read my Opening Line Report on Monday you likely know why: the Irish lost starting quarterback Malik Zaire to a season-ending injury last week against Virginia and will give DeShone Kizer his first career start. For what it's worth, the last four Irish QBs making their first career start have won it. The Irish are home dogs for only the fifth time this decade. They are 3-1 SU and against the spread in the previous four.
Troy at No. 24 Wisconsin (-34.5): This line has dropped a point even though on some sites UW is taking the biggest lean on the board at about 80 percent. That surprises me a bit because it appears Badgers star running back Corey Clement is not going to play. Clement aggravated a left-groin injury in the season opener against Alabama. He played sparingly in the 35-17 loss to the Crimson Tide on Sept. 5, rushing eight times for 16 yards and catching two passes for 19 yards. Clement sat out last week's 58-0 win over Miami (Ohio). Dare Ogunbowale and Taiwan Deal combined for 30 of the 41 carries by running backs last week, but the attack didn't do much in the first half until wearing Miami down after intermission. Troy is better than Miami.
Georgia State at No 12 Oregon (-43.5): This line has dropped from an opening of 46. Here's another game where it's not like who wins is in question but whether the heavily-favored ranked team will cover. So why the drop despite the Ducks taking a solid lean? It's because Oregon starting quarterback Vernon Adams is a game-time call with a broken finger suffered in the season opener against Eastern Washington. He reinjured it in last Saturday's loss at Michigan State. If I'm Oregon, no way I play Adams. Let him get a week of rest and go with Jeff Lockie. The Ducks open Pac-12 play with a challenge next week against No. 21 Utah. Speaking of ..
No. 21 Utah at Fresno State (+14): This line didn't generally open until late Wednesday and has dropped from 15.5. The question here is whether Utes starting QB Travis Wilson will play. He sprained his non-throwing shoulder in last week's 24-14 win over Utah State. His backup is Kendal Thompson. He has made eight career appearances for the Utes, starting twice. In relief of Wilson vs. Utah State, Thompson was 8-for-10 for 56 yards and rushed for 23 yards and a TD. Last year the Utes beat visiting Fresno 59-27 behind a career-high five TD passes from Wilson.
No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 2 Alabama (-6.5): This line has stayed pretty steady, although it's at 7 at some sportsbooks. I am definitely not going to make a habit of listing offensive linemen who may be out for games this season, but the best one in the country is Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil. The likely Top 5 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft hasn't played yet this season as the NCAA investigates an eligibility issue and won't here. The Rebels haven't missed him yet as they have been the country's most impressive offensive team thus far, but that was against UT Martin and Fresno State. Alabama is a bit better and maybe has the best defensive front in college football. Not having Tunsil will matter here.
Florida at Kentucky (+3.5): Is this the year? Kentucky improved to 2-0 with its first road win since 2010 (first SEC road win since 2009) in a 26-22 victory at South Carolina last week. However, UK has dropped 28 straight to the Gators. UF coach Jim McElwain has decided to start redshirt freshman Will Grier at quarterback for the second straight game. Grier has completed 26 of 35 passes for 317 yards and four scores. He also has an interception and a fumble. No doubt Treon Harris will also play. I actually think UK does end the streak -- it should have last season but lost in triple overtime.
Rutgers at Penn State (-9): This line has risen as much as 1.5 points. How much does a coach matter? We will find out at Rutgers as coach Kyle Flood has been suspended three games. That program is a mess with player arrests and Flood contacting a faculty member about a player's academic status and trying to get a grade changed. Associate head coach Norries Wilson will serve as interim coach during Flood's suspension, although Flood can conduct practices. Also, Rutgers indefinitely suspended All-Big Ten wide receiver Leonte Carroo earlier this week after Carroo was charged with simple assault in a domestic violence incident from last weekend. He has seven catches for 181 yards and three scores.
South Florida at Maryland (-7): This number opened at 8.5. The drop is probably due to the fact that the Terps have demoted former starting QB Perry Hills, a surprise winner of the job in camp, to No. 3, following last week's embarrassing 48-27 home loss to MAC school Bowling Green (I'm sure that loss also affected line). Randy Edsall is going to start redshirt junior QB Caleb Rowe for this game. Not that Rowe has been good in his two spot appearances this year. He was 0-for-1 against Richmond and 1-for-3 - with two interceptions - against Bowling Green. Rowe was considered the favorite to be Maryland's opening game starter before Hills won the job.
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