I touched on the huge matchup between No. 2 Florida State and No. 10 Louisville on Monday, so I won't rehash that -- although the Seminoles got bad news this week when arguably their best defensive player, safety Derwin James, was ruled out 5-7 weeks following surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee -- in this space. I liked FSU -2.5 on Monday and still do at the current line of -1.5.
But something happened this week that could hugely benefit Florida State down the line. The conference decided to pull the ACC Championship Game from Charlotte this season because of that whole transgender bathroom law in North Carolina. Whether you agree with that law or not, it's a bold move for the ACC (the ACC men's basketball tournament is in Brooklyn the next two years, so nothing to worry about there) without any backup plan. Why I think the Seminoles could benefit from this if they win the Atlantic Division, which I believe they will, is that the ACC's first choice is to play the game in Orlando.
Obviously, any game in the state of Florida would benefit FSU in terms of fan support. If you watched the Seminoles' season opener against Ole Miss at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, the crowd was decidedly pro-FSU. If the game stayed in Charlotte and FSU was to play, say, North Carolina in the title game, obviously that would benefit the Heels. Or if Clemson represented the Atlantic Division, Tigers fans would be en masse in Charlotte against the Coastal winner (unless it was the Heels). It's not a done deal that the game will be in Orlando as Camping World Stadium is currently scheduled to host the Florida high school championship games that weekend. Those games could be moved to UCF's Bright House Networks Stadium perhaps. Tampa (which used to host the ACC title game) and Jacksonville are other options, but both would again help Florida State. It's most likely going to be in Orlando, though. The Noles are +140 favorites to win the ACC.
Here are some news, notes and any major line moves for some of Saturday's games around the country, in no particular order. Pardon the heavy SEC flavor. It's a spectacular weekend and the first ever where the top three teams in the AP poll play true road games vs. ranked teams. I think only Ohio State loses among those top three.
Mississippi State at No. 20 LSU (-14, 45): This has one of the lower totals on the board, and LSU opened at -12.5. BookMaker has an interesting prop up on LSU's Les Miles, asking if he will be the team's coach beyond Dec. 31, 2016. I assume that date was chosen because it's when the College Football Playoff semifinals are being played. "Yes" is -320 and "no" is +230. Miles will not be in Baton Rouge if he loses this game, I can promise you. He has made a quarterback change as well. Purdue transfer Danny Etling will make his first start as a Tiger. Brandon Harris started the first two games and was terrible. He was pulled early in last week's win over Jacksonville State, and it's not like Etling tore it up, going 6-for-14 for 100 yards with a TD and a pick. But Etling will be mostly handing off to Leonard Fournette, who was held out last week due to an ankle injury. He certainly could have played if the opponent posed any threat. LSU has won 15 of the last 16 meetings in this series but lost the last time they met in Tiger Stadium, 34-29, in 2014. MSU missed a 52-yard field goal at the end of regulation with a chance to win last year in Starkville.
North Texas at No. 23 Florida (-36, 50): This won't affect whether Florida wins, obviously, but be aware that the Gators' best offensive player, wide receiver Antonio Callaway, is being called highly questionable to doubtful with an injured quad. He leads the Gators with 13 catches for 201 yards and two touchdowns. I highly doubt he plays considering UF opens SEC play next week in a big one in the East Division against Tennessee. Also out for a few games is Gators guard Tyler Jordan, who will have eye surgery to repair damage stemming from a broken orbital bone.
No. 3 Georgia at Missouri (+6.5, 56): For whatever reason, this total has skyrocketed from an opening of 50. It's a matchup of first-year head coaches at their alma mater in Georgia's Kirby Smart and Mizzou's Barry Odom. The Dawgs clearly were looking past FCS school Nicholls State last week as UGA escaped the biggest upset in school history with a 26-24 win. Georgia turned it over three times, including an interception in the red zone that Nicholls returned 91 yards. The question is: Who starts at QB here? Senior Greyson Lambert got the call in Week 1 against North Carolina, but it was freshman Jacob Eason vs. Nicholls State. He was 11-for-20 for 204 yards and a TD but also that crucial pick. Lambert was just 2-for-3 for 2 yards. Most believe it will be Eason again. Missouri (1-1) comes off a thumping of Eastern Michigan, and three key injured players should be good to go here: tailback Alex Ross (ankle) and cornerback Aarion Penton (shoulder) were hurt vs. EMU but have been practicing as has tight end Sean Culkin (foot), who sat out last week. Georgia is 3-1 against Missouri since the Tigers joined the SEC. I promise you this game will be more interesting than last year's 9-6 Dawgs home win. It was Georgia's first victory without scoring a touchdown since a 12-3 victory over Kentucky in 1995.
No. 11 Texas at California (+7.5, 81): Can't say I could find the research to prove this, but I guarantee you that this is the highest total in a game ever involving Texas. You normally only see 80-plus in games involving Oregon, Texas Tech (which has a total of 80 on Saturday vs. Louisiana Tech) or Baylor. The total has risen nearly five points from its opening, but the spread has been steady. The Longhorns now carry the banner of the Big 12 with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU, the top three teams in the preseason Big 12 poll, all having lost already. I thought UT might have letdown game last week against UTEP off that huge win over Notre Dame, but Texas won 41-7. The Horns sat six starters in running back D'Onta Freeman, offensive lineman Connor Williams, Kent Perkins and Zach Shackelford as well as tight end Caleb Blueitt and safety Dylan Haines, but they will all play here. Horns freshman QB Shane Buechele has been great thus far, but let's see how he does in his first road test. It's the home opener for Cal (1-1), which comes off a close loss at a very good San Diego State team. Behind QB Davis Webb, a Texas Tech transfer, the Bears are No. 2 nationally in passing. Both these schools are averaging 45.5 points per game through two weeks.
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