On my NCAA Opening Line Report story Monday , I wrote about LSU firing Coach Les Miles and that I was sure some site would offer a prop on who the Tigers' next full-time coach would be. BookMaker came through.
I said that Houston's Tom Herman and Florida State's Jimbo Fisher would be the two favorites, and they were at +100 and +250, respectively. Both were of course asked about the job this week and both said they were only focused on their current teams and happy where they were. Neither said I'm absolutely 100 percent staying put, though. But then I think all coaches have learned from when Nick Saban was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins and said flat out that he "wasn't going to be the Alabama coach." Of course not long after saying that, he was.
Saban is frankly the reason why Miles was fired and why a lot of coaches get out of the SEC because they can't beat his Crimson Tide. Including Miles' firing, there have now been 24 head coaching changes in the SEC since Saban arrived at Alabama in 2007. Seven of the coaches leaving or being fired had won either a national title or SEC title during their career. Hey, if you can't beat 'em, run.
LSU is a 13-point home favorite this week against Missouri but could be in some trouble if Leonard Fournette doesn't play. He suffered a high-ankle sprain in fall camp, bruised that ankle Week 1 vs. Wisconsin, missed the second game and then apparently banged it up again in last week's loss to Auburn and will be a game-time decision. Mizzou running back Alex Ross, a transfer from Oklahoma, is expected to play. He had 67 yards on 18 carries in Week 1 at West Virginia but then hurt his ankle early in Week 2 and hasn't played since. Ross is also a very good kick returner.
Here are some news, notes and any major line moves for some of Saturday's games around the country, in no particular order. The biggest line move by far was No. 3 Louisville shockingly going from as high as +3.5 to -2 at No. 5 Clemson in the game of the day. I touched on that game Monday.
Virginia at Duke (-3.5, 62): Line has been steady but total has risen 1.5 points. Could be a trap game for the Blue Devils off their huge upset win at Notre Dame last week. They came out of that game really banged up as well. Out for the season are linebacker Tinashe Bere, an honorable mention freshman All-American last year, and senior defensive back DeVon Edwards. Out this week at least are top running back Jela Duncan and linebacker Dominic McDonald. Duncan has rushed for 314 yards and four touchdowns on 56 carries. Duke has won six of the past eight meetings but lost 42-34 at UVA last year.
Syracuse vs. Notre Dame (-10.5, 73): Speaking of those Irish, they opened as 13-point favorites for this neutral-site matchup at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. And it will be the first game for new defensive coordinator Greg Hudson, who had been serving as a defensive analyst, whatever that is. Coach Brian Kelly fired D-coordinator Brian VanGorder following the embarrassing lost to Duke. Considering how that unit looked against the Blue Devils, Michigan State and Texas, it was deserved. Somewhat interesting, though, that Kelly had vehemently backed VanGorder following the loss to Sparty. The Irish rank No. 103 in total defense and No. 101 in points allowed. One thing Syracuse can do under new coach Dino Babers and his up-tempo offense is score. But QB Eric Dungey is in question with an undisclosed injury. Babers has given no hints as to what's going on. Dungey is averaging 341.8 passing yards per game (No. 8 in country) with nine TDs. Zack Mahoney would start if Dungey can't and Mahoney has game experience from last season.
No. 11 Tennessee at No. 25 Georgia (+3, 52): If the Vols win this game, you can pretty much put them in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta because they would have the head-to-head tiebreaker over Georgia (which would then have two SEC losses already) and Florida, which Tennessee beat last week. It's Game 2 of a murderous four-game stretch for UT as it goes to No. 9 Texas A&M next week and is home to No. 1 Alabama the following. But after that, it's clear sailing all the way to the Georgia Dome. There's a solid chance the Dawgs will be without star tailback Nick Chubb, who blew out his knee in last year's 38-31 Tennessee home win. Chubb has recovered from that but left last Saturday's 45-14 loss at Ole Miss in the second quarter with a sprained ankle and did not return. Georgia has good depth at tailback, but none of those other guys are Chubb, who has rushed for 422 yards and three touchdowns.
Oklahoma at No. 21 TCU (+3.5, 69.5): This opened with OU at -2. I honestly think Coach Bob Stoops might be forced out of Norman if the Sooners lose this game. They were a popular pick to win the Big 12 and return to the College Football Playoff this year with a ton of returning talent. But the Sooners didn't belong on the same field as Houston in Week 1 or Ohio State in Week 3. OU won' t make the playoff but at least could still win the Big 12 and reach a major bowl game. Likely not, though, with a loss in Fort Worth. Oklahoma will be minus two defensive starters in linebacker Tay Evans and end Matt Dimon due to injury. But tackle Matt Romar should go after missing the OSU game with a concussion. TCU, which remains without big-play receiver/returner KaVontae Turpin for a few more weeks, is breaking out some really cool helmets for this "blackout" game. TCU is 1-3 vs. Oklahoma since joining the Big 12, but the games have been decided by a total of 15 points.
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