Teddy Heffner on our sister station Fox Sports 1400 has me on Friday mornings around 9:15 to discuss the biggest college games of the week. If you want to pick the games as well you could win a tailgate package from Mathias Sandwich shop if you beat me! Teddy will give you the details on how to enter. Here's the games he's picked for this week along with the point spreads and the tie break question at the bottom. Would love to hear you analysis of my analysis so let me know on social media @kellynashradio
USC at Vandy +7
Vanderbilt’s weakness is passing D…and passing O. Basically if the ball is in the air it’s a problem for the Commodores. Not to say that their run d or o is great but for example their rushing offense is 79th. That puts them ahead of South Carolina, NC State, Wake, A&M, Kentucky and a bunch of other power 5 schools. So this week will come down to passing offense and run D for the Gamecocks. The Gamecocks have gone over 200 yards in the air 3 times this year and over 300 against Arkansas. They’ve tried to run it a lot more since the Arkansas game so stats are down but if that is the weakness I would expect a lot of throws this week. Of course Bell will be targeted since there’s been so much bluster about his lack of targets the last few weeks. But Vann, Brooks, Legette, Wells, and Stogner should all have opportunities this week. I’d expect about 30 passes this week. Gamecocks Rush D is 95th. Still better than UNC, A&M, Auburn and some other power 5 schools but not good. However if you have to chose a weakness on D this is the one. Because it’s still only 165 YPG. Meaning if you take away their pass game which Vandy only gets 200 per game on average, then you’ll in theory win. Low scoring probably but still a Gamecock win and cover 27-17.
Clemson at N Dame +4.5
New coach Marcus Freeman has been inconstant this year dropping the Irish out of the rankings with 3 losses. Yet they beat 2 of the ACC’s best in Syracuse and UNC. At home Saturday night with the TD Jesus looking on could they give Clemson their first loss of the season? Absolutely! Will they? Highly doubtful. Despite Clemson fans claims of having a tough schedule it’s ranked the 58th on Strength of Schedule and their toughest opponent has been #20 Wake Forest. 6 point wins over unranked teams like they had a few weeks ago against FL State will not get them into the playoffs. They need blowouts and this weekend is their highest profile opportunity to win over some love. The top 4 teams ranked the first week of November have never been the same when January comes. So Clemson, TN, GA or OSU will likely be gone. TCU was #3 in the nation and won their final game over Iowa State. But were bumped due to SOS and the fact that OSU played a very high profile game against Wisconsin for the Big 10 Championship and blew them out 59-0. OSU had a horrible 2 TD loss to unranked Virginia Tech at home in week 2. But after massive wins pretty much the rest of the season they were put in the playoff over the Horned Frogs. That lesson has not been forgotten by any CFB coach. Stomp weaker opponents for style points especially if you play in a weak conference like the ACC or Big 12. Clemson plays unranked opponents the rest of the season and will praying UNC can beat barely ranked NC State and Wake Forest so they can play a ranked team for the ACC title otherwise it will probably be Duke and no one wants to see that! Dabo is coming off a bye week and will treat this game almost like a playoff where he has been very good. I expect a double digit win.
TN at GA 8.5
Congratulations to TN on becoming only the 7th team ranked #1 in the 9 year history of the CFB playoffs! Will their reign be over by Sunday? This is probably the game of the year and 2 passionate fan basses have made tickets like gold! The average price for a ticket is $1,478, according to TicketIQ. Saturday at 3:30 between the hedges the home dawgs are big favorites against the #1 team in the country. Tennessee is impressive as the only team with 5-plus wins over AP top 25 teams at the time of the game!
But Georgia allows 10.5 points per game, 2nd best nationally. Can they slow the Volunteers who average 2 TD’s in the first quarter of a game which is best in the nation? TN also averages a league best 553 YPG and most importantly lead the country in TD’s at 52. But for those of you who think it’s all about the GA D winning this their O has plenty of firepower too as the #2 offense averaging 530 YPG and 42 TDs on the year. But it is in fact the difference in D that will separate these 2. GA is top 5 giving up 262 YPG while TN had a big week last week against KY they still rank 82nd in the nation. TN tends to score quick on explosive plays meaning their D is back on the field before they catch their breath. That’s how they end up in shoot outs. 34-27 vs Pitt, 38-33 vs FL, 52-49 vs Bama. But they will probably be forced to punt more often this week. So not only is the D rushed back out but they don’t have a lead to protect. If you look at Georgia finals you’ll see they like to score around 42 ppg. And in fact they average 41.75 PPG. So since they know they have to score against a weak D. I actually expect them to approach 50. I’m looking for a 49-42 type of final but that means I take TN and the points.
Bama at LSU +13
LSU has had 2 impressive wins after barely beating Auburn and being blown out by TN. Now they have a bye week heading into face the biggest name in college football! But Nick Saban and the Tide had a bye week as well so that advantage has been neutralized. The other advantage of course is Death Valley for a night game. LSU almost invented night games playing their first one in 1931 beating the Spring Hill Badgers! Since then they have played 458 more games at night winning 75% of them! 338-108-13. Their day record is only 67% 93-43-5. So the night games are really when opponents dreams die in death valley! But Bama knows all this and if they want to be in the playoffs they have to win out. I never bet against Saban to win. But to cover? The last 14 games Bama is 6-8 ATS. LSU has scored 45 points in their last 2 games against FL and Ole Miss so I feel like they’ve fixed their offense and if that’s the case I say they can keep it closer than 13. LSU plus the points
KY at Mizzou +1.5
This should be an old fashioned run heavy game. Mizzou has a very good D. Florida and Kansas State were the only teams easily able to run against them but that was because the QB did the running. Will Levis doesn’t run so they will take Chris Rodriguez away. Will is a great passer but after only mustering 3 points last week against a much weaker TN D it seems they are misfiring right now. Mizzou has also forced 2 takeaways in 3 of the last 4 games and Kentucky is a team with turnover problems losing it 2 or more times in 5 of their last 6. I say Mizzou wins by a TD
Syracuse at Pitt -3.5
The Orangemen are on a 2 game slide as are the Panthers. Someone has to win this game! Syracuse was gashed for 246 yards of rushing last week in their loss to Notre Dame. Pitt and Notre Dame are about equal when it comes to rushing averaging about 185 YPG each. So unless Syracuse fixes that hole expect it to be exploited this week. Also quarterback Garrett Shrader was nursing a “lower body injury” against Notre Dame but was benched in the 2nd quarter with what some speculate as a concussion. So far this week Coach Barbers has been pretty mum on his QB saying if he’s healthy he’ll play. Because of that I’ll take Pitt to win a low scoring game 24-17.
FL at A&M -3
This could be called the SEC Disappointment Bowl as both of these teams have severely underperformed this year. A&M doesn’t know who will be their QB this week. FL has a QB they don’t trust as Richardson has thrown 8 Int’s and only averages 223 yards per game. To put that in perspective that is slightly worse than Rattler at 225 YPG. The good news for Florida is they don’t have to throw it as A&M is120th against the run, allowing 205.6 yards per game. Despite the home field advantage and the desperation for a win A&M’s offense is anemic (averaging 22 ppg) so I believe Florida wins a crappy game 28-21.
Tie breaker total combined rushing yards for Will Shipley & Marshawn Lloyd
Will Shipley is the 29th ranked back in YPG at 92.4. Lloyd is 71st at 70 YPG. Notre Dame has the 51st ranked Rush d giving up 129 YPG on the ground while Vandy is higher ranked than you might assume at 82nd giving up 161 YPG. Most teams just throw against Vandy as they’re 130th against the pass giving up 317 in the air per game. My guess is that Lloyd who is nursing a thigh contusion will not be needed to beat Vandy so he will see very little if any action. Making it about Will Shipley and the Irish D. I will go total combing rushing yards at 97.