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The Morning Rush

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Here's How Clemson, The Gamecocks, & 5 other CFB Games Will Go Saturday

Every Friday morning I join Teddy Heffner host of "Talking Sports" on Fox Sports 1400. Teddy gives away tailgate package from Mathias Sandwich shop to someone who can beat our picks. The picks include point spreads so for example if a team is a 10 point underdog and they lose by 9 then they have won. If you'd like to text your picks to enter get them in before Saturday noon on the Talking Sports Text Line at 803-315-3292. Now here's this weeks games and my picks.

JS Gamecocks at SC Gamecocks -15.5

The names for this game will be insane! (Yes I meant to rhyme that) Jacksonville State keeps improving their football program and this year joined Conference USA pitting them against teams like Liberty and FIU. The Gamecocks of Alabama also named their mascot Cocky but their colors are red and white. They’re looking strong this year at 5-2 with those 2 losses coming to Coastal and their first conference loss in 2 years to Liberty. Last week they pummeled FIU 41-16. Former Michigan Coach Rich Rodriguez is in his 2nd season where last year they finished 9-2. This would be their biggest victory  since  beating Florida State in 2021 on the last play of the game. A 59 yard score that was caught on the 20 and the receiver zig zagged by several FSU defenders to walk it off 20-17. That was when current Clemson offense analyst John Grass was the HC for the Gamecocks. I have built this up as much as I can in case Jacksonville State pulls the upset. But there’s a reason why USC at 2-6 is 15.5 point favorites. Their athletes are that much better. Their backups are that much better. The coaching for USC hasn’t been the problem per se, it’s been the athletes. USC has hung with the 5 stars at Georgia, TN and others with freshmen who are still learning their positions and playbooks. But our 4 stars are very good against 2 stars. They’re faster stronger and bigger at just about every position. The biggest offensive threat appears to be their RB Malik Jackson. He is a 5th year senior who transferred in this year from Louisiana Monroe. He’s had 20 more carries than Mario Anderson and has 140 more yards on the year. So yes he is good against Sam Houston and Western Kentucky where he got over 100 yards but Middle TN locked him up for 54 and Liberty held him to 19. This is a get right game for USC and I expect them to exploit it in all facets of the game to the point that the backups are in by the 4th quarter.

Arkansas at Florida -6

Gators got crushed as predicted last week by Georgia. Arkansas is on a 6 game losing streak that may have hit rock bottom last week in the most boring game of the year, a 7-3 loss to Miss State featuring 0 points in the second half. Pre season Heisman dark horse KJ Jefferson went 19-31 for 97 yards. He’s currently ranked 88th in the country on QBR. Lack of offense is why they are losing. But their Defense is pretty stout. Ranked 31st overall allowing 131 YPG on the ground and 200 YPG in the air. Florida throws for 270 PG and rushes for 137 so they’re just about evenly matched Razorback D vs Gator O. The Florida D though should destroy Arkansas O Line. Razorbacks line has been as porous as the Gamecocks with both teams giving up 230 yards in sacks! But what’s this? Florida doesn’t have a rush! They’re ranked 114th in pressuring the QB. This game is shaping up to be a snooze fest of ineptitude but since they’re at home and Arkansas hasn’t won since the Obama administration, I’ll take the Gators to cover.

A&M at Ole Miss -3

I guess Vegas was impressed with the Aggies last week. I wasn’t. The 5-3 Aggies only threw for 249 yards against the worst pass defense in America. They went 7-19 on 3rd downs. Other than the 5 minute collapse to end the 2nd quarter they were actually outplayed and outscored by South Carolina 17-16.  Ole Miss has 1 loss on the year to Bama. They beat #13 LSU, #21 Tulane and beat Vandy last week by almost 4 TD’s. At home this is light work IMO. The only thing that makes me question it, is Lane gets Georgia next week. This could be the much-ballyhooed trap game. But if I know that, 9 million per year Lane Kiffin knows that as well. So I expect them to crush A&M.  

Kentucky at Miss State +3.5

Like most South Carolinians I don’t like Mark Stoops. I will long treasure Shane Beamer putting on his sunglasses and dancing with his team after last years victory over the Wildcats. That being said Mark is a good coach. Miss State coach may become a good coach but he isn’t yet. Kentucky is desperate for a win on a 3 game skid all against ranked opponents. Next week they have Bama so they really need this. They will pull out all the stops if needed to ensure a victory. I’ll take the Wildcats to cover.

LSU at Alabama -3

Basically the last year of the SEC West could come down to this. Yes Ole Miss only has 1 conference loss but they’ll be heavy underdogs next week at Georgia. If 1 conference loss LSU can give Bama their 1st conference loss they’ll be tied with LSU holding the tiebreaker and 2 conference games left to play where they both will be heavy favorites against unranked SEC teams. The computer model played 20,000 simulations and LSU won it 39.5 percent of the times. But even when Alabama won on the computer the median win was 2.3 points. In other words the computer says take the road dog to cover. But I’m not a computer. I will continue rolling with the greatest coach of my lifetime and rolling with the Tide!

Notre Dame at Clemson +3

Another noon kickoff in Death Valley for an underwhelmed fan base. We all have heard the clip of Tyler from Spartanburg calling into Dabo’s show Monday with the question basically saying you’re the 2nd highest paid coach in CFB history and you’ve got us at 4-4 and we’re getting a bunch of excuses which sound a lot like the old Tommy Bowden answers. He then quoted Proverbs 16:18 to the Coach, Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Then told him he thought Swinney changed after the 2018 season. “You used to be humble & hungry but after the national title I see a lot of arrogance. You now surround yourself with friends and family. Only 3 of the 10 coaches are external hires. And it’s not just this year. You’ve always refused to even look at players in the transfer portal so why are we paying you so much to go 4-4 and hire your friends”. Tyler from Spartanburg said out loud what I’ve heard from a lot of Clemson fans for several years. Dabo is arrogant, and head strong. He hasn’t changed like Saban has with the times. The Tigers have changed however from the Dynasty they were building to what was a good team to apparently a middle of the pack squad. They lost 6 times over the last 2 years. They lost 6 games over the previous 5 years. This year they’ve lost 4 already and I fully expect them to pick up #5 this week. They’re ranked outside the top 50 on just about every offensive stat. Their best stat is #43 on 3rd down conversions. They’re 124th on red zone points and even more damning 110th on turnovers with 15 so far. Dabo says their best player Will Shipley is still in concussion protocol and is day to day. Clemson D is still good if not elite. #38 in PPG but that’s a lot to do with turnovers as they are #6 in YPG. They’re also #9 on pass D and #16 on Rush D. Notre Dame is #8 in the country in forcing turnovers with 18 already. I expect them to get some short fields again and win by 5 or more this week.

Miami at NC State +4

I either overestimated Clemson or underestimated NC State last week. I’m still not sure. NC State was unimpressive on both sides of the ball. They had 202 total yards while giving up 364. They had 9 first downs while surrendering 21. But they picked off the Tigers twice and that made the difference. The first interception gave State a short field to go up 7-0 and they never trailed the rest of the day. The 2nd was returned to the endzone. When you almost spot a team 14 points you should expect to lose. But other than those 2 plays very little to smile about on the NC State side. However a win this week for State would give Coach Dave Doreen 78 there and make him the winningest coach in school history! Miami beat Clemson the week before NC State did also by 7 but needed OT to do it. They also needed OT last week to handle the 2-6 Cavilers of Virginia. Miami’s D is solid at #24 overall but #8 against the run. They only allow 85 YPG. That means the 105th ranked State passing game is going to have to do the heavy lifting. But wait…the U is tied with Clemson for turnovers with 15 after 8 games. There could be some short field situations again this week for State. Playing at home after beating Clemson there fans will be going wild. I’ll take the home underdog to cover.

Tiebreaker Cole Klubnik + Spencer Rattler passing yards.  A lot to consider as I’m expecting to see LaNorris Sellers in the 4th for his first appearance since the Furman game when he went 4-4 for 86 yards including a 50 yard dart to fellow freshman Tyshawn Russel. USC averages 283 YPG in the air but only had 176 last week and 217 the week before. Against Furman they hit for 460 but even against Florida threw for 313. I’ll give Rattler 350 this week and Cole going against Notre Dame should have a much harder time. He’s certainly improved as the year has gone one hitting for 314 against Miami and 260 last week. But Notre Dame pass D is a big step up ranked 3rd in the nation. They just held Southern Cal with Caleb Williams to 199 and last week poor Pitt only got 127. I’ll give him a good week and put him at 220 for a total of 570 for both QB’s.

ACC Championship - Clemson v North Carolina

Photo: Eakin Howard / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

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