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This week in college football betting, we have a distinct SEC flavor. Big games will start to dot the college football landscape with greater regularity as conference play emerges more often.



2008-09-19

This week in college football betting, we have a distinct SEC flavor. Big games will start to dot the college football landscape with greater regularity as conference play emerges more often. The Florida and Tennessee tussle has large implications for both teams and the winner of LSU at Auburn grabs a leg up in SEC West with a watchful eye on Alabama. Georgia makes a rare trip west of the Mississippi River, all the way to the Arizona desert where the game time temperature will be right around triple digits. Here is a look at those three games. Get the latest key info for each by visiting the LIVE ODDS & BETTING TRENDS pages.

Florida (-7.5, 51.5) at Tennessee (3:30E, CBS)
Tennessee rebounded from stunning loss to UCLA, taking down overmatched UAB 35-3 in home opener. Quarterback Jonathan Crompton was much more comfortable under center in his second start, though consideration must be given to the Florida front four, who might be just a tiny bit better than the Blazers. Coach Phillip Fullmer hopes the miscues that cost him a victory in Los Angeles will be cleaned up and the Vols will give a clean performance against Florida at Neyland Stadium. If Tennessee has SEC aspirations and desire to play in a New Year's Day bowl, this becomes a must win, just this far into the season. A second loss with trips to Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina still to come, makes this heated encounter a requirement. Tennessee has strained in this matchup, winning four of 15 times, with 4-10-1 ATS record.

Florida needed big plays on special teams and a dominant performance on defense to put away Miami 26-3 at The Swamp. The offense had a difficult time with Hurricanes, having similar athletes to Florida. Tim Tebow was playing like he had a wireless computer connection in the Everglades trying to connect with wide receivers. "We were kind of out of sync on offense," Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "They (the Hurricanes) were sending linebacker downhill and knocking back our offensive defense." The Gators started to march in second half, scoring 17 fourth quarter points. (Thou no coach will admit knowledge, Florida played with unusual urgency leading 23-3 in the final minutes trying to score. Perhaps word came to Meyer about Gators as 23-point favorites, early in the week? Mostly speculation) The defense has held a couple of opponents to 191 total yards per game and Florida is 13-4 ATS after allowing 75 or less rushing yards in two straight contests.

Florida besides owning the Vols, are 10-3-1 against the number in first SEC game of the season and will be brimming with confidence. Tennessee will have serious game face on after last year's 59-20 drubbing in Gainesville. The Vols are 7-3 ATS after allowing 170 yards or less passing. Watch the underdog who is 7-4-1 ATS in last dozen get-togethers.

StatFox Forecaster Florida covers

LSU (-2.5, 37.5) at Auburn (7:45E, ESPN)
Though Keith Jackson won't be at the LSU and Auburn battle, this would be a perfect setting for Jackson's Southern cadence right before kickoff saying, "It's time to line up the big ugly's and swap some paint". This is one heck of a way to start the SEC West race, with the two favorites meeting in first conference game, having mammoth implications later in the season.

Auburn was nearly caught peeking ahead at Mississippi State last week, yet survived a crazy 3-2 contest. Junior Chris Todd has won the quarterback derby and needs his teammates to do a better job of holding onto the pigskin. Fumbles and dropped passes have kept the Tigers from being 3-0 against the spread in 2008. Growing pains were expected in new offense put in by OC Tony Frankin, just not where they have shown up. Todd has managed the games well, though growing concerns are mounting about his ability to throw deep and make connections. The Tigers are only averaging a 162 yards per game passing. No issue on the defensive side of the ball, where Auburn has always based its defense on speed and this group is lightning quick. The Tigers are 9-4-1 ATS versus ranked opponents at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

LSU has had another unsettled September, forced to move Troy tilt to November 15, and mild uncertainty about what was going to happen with Hurricane Ike as they prepared for North Texas. This places a talented, yet untested Tigers team at a disadvantage heading to the plains of Alabama. Sophomore quarterback Andrew Hatch has acquitted himself well, however has not seen this much speed, other than in practice, like he will face against Auburn. Les Miles and his staff will be working overtime to have LSU as prepared as possible. They are 11-4-1 in first SEC game of the season.

LSU won in stunning fashion last year, eschewing field goal attempt to tie game to go for win. The Auburn Tigers will surely be reminded and are 9-3 ATS against the white and yellow clad Tigers. The downside for Tommy Tuberville's team is they are 0-7 ATS off a no-cover where the team won as a favorite. However, LSU has squeaked past many a SEC opponent the last couple of seasons and is 3-11 ATS in conference action. The home team has won seven in a row (4-3 ATS).

StatFox Power Line LSU by 6

Georgia (-7, 50.5) at Arizona State 8:00E ABC
This is atypical an intersectional affair as you will find in college football this season. Georgia leaves the heat and humidity of the South to travel to the desert to face Arizona State. The Bulldogs started the year ranked number one and quickly fell out of favor, suffering important injuries and the media belaboring the point about how challenging their schedule would be this season. Coach Mark Richt was far from crestfallen knowing no team has won a conference or national championship in September playing college football.

Georgia has more going for them than the Jonas Brothers, with stalwarts like quarterback Matthew Stafford and scoring machine and running back Knowshon Moreno. The offensive line has shown tendencies to block like a road-grater and wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi has been catching everything thrown. The defense has been good, not awe-inspiring and will face an Arizona State offense that light up a scoreboard like a desert monsoon lightning storm. The Bulldogs are 6-0 ATS in road games vs. teams outscoring opponents by 10 or more points per game on the season.

One of the prerequisites of football under Dennis Erickson is balanced attack. The Sun Devils over the years were all to happy to take on a Texas Tech appearance and when the quarterback faced a team that could really rush the passer, Arizona State had no answer. Erickson demands the offensive line not only pass blocks, but opens holes tailback Keegan Herring can run through to take the pressure off veteran signal caller Rudy Carpenter. The senior has been sharp in the early going and will have to keep emotions in check with what the Bulldogs will bring defensively. The Sun Devils O-Line has had problems with quicker defenders as was shown in unforeseen 23-20 overtime loss to UNLV, in which they were clearly looking ahead to this contest. Arizona State is 14-5 ATS in September, despite the slip-up last week.

This is Georgia's first non-conference road game since 2003 and is 3-0 ATS as away favorites vs. ranked opponents. Arizona State is 8-3 ATS against non-Pac-10 BCS teams and 11-3-1 ATS as desert (home) dogs since 1995.

StatFox Forecaster Georgia covers


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