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A View from the Sideline

The Race is on!
This isn’t the Heisman race that nearly everyone expected this season, what with Sam Bradford injured, Tim Tebow game managing and Colt McCoy not at top speed...yet. But, the void at the top, so to speak has allowed Houston’s Case Keenum, Alabama’s Mark Ingram, Notre Dame’s Golden Tate and Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh the opportunity to make a serious run at the Stiff-Armed Statue. Could one of them actually win?
Catch Lance Zierlein from 6 to 10 am daily, alongside John Granato. Listen to John Harris on the Sean and John show, with Sean Pendergast show 3 to 7 PM daily. www.1560thegame.com

NFL SECTION BY LANCE ZIERLEIN

WEEK 9

Houston (5-3) vs. Indianapolis (7-0)
November 8, 2009 - CBS 12 PM CST Vegas Line: IND -9 / 48
t 2009 ATS Record 5-2-1 2009 Over/Under 2-5-0 Last 5 Games 11/1 W, @ Buffalo 31-10 10/25 W, San Fran. 24-21 10/18 W, @ Cincinnati 28-17 10/11 L, @ Arizona 21-28 10/4 W, Oakland 29-6 92.5 ypg - 28th 281.5 ypg - 3rd 24.8 ppg - 12th 113.2 ypg - 20th 213.2 ypg - 14th 21.0 ppg - 14th +2 - 11th 2009 Ranking Run Offense Pass Offense Scoring Offense Run Defense Pass Defense Scoring Defense TO Margin 87.3 ypg - 30th 316.3 ypg - 1st 28.1 ppg - 7th 112.0 ypg - 17th 180.1 ypg - 7th 13.0 ppg - 1st +6 - Tied 5th 2009 ATS Record 5-2-0 2009 Over/Under 3-4-0 Last 5 Games 11/1 W, San Fran. 18-14 10/25 W, @ St. Louis 42-6 10/11 W, @ Tennessee 31-9 10/4 W, Seattle 34-17 9/27 W, @ Arizona 31-10

Last Meeting: Indianapolis - 33 vs. Houston - 27 (11/16/2008)
When the Texans have the ball... The Texans offense picked up steam last weekend despite the fact that Owen Daniels went out with an ACL tear, but don't expect that to happen here. Daniels is one of the top pass catching TEs in the game and his ability to stretch the middle of the field and Matt Schaub's willingness to find Daniels when he needed a big catch will be sorely missed and maybe never more than in this one. RB Moats looked terrific last week against a bad Bills rush defense and the Texans need the Moats/Slaton combo to have another big game Sunday because Schaub and Andre Johnson can't do it alone. Last year the Texans played right with the Colts in both games (and should have easily won the 2nd game) but they had great games from Slaton. The running game must step up. When the Colts have the ball...The Colts offense is in the bottom third of the league when it comes to rushing attempts and yards per carry and they aren't as good this year as they usually are when it comes to time of possession, but Peyton Manning has been very steady this year (as always) and the Colts aren't just winning games with fireworks on offense.  The Colts lead the NFL with a 3rd down conversion rate of 51% and they are getting enough out of their running game to supplement Manning's controlled passing attack. The Texans will try and disguise coverages against Manning but he'll go into the game knowing what the Colts best matchups are before a snap is even taken so it is imperative that the Texans find a way, ANY way, to get pressure on Manning and disrupt his timing.

Fantasy Report Kevin Walter, Texans WR - With Daniels and James Casey out at the TE spot, look for Schaub to reconnect with Walter more often.  Walter should be a decent fantasy flex option. Joseph Addai, Colts RB - Addai hasn't had a single game over 70 yards rushing this year, but he have 3 TDs over his last 4 games.  I give him a pedestrian RB2 rating this week.

Conclusion: I know that things looked like business as usual last week for the Texans even with Daniels out of the lineup but I can't stress how big a loss he was. The Texans can't run the ball this year with any consistency and now the player who was hardest to take away on offense is gone. Too much to overcome on the road against the Colts.

Colts - 24 vs. Texans - 14

Baltimore (4-3) vs. Cincinnati (5-2)
November 8, 2009 - CBS 12 PM CST Vegas Line: BAL -3 / 43.5
t 2009 ATS Record 5-2-0 2009 Over/Under 4-3-0 Last 5 Games 11/1 W, Denver 30-7 10/18 L, @ Minnesota 31-33 10/11 L, Cincinnati 14-17 10/4 L, @ New England 21-27 9/27 W, Cleveland 34-3 124.9 ypg - 10th 253.9 ypg - 10th 28.4 ppg - 4th 87.6 ypg - 4th 226.1 ypg - 19th 19.6 ppg - 11th +3 - 10th 2009 Ranking Run Offense Pass Offense Scoring Offense Run Defense Pass Defense Scoring Defense TO Margin 127.7 ypg - 9th 218.1 ypg - 18th 23.3 ppg - 15th 88.0 ypg - 5th 253.3 ypg - 30th 18.3 ppg - 6th +1 - Tied 13th 2009 ATS Record 4-3-0 2009 Over/Under 4-3-0 Last 5 Games 10/25 W, Chicago 45-10 10/18 L, Houston 17-28 10/11 W, @ Baltimore 17-14 10/4, W, @ Cleveland 23-20 9/27 W, Pittsburgh 23-20

Last Meeting: Cincinnati - 17 vs. Baltimore - 14 (10/11/2009)
When the Ravens have the ball... The Ravens have really started to lock in on Ray Rice as their primary back and I think that is a good thing since he can run with burst, plays with power in the red zone and he's good out of the backfield. The Ravens are a much more complete offensive team, but they really struggled to move the ball consistently against the Bengals in their 14-17 loss a few weeks ago. I'm really not sure how the Ravens will attack the Bengals this time out, but I do know that their calling card is typically to get physical with teams early in the game when they need to make a statement so my guess is that the ground and pound will be their offense du jour on Sunday. When the Bengals have the ball... The Bengals have a terrific running game thanks in large part to Ced Benson's vision and running style. Benson had a solid game against the Ravens last time out, but it is highly unlikely that the Ravens let him get going this time around so it will be on Carson Palmer's right shoulder to back the Ravens off the line of scrimmage and take advantage of their suspect CB play. If the Bengals can protect Palmer and give him time to throw, I believe he has the ability to pick the secondary apart early in the game. If that happens, the running game will be much more viable in the 2nd half and Benson can start to wear down the Ravens. If the Bengals can't protect Palmer, the Bengals won't win. Fantasy Report Ray Rice, Ravens RB - Rice has been great as a dual threat RB for the Ravens and it doesn't look like the Ravens show any signs of going back to any type of committee approach.  Good RB1 rating this year. Ced Benson, Bengals RB - Benson's success in the first game might not be an indicator of what is to come in this one.  I don't see a good yardage game for Benson, but like his game vs. the Texans he could score a TD. 

Conclusion: Bengals DC Mike Zimmer has been just as important an acquisition over the last year and a half as Ced Benson has. If Zimmer can keep Ray Rice in check, I don't think Flacco can win this one. The Bengals first win over the Ravens wasn't a fluke, but they need to take care of the ball better than they have recently.

Bengals - 23 vs. Ravens - 21

PREDICTIONS ON ALL NFL GAMES THIS WEEKEND
Kansas City at Jacksonville - The Jaguars are falling into a pattern of consistent inconsistency with their up and down offense and defense but at least they have the Chiefs this week who have no running game and no chance here Chiefs - 13 vs. Jaguars - 24   Washington at Atlanta - The Redskins have no chance here, right?  Not so fast.  The Falcons might have a little bit of a MNF hangover and the Skins defense is a little better than people give them credit for while the Falcons defense is suspect - Redskins - 17 vs. Falcons - 20 (Overtime)   Green Bay at Tampa Bay - Tampa took the week off last weekend so they will have had two weeks to prepare for the Packers who find themselves in a must-win spot.  The Bucs will start QB Freeman for the first time so look for a watered down offense and attempts to play ball control - Packers - 24 vs. Bucs - 14   Arizona at Chicago - The Bears were able to make up for their pathetic showing against the Bengals by thrashing the Browns but that doesn't mean much these days.  The Cardinals fell apart thanks to a poor showing by QB Warner.  The Cardinals are having some problems with their protections lately and the Bears front might be too much for the Cardinals here - Cardinals - 20 vs. Bears - 24   Miami at New England - The Dolphins didn't exactly kill it on offense against the Jets but their defense and special teams got it done.  The problem for the Dolphins is that they aren't very good in pass defense and the Pats passing offense has started to heat up.  Did the Jets show the Pats on film how to stop the "Wildcat"?  The Dolphins better hope not - Dolphins - 20 vs. Patriots - 28 

 
Carolina at New Orleans - The Panthers took advantage of Kurt Warner's INTs last week but they won't get that same opportunity this week.  The Saints defense was gashed by Michael Turner which has to worry the Saints a little bit but the Saints offense is so good that even if the Panthers running game pounds the Saints, they Panthers don't have enough at QB to win this game - Panthers - 21 vs. Saints - 31   Detroit at Seattle - The Seahawks just haven't been able to play with consistency but they know that at 2-5 they are still in the hunt for the division title as long as they start to play to their talent level.  The Lions are missing Calvin Johnson in the worst way and he is needed greatly in this spot - Lions - 16 vs. Seahawks - 27   Tennessee at San Francisco - This matchup should produce and ugly, physical game with both teams relying on their running games and defense to win.  The Titans didn't look like a team who had quit on the season last weekend and the Niners have to turn around their losing ways if they want to keep pace with the Cardinals.  This could turn into Gore vs. Chris Johnson - Titans - 16 vs. Niners - 14   San Diego at NY Giants - The Giants are a in a free-fall and if they have a poor secondary and inconsistent offense to thank for it.  The Chargers, in my opinion, are still a little bit phony.  Traveling from the west coast to the east coast will be tough enough but facing a desperate Giants team that can pound the rock against them will be the Chargers undoing - Chargers - 20 vs. Giants - 28 Dallas at Philadelphia - I give Dallas a legit shot at taking this one because the Eagles offense is so dependent on the long ball and because Dallas can run it and hit big plays as well.  Dallas is on a bit of a roll offensively right now while the Eagles offense hasn't been as fluid.  If the Cowboys can pressure McNabb and run the football, they have a shot here - Cowboys - 28 vs. Eagles - 24

TEXANS X’S AND O’S WITH LANCE ZIERLEIN
* In this play, Kevin Walter is lined up outside of Andre Johnson and comes in motion until he is over the tight end, pre-snap. Once the ball is snapped, he comes across the formation to block (shield) the defensive end. * Joel Dreessen releases into the flat in order to get the attention of the strong safety who has to cover him which temporarily vacates his section of the field. * All of the linemen zone block to the right which was done successfully with the exception of the RG who was unable to get to the middle linebacker in time. * Moats takes a step to the right and and runs towards the inside leg of the RG and then makes the designed cutback into the opening that has been created between Duane Brown and Kevin Walter. * The middle LB was a step slow to come back and make the tackle and the strong safety and free safety had to converge and make the tackle after a gain of 14 yards.

HANDICAPPING INFORMATION Against The Spread Trends (ATS)
Category

Record
61-53-2 53-61-2 61-53-2 53-61-2 23-15-0 38-38-2 38-38-2 15-23-0

Percent
53.51% 46.49% 53.51% 46.49% 60.53% 50.00% 50.00% 39.47%

Away Teams Home Teams Favorites Dogs Away Favorites Away Dogs Home Favorites Home Dogs

Over vs. Under Trends
Category

Overs
3 56 59

%

Unders
3 52 55

%
50.00% 48.15% 48.25%

Overtime Games Non-Overtime Games All Games

50.00% 51.85% 51.75%

Top Trends
  JACKSONVILLE is 1-9 ATS (-8.9 Units) as a favorite over the last 2 seasons  BALTIMORE is 10-2 ATS (+7.8 Units) as a favorite over the last 2 seasons HOUSTON is 3-1 against the spread versus INDIANAPOLIS over the last 3 seasons  MIAMI is 6-0 ATS (+6.0 Units) in road games when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 3 yrs.  3 of 4 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons in MIAMI vs. NEW ENG. NEW ORLEANS is 12-2 ATS (+9.8 Units) as a favorite over the last 2 seasons SAN DIEGO is 11-3 ATS (+7.7 Units) after 2 or more consecutive wins over the last 3 seasons STEELERS are 8-2 ATS (+5.8 Units) vs. a team with a winning record TITANS are 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games following a S.U. win

FANTASY NOTES
* Beanie Wells wasn't as prolific against the Panthers as I thought he might be and the Cardinals haven't given up on using Tim Hightower.  If you have Beanie right now, hang onto him, but it will be an up and down ride with him this year for fantasy owners.   * I know Aaron Rodgers is pretty much a must-start against the Bucs, but I'm not sure we'll see the fantasy fireworks from him this week that everyone is expecting.  For one, he's banged up and the Packers might very well look at this game as a chance to protect him by pounding it with RB Ryan Grant.  Secondly, the Bucs will be starting QB Josh Freeman for the first time so they will probably look to run the ball for much of the game which will keep the clock ticking.   * Everyone is asking me - Ryan Moats or Steve Slaton?  I wish I had the answer.  The answer is that Slaton has lost carries to Moats after last weekend, but Moats isn't going to be the full-time RB.  That's not happening.  Slaton will still get his share of catches and carries, but I'm not sure either guy will get enough touches to make them anything more than an average RB2 from week to week depending on the matchup.   * The loss of safety Kenny Phillips for the year and CB Aaron Ross for several games has killed the Giants pass defense.  Ross will miss this weekend again which means that Philip Rivers and all of his cronies on offense should be looked at as starters.   * I have to tell you that I came away from the MNF game between the Saints and Falcons a little bit concerned for Matt Ryan.  Ryan looked jittery in the pocket and showed a complete lack of poise at times.  It wouldn't surprise me if the Falcons started leaning on Michael Turner and the running game a bit more after his solid showing.

CFB SECTION BY JOHN HARRIS

WEEK 10

LSU (7-1) vs. Alabama (8-0)
November 7, 2009 - CBS 2:30 PM CST Vegas Says: Alabama -7.5 / 39.5
R
141.5 ypg - 69th 183.6 ypg - 96th 325.1 ypg - 100th

2009 Ranking
Run Offense Pass Offense Total Offense Scoring Offense Run Defense Pass Defense Total Defense Scoring Defense 217.6 ypg - 13th 192.4 ypg - 93rd 410.0 ypg - 33rd 31.8 ppg - 25th 64.9 ypg - 2nd 176.0 ypg - 20th 240.9 ypg - 4th 11.4 ppg - 5th

2009 Schedule W, @ Washington 31-23 W, Vanderbilt 23-9 W, ULL 31-3 W, @ Mississippi State 30-26 W, @ Georgia 20-13 L, Florida 3-13 W, Auburn 31-10 W, Tulane 42-0 11/7 @ Alabama

26.4 ppg - 67th 114.4 ypg - 35th 178.6 ypg - 24th 293.0 ypg - 15th 12.1 ppg - 7th

2009 Schedule W, Virginia Tech (ATL) 34-24 W, FIU 40-14 W, North Texas 53-7 W, Arkansas 35-7 W, @ Kentucky 38-20 W, @ Ole Miss 22-3 W, South Carolina 20-6 W, Tennessee 12-10 11/7 LSU

Keys to the Game
Projected Starting Lineups Offense QB #9 Jordan Jefferson RB #32 Charles Scott WR #86 Chris Mitchell WR #1 Brandon LaFell WR #80 Terrance Toliver TE #18 Richard Dickson T #70 Ciron Black G #68 Josh Dworaczyk C #53 T-Bob Hebert G #65 Lyle Hitt T #78 Joseph Barksdale Defense DE #84 Rahim Alem DT #97 Al Woods DT #91 Charles Alexander DE #95 Pep Levingston LB #24 Harry Coleman LB #56 Perry Riley LB #11 Kelvin Sheppard CB #29 Chris Hawkins S # 15 Brandon Taylor S #3 Chad Jones CB #7 Patrick Peterson

Easy as 1, 2, 3...perhaps - Alabama’s NT Terrence Cody Projected Starting Lineups
is as difficult to block as any nose tackle we’ve seen in the college game in some time. Sure, others are penetrating or good with their hands but Cody is just, well, he’s a huge mass of humanity that one, two or even three guys have a tough time blocking. Why is he a key this weekend? The Tigers have proven in big games that if they can’t run the football, especially with Charles Scott in the A and/or B gaps, they can’t win this game. T-Bob Hebert, Lyle Hitt and Josh Dworaczyk must be able to move Cody or, at least, occupy him, such that he becomes a non-factor. But, even in tying up two, or maybe, three blockers, Cody stays a factor because the Tigers’ interior can’t get up to the second level and block the great Alabama linebackers. If the Tigers can double Cody for a count with one lineman moving up to block LB Rolando McClain, the Tigers will be able to run the ball somewhat effectively. And, it doesn’t mean the Tigers have to pick up six to eight yards a pop. Get to third and three or third and four and the Tigers have a chance. But, they won’t if Mt. Cody erupts on Saturday. Offense QB #12 Greg McElroy RB #22 Mark Ingram FB/HB #85 Preston Dial WR #8 Julio Jones WR #4 Marquis Maze TE #84 Colin Peek T #77 James Carpenter G #78 Mike Johnson C #73 William Vlachos G #75 Barrett Jones T #79 Drew Davis Defense DE #97 Lo Washington NT #62 Terrence Cody DE #95 Brandon Deaderick LB #13 Cory Reamer LB #25 Rolando McClain LB #35 Nico Johnson LB #32 Eryk Anders CB #28 Javier Arenas S #27 Justin Woodall S #4 Mark Barron CB #3 Kareem Jackson

Where’s the Ocho? - The Alabama offense is 13th in the
nation in rushing, with RB Mark Ingram leading the way with a Heisman campaign. Then, why can’t the Tide get its wonderfully talented WR Julio Jones involved? If the Tide can run this well, you’d think QB Greg McElroy would face nothing but eight men in the box opening the middle of the field for Jones to “go deep”. But, Jones hasn’t gotten deep at all this season, but if LSU decides it needs an extra defender to stop Ingram, then Jones HAS to be a factor deep down field.

Conclusion - So, I put this one in the Harris computer this week and every iteration keeps coming up Alabama. Home game.
Two weeks to prepare. Nick Saban vs. Les Miles. All the advantages seem to point to the Crimson. Plus, in an SEC battle like this, it’s quite simple - the team that runs the ball most effectively wins the game. Yes, I know that the SEC has more spread teams than ever before, but these teams are not. If Charles Scott controls the game, LSU wins. He won’t. When Ingram does, Alabama wins in a typical SEC slugfest.

Alabama - 19 vs. LSU - 13

Ohio State (7-2) vs. Penn State (8-1)
November 7, 2009 - ABC 2:30 PM CST Vegas Says: PSU -3.5 / 40
R
186.6 ypg - 29th 189.6 ypg - 94th 376.1 ypg - 63rd

2009 Ranking
Run Offense Pass Offense Total Offense Scoring Offense Run Defense Pass Defense Total Defense Scoring Defense 182.0 ypg - 33rd 247.1 ypg - 34th 429.1 ypg - 24th 30.7 ppg - 33rd 84.1 ypg - 5th 170.7 ypg - 12th 254.8 ypg - 5th 9.3 ppg - 1st

2009 Schedule W, Navy 31-27 L, USC 15-18 W, Toledo 38-0 W, Illinois 30-0 W, @ Indiana 33-14 W, Wisconsin 31-13 W, @ Purdue 18-26 W, Minnesota 38-7 W, NMSU 45-0 11/7 @ Penn State

31.0 ppg - 29th 86.4 ypg - 6th 173.6 ypg - 14th 260.0 ypg - 6th 11.7 ppg - 6th

Keys to the Game
Kafka, Pryor, same thing, right? - Last week, the

2009 Schedule W, Akron 31-7 W, Syracuse 28-7 W, Temple 31-6 L, Iowa 10-21 W, @ Illinois 35-17 W, Eastern Illinois 52-3 W, Minnesota 20-0 W, @ Michigan 35-10 W, @ Northwestern 34-13 11/7 Ohio State

Projected Starting Lineups Offense QB #2 Terrelle Pryor RB #3 Brandon Saine FB #44 Zach Boren TE #86 Jake Ballard WR #8 Devier Posey WR #12 Dane Sanzenbacher T #64 Jim Cordle G #65 Justin Boren C #50 Michael Brewster G #70 Bryant Browning T #76 J.B. Shugarts Defense DE #90 Thaddeus Gibson DT #84 Doug Worthington DT #92 Todd Denlinger DE #97 Cameron Heyward LB #51 Ross Homan LB #38 Austin Spitler LB #36 Brian Rolle CB #10 Devon Torrence S #4 Kurt Coleman S #21 Anderson Russell CB #5 Chimdi Chekwa

Penn State defense probably had its most stern test facing, of Projected Starting Lineups all teams and quarterbacks, Northwestern’s Mike Kafka. The Offense Wildcats stayed competitive and had the Nits off balance QB #17 Daryll Clark throughout the game with a series of quick bubble screens, RB #22 Evan Royster short passing game and a few scrambles/designed runs. Then, WR #6 Derek Moye he went out of the game with an injury and Penn State WR #5 Graham Zug controlled the game the rest of the way. Now, Terrelle Pryor is WR #2 Chaz Powell NOT the quarterback that Kafka is, but he’s got enough in the TE #10 Andrew Qualess arsenal to put the Nits on their heels. The Ohio State offense T #73 Dennis Landolt likes to get the ball quickly to Devier Posey on quick screens G #74 Johnnie Troutman and Pryor has the ability to scramble with the best of them. C #61 Stefan Wisniewski Duh. But, if Penn State can take away his short throws and G #77 Lou Eliades spy on him with one of its great linebackers, Pryor will have to T #79 Ako Poti throw down field and that hasn’t been a good proposition for the Buckeye offense at all this season (see Purdue game). The Defense good thing for Ohio State is that it has the blueprint to move DE #5 Jerome Hayes the ball and score against the number one scoring defense, but DT #91 Jared Odrick does it have the signal caller to do it? Good question. DT #85 Ollie Ogbu DE #81 Jack Crawford It’s ERT...that’s Evan Royster Time - With all of LB #11 Navorro Bowman this talk about the Heisman Trophy and the ‘open race’ for the LB #45 Sean Lee Trophy, is it possible that if Evan Royster blows up he can LB #43 Josh Hull enter that race? Well, maybe not, but I do think the key for CB #1 A.J. Wallace the Nits is to get him involved early and often. Not just S #28 Drew Astorino pounding between the tackles, but by lining up in the slot as a S #18 Nick Sukay receiver, he can put the Ohio State linebackers in a world of CB #8 D’Anton Lynn hurt. They’ve not used him there as much lately, but this game it might be the one wrinkle that can change the game for PSU.

Conclusion - In the summer when I was doing my college preview, I flip flopped on this game a hundred times to determine
which team should be ranked above the other in my top 25. I settled on Penn State, in part because the game is in State College. But, I kept thinking if Terrelle Pryor makes the improvement I expected, then I might change that thought by game week. He hasn’t and I think his inability to throw accurately down the field on third down will be OSU’s death knell. Daryll Clark will show him how it’s done.

Penn State - 17 vs. Ohio State - 13

HOUSTON (7-1) VS. TULSA (4-4)
November 7, 2009 CBS CSTV 2:30 PM CST
70-30 has probably been burned in the brain of every Tulsa Golden Hurricane player this week. 70-30. 70-30. It got ugly last year and it didn’t sit well with Tulsa head coach Todd Graham, to the point that he barely shook hands with Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin at the end of the game. But, these are two different teams and it’s a Tulsa team that has struggled lately, in particular in a two touchdown loss to SMU 27-13. Houston, on the other

VEGAS SAYS: TU -1 / 67.5

hand, has won three in a row since the loss to UTEP, including last week’s win over USM 50-43. Tulsa’s key is to slow down the Coug ‘O’ with a traditional offensive game plan. The up-tempo attack that has been a staple for the TU offense can’t operate at full speed. That just plays into the hands of the U of H offense - a unit that wants to run 100 plays. Even at a snail’s pace, I don’t think it’ll matter. Cougs win. PREDICTION: Houston - 49 vs. Tulsa - 41

USC (6-2) VS. ARIZONA STATE (4-4)
November 7, 2009 ABC 7 PM CST
When was the last time USC had two losses at this time in the season? You’re right if you guessed 2002, the last time USC didn’t play in the Rose Bowl or for the National Championship. Now, it’s one thing to lose two games, it’s quite another to get rolled by Oregon and give up over 600 yards of total offense. The Sun Devils haven’t been the model of consistency over these past eight games, either. The Sun Devils pulled out the impossible victory over Washington, but then got beat at home by a vulnerable Cal squad.

VEGAS SAYS: USC -10.5 / 45.5

Arizona State, unfortunately, doesn’t have the horses in the running game to take advantage of the USC defense. Jacquizz Rodgers ran for over 100 yards in only three quarters and the entire Ducks running backs roster crushed the Trojan front seven. It’s become the Trojans’ achilles heel. ASU can’t drive a stake through that heel. Expect USC QB Matt Barkley to riddle the ASU secondary in a much needed convincing USC win. PREDICTION: USC - 35 vs. Arizona State - 16

FLORIDA STATE (4-4) VS. CLEMSON (5-3)
November 7, 2009 ESPN 6:45 PM CST
Well, it’s not the Bowden Bowl anymore, that’s about the only thing I can tell you for sure about this game. Other than that, I’ve got nothing. No two teams have been as up and down as the Seminoles and the Tigers. Just when it appeared that the Seminoles season was headed down the tubes in a “3-9 sort of way”, QB Christian Ponder turn up the volume and led the Noles to two huges wins over UNC on the road and NC State last week. He didn’t get much help from his defense, though and that’s what worries me the most.

VEGAS SAYS: CU -8.5 / 58

Clemson has had the week to get healthy and rested, and RB/KR CJ Spiller needed that rest more than most after his sublime performance down in Miami. Okay, yes, it was Coastal Carolina, but you get the point. Clemson’s defense didn’t fare well with the heat and humidity in Miami, but back home, I expect them to get a serious pass rush on Ponder, who is also banged up as of press time, and force him into a couple of TOs in a Clemson win. PREDICTION: Clemson - 35 vs. FSU - 27

OKLAHOMA (5-3) VS. NEBRASKA (5-3)
November 7, 2009 ABC 7 PM CST
Ahhhh, old school. Just like back in the day. Keith Jackson. Mike Rozier. Turner Gill. Eric Crouch. Brian Bosworth. The names just roll off the tongue. Well, what about Niles Paul, Dejuan Miller, Landry Jones and Jared Crick? Not household names just yet? Or as remembered as the previous set of names? No, but each one will play a crucial role in this matchup. However, each one actually will play a secondary role to the matchup of Rotary Lombardi Award semi-finalists OU’s Gerald McCoy and NU’s Ndamukong Suh.

VEGAS SAYS: OU -5.5 / 42.5

The two won’t battle one another, but each one holds the key to a win. One of these teams has to be able to run the ball to win this game. Paul (NU) and Miller (OU) can make plays on the perimeter, but one of the running games must emerge. Good luck, because that means effectively blocking these two stalwarts. I think OU will eventually find its way on the ground, well, enough so to win this game. Suh and Crick will keep the NU defense in it, but in the end, OU wins close. PREDICTION: OU- 27 vs. NU - 24

PREDICTIONS ON ALL D1A GAMES - TV GAMES IN RED Thursday, November 5th
Virginia Tech at East Carolina 6:30 PM ESPN - Virginia Tech - 27 vs. ECU - 24 Eastern Michigan at Northern Illinois 6:30 PM ESPNU - NIU - 31 vs. EMU - 27 Miami Ohio at Temple 6:30 p.m. ESPN 360 - Temple - 34 vs. Roethlisberger U - 21

Friday, November 6th
Boise State at Louisiana Tech 7 PM ESPN2 - Boise State - 34 vs. La. Tech - 31

Saturday, November 7th
BYU at Wyoming 1 PM The Mtn. - BYU - 31 vs. Wyoming - 30 Navy at Notre Dame 1:30 PM NBC - Notre Dame - 38 vs. Navy - 21 Army at Air Force 2:30 PM CBS CSTV - Air Force - 31 vs. Army - 17 TCU at San Diego State 3:00 PM Vs. - TCU - 35 vs. SDSU - 10 New Mexico at Utah 5:00 PM The Mtn. - Utah - 49 vs. New Mexico - 10 Colorado State at UNLV 9 PM The Mtn. - UNLV - 28 vs. CSU - 24 Baylor at Missouri - Missouri - 28 vs. Baylor - 13 Central Florida at Texas 11 am FSN - Texas - 49 vs. UCF - 13 Connecticut at Cincinnati 7 PM ABC - Cincinnati - 31 vs. U Conn - 18 Duke at North Carolina 2:30 PM ESPNU - UNC - 34 vs. Duke - 31 Eastern Kentucky at Kentucky 12 PM ESPN GP - Kentucky - ALOT vs. EKU - little Florida Atlantic at UAB - UAB - 37 vs. FAU - 31 Washington at UCLA 2:30 FCS Pacific - Washington - 21 vs. UCLA - 20 Washington State at Arizona 5 PM FCS Pacific - Arizona - 51 vs. WSU - 14 Western Michigan at Michigan State 11 am Big Ten Network - MSU - 45 vs. WMU - 28 Wisconsin at Indiana 11 am Big Ten Network - Wisconsin - 31 vs. Indiana - 16 FIU at MTSU 3:30 PM ESPN GP - MTSU - 28 vs. FIU - 24

PREDICTIONS ON ALL D1A GAMES - TV GAMES IN RED Saturday November 7th (CONT’D)
Fresno State at Idaho 9:30 PM ESPNU - Fresno State - 31 vs. Idaho - 28 Furman at Auburn 12:30 PM ESPN GP - Auburn - 63 vs. Furman - 2 Illinois at Minnesota 11 am Big Ten Network - Minnesota - 27 vs. lllinois - 24 Kansas at Kansas State 11:30 PM Vs. - Kansas - 35 vs. KSU - 34 Kent State at Akron 2:30 PM ESPN GP - Akron - 31 vs. Kent State - 28 Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas State 2:30 PM ESPN GP/CSS - ASU - 24 vs. ULL - 21 Louisiana-Monroe at North Texas - ULM - 38 vs. North Texas - 21 Louisville at West Virginia - WVU - 49 vs. Louisville - 21 Maryland at North Carolina State 12 PM ESPN 360 - NC State - 34 vs. Maryland - 21 Memphis at Tennessee 6 PM ESPNU - Tennessee - 34 vs. Memphis - 12 Northern Arizona at Ole Miss 6:30 PM ESPN GP/CSS - Ole Miss - 45 vs. NAU - 10 Northwestern at Iowa 11 am ESPN - Iowa - 38 vs. Northwestern - 15 Oklahoma State at Iowa State 2:30 PM ABC - Oklahoma State - 34 vs. Iowa State - 14 Oregon at Stanford 2:30 PM FSN - Oregon - 38 vs. Stanford - 17 Oregon State at California 6 PM FSN - Oregon State - 30 vs. Cal - 28 Purdue at Michigan 11 am Big Ten Network - Michigan - 31 vs. Purdue - 21 Rice at SMU - SMU - 42 vs. Rice - 27 South Carolina at Arkansas 11:21 am ESPN GP/SEC Network - Arkansas - 27 vs. South Carolina - 23 Syracuse at Pittsburgh 11 am ESPNU - Pitt - 49 vs. Syracuse - 14 Tennessee Tech at Georgia 12 ESPN GP - Georgia - 54 vs. TT - 3 Texas A&M at Colorado 12:30 PM FCS Central - TAMU - 38 vs. CU - 35 Troy at Western Kentucky - Troy - 34 vs. WKU - 7 Utah State at Hawaii - Utah State - 31 vs. Hawaii - 29 UTEP at Tulane 2:30 PM FCS Atlantic - Tulane - 34 vs. UTEP - 33 Vanderbilt at Florida 6:15 PM ESPN2 - Florida - 42 vs. V anderbilt - 7

PREDICTIONS ON ALL D1A GAMES - TV GAMES IN RED Saturday November 7th (CONT’D)
Virginia at Miami 11 am Raycom/ESPN GP - Miami - 35 vs. Virginia - 10 Wake Forest at Georgia Tech 2:30 PM ABC - Georgia Tech - 35 vs. Wake Forest - 17

Sunday November 8th
Nevada at San Jose State 7:30 PM ESPN - Nevada - 42 vs. SJSU - 17

1560 The Game is a proud sponsor of both the Rotary Lombardi Award, given annually to the most outstanding interior lineman in the nation, and the Paul Bear Bryant Award given for the Coach of the Year. Here is my “unofficial leaderboard” for each award. For more info. on each award www.rotarylombardiaward.org and www.americanheart.org/bryantawards The 12 semi-finalists are turning it up right about voting time, so it’s time to narrow the scope and follow these players this week. Here are some thoughts about key matchups to watch this weekend. 1. Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy have a date with destiny. Let me just say this won’t be the last time these two see each other. I’ve got a feeling that they’ll be with Sean and myself on December 9th, but with a solid performance, one of them can separate from the other. McCoy is though to have the better cast members, but Suh has done a little bit of everything and is now getting some ‘help’ from Jared Crick. However, if Crick outshines Suh, then maybe it takes away from his candidacy. Either way, voters tune in 7 PM Saturday night. 2. Alabama’s Terrence Cody and Rolando McClain have a 2:30 PM CST national stage to make a case. I would think both are in the race for the final four and a solid performance against LSU is a must. Voters need to not only look at the numbers in this one, especially on Cody against LSU’s G-C-G trio and McClain’s versatility.

I love the way that this award is so fluid throughout the season. One win can bump you up into the conversation and one loss can put you on the “also receiving votes” category. One guy who keeps making his way into the conversation is Temple’s Al Golden. The Owls are bowl eligible for the first time in who knows how long, undefeated in the MAC and now with an impressive win Navy last week. No matter what happens throughout the rest of the season, Golden will have my vote, knowing where this program has been the past few years...errr, decades. Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz finds a way with his troops to keep getting wins. Behind at the outset of the fourth quarter with his QB having thrown four picks in the third quarter, Ferentz kept his Hawkeyes positive and kept them fighting in a come from behind win over Indiana. TCU’s Gary Patterson should’ve been with us last year and he’ll be a lock this year. A win over UNLV wasn’t sexy but his team keeps getting better and better...and still undefeated. Texas’s Mack Brown has his team on the rise, playing its best football of the season, while Oregon’s Chip Kelly may have his name etched on the trophy with how he’s gotten his team to respond after the opening night loss at Boise. The win over USC was proof positive of his message - “One game does not make a season”. But, that one game will reverberate for months