Top 20 match-ups litter SEC, Big Ten slates

0 Comments

The sizzle of last week’s slate is not on the Week Six menu — at least based on the buzz leading up to it — but there’s plenty of SEC and Big Ten meat to gnaw and gorge yourself on this weekend.  And a whole lotta questions that need to be answered as well, such as…

Does The Ol’ Ball Coach have anything up his sleeve for the most well-rounded, solid team in the nation?

Is Denard Robinson merely a five-trick wonder and how will he handle a “real” defense?

What exactly will Les Miles step in Saturday night, and would anybody be surprised if it were a black hole of fecal suck that he was somehow able to climb out of with nary a hint of an odor on his person or les hat?

Even as we all know the answer to the latter, let’s get on to this weekend’s SEC/Big Ten mini-previews and predictions, shall we?

Indiana at No. 2 Ohio State (12:00 ET)

THE LINE: Ohio State -22.5

THE PLOT: Of course, the main storyline heading into this historically one-sided match-up  — OSU has won 15 straight dating back to 1988 — is the health of the left quad of quarterback Terrelle Pryor.  After last week’s showing against Illinois, it’s readily apparent that the Buckeyes can’t simply show up and expect to waltz away with a win, especially when their star quarterback may or may not be at or near 100 percent.  The Hoosiers have the ability to put points on the board in bunches, which places a brighter spotlight on Pryor’s injury and a bigger onus on the Buckeyes’ experienced running backs to start performing to their on-paper ability.

THE PICK: A conference game with a three-touchdown spread?  Fool me once, Vest, shame on me.  I’m not taking a chance on getting fooled a second time.  Buckeyes win with relative ease, but I’m taking the points.

THE SCORE: Ohio State 31, Indiana 20

——————–

No. 17 Michigan State at No. 18 Michigan (3:30 ET)

THE LINE: Michigan -4.5

THE PLOT: Of course, you have the return of Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio from a heart attack suffered three weeks ago.  Then there is the in-state “Big Bro vs. Lil’ Bro” angle, which is magnified by the fact that the Spartans are ranked ahead of the Wolverines.  The most intriguing aspect to me, though, is Denard Robinson vs. Greg Jones, one of the most explosive and productive offensive players in the country going up against arguably the best linebacker in the nation.  Yeah, football is a team game, but this “individual match-up” has the potential to be the best you’ll see all season long.  

THE PICK: Robinson will get his, relatively speaking, but the Spartans’ defense will do just enough containing of Shoelace to allow MSU to pull out an in-state squeaker.

THE SCORE: Michigan State 28, Michigan 27

——————–

No. 1 Alabama at No. 19 South Carolina (3:30 ET)

THE LINE: Alabama -7

THE PLOT: The GameDay atmosphere comes to Columbia for the most hyped game involving the Gamecocks in quite some time, if not ever.  Quarterback Greg McElroy and wide receiver Julio Jones are dinged but expected to take the field for the Tide.  On the other hand, Stephen Garcia is still the Gamecocks’ starter at quarterback — yeah, I still don’t trust him — and the Tide defense is tied for 10th in the country with 13 forced turnovers, including five in the red zone.  That’s a potentially lethal combination for a Spurrier-lead club seeking to stay nose deep in the SEC East race.  However, if USC’s improved defense can somehow manage to slow down the Tide’s juggernaut of a rushing attack, they would stand a significantly greater chance at pulling off what would be a monumental upset.  However…

THE PICK: The Gamecocks have never beaten the No. 1 team in the country in football.  That trend will continue.  Relatively easily.

THE SCORE: Alabama 34, South Carolina 13

——————–

No. 12 LSU at No. 14 Florida (7:30 ET)

THE LINE: Florida -6.5

THE PLOT: Certainly Florida’s had their fair share of (“putting it nicely” warning ahead!!!) struggles on offense, but the defense has been well above average all season long.  Then consider the following Jordan Jefferson stats from the last four games: under 100 yards passing each time out, 45.6 completion percentage and no touchdown passes versus six interceptions.  And he’s still LSU’s starting quarterback.  Somewhere, the upper echelon of the SEC is huddling together, chuckling and giggling wildly over how that outstanding LSU defense is being wasted with pabulum at the most important position on the field.  

THE PICK: The Bayou Bengals’ luck and unbeaten season runs out this week — despite the best efforts of Jarrett Lee riding in on his trusty white steed —  while the Gators get a much-needed confidence boost after well, ya know, what happened last weekend.

THE SCORE: Florida 27, LSU 10

LAST WEEKStraight up: 4-1Vs. spread: 3-2

OVERALLStraight up: 18-5Vs. spread: 11-10-1

(Odds courtesy of SportsBook.com by way of our friends at NBC Sports.com)