Fab Five: Week XIV
UCLA +10 Arizona State
After a co-championship finish in the Pac-10 last season, the Sun Devils are a disappointing 4-6 in 2008 and need to win out to even have a shot at earning a bowl bid. UCLA must also run the table to even think about the postseason, but unfortunately for them, they must still face Southern Cal. Both teams are 3-4 in Pac-10 play and each owns victories over the same conference foes at the same venue: @Washington and home to both Washington State and Stanford. UCLA is slightly worse than Arizona State on offense and slightly better on defense. This game is a veritable toss up and getting 10 points with the Bruins is a steal.
Georgia Tech +8.5 Georgia
Paul Johnson's first season at the helm has gone pretty well in Atlanta. The Jackets are 8-3 and still have a small shot at garnering the ACC's BCS bid. Can he do what his predecessor failed to do in his entire tenure at the school, beat Georgia? Georgia Tech and Georgia outgained their conference foes by a very similar margin (+68 yards per game for Tech and +74 yards per game for Georgia), so this game will likely be very close. Tech is getting more than a touchdown and thus are the pick.
South Carolina +1.5 Clemson
Take the under in this game. With the exception of the Florida game, the Gamecock defense has been spectacular. Clemson's defense has also been quite stout except against Alabama and Florida State. In addition, neither of these teams figures to do a lot of scoring on offense. The alleged dynamic duo of James Davis and CJ Spiller have combined to rush for only 1158 yards this season on an average of 5.1 yards per attempt. If we remove the 2 games against IAA foes, that number drops to 818 yards at a 4.5 yards per attempt clip. Davis and Spiller will find it tough going against the Gamecock defense and South Carolina will win a rather low-scoring affair.
UAB +9 Central Florida
UAB has one of the worst defenses in Conference USA and the nation at large, 450 yards per game (111th in the nation). Fortunately for them, Central Florida has the bona fide worst offense in the nation averaging a paltry 231 yards per game. The Golden Knights have no business being favored over anyone by more than a touchdown.
Texas A&M +35 Texas
This is too many points, even for a terrible team like Texas A&M to be given against their biggest rival.
Texas Tech -20 Baylor
The Bears are a much improved team under Art Briles, but Texas Tech should be able to shred the Baylor defense that has given up an average of over 500 yards per game to the Big 12 powers it has faced (Oklahoma, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Missouri, and Texas).
Boise State -21 Fresno State
This is one of Pat Hill's worst teams at Fresno and Boise is playing for style points at home. Look for the Broncos to hold the Bulldogs to 10 points or fewer while putting at least 31 on the board.
Memphis -14 Tulane
After starting the season 2-2 with a near upset of East Carolina included in one of the losses, the Green Wave have lost 7 straight. The last 5 have all been by at least 17 points. Expect more of the same when they face a Memphis team still in contention for a bowl bid.
Florida Atlantic -4 Florida International
In an eery coincidence, both these teams have played 6 Sun Belt games and allowed almost the exact same number of yards (2223 for the Owls and 2207 for the Panthers). So Florida International is allowing about 3 fewer yards per game. Unfortunately, they are gaining about 60 fewer yards per game. Florida Atlantic quarterback Rusty Smith, despite a down season, is still the best of what's around in the Sun Belt. The Owls will win and finish the season bowl eligible.
Missouri -14 Kansas
The Tigers have quietly clinched the Big 12 North and are playing for a high national ranking. Kansas has deteriorated this season thanks to a defense that is allowing 78 yards more per game in 2008 than they did in 2007 (a nearly 25% increase). Both teams should score a lot in this one, but while Kansas may be stopped from time to time, Missouri will see their drives end without points very infrequently.