Friday, September 7, 2012

CLAWS vs. PAWS - Week 2

Weekend of September 7, 2012

Ball State at Clemson
(Clemson is favored to win by 27 points.)

How do you get yourself ready to play a team from the MAC after dispensing of the mighty SEC? How do you take anyone seriously that doesn’t have SEC speed or an SEC defense or an SEC head coach?

You do it by watching film of a Ball State team that may play at a more frenetic pace than Clemson. You do it by watching what your own offense can do to your defense. You do it by showing replays of App State-Michigan, James Madison-Virginia Tech, and the Citadel-UCS.

And even after seeing the lessons of taking a team lightly, Clemson still struggles early on. The defense will come out aggressive – and get burned, and Clemson will find themselves in a dogfight for the first half. Late in the half or early in the second, Clemson will begin to assert themselves and pull away. Will it be enough to cover the 27.5 number? No – take Clemson to win, but take Ball State and the points. Even if Clemson jumps out to a comfortable lead, I see them rotating much of the team in an effort to get experience. And maintaining a four touchdown advantage is hard to do with 2nd and 3rd stringers, regardless of who you’re playing.

Clemson will win but not cover the 27 point spread.
Clemson 44, Ball State 20

The Tigers are quickly becoming the most powerful September and October team in America on an annual basis. Last year they had Troy and Wofford before beating Auburn. This year Auburn moved to the opening weekend so the two bunny games happen now. Clemson covered the spread against Troy and failed to do so against Wofford. Will Ball State and Furman yield something similar? Probably so, which means the question here is picking correctly which game will be tighter than most predict.

Clemson’s defense played Russian Roulette all night with unranked Auburn, leaving receivers wide open for most of the night and getting timely unforced errors at just the right time. Clemson also was riding an emotional high, desperate to put the end of last season in their rear-view mirror and get back to declaring themselves world-beaters again. So I will take the Tigers to win comfortably of course but 27 points against an under the radar team with a very good offensive line and running game?

I’ll take Ball State to cover.
Clemson 33, Ball State 9

East Carolina at South Carolina
(South Carolina is favored to win by 21.5)

With a tough win over Vanderbilt under their belts, the Gamecocks return to Columbia, the armpit of the south, to face a pesky East Carolina team. At this moment, quarterback Connor Shaw is “questionable” to start while UCS receivers are “doubtful” to have any impact, regardless of who calls the signals.

Shocking stat of the day: East Carolina is 4-1 in its last five trips to the pit. A feat so rare only Clemson, Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia have matched it – in the last 15 years.

And yet despite UCS’ history with East Carolina, and the rest of college football, Vegas posts them as 21.5 point favorites. Not to score 21.5 points, but to win by 21.5 points. And when Vegas throws you a number so big it seems like easy money, you go the other way - hard. You play the favorite and hope Vegas knows something you don’t.

So, The TigerSwag will go against all history and knowledge and take UCS and the points, and pray the early start prevents East Carolina from flushing the remnants of 5 Points from their system.

UCS will win and cover the 21.5 point spread.
UCS 35, ECU 13

Let’s start with the visitors from Greenville, NC. East Carolina will come out and do what they always do: pretend that they are being disrespected by the entire nation (which they are not). And they will come out and play hard and this will be a very tight game. There is a reason most of the North Carolina “big” schools avoid the Pirates like the plague. The Pirates have a nice looking quarterback in Rio Johnson and he will probably create some big plays for ECU just like we saw at Vandy.

The good news for the Gamecocks is that East Carolina’s defense is not very strong. The bad news is that it appears that we will be a completely 1-dimensional team for the near future. That holds true with our without Shaw playing. Will our receiving corps get better? We better hope so, and they probably will. But for now if you’re being honest it’s hard to “guarantee” that USC will make this a big score. What I see is a very nervous crowd at Williams-Brice leaving Saturday afternoon with an underwhelming victory, but avoiding the fatal upset. I just can’t give anyone 21.5 points right now until I see a whole lot more from Carolina on offense.

USC will win but will not cover the 21.5 point spread.
South Carolina 24, East Carolina 19

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