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College Football Roundup, Week 4
by Scott Spreitzer - 09/27/2005
TV Exposure: Don't think for a minute that television exposure doesn't have an effect on the performance of a football team. There's no better example than Army, which looked positively dreadful on offense its first two games. Then Friday night on national TV, the Cadets were a huge underdog to a strong Iowa State team, yet dominated the Cyclones in total yardage 365-229, nearly pulling an upset. Army led 21-14 going into the fourth before Iowa State rallied for a 28-21 win. Army was actually very good at running the football last season under first-year coach Bobby Ross, but hadnâ€™t been able to get going thus far. Until Friday, with Carlton Jones busting out for 122 yards. Good coaching, too, can motivate players and find weaknesses in the opposition, two other things Ross is good at. Remember a year ago when Troy State was on national TV early in the season? They upset Missouri as a big dog. TV can bring out the best in the home team or a big dog.
Self Deprecation: A lot of times it's funny to hear coaches exaggerate how good their upcoming opponent is, even when they are a 27-point favorite. However, it has been interesting to hear the comments of two talented young coaches this season, Urban Meyer (Florida) and Jeff Tedford (Cal). After a sloppy performance by the offensive line in a win over Wyoming, Meyer bluntly told reporters, "If you think that was the Florida offense you are mistaken." And after Friday's blowout 41-13 win over New Mexico State, Cal QB Joe Ayoob said, "A 'C' effort at best. We didn't play well at all. We had some good stats and Justin ran the ball amazingly, but we're a lot better than we showed." He was right, as Cal allowed 178 rush yards. Good coaches even get their players to understand what a team needs to do to get better. We see this serious, no-nonsense approach in the pros, too, with teams coached by Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick.
The Value of Good Coaching: Coaching in football is a key factor one should always look at when assessing betting lines. Boston College coach Tom O'Brien, a former military man, runs an organized, disciplined program that has been going to bowl games for years. BC upset Clemson 16-13 Saturday. This shouldn't come as a shock. BC was 3-0 SU/ATS as an underdog last season, beating Penn State, Notre Dame and West Virginia by significant margins. BC is 4-1 SU/ATS the last 5 times as a dog under O'Brien.
More Clemson: I had Boston College partly because BC is well coached, but also because of a fatigue factor. Clemson was off a 4-hour-and-10 minute game with Miami last week, one that went 3 overtimes. Notice that Clemson only had 252 total yards at home against BC, while the Eagles ran for 164 yards.
Not on the Ball: Saturday I had Virginia Tech over Georgia Tech, stating in my write up that it didnâ€™t matter whether Georgia Tech QB Reggie Ball played or not. Ball has good feet, but I've watched him over the years, and as a passer he's nothing more than mediocre. Decision making ability is more important for a quarterback than a strong arm, and Ball is a guy who hasn't mastered the position yet. Virginia Tech dominated in a 51-10 rout, holding G-Tech to 210 total yards. The Yellow Jackets had 3 turnovers, 2 interceptions by Ball. The Hokies are now 14-2 SU, 11-3 ATS their last 16 home games.
Buckeye's Roll: I criticized Ohio State coach Jim Tressel over the last few weeks in this column and on the Pro Line TV show about his use of a two-headed QB system. It's clear to most observers that QB Troy Smith is a far better quarterback than Justin Zwick for this offense â€“ last season and this one. Tressel scrapped that plan and went with Smith Saturday and the result was a 31-6 rout of Big 10 rival Iowa. Smith was 13-of-19 passing and ran for 127 yards. Tressel's reliance on Zwick in the loss to Texas, however, likely cost a talented Buckeye squad a shot at a national title.
More Ohio State: After the rout of Iowa, notice that Ohio State is now 25-2 SU, 17-9-1 ATS its last 27 home games!
Analyzing Totals: When examining totals, if you're searching for a game to go "over" the total it's good to begin with a versatile offense facing a bad defense, that way you know at least one team is likely to run up a lot of points. On Saturday I had Michigan State/Illinois over the total, and the Spartans alone went over the total in a 61-14 rout. Michigan State has a huge offensive line, a mobile quarterback and rolled up 376 yards rushing, 329 passing. Michigan State is 12-3 "over" the total its last 15 games.
Big 12 Rout on Deck: Texas A&M will have a few extra days to prepare before facing Baylor Saturday. Dennis Franchione's team has scored 110 points the last two games! And Baylor is just 3-8 ATS since 1993 against Texas A&M.
Texas Tech's Point-A-Minute Offense: Mike Leach and Texas Tech scored 56 and 80 points its first two games (Florida International and Sam Houston State), then had 63 (Indiana State). This weekend they finally face a real defense, opening Big 12 play against Kansas. While the Jayhawks are off to a rare 3-0 start, they'll finally face a real offense, defeating Florida Atlantic, Appalachian State, and Louisiana Tech. We'll finally get a good read as to which one of these conference teams is for real. What we already know thus far is that the Big-12 conference ought to be ashamed of themselves for some of their non-conference schedules.