College Football Previews – USC/UCLA Still Fighting For Pac-12 Title
By Charles Jay
There will be plenty of controversy involving which four teams are going to make it to the college football playoff, and there may be a couple of games this weekend that impact it to some extent, but it looks like we’re going to go into the conference championship games not really knowing who we’re going to see. However, because there are major or quasi-major bowls on the line for all of the conference champions and some at-large teams, there are some games this weekend that will go a long way toward determining who the participants will be.
USC Trojans at UCLA Bruins, 8 PM ET
- BetAnySports College Football Line: UCLA -4.5, Total 61
Arizona State lost last weekend, so the Pac-12 South. is little more up for grabs. USC actually has a half-game lead in the division. UCLA had a bye week, which gives it extra time to prepare for this traditional rival, which it has beaten the last two years, after falling to the Trojans in the previous five. Last year’s contest, the Bruins won a 35-14 decision, as Trojan quarterback Cody Kessler was sacked six times. UCLA is having problems protecting the quarterback, and so it’s a good thing that Brett Hundley is able to pulled the ball down and run with it. At present, Hundley has 17 touchdown passes, but Kessler has blossomed, it seems, under first -year coach Steve Sarkisian, throwing 29 touchdown passes with only three interceptions.
Louisville Cardinals at Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 3:30 PM ET
- BetAnySports College Football Line: Notre Dame -3, Total 53
Notre Dame is reeling at the moment, and it goes to show how fortunes in college football can change all of a sudden. The Irish won their first six games, then gained a certain measure of credibility in a four-point loss to Florida State, in which they were called for a controversial penalty late in the game. Then they had life-and-death with Navy, and have lost consecutive games, losing 55-31 to Arizona State, and 43-40 to Northwestern in overtime.
Louisville quarterback Will Gardner is out for the season with a knee injury, but freshman Reggie Bonnafon, who struggled at first, seems more comfortable with the offense. Louisville has covered its last eight games against the college football odds as a road underdog, and they have the most ball-hawking secondary man in the country in Gerod Holloman, who has intercepted 13 passes.
Minnesota Golden Gophers at Nebraska Cornhuskers, Noon ET
- BetAnySports College Football Line: Nebraska -10.5, Total 56.5
The Nebraska defense really has to gather itself after allowing a record 408 yards to Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin last week in a shameful 59-24 defeat. This was supposed to be a Heisman showdown of sorts between Gordon and Ameer Abdullah, but Abdullah only had 69 rushing yards in the game. Nebraska has no wins over ranked teams this season, and Minnesota is in the position where if it can beat Nebraska and Wisconsin, admittedly a very tall order, it can win the West division of the Big 10, with an opportunity to go to the Rose Bowl. They have one of the better running backs in the conference in David Cobb, with 145 yards against Ohio State to bring his season total to 1350. The Gophers are also 8-1 against the football odds when getting points.
Boston College Eagles at Florida State Seminoles, 3:30 PM ET
- BetAnySports College Football Line: Florida State -17, Total 56.5
Boston College was a pesky opponent for Florida State last season, coming closer than any other team did until the Seminoles’ dramatic victory over Auburn in the BCS championship game. FSU has already clinched the ACC Atlantic division, after another second-half comeback, this time in Miami. Last year Boston College had 200 yards rushing against this team, and we know that Florida State has not been the same defensive squad was in 2013, giving up 492 yards to the Hurricanes and eleven more points per game that last season. The recent on-campus shooting in Tallahassee affects FSU’s state of mind is something that is hard to gauge at the moment.
Ole Miss Rebels at Arkansas Razorbacks, 3:30 PM ET
- BetAnySports College Football Line: Ole Miss -3.5, Total 45
Arkansas broke its 17 game losing streak in SEC play with shutout victory over LSU last week. But in that contest they had the luxury of dealing with a quarterback doesn’t know how to throw the ball in Anthony Jennings. Such will not be the case this time around, and they know it. Bo Wallace had 416 passing yards against them last year in a 10-point Rebel win, and he comes in here with a team that essentially has had three weeks to prepare for this ballgame. Prior to their very disappointing 35-31 defeat against Auburn, Ole Miss had given up 84 points in eight games.
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