Rivalries on the college gridiron continue this weekend with Florida State in Gainesville to meet Florida and UCLA taking on its crosstown rivals from USC at the LA Coliseum. Tim Tebow and the No. 1 Gators have to avoid a letdown with the SEC title game on deck against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Matt Barkley and the Trojans still have an outside shot at a BCS appearance after a very disappointing season.
Just like Mark Twain said, clothes make the man.
For the second week in a row, college football teams who are wearing the new Nike “Pro Combat” uniforms went 6-4 ATS. LSU and Texas, two of the fashion plates in question and two of the subjects of last week’s betting preview, both covered the spread.
But sadly for the Tigers, they lost 25-23 to Ole Miss (-6 at game time) thanks in part to poor clock management. The only other losing member of the Tailored Ten was Oklahoma, who spit the bit in a 41-13 defeat at Texas Tech (+6).
We have another two teams wearing their fancy new duds in this week’s preview, but wouldn’t you know it, they’re facing each other.
Florida State at No. 1 Florida (-24½, 56)
Saturday - 3:30 p.m. (ET) CBS
The Sunshine Showdown has gone Florida’s way each of the last five seasons at 4-1 ATS. The betting odds have grown larger in favor of the Gators (11-0 SU, 5-5 ATS) with each passing year, mirroring the success of the Florida program under coach Urban Meyer and the recent decline of the Seminoles (6-5 SU, 3-8 ATS) under Bobby Bowden.
While Florida is a near-lock for another BCS bowl, Florida State wasn’t even bowl-eligible until last week’s 29-26 squeaker over Maryland (+17).
Motivation will still be high on both sides in this rivalry game, but more so for the Gators. This is Senior Week, the last time players like QB Tim Tebow will suit up in front of the home fans at Florida Field. The Gators need a victory here to remain on course for the BCS championship game in Pasadena.
An improbable win for the Seminoles could upgrade them from, say, the Emerald Bowl to the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Not much to fight for there.
The ‘Noles will be starting redshirt freshman QB E.J. Manuel, who was picked off three times by the Terrapins and needed a 48-yard Greg Reid punt return to set up the winning touchdown. Florida has the No. 6-ranked defense in the FBS according to Brian Fremeau’s efficiency stats. It’s a tough spot for Manuel, and the books know it, inflating the spread from 23 points at the open in hopes of drawing some FSU action before the weekend rush.
UCLA at No. 20 USC (-13, 47½)
Saturday, 10:00 p.m. (ET)
Another Rose Bowl appearance is out of the question, but it’s still possible for the Trojans (7-3 SU, 2-8 ATS) to earn an at-large BSC bowl bid by winning the Victory Bell against their crosstown rivals from UCLA (6-5 SU and ATS). Possible, but unlikely with so many undefeated and one-loss teams still vying for contention. Will a trip to the Holiday Bowl in San Diego be enough to motivate a team that’s been embarrassed by both Oregon and Stanford?
A very minor bowl is in their future, but the Bruins always seem to get up for this contest, covering the last three meetings in a row and winning outright in 2006. They’ll make the short trip for this “road” game at the Los Angeles Coliseum having won three games in a row and covered three of their last four.
The 'under' is 8-3 for UCLA, fuelled by a combination of poor offense (No. 89 in the nation) and competent defense (No. 43). Redshirt freshman QB Kevin Prince and his shaky offensive line could be in for a long day against the hungry USC front seven.
The problems for the Trojans have been mostly on the other side of the ball, but true freshman QB Matt Barkley (four TDs, five INTs in the last three games) could look a lot better this week if both tight end Anthony McCoy and wide receiver Damian Williams can get back onto the field after missing time to sprained ankles. Williams (45 catches) and McCoy (17 catches) are Barkley’s two favorite targets this year. Both have had the bye week to recover and prepare for this Saturday.