Line Study: Which undefeated team will fall next?
Every Monday the Eye on College Football's Tom Fornelli takes an early look this week's most interesting point spreads in Line Study.
We've all known it was coming because things rarely play out as planned in the world of college football, and if the last two weeks of action are any indication, chaos is here. Two weeks ago there were 15 undefeated teams from BCS conferences ranked in the AP Poll. As of Monday there are only eight left.
That number will continue to dwindle as we progress through the season, and this week in Line Study we'll look at three of those undefeated teams who all face tough tests this weekend. Will all three survive?
THE GAMES YOU'LL BE WATCHING
No. 21 South Carolina Gamecocks (-5) at No. 5 Missouri Tigers
Of all the undefeated teams remaining you can make a good argument that Missouri is the biggest surprise. It's obvious that Vegas is still in shock seeing that Missouri is still a home underdog this weekend even though it's reeled off consecutive wins against Georgia and Florida. Missouri was an underdog in both of those games as well.
So will the streak continue this week? There's certainly reason to think so.
At the moment there are only two teams in the country who are unbeaten against the spread this season. Missouri is one of them (Houston is the other). Meanwhile, South Carolina is 2-5 against the spread this season, and 1-3 on the road. And while Missouri may still be without James Franklin this week, odds are South Carolina will be without Connor Shaw as well, and the Gamecocks offense had a lot of trouble moving the ball once he left the game against Tennessee.
And while Mike Davis is an excellent running back, the strength of this Missouri team is its defensive line, as the Tigers have allowed 3.61 yards per carry against the run this season. So at this point I think Missouri and five points looks pretty good right now.
No. 12 UCLA Bruins at No. 3 Oregon Ducks (-23)
I mentioned in the last game that there were two teams who were still unbeaten against the spread. Well, going into last week there were four. And these two teams were the others. Neither could cover in the respective games this week, though at least Oregon won their game outright.
UCLA's performance against Stanford was a bit worrisome. Without running back Jordan James the Bruins offense had trouble moving the ball against a Stanford defense that was able to key on Brett Hundley . It's possible that James will miss this week's game as well.
Plus James' injury isn't the only one UCLA is dealing with right now, as its offensive line has been beaten up pretty good. In other words, I think the Bruins are trending down right now, and while that spread is rather large, I'm still favoring Oregon -23 here. Going on the road against consecutive weeks against Stanford and Oregon is tough for anybody, but even more so when you're dealing with injuries.
No. 10 Texas Tech Red Raiders at No. 15 Oklahoma Sooners (-7)
I really don't know what to make of Texas Tech at this point in the season. The Red Raiders are 7-0 straight up and 5-2 against the spread, but according to Jeff Sagarin, they've also played a schedule that's ranked No. 87 in the nation. And this is the first game of a very tough five-game stretch to finish the season.
But on the other hand there's Oklahoma. It almost looked like Texas was going to beat Oklahoma twice the way the Sooners played against Kansas this weekend. Had Oklahoma not been playing Kansas, it probably loses playing the way it did.
So while I'm leaning toward taking Texas Tech and the seven points, I think the best move is to avoid this one. We've yet to see Texas Tech against a team as good as Oklahoma, but we don't know which Oklahoma will show up, either.
THE GAMES YOU SHOULD EXPLOIT
No. 9 Clemson Tigers (-14) at Maryland Terrapins
Listen, I know that Clemson just got waxed by Florida State on national television. However, I don't think Clemson has suddenly morphed into a bad football team. I think we learned that Florida State might just be very good. And while Clemson may have lost it's national title bid and it's chances at an ACC title, this team still has a lot to play for.
In its way this week is a Maryland team that has lost a ton of players to injuries this season, with the latest ones being to Stefon Diggs and Deon Long . The Terps are reeling at the moment, and I expect an angry Clemson team to show up and take out some frustration on Saturday. I'd take the Tigers -14.
Florida Atlantic Owls at No. 11 Auburn Tigers (-24.5)
Is there a chance Auburn suffers a letdown after beating Texas A&M and looks past Florida Atlantic? Of course there is. However, I think that this Auburn offense is good enough that even if it does get off to a slow start, it will make up for it in a hurry against an Owls run defense that is allowing 4.76 yards per carry on the season, and over six yards per carry in its two games against BCS opponents (Miami and South Florida).
And FAU's offense just isn't very good against anybody, as it's averaging only 22.3 points per game. I smell a blowout in Jordan-Hare this week, so give me Auburn -24.5 before it grows even larger.
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