Line Study: Life gets no easier for Georgia

By Tom Fornelli | College Football Writer

Jadeveon Clowney and company face a tough test this weekend
Jadeveon Clowney and company face a tough test this weekend. (USATSI)

Every Monday the Eye on College Football's Tom Fornelli takes an early look this week's most interesting point spreads in Line Study.

The second week of the college football season doesn't have quite the same number of interesting match ups as we saw this weekend, but that doesn't mean there aren't some interesting lines out there for us to look at. So where should we be looking? Well, we'll start with the biggest game of the coming weekend.

The Games You'll Be Watching

South Carolina at Georgia (-3)

This line actually opened on Sunday with Georgia as a six-point favorite. And then anybody who saw both Georgia and South Carolina play over the weekend bet the hell out of South Carolina with a free touchdown. Now the spread is in a place where this game gets a lot more difficult to pick.

I know the Georgia defense had a difficult night on Saturday, but I think we overreact to what we see in the first week a bit too much. Because it's important to remember that Georgia's offense did rack up 545 yards of offense and averaged 7.8 yards per play. The true concern should be the fact the Georgia offensive line gave up four sacks to a Clemson team that doesn't have quite the defensive line that South Carolina does.

Another concern? How about the fact that Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is now 1-9 in his career against top 15 opponents. I think South Carolina should find itself in the top 15 when the polls come out Tuesday.

So it's easy to see why the public is leaning toward South Carolina in this matchup, though personally, I'd avoid this game this week.

Florida (-3) at Miami

Both of these teams were impressive in their debuts, but this week the competition gets a bit tougher for both. The line opened with Florida as a two-point favorite and that increased to three points pretty quickly. And I can understand why.

Florida played a better team this weekend, and dare I say the Gators offense looked competent? Meanwhile, Miami's offense was just Duke Johnson for the most part, and while I'm a fan of Johnson's, running against the FAU defense isn't quite the same thing as a Florida defense that shut down a good Toledo offense Saturday.

So I wouldn't be all that concerned about giving up a field goal with the Gators here.

Notre Dame at Michigan (-3½)

This is a tough one to call, which is probably why the spread is where it is. Michigan opened as a three-point favorite before gaining that public trust hook. Still, what makes this one difficult is that there isn't much we can take from either team's performance last week as they took on Temple and Central Michigan. Yes, both Tommy Rees and Devin Gardner looked good. Yes, both defenses looked good.

But, again, Temple and Central Michigan.

My instinct is to stay away from this one until we know more about both teams.

The Games You Can Exploit

Southern Miss at Nebraska (-28)

This line opened with Nebraska as a 31-point favorite and shrank to 28 quickly. There's a reason for that, and you should take advantage as soon as possible. The Cornhuskers defense allowed 602 yards and 8.1 yards per play to Wyoming on Saturday night. The same Wyoming offense that finished the 2012 season as the No. 72 offense in the country.

In Nebraska's last three games it's allowed 1,831 yards of offense and 149 points. That is a bit below good, don't you think? Now it's facing a Southern Miss team that's coming off a loss to Texas State, but the Eagles offense had 400 yards of offense, it just killed itself with six turnovers.

You trust the Nebraska defense to cover a 28-point spread?

Cincinnati (-10) at Illinois

I watched both of these teams play on Saturday morning and believe me when I say that 10-point spread seems small. We shouldn't read too far into Cincinnati's opening performance because it was against a Purdue team that could be one of the worst BCS conference teams in the country this year, but it's not the Bearcats performance we should focus on.

It's Illinois'.

The Illini are coming off a disastrous season and nearly ensured 2013 would be one as well. They hung on to beat Southern Illinois 42-34, and the Illini defense allowed 6.1 yards per play to the FCS school. Also, the Illini defense didn't record a single sack even though the Salukis threw 41 passes. The Illinois offensive line, meanwhile, gave up five sacks after allowing 39 sacks in 2012. The Bearcats defense has averaged 3.17 sacks per game the past four seasons. That number will go up on Saturday.

 
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