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Line Study: You heard about this Iron Bowl?

By Tom Fornelli | Staff Writer

Can Gus Malzahn get Alabama one more time?? (USATSI)
Can Gus Malzahn get Alabama one more time? (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.

Thanksgiving is this week, and generally this is a time we all share the things we are thankful for. Well, let me start off by saying I'm an not thankful that Thanksgiving is this week because it means we don't have a lot of college football left this season.

However, it also means that we get a lot of great rivalry games to watch this week, and that I am thankful for.

No. 1 Alabama (-10.5) at No. 4 Auburn

I usually don't need any extra incentive to watch the Iron Bowl, but the fact that this year's matchup features two top five teams and will settle the SEC West is a pretty nice boost to this year's game. I do have to admit, though, that seeing Alabama listed as a 10.5-point favorite even though this game was being played on the road was a bit of a surprise to me.

But which way am I leaning? Well, Alabama has covered the last two meetings in this series, but the Auburn teams the Tide face in those games weren't nearly as good as the Auburn team it'll face on Saturday.

Which is one of the reasons I'm leaning toward taking Auburn +10.5. Other reasons are the fact that Auburn is 9-2 ATS this season and has covered in eight straight games. So when I see a team riding that kind of wave that's getting over 10 points at home, well, it's hard to lean any other way.

No. 6 Clemson at No. 10 South Carolina (-5)

Clemson has won its last two games against SEC competition, knocking off Georgia to start the season and ending last year with a win over LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. But can it get the South Carolina monkey off its back?

The Gamecocks have won the last four meetings in this series with the narrowest margin of victory being last season's 10-point win in Death Valley. Of course, more importantly in this arena, South Carolina has also covered the spread in the last four meetings. Which is really the only reliable trend we have to work with this season.

In 2013 South Carolina is 5-6 ATS and 3-3 at home while Clemson is 6-5 ATS and 2-2 on the road. So, truth be told, I don't really have a strong feeling either way in this matchup, but the recent history has me slightly leaning toward South Carolina -5.

No. 3 Ohio State (-14) at Michigan

This game doesn't have nearly the significance of our other two matchups as far as this season is concerned, but come on, it's Ohio State and Michigan. You might not consider it the greatest rivalry in the sport, but you can't say it isn't the biggest. These two teams hate each other, and whether or not both teams are ranked, I don't care. I'm going to be watching it.

As for how I'd bet it, well, honestly, it's hard not to be a heavy lean toward Ohio State -14 here. And not just because Ohio State has gone 4-0-1 ATS in the last five meetings, but also because the Buckeyes have so much left to play for and are the far superior team in this year's matchup. Yes, there's a part of me that's worried about Michigan playing its best game in months considering the meaning of this game to both teams, but I just don't have any faith in the Wolverines right now.

Frankly if the Wolverines stay within three touchdowns I'll be surprised.

No. 21 Texas A&M at No. 5 Missouri (-4.5)

This is a huge game for Missouri. The scenarios aren't hard to figure out. If Missouri wins it wins the SEC East and will go to Atlanta to face Alabama or Auburn. If it loses the division goes to South Carolina.

So will Missouri be headed to Atlanta?

Probably because I'm leaning toward Texas A&M +4.5 and Texas A&M has been that team for me this season. You know that team. It's the team that covers when you think it won't, and doesn't when you think it will. It's as if Kevin Sumlin and Johnny Manziel are conspiring against me in some sort of Illuminati conspiracy.

But, yeah, I'm leaning toward Texas A&M +4.5 even though Missouri is 10-1 against the spread this season. Because I'm an idiot, ladies and gentlemen.

No. 22 UCLA at No. 23 Southern California (-3.5)

This game could have meant a lot more had UCLA managed to beat Arizona State over the weekend, but alas we'll just have to settle for two teams that don't like each other playing a football game. Which is usually enough.

Neither of these teams have been juggernauts against the spread this season as USC checks in at 6-6 while UCLA is 7-4. However, the one trend that does stick out is that the Trojans are 5-2 ATS since Ed Orgeron took over for Lane Kiffin, and 3-0 at home. So that combined with yet another injury to UCLA's offensive line and I'm leaning toward the Trojans -3.5 this week.

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