An ACC upset on tap in Clemson at Georgia Tech

Philadelphia, PA ( – Georgia Tech is 3-0 both straight up
and against the spread – outscoring its opponents 147-to-61 – since beginning
its FBS season struggling to win four of six games while covering only half of
those contests.

On the negative side, the three teams the Yellow Jackets beat during this
current streak have a combined Atlantic Coast Conference record of 5-12. They
face their most difficult test on Saturday when Clemson strolls into Bobby
Dodd Stadium,

The Tigers also are on a winning streak having taken six consecutive contests.
However, outside of their victory over Louisville, the other five opponents
have a combined conference record of 7-21. In addition, the win over the
Cardinals came by just six points at home.

The key for Clemson is the return of quarterback Deshaun Watson. The true
freshman has not played since injuring his throwing hand early against

With Watson in the starting lineup, the Tigers scored 50 points against North
Carolina and 41 versus NC State. On the other hand, those two teams are
allowing 42 and 30 ppg on the season, respectively, and both of those games
were played in Clemson. The road has been a different story for the Tigers as
they are 2-2 with only one cover and that came against Florida State and its
backup quarterback.

Georgia Tech must contend with Clemson’s outstanding defense, which ranks
12th nationally allowing just 18 points per game. The Tigers are very stingy
against the run as they are 4th nationally in rushing defense allowing only 91
yards per game. Still, a large percentage of that number comes from sacks as
Clemson’s defense is No. 1 nationally in yards lost via the sack with 289.

The Tigers will not garner many sacks against Georgia Tech, and their
defensive rushing ypg average will drop after taking on the Yellow Jackets’
triple-option attack. Don’t forget, Georgia Tech is averaging 336 rushing
yards per game – good for third best in the country.

This series has been dominated by the home team. The Tigers are 3-0 the last
three meetings in Clemson while the Yellow Jackets have won the last four in

Even with Watson back in the lineup, it is somewhat surprising to see Clemson
as the favorite, and by a field goal.

Take Georgia Tech plus three points in the first of two five-star plays.

The second key play comes Thursday night when Cincinnati hosts East Carolina.
As is the case with Clemson, it is difficult to believe the Pirates are the
three-point choice in Cincinnati.

If the game was played earlier in the season, then the line would be
justified. However, East Carolina is not the same team it was back in

The downfall began at home against SMU as the Pirates defeated the winless
Mustangs by 21 points as 40-point favorites. Since then, they failed to cover
against South Florida and Connecticut before losing outright at Temple on Nov.

Cincinnati has regrouped from its midseason slump with three straight wins
(and covers), including two on the road. The Bearcats have not lost more than
one home game in each of the last three seasons, and with the home loss
already to Memphis on Oct. 4, the odds are in their favor to knock off East
Carolina on Saturday.

Take Cincinnati plus three points.


Boise State has played just one impressive game the last two months and that
was a 25-point stomping of BYU. The other contests had the Broncos fail to
cover their two games against option teams (New Mexico and Air Force), win at
Nevada by just five and beat Fresno State by only 10 at home. Now San Diego
State comes to Boise having won three of its last four.

The Aztecs have been the one team of late to give Boise State trouble. Two
years ago, they went into Boise and upset the favored Broncos, 21-19, and last
year, they won by three at home as seven-point underdogs.

Take San Diego State plus 14 points.

Michigan State goes into Maryland just one week after its first double-digit
loss in 33 games. The last two times the Spartans fell by 10 points or more,
they failed to cover the following game.

This is their fourth road contest in 2014 and they are 2-1 in the prior three
with only one cover, and that came against Indiana with its freshman
quarterback Zander Diamont playing in his first career game.

Maryland has had an up-and-down season alternating wins and losses in its last
five games. Still, the Terrapins are 6-3 this year – their first in the Big
Ten. They also had last week off while Michigan State was playing its “game of
the year.”

Take Maryland plus 12 points.

Finally, SMU and South Florida square off in Tampa as the Mustangs look for
their first win of the season. Their offense has been brutal averaging 9.8
points per game. Still, they “erupted” for 28 last week in a 10-point loss at
Tulsa. Former Texas A&M quarterback Matt Davis made his first career start
throwing a 64-yard touchdown strike on his very first pass of the game.

South Florida is 3-6 but has lost four of its last five. The Bulls have not
won an FBS game by double digits since 2011 and somehow find themselves
favored by 11 points – on the road. In addition, they have not won a game this
late in the season since 2011.

SMU probably is the worst team in FBS play, but if the Mustangs are going to
win one game this year, this one is it. They beat the Bulls in Tampa last year
and they will do so again at home,

Take SMU plus 11 points.


Take North Carolina -2.5 (Pittsburgh), Nevada +2.5 (Air Force) and Georgia
-2.5 (Auburn).


Take Eastern Michigan +27 (Western Michigan), Kentucky +8.5 (Tennessee) and
Arkansas -2 (LSU).


My overall record stands at 81-77-5 after a 7-8 mark in Week 11. The five-
star selection actually prevailed for most people as UTEP covered the nine-
point spread. Unfortunately for me, this column was sent out when the Miners
were just 7.5-point underdogs so I have to mark the game as a loss. Overall,
the five-star selections are 6-8. The three-star plays went 3-2 and are
13-11-1 overall. The two-star choices went 2-1 for an 11-week total of 29-27.
The one-star plays went 2-4 for a 33-31-4 mark.


1) Oregon, 105; 2) Ohio State, 104; 3) Alabama, 103.5; 4) TCU, 103; 5) Baylor,
102.5; 6) Ole Miss, 101.5; 7) Georgia, 101; 8) Florida State, 99; 9-T)
Mississippi State and Michigan State, 98; 11-T) Auburn and USC, 97.5

(The Dirty Dozen is not a reflection of a given team’s won-loss record. It is
based on power ratings used to predict spreads for the upcoming week. At the
beginning of the season, all FBS teams are assigned a power number, which
changes on a week-to-week basis depending on the results of the previous