Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, September 21, 2012 at 10:08 AM
Just in case you are starting to buy some of this nonsense that College Football's other conferences/leagues are beginning to "catch up" with the mighty SEC, just consider the following:
Not only does the SEC sport the nation's #1 and #2 teams in this week's Associated Press Top 25 poll in Alabama and LSU, respectively, but there are five teams from the SEC in the top 14 overall including #5 Georgia, #7 South Carolina and #14 Florida and our true Jim Sez gut feeling is that all of the above save for the Florida Gators could probably win any other conference title out there if they didn't have to play in the talent-jammed SEC.
And now chew on this:
Both 'Bama and LSU are perfect 3-and-oh SU (straight-up) out of the 2012 starting gate and each has cashed two-of-three plays for their loyal wagering backers but did you realize that the Crimson Tide has been a per-game betting favorite on average of 24 points this season while the Bayou Bengals have been laying nearly 36 ppg in their first three tilts?
Not much is changin' this weekend as you will see in a moment as we begin this weekend's NCAA Football Game Previews with a look at the top two teams in the land plus we'll toss in Friday's TV preview as Baylor plays at giant-killer UL-Monroe - and a reminder that Friday's Jim Sez column will be jam-packed with NCAA Key Previews, so don't you dare miss out!
Now, let's get it started here with the Friday Nite TV Preview ...
BAYLOR (2-0) at UL-MONROE (1-1) - 8 p.m. ET, espn2
Hey, the start of the 2012 season hasn't been just all about the country's super-powers: L'il UL-Monroe has been a major newsmaker thanks to that season-opening 34-31 overtime win at 29 ½-point favorite Arkansas and than last week there were the gritty/gutty Warhawks going into OT again en route to a 31-28 loss-but-cover at 15-point fav Auburn.
Hats off to third-year head coach Todd Berry for gearing up his gang for that battle with the War Eagles and lefty QB Kolton Browning (649 yards passing and a team-leading 127 yards rushing) remains one of the sport's most exciting players. His TD run in OT at Arkansas a couple of weeks ago was breath-taking stuff as he pranced in on a do-or-die fourth-down play.
Browning's thrown for 6 TDs and just one INT in his 113 aerial attempts and - while he may not get his hands on this year's Heisman Trophy like one-time Baylor mega-star QB Robert Griffin III (see last year) - it'll be fun stuff to see how Browning fares against yet another BCS conference defense.
Note that the 7 ½-point road-favored Bears rank 9th nationally in passing offense (352.5 ypg) and QB Nick Florence has been Griffin-like sharp so far with his 653 yards passing, 63.4 accuracy rate and a healthy 7-TD versus 2-INT ratio. So far, Baylor has beaten SMU and Sam Houston State and so no one yet is holding a parade for this Waco bunch!
Spread Notes - Baylor's split its first two pointspread verdicts this year but this marks the Bears' first road game in 2012 and they're only 5-8 ATS (against the spread) in road tilts the past two seasons. On the other hand, UL-Monroe - fresh off back-to-back season-opening covers against SEC folks Arkansas and Auburn - is a collective 5-1 vig-wise while dating back to last year and the Warhawks are 29-19 ATS as pups since the start of thee 2005 season.
On Saturday, it's ...
FLORIDA ATLANTIC (1-2) at #1 ALABAMA (3-0) - 5 p.m. ET, ESPN GamePlan
Right now the Alabama Crimson Tide is listed as a whopping 49½-point betting favorite for this tilt against Sun Belt Conference club FAU but keep in mind that Nick Saban's team rarely takes its foot off the pedal as evidenced by last Saturday's 52-0 win at Arkansas - the Tide ranks 10th nationally in pass defense (152.3 ypg) and 7th nationally in rush defense (57.7 ypg) ... and so how does one exactly go about exploiting this defense that's surrendered a grand total of 14 points through three games?
Nobody talks about 'Bama quarterback A.J. McCarron in terms of the Heisman Trophy but note the kid's already thrown for 607 yards with 7 TDs and 0 INTs out of the 2012 starting gate.
Spread Note - Alabama is 14-4 spreadwise whenever laying twin-digit prices while dating back to the start of the 2010 season (and that's a heady .778 winning percentage).
#2 LSU (3-0) at AUBURN (1-2) - 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Hey, maybe one of these days the LSU defense will score more points than the offense: Folks, that's not a jab at an improved LSU attack that actually ranks 13th in the land in rushing (269.3 ypg) and is 31st nationally in scoring but last week there were two "pick six" TDs by the Tigers defense in that runaway-and-hide 63-14 win against Idaho and afterwards the chirpie LSU secondary hinted lots more of that was in store for the rest of this '12 campaign ... we'll see.
Note that LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is completing more than 70 percent of his passes but a pair of INTs near the opponent's goal line this year has head coach Les Miles a bit concerned with his signal-caller's red-zone concentration.
Spread Note - LSU has notched pointspread wins in 13 of its last 17 games while dating back to late in the 2010 season (and that's a sizzling .765 winning rate)
NOTE: Get our NCAA Football Saturday Key Previews in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez.