Will the Lane Kiffin fiasco hurt Alabama versus Clemson?

Is anyone surprised that things didn’t work out between Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin after Kiffin accepted a head coaching job? This was bound to happen, and Kiffin ends up looking like a buffoon as usual.

Now Alabama has to rely on Steve Sarkisian to run the offense as they square off against Clemson for the National Championship. Sark is a great coach, and Alabama has plenty of talent on offense, but they have a young QB and they’ll be facing a tough Clemson defense that shot out Ohio State.

Should be interesting . . .

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Fade Material: College Football Week 3 Predictions

Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell (C) runs onto the field prior to their NCAA football game against the University of Akron in Columbus, Ohio September 3, 2011. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Well, go figure. I change the name of this column to “Fade Material” and then I start handing out winning picks. If I knew that was all I had to do, I would have changed the title years ago and avoided all the years of .500 or below predictions.

After a 3-1 performance in Week 1, I finished 3-0-1 with my Week 2 picks. Georgia was a push against South Carolina but TCU, Alabama and BYU had no problems covering. I’m still looking for my first sweep of the season, so let’s see if we can’t nail it this week. (Although I admit to having reservations about “Road Test Weekend.” There are some tough games on the board…)

Auburn @ Clemson, 12:00PM ET
Everyone keeps waiting for Auburn to lose and all they’ve done the past two weeks is pull wins out of their backsides. The No. 19 Tigers find themselves once again as underdogs, this time against an unranked Clemson team. Nobody can ever quite figure out Clemson, which either plays the game of its life or sinks to the level of its competition. They’re 1-4 against the spread in their last five home games and 3-7 ATS in their last 10 versus the SEC, while Auburn is 4-1 ATS in their last five road games. Auburn is also 6-0 ATS versus a team with a winning record and 4-0 ATS in their last four games an underdog. I think the Tigers of Auburn keeps this within a field goal, making that 3.5-point spread highly attractive.
THE PICK: AUBURN TIGERS +3.5

Ohio State @ Miami, 7:30PM ET
The Buckeyes face their first road test under new head coach Luke Fickell and while they didn’t look particularly sharp against Toledo last week at home, I like OSU to win outright tonight. They’ll face a quarterback in Jacory Harris, who is coming off a one-game suspension and who was unimpressive against Oho State last year. He threw four interceptions, including three in the first half alone. Granted, that was a different Buckeyes team last season but the defense is still solid and I expect them to give Harris trouble again this time around. The Buckeyes are 11-3 against the number in all games over the last two seasons and 14-4 ATS in road games in September since 1992.
THE PICK: OHIO STATE BUCKEYES +2.5

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Big Saturday in basketball

Check it out…

#25 Ohio State/#12 West Virginia @ 2 PM on CBS
#1 Texas/#21 UConn @ 4 PM on CBS
Thunder/Cavs @ 7:30 PM on NBA League Pass
#6 Duke/#16 Clemson @ 9 PM on ESPN

(All times Eastern.)

Big Ten finally wins Big Ten/ACC Challenge

It took 11 years, but the Big Ten finally beat the ACC in the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge, which pits teams from each conference against one another.

Illinois overcame a second-half 23-point deficit to beat Clemson on the road and unranked Wisconsin upset #5 Duke in Madison to put the Big Ten in position to win. The victory was sealed by #16 Ohio State’s “easy” win against Florida State in Columbus.

The Big Ten won the Challenge, 6-5. It was the first time that Duke lost in the Challenge.

ACC race coming down to the wire

Duke got a big win on Saturday against Virginia Tech to stay alive in the race for the conference championship. They host a good Florida State team on Tuesday before their showdown next Sunday at North Carolina. The Tar Heels travel to VT on Wednesday. The Blue Devils are one game back, so a pair of wins to close the regular season would give Duke at least a share of the ACC championship. Most pundits have written Duke off for a #1 seed, but if they were to win out and then win the ACC tournament, they could sneak in as a top seed.

As a basketball fan, it would be great to see Duke beat FSU tomorrow guaranteeing that the Duke/UNC tilt on Sunday is for the conference title. Even if the Tar Heels beat Tech and guarantee themselves at least a share of the ACC title, they won’t want to miss out on an opportunity to slam the door on the Dookies. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils need to be careful not to look past a Florida State team that is 22-7. Duke beat FSU in Tallahassee back in January, so the Seminoles will have revenge on their minds.

Joe Lunardi (ESPN “bracketologist”) says that if the season ended today…


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