Missouri to end Auburn's championship hopes
By Jeff Frank
Sports Analyst, Inside the Numbers
Let's Be Frank
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Auburn rose from the dead in each of its last two games to wind up representing the West in the SEC Championship Game. However, the run will end at the hands of Missouri.
The Tigers needed a victory over Texas A&M last week to secure the East Division title because it had lost in double overtime to South Carolina earlier in the year. They started slowly trailing the Aggies at halftime, but came through late in the game with the winning score on a 57-yard touchdown run from Henry Josey.
For starting quarterback James Franklin it was only his second appearance since Oct. 12 when he helped lead Missouri to a win over Georgia. The senior has been much-improved this season completing 67 percent of his passes while throwing 16 touchdowns to just four interceptions.
Still, Missouri is not a one-man show as the Tigers are ranked 18th nationally in rushing and 15th in scoring, while the defense is just as strong at 14th in the country in points allowed.
Auburn ran all over Alabama last week, but coming off the thrilling victory, it will be tough to do the same against Missouri, a team allowing only 119 rushing yards per game. Conversely, Auburn gives up 158 yards per game on the ground and close to 4.5 yards per carry.
Overall, Missouri has had the more impressive season since five of Auburn's 11 wins have come by a touchdown or less.
Take Missouri plus two points in this week's lone five-star play.
A PAIR OF THREE-STAR SELECTIONS
Another game that pits one team coming off a gut-wrenching victory has Ohio State going up against Michigan State.
The Buckeyes, a team that already had locked up a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game, almost fell out of the BCS picture with a one-point win over arch rival Michigan. Wolverines' head coach Brady Hoke decided to go for two after Devin Gardner's touchdown pass inside the final minute of play. The plan backfired as Ohio State stopped Michigan and the Buckeyes held on to the 42-41 victory.
It will be interesting to see how well Urban Meyer's team rebounds after allowing over 600 yards to a team Michigan State held to just 168 yards.
The Spartans come into this game led by a defense that is ranked 4th nationally allowing 12 ppg. They also lead the country in total defense and rushing defense. Additionally, opposing quarterbacks are completing only 48 percent of their passes.
Michigan State's offense has improved as the season has moved along and it could be argued that Ohio State's defense has gotten worse as it has given up 35 points or more in two of its last three games.
Look for the Spartans to control this game from start to finish and ruin Ohio State's chances for a spot in the National Championship Game.
Take Michigan State plus 5.5 points.
The other three-star play comes from Mobile where South Alabama hosts Louisiana.
The Jaguars are looking for their sixth win of the season after going 2-11 in 2012. On the other hand, Louisiana has zero to play for as the Ragin' Cajuns already have cliched the Sun Belt Conference and will play in the New Orleans Bowl for the third straight season. In addition, starting quarterback Terrance Broadway is doubtful for the matchup with South Alabama.
Louisiana has not played like a conference champion of late losing its last game to ULM and failing to cover its last four. Meanwhile, South Alabama is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 and 3-1 ATS in its last four at home.
Take South Alabama minus three points.
Go with Bowling Green +4.5 (Northern Ill), Oklahoma State -9.5 (Oklahoma) and Arizona State -3 (Stanford).
Take Cincinnati +3.5 (Louisville) and Rice +5 (Marshall).
THIS YEAR'S RECORD
After 14 weeks, my record stands at 86-78-3 following an 7-7 week. There were zero five-star plays so that overall record stands at 12-7 overall. The three- star selections went 2-1 for an 18-18-1 total. The two-star choices finished 4-3 for a 36-30 overall mark and the one-star plays went 1-3 for a 20-23-2 total.