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Phil’s Week 5 Top 25 Forecasts

Every week we will post my Forecasts of all the games involving Top 25 teams. As usual, it includes my computer’s projected box score for each game.

So far this year the Top 25 Forecasts have gone 71-16 82% picking the winners of each game. That record may sound great, but do keep in mind most games have involved teams that were big favorites so the majority of people will have a solid record on these games as well. On the bottom of the forecast, I have listed some Upset Specials which have pulled the upset 5 out of 11 times including Marshall last week. Combined the first four weeks record is 76-22 78%!!

Let’s get to my Top 25 Forecasts!

#3 ALABAMA at KENTUCKY

Rush

Pass

Pts

TO’s

ST’s

ALABAMA

205

178

31

1.8

*

KENTUCKY

76

168

16

2.1

MY FORECAST:

Last year UK was held to 35 yds rush (1.8) while UA rushed for 282 (5.8). UK’s last win over Bama was in ‘97. Last week Bama’s defense held Ark’s prolific offense to just 254 yds in their 35-7 win. Tide QB McElroy is avg 235 ypg (68%) with a 7-1 ratio. Bama does have an important SEC West gm vs Ole Miss on deck. UK is facing their second straight Top 10 team but last week was outgained 495-179 in a 41-7 loss to UF. UK has allowed 248 ypg rush (5.4) the last 2 games and Bama has the RB’s to take advantage (Ingram 347, 5.7 and Richardson 280, 7.4).

PHIL’S FORECAST: Alabama 27 KENTUCKY 13

#4 LSU at #18 GEORGIA

Rush

Pass

Pts

TO’s

ST’s

LSU

92

193

27

1.4

GEORGIA

134

293

32

3.2

MY FORECAST:

Georgia is 6-2 vs LSU. Last year UGA LB Gamble returned 2 interceptions 40 and 53 yds for TD’s in UGA’s 52-38 rout of LSU. The visitor is 5-2. Georgia has won the last 3 vs LSU by an average of 44-23 CLICK HERE FOR LAST 12 YEARS MATCHUPS. QB Cox struggled last week hitting 17 of 31 for 242 yds with a 1-2 ratio, one week after earning national acclaim for his 375 yds and 5 TD performance vs Arkansas. LSU’s running game has struggled and they were outrushed 151-30 by Miss St last week (374-263 overall edge MSU) but got a 93 yd PR TD, a 37 yd interception returned for a TD and held MSU out of the endzone on 1st & Goal at the 2 with 1:30 left to escape with a 30-26 win. LSU QB Jefferson has averaged 177 ypg (61%) with a 7-1 ratio. #4 LSU becomes the latest team to be knocked out of the Top 5.

PHIL’S FORECAST: GEORGIA 27 Lsu 20

#5 BOISE ST vs UC DAVIS

Rush

Pass

Pts

TO’s

ST’s

BOISE ST

92

193

27

1.4

UC DAVIS

134

293

32

3.2

MY FORECAST:

Boise State is 3-0 vs UC Davis but the last meeting was a 13-9 win in 1985. UC Davis started the season with a 51-0 loss to Fresno St, a team Boise St beat 51-34. Last year the Aggies gave WAC member San Jose St a scare only losing 13-10. UC Davis is our pick to win the Great West this year CLICK HERE FOR UC DAVIS’ TEAM PAGE FROM THE ACC/BIG EAST REGIONAL MAGAINE and does have their conference opener on deck, so will want to remain healthy. UC Davis does have talent as they only lost to the #4 ranked FCS team Montana 17-10 a week after the Fresno game. Boise St is off an easy win over BG last week as they rolled of 42 unanswered points and finished with a 529-282 yd edge. The Broncos have a bye before a mid-week game vs Tulsa and should get their backups a lot of playing time in the 2H.

PHIL’S FORECAST: Boise St 52  UC Davis 3

#6 VIRGINIA TECH at Duke

Rush

Pass

Pts

TO’s

ST’s

VA TECH

249

170

36

1.5

*****

DUKE

86

215

13

2.8

MY FORECAST:

Last year Duke’s defense forced five 1H TO’s but they were without QB Lewis and RB Harris and lost 14-3. Duke  on the road trailed just 7-3 but VT got a 23 yd interception returned for a TD with 1:23 to clinch it. VT is off big home wins vs #19 Nebraska and #9 Miami and has BC and GT on deck. In VT’s 2 recent games here they have won by a 44-7 avg with a 403-114 yard edge (yes, Duke just 114 yards per game offense!) CLICK HERE FOR 12 YEAR HISTORY. Duke QB Lewis is averaging 196 yards per game (59%) with a 5-2 ratio. CLICK HERE FOR DUKE INDIVIDUAL STATS FOR 2009. VT QB Taylor is averaging 136 yards per game pass (47%) with a 4-1 ratio and has rushed for 85 yds (2.4). RFr Ryan Williams (PS#11)has filled in nicely for the injured Evans and has rushed for 492 yds (5.9) and has 6 rec (20.0).

PHIL’S FORECAST: Virginia Tech 30 DUKE 13

#7 USC at #24 CALIFORNIA

Rush

Pass

Pts

TO’s

ST’s

USC

177

193

26

3.3

CALIFORNIA

154

178

23

1.9

*

MY FORECAST:

Cal has now lost 5 straight to USC including last year’s 17-3 loss in a game where they were only able to collect 165 total yards. In their last visit to rain-soaked Berkeley, USC intercepted a late Cal pass to hold on to the 24-17 win. After averaging 48+ points per game through their first 3, Cal was held to just 3 last week in Eugene as UO ran away with the 39 point win. USC saw the return of frosh phenom QB Barkley (225 yards per game, 60%, 3-1 ratio) last week vs WSU as the Trojans scored 3 TD’s in the first 12 minutes and coasted. Cal cant be as bad as they looked last week can they? I look for the Bears to rebound with a big upset.

PHIL’S FORECAST: CALIFORNIA 23 Usc 20

#8 OKLAHOMA at #17 MIAMI FL

Rush

Pass

Pts

TO’s

ST’s

OKLAHOMA

130

248

30

2.7

MIAMI, FL

101

223

20

3.4

MY FORECAST:

In the last meeting in 2007, UM was mauled, being outgained 411-139 and out-first-downed 25-7. OU is off a bye while UM just played Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. UM looked very impressive up until last week (handcuffed by the Hokie defense with just 209 yards) and are led by QB Harris who is averaging 269 yards per game (60%) with a 5-3 ratio. OU has pitched back-to-back shutouts vs weaker foes but did hold BYU to just 14 pts. QB Jones has filled in nicely for Bradford, averaging 224 yards per game (61%) with a 9-3 ratio. OU has the better defense (#2-21) but the OL edge goes to the ‘Canes as they face a QB in his first road start in the heat/humidity of Florida and need to refocus facing another tough ranked opponent here.

PHIL’S FORECAST: MIAMI, FL 21 Oklahoma 20

#9 OHIO STATE at INDIANA

Rush

Pass

Pts

TO’s

ST’s

OHIO STATE

165

195

29

2.4

*****

INDIANA

50

175

8

2.8

MY FORECAST:

Half of the crowd should be in Scarlet and Gray. OSU has back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 1996 as they swamped Illinois 30-0 in the rain, outgaining the Illini 318-170. QB Pryor (174 yards per game, 57%, 5-4 ratio, 235 rush) had zero 1H pass yds vs Illinois before the rain let up. Leading rusher Herron (ankle) left last week but Saine (PS#2) had OSU’s top performance by an RB this year (81 yards). Indy gave Mich all it could handle allowing the game winning TD pass with 2:29 left as IU had a 467-362 yd edge but settled for 5 FG’s (missed 1) inside UM’s 20. QB Chappell (236 yards per game, 65%, 3-4 ratio) may continue to grow with the emergence of a finally healthy RB Willis (PS#53) who had 152 yard vs UM. IU is #2 Big Ten rush defense allowing 94 yards per game (2.7) which is ahead of the Buckeyes. OSU shows the talent difference they have in this one.

PHIL’S FORECAST: Ohio St 34  INDIANA  6

#10 CINCINNATI at MIAMI, OH

Rush

Pass

Pts

TO’s

ST’s

CINCINNATI

161

275

46

1.1

****

MIAMI, OH

109

275

11

3.4

MY FORECAST:

MU and UC are colliding for the 114th time in the Battle for the Victory Bell (oldest non-conference rivalry west of the Allegheny). UC has won the last 3 by an average of 25 points per game including last year as QB Pike made his first start (241 yards, 3 TD’s). Last week Cincy’s tired defense held on for a 28-20 win over Fresno St. Cincy was outgained 443-357, out-first-downed 25-15 and FSU held the ball for 44 of the 60 minutes! Pike is averaging 306 yards per game (71%) with an 11-2 ratio and WR Gilyard (#8 NCAA) has 32 receptions (13.8) and 6 TD’s. UC’s defense was allowing 271 yards per game prior to last week. Last week Miami lost to Kent St 29-19 despite outgaining the Flashes 552-250 (26-13 FD edge). Frosh QB Dysert (PS#85) made his first start and threw for 337 (58%) with a 1-2 ratio and tallied 107 yards rush (6.3). Prior to last week, Miami had been shutout for 10Q’s until WM’s backups came in.

PHIL’S FORECAST: Cincinnati 52 MIAMI, OH 10

#11 TCU vs SMU

Rush

Pass

Pts

TO’s

ST’s

SMU

0

250

11

2.7

TCU

57

245

37

2.5

**

MY FORECAST:

TCU is coming off a huge win at Clemson and now has their sights set on a MWC Title and possible BCS berth. But first, they face an old SWC rival in the battle for the “Iron Skillet.” CLICK HERE FOR LAST 12 YEARS MATCHUPS. TCU has won 8 of last 9, outscoring SMU 281-71. However, SMU has played the Horned Frogs tougher as of late including an upset in ‘05, which was TCU’s only loss of the year. The Ponies have looked strong and if not for an OT loss (blew big lead) against Wash St, would be 3-0. June Jones’ pass happy offense is averaging 432 yards per game with QB Mitchell avg 326 yards per game (61%) but with a 6-8 ratio. Meanwhile, TCU has used a balanced offense averaging 217 rush/208 pass led by QB Dalton who has thrown for 625 (70%) with a 4-1 ratio. SMU has had 2 weeks to prepare, while TCU has Air Force on deck and this is a classic sandwich game. This should be much closer than last year’s 48-7 final.

PHIL’S FORECAST: TCU 30 Smu 13

#12 HOUSTON at UTEP

Rush

Pass

Pts

TO’s

ST’s

HOUSTON

180

368

45

2.4

UTEP

146

253

27

2.5

MY FORECAST:

UTEP is 1-1 at home vs Houston with both games decided by 3 pts. Houston is in a BCS sandwich (Miss St on deck) and is off their huge come-from-behind 29-28 win over Texas Tech that kept their BCS dreams alive. QB Keenum scored the game-winning TD on a QB draw with :49 left. The Cougars are now ranked #12, their highest ranking since 1991. Keenum continues to put up Heisman-like numbers (387 yards per game, 69%, 8-2 ratio) and RB Beall leads with 211 rush yards (4.6). True frosh RB Sims leads with 21 receptions (14.1) as UH has 5 players with 11+ catches. UTEP was demolished 64-7 at Texas last week, as they were outgained by an amazing 639-53! QB Vittatoe’s struggles continued as he threw 4 interceptions and is averaging 160 yards per game (51%) with a 1-5 ratio. RB Buckram leads with 298 rush yards (6.5). Last year UTEP led 28-9 and 35-23 on the road but lost it late and they have the horses to pull the upset if Vittatoe returns to 2008’s form.

PHIL’S FORECAST: Houston 38 UTEP 35

#13 IOWA vs ARKANSAS ST

Rush

Pass

Pts

TO’s

ST’s

ARKANSAS ST

95

105

7

3.1

IOWA

195

245

34

2.3

*

MY FORECAST:

This first-ever meeting features teams that are between conference games and off contests with the defending league champ. Iowa is off of Penn St with Michigan next. ASU is off Troy with ULM next. Arkansas St was outgained 494-274 (allowed 358 pass) losing 38-9 at BCS foe Nebraska earlier this year. This is Iowa’s first conference sandwich game since ’06. Last week ASU gave up 17 points off turnovers in a 30-27 loss to Troy and they will have to regroup quickly against a strong defense (#9). Iowa proved to be a Big Ten challenger with its performance at Penn St in which they forced 4 turnovers, got a safety, PSU missed a FG and the Hawks returned a blocked punt 36 yds for a TD. Iowa looked past Northern Iowa earlier this year (blocked 2 straight FG’s for win) and could look ahead to next week.

PHIL’S FORECAST: IOWA 34 Arkansas St 6

#15 PENN ST at ILLINOIS

Rush

Pass

Pts

TO’s

ST’s

PENN STATE

155

203

26

2.5

ILLINOIS

161

233

20

2.7

MY FORECAST:

Illinois gave Penn St one of their toughest games last year but the Lions won 38-24. Last week the Lions blew a 10-0 lead over Iowa and lost 4 turnovers, had a sack result in a safety and a punt blocked for a TD. QB Clark (240 yards per game, 60%, 9-6 ratio) struggled as defenses don’t respect the run game (127, 3.8). The beaten up Lions’ D hasn’t allowed a 1H TD (just 3 TY) despite All-Big Ten LB’s Lee and Bowman playing just two series together. Illinois has lost their last 5 vs FBS teams after a 30-0 shutout in a monsoon vs OSU, in which they were outgained 318-170. QB Williams is the Big Ten’s least efficient passer and he has led just one 4Q garbage time TD drive vs MO this year. Williams didn’t look 100% vs the Bucks tossing 3 interceptions and the staff didn’t rule out a QB change after the game. PSU has a big defensive (#11-70) edge and rebounds while Zook’s seat continues to heat up.

PHIL’S FORECAST: Penn St 27 ILLINOIS 20

#16 OREGON vs WASHINGTON ST

Rush

Pass

Pts

TO’s

ST’s

WASH ST

65

165

11

3.4

OREGON

265

260

42

2.6

*

MY FORECAST:

Surprisingly, the Ducks mauled Cal last week holding the Bears to just 3 pts (Cal was avg 48 points per game). Last year Oregon clobbered WSU in Pullman 63-14 as the Ducks had a 507-271 yard edge, which was Coug QB Lobbestael’s first career start (192 yards, 54%, 2-2 ratio). CLICK HERE FOR LAST 12 YEARS MATCHUPS. WSU could be using another first time starter here as frosh QB Tuel took over last week in the loss to USC and played well (130 yards, 64%). Oregon played at an A++ level last week and good thing for them it is only the lowly Cougars this week so a “C” game still grabs a win.

PHIL’S FORECAST: OREGON 38 Wash  St 10

#20 BYU vs UTAH ST

Rush

Pass

Pts

TO’s

ST’s

UTAH ST

135

200

22

3.0

BYU

175

375

46

3.0

MY FORECAST:

These two have averaged 67 points per game in their last 10 meetings (since 1993) with BYU winning 9 straight. The Cougars have won 25 of the last 28 dating back to 1975! Utah St is a decent team but I expect BYU to win out this year and that means a victory at home.

PHIL’S FORECAST: BYU 43 Utah St 20

#21 MISSISSIPPI at VANDERBILT

Rush

Pass

Pts

TO’s

ST’s

MISSISSIPPI

213

133

24

2.7

****

VANDERBILT

133

158

11

2.5

MY FORECAST:

Last year UM had 6 turnovers, but still had a 1st & Goal at the 7 but fumbled into the endzone and lost 23-17, despite a commanding 385-202 yard edge making this a legitimate revenge situation. Ole Miss was held to 248 total yards by South Carolina and QB Snead hit just 7 of 21 for 107 yards. Snead has had a slow start to the season averaging just 164 yards per game (49%) with a 6-2 ratio. UM has an important SEC West game vs Bama on deck making this a sandwich spot. Vandy  outgained Rice 484-282 and the defense grabbed 4 interceptions. UM needs to get their offense back on track and UM’s #8 defense should shut down Vandy’s #98 off.

PHIL’S FORECAST: Mississippi 27 VANDERBILT 10

#22 MICHIGAN at MICHIGAN ST

Rush

Pass

Pts

TO’s

ST’s

MICHIGAN

175

158

29

2.4

*

MICHIGAN ST

146

283

30

2.6

MY FORECAST:

In ‘07 Mich escaped 28-24 here and after UM RB Hart made his infamous “Little Brother” comments. Last year MSU won in Ann Arbor for the first time since 1990, 35-21. CLICK HERE FOR LAST 12 YEARS MATCHUPS. UM had won 6 in a row prior, including the last 3 in E Lansing. Mich survived Indy as true frosh QB Forcier hit his second gm winning TD pass this year with 2:29 left and the Wolves hung on thanks to a controversial interceptions as IU had the yardage edge (467-362). Forcier (168 yards per game, 62%, 7-2 ratio) hasn’t been 100% the last 2 weeks (ribs, shoulder) and this is his first road start. The Wolves’ D has struggled allowing 34 points per game and 479 yards per game vs 2 BCS conference foes this year. MSU had Big Ten title dreams in August but is now 1-3 after last week’s misleading 38-30 loss in which the Spartans scored 2 TD’s in last 2:16. Both QB’s played with Nichol (PS#7) throwing 2 late TD’s but also 2 interceptions and the spot remains in flux. MSU has allowed 300 pass yards per game (69%) with a 10-2 ratio to FBS teams. Call for Michigan to grab an important win on the road and stay unbeaten.

PHIL’S FORECAST: Michigan 28 MICHIGAN ST 24

#25 GEORGIA TECH at MISS ST

Rush

Pass

Pts

TO’s

ST’s

GEORGIA TECH

251

110

28

1.8

MISSISSIPPI STATE

154

195

21

3.0

MY FORECAST:

Miss St is 0-3 vs Georgia Tech and last year’s 38-7 loss by MSU was their worst loss to a non-conference opponent since 1969. MSU hasn’t defeated a non-conference BCS opponent since 2000. Last year GT lost starting QB Nesbitt after only 8 plays but still had 500 yards offense (438 rush) while MSU had 407 with 4 TO’s. Miss St almost upset LSU with a 374-263 yard edge and had a 1st & Goal at the LSU2 with 1:30 left, but LSU held on and escaped with the 30-26 win. Georgia Tech is off a dominating 24-7 win over #18 North Carolina in which they had 317-17 rush (406-154 total yard), 24-8 first down and 42:06-17:54 time of possession edges. Both teams have faced 3 tough defenses the last three weeks, so this could be higher scoring than expected. GT has faced a much tougher schedule (#15-73). The Jackets nab the win in SEC country.

PHIL’S FORECAST: Georgia Tech 30 MISSISSIPPI ST 20

Phil’s Top 25 Forecasts 76-22 78%!!

UPSET SPECIALS:

MARSHALL over East Carolina

BOSTON COLLEGE over Florida St

UCLA over Stanford

KANSAS ST over Iowa St

OHIO over Bowling Green

AIR FORCE over Navy

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  • Ron Harbolt

    Okla Vs. Miami…….Got to disagree with you on this one, I think Okla can win with Long at QB.

  • scott (hartford)

    Does anyone know what the ST's stands for? Is it “stars”?

  • http://www.philsteele.com Phil Steele

    Hey Scott,
    ST means Special Teams
    Thanks
    Phil

  • Scott

    Thanks Phil. I have been buying the magazine for a while now. You +/- seems to be an overwelming strong indicator for each game. Any chance of adding this to your Top 25 breakdown, or does it take the extra days to compile for the Friday blog? I also play fantasy football and your columns are an absolute must every week.

    Thanks again.

  • ad048868

    I think Iowa has a tougher time against Ark State. ASU has decent talent and Iowa could have a little letdown from the Penn St win. I think Iowa still wins but I like ASU to cover. JMO

  • Anonymous

    Phil – you need to put your % vs. the spread. Picking 78% straight up winners for teams ranked in the top 25 doesn’t really tell me much.

  • Brent Quinn

    Phil, I loved your blog on “outright upsets” with the variable point spreads. I would love to see a similar statistical analysis on those games against the spread. For example, I love Miami this week at home and getting points and have found that in big games, with spreads under 7 and the home team as the dog, the home team covers quite regularly (ie. V-Tech last week). While home teams that are large dogs don't do as well, usually because they are that outmatched physically on the field.

    Have you ever looked at something like that?

    Thanks.

  • jwd2963

    I like the new look.

  • Jeff (Florida)

    Hey Phil, any opinion on the Hawaii-La. Tech game tonight?

  • http://www.philsteele.com Phil Steele

    Thanks jwd!

  • http://www.philsteele.com Phil Steele

    On PhilSteele.com you wont see me talk much about gambling. Any prediction on a games is always straight up. Thanks for writing, Phil

  • Name

    Hey, Phil great blog, What do you see happening with the Hawaii vs. La. Tech game tonight.

  • http://www.philsteele.com Phil Steele

    Hey Scott, I wait until Friday for the +/- ratings so I have the most up to date information (injuries etc) in my computer for the final ranking. Im glad you enjoy the fantasy blog. It does have great information in it with my top picks as well as CFFinsider rankings and the collegefootballgeek sneaky plays and waiver wires. Thanks for writing, Phil

  • monkeyneck

    Wasn't really asking for betting purposes. It's just not much of challenge picking Texas to beat UTEP. And since this % is just for teams ranked, which are mostly heavy favorites, it doesn't really say anything. Know what I'm saying? Don't get me wrong, I lovee the site and I'm not complaining, I just don't see the point of putting that % on there every week.

  • David Stock

    Phil, what would persuade you to pick UCLA over a Stanford team with such a strong defensive front? Can't imagine them letting Craft do what he did last yr.
    Hope you're right, but I see it about 20-3 for the home team in a revenge game.

  • jeffstahl

    Phil, Ohio St. gave back a lot of their tickets this year for the Indiana game (they usually get 10,000, only got 4,000 this year. IU student section is sold out, still another 3500 tickets remaining, but not expected to be the OSU contingent from years past, I'd say 10-15K tops this year. I know it's a small correction, just thought you should know, thanks.

  • Anonymous

    David, as much as I like Stanford this year (I believe they are a bowl team), a lot of people I talk to underestimate how good UCLA is and how good of a job Neuheisel is doing. If you look at Phil’s PS#’s for the defensive roster, they are very strong and were good enough to win on the road at Tennesee.

    UCLA is Stanford’s toughest opponent to date. With Neuheisel given two weeks to prepare, I like UCLA’s chances to pull the upset, too.

  • Anonymous

    Phil what are your thoughts on FSU. I see you have them losing to BC this week and I have to admit I am just frusterated with this team. Seems to me they are talented but just young and cant stay on track each week – you get the beat down of BYU followed by the let down at USF.

  • danny grugan

    phil do you think penn state has the talent to still compete for a big 10 championship? and do you think the coach's reluctance to use desinged runs for clark have slowed the offense? even things such as more shotgun, rolling the pocket, and more screens are all things that i think they could be doing do help this young inexperienced offensive line. love reading the website and magazine! keep it up
    danny grugan in philadelphia

  • Junior

    Do you only post comments for people who agree with you? I feel if you rely less on computer and more on wit you would not be so off in the OK-Miami game and USC-CAL. I see Oklahoma blowin out Miami and USC pounding CAL. Both games wont even be close.

  • David Stock

    Tony, you have two quality defensive teams here. But Stanford has much better offensive personnel. They also have the revenge motive, as well as the best KO return man in the country against a team that has covered KOs very poorly.
    David

  • donseebold

    Phil…I see your love for FSU has waned since August…FM QB Shinski though 25yo will struggle w/ D speed. Iowa ranked behind PS…? Any thoughts on ND-Wash? Keep up the great work….I love Thursdays! Seebs

  • http://www.philsteele.com Phil Steele

    Interesting. Thanks for pointing that out, Phil

  • tonyambrosini

    I think characterizing Stanford's offensive personnel as “much better” than UCLA's is an overstatement. It's also hard for revenge to matter much when that motive has not worked in the four years prior; UCLA's teams were average in that span, except for the one big year in '06.

    Still, Stanford is getting better each year and Harbaugh is doing good things there. But Neuheisel has just as much talent and experience on the roster. With everything looking close across the board, I'll take the coach that had two weeks to get ready and the team that beat Tennessee (who also wanted revenge) on the road.

  • fullkelly

    Phil, Great call on UTEP!

  • fullkelly

    Phil, Great call on UTEP!