Phil’s Week 9 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 127-33 79% 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 10 out of 21 times with BOTH pulling the upset last week (UNLV and FAU). Combined the first eight weeks record is 140-47 75%!!
Let’s get to my Top 25 Forecasts!
#1 FLORIDA vs GEORGIA
At Jacksonville. Florida is 9-2 in this series but the team off a bye is 13-1 since 1993 (Florida had bye advantage 13 times since 1993). This year Georgia is off a bye and Richt is 10-2 off a regular season bye. Last year’s 49-10 loss was the worst in Richt’s career as a head coach. Georgia actually had a 398-373 yard edge in the game as Florida scored 21 points off of four Georgia turnovers in the 2nd half. Florida is off close calls versus Arkansas and Mississippi St. Last week Florida got its first win in Starkville since 1985 (29-19) and outgained Miss St 376-237 with the defense allowing just 2 FG’s but Tebow threw 2 interceptions which were returned for touchdowns to keep the score close. Georgia’s running game (108 yards per game, 3.6) and defense (still #29) have come under fire this year, but Florida is strong in both of those areas (258 rush yards per game, 5.7 and #2 defense). Two years ago, Richt’s team had the famous celebration penalty and to retaliate Meyer ran up the score last year. The Gators should be fully focused and get a solid win here.
PHIL’S FORECAST: † Florida 34 Georgia 13
#3 TEXAS AT #13 OKLAHOMA ST
Texas has won 11 straight versus Oklahoma St but the Cowboys have had the lead at half time in 4 of the last 6 only to have the Horns mount a huge 2nd half comeback. Oklahoma St beat Baylor last week and despite playing without 2 of its stars for most of the season are 6-1. QB Robinson is averaging 221 ypg (65%) with a 12-3 ratio. Texas has won 11 straight games including Mizzou last week, 41-7 with 400-173 yard and 26-11 first down edges, blasting them in a bid to impress the pollsters. QB McCoy is averaging 258 yards per game (72%) with a 14-8 ratio. Texas is playing in their 3rd straight away game and under Gundy OSU is 21-9. Oklahoma St is ranked #7 in our pass efficiency def allowing 253 yards per game (55%) with a 9-8 ratio while Texas comes in at #17 (194 yards per game, 53%, 8-12). Both offenses are potent (Texas #2, Oklahoma St #21) but the Horns have the better defense (#1-22) and are ranked #1 in the nation in rush defense (41 yards per game, 1.5). This game will ultimately decide the Big 12 South but Texas also has bigger plans ahead as the Cowboys will struggle even at Boone Pickens versus their toughest foe faced this year.
PHIL’S FORECAST: Texas 31 OKLAHOMA ST 20
#4 USC AT #10 OREGON
The de facto Pac-10 championship game. USC comes into Eugene battle tested on the road in ‘09 (at Ohio St, Washington, Cal and Notre Dame), but was outgained at home last week versus the Beavers (482-429). Oregon was aided by some special teams help early on versus Washington last week in the 24 point win as the final stats (Washington 23-19 FD edge) were closer than the final score. In their last visit to Oregon (‘07), USC was led by then-backup Mark Sanchez who was making his first career start. Last year USC scored 41 unanswered points to close out their blowout of Oregon. USC should lay the groundwork for an 8th straight conference title. USC is capable of winning in one of the nation’s most hostile stadiums.
PHIL’S FORECAST: Usc 27 OREGON 20
#5 CINCINNATI AT SYRACUSE
Cincinnati has won the last 4 meetings by an average of 15 points per game. Last year Cincinnati held Syracuse to -21 yards in the first quarter and no first downs the first 22:00 and allowed a 4th quarter garbage TD, 30-10. In the last trip here Cincinnati got a TD with 1:02 left for the 52-31 win. The Cats have outgained Syracuse by 168 yards per game the last 3. Last week #5 Cincinnati dominated Louisville 41-10 behind #2 QB Collaros (check status on Pike’s availability this week) for their first 7-0 start since 1954. The defense has the 4th most interceptions in NCAA (Syracuse has thrown 10) and is #1 NCAA in tackles for loss with 10.4 per game. Last week behind RB Carter’s 170 rush yards (5.7) and 3 TD’s, Syracuse defeated Akron, 28-14. QB Paulus is averaging 185 yards per game (65%) with a 9-10 ratio. Cincinnati has all the edges here (offense #13-89, defense #27-79) while this will feature 2 of the top special teams units (Cincinnati #9-20). Cincinnati is 14-3 on the road under Kelly and the #5 Cats extend their win streak.
PHIL’S FORECAST: Cincinnati 41 SYRACUSE 17
#6 BOISE ST vs SAN JOSE ST
|SAN JOSE ST||72||120||9||2.9||–|
Boise is 9-0 versus San Jose St winning by 27 points per game including 36 points per game in the 5 games played in Boise! Boise St hasn’t played a home game versus an FBS team since Sept 12th. Running the ball and stopping the run have been trouble spots this year for the Spartans. San Jose St is #119 in the NCAA in rush offense (78 yards per game) and #118 in rush defense (260 yards per game) being outrushed by 182 yards per game. Boise St has the edge on offense (#22-102), defense (#21-95) and special teams (#8-113). QB Moore is averaging 232 yards per game (68%) with a terrific 21-2 ratio and is fresh off a career-high 5 TD pass outing last week. He is also #1 in the NCAA in pass efficiency (172.2). WR’s Pettis (36 receptions, 13.6, 8 TD’s) and Young (39 receptions, 12.2, 7 TD’s) are a formidable receiving duo while RB Avery has 586 yards (5.9) and headlines a strong running game. Boise is 62-4 all-time versus the WAC and has its eyes on the prize of a possible BCS bowl and won’t let up here.
PHIL’S FORECAST: BOISE ST 45 San Jose St 10
#7 IOWA vs INDIANA
Indiana is 3-8 winning 2 of the last 3 but Iowa rebounded last year with a 45-9 win. The Hawks drove 70 yards in 10 plays for a 7 yard TD pass on 4th and goal with no time left vs Mich St as they moved to 8-0 for the first time in program history. Hawks again started slowly versus Michigan St with 1 FG in the first seven possessions but had 190 of their 276 yards in the last 3 drives with erratic Stanzi (214 yards per game, 57%, 12-8 ratio) leading the way (but he is at his best at END of game). The Hawks’ D is allowing 21 points per game at home versus 8 points per game on the road. Indy led 28-3 in the 2nd quarter before allowing Northwestern a record setting comeback as the Cats kicked the game winning 19 yard FG with :21 left. The Hoosiers were stopped on downs at the 1 and 33 and had a punt blocked for a safety but were out-firstdowned 29-13 and outgained 474-305. Iowa has the edges all around but it’s a flat spot for the Birds coming off back-to-back emotional come-from-behind wins.
PHIL’S FORECAST: IOWA 30 Indiana 13
#8 TCU versus UNLV
Homecoming. TCU took a major step towards a BCS bid with a dominating 38-7 win last week at BYU. The Frogs will now be keeping a close eye on Boise St. TCU as usual has used a suffocating defense (#11), giving up 251 yards per game, but this year the offense has been explosive averaging 428 yards per game. QB Dalton is averaging 209 yards per game (64%) with an 11-3 ratio. UNLV also got a big win as they broke their 20 game conference road losing streak last week against lowly New Mexico, 34-17. Head Coach Sanford has been feeling the heat as the Rebels have lost a couple of games where they have outplayed their opponent. TCU is 6-1 versus the Rebs. The Frogs will be in letdown mode after last week. While TCU is clearly the better squad and does have motivation for a big win, they’re biggest offensive outburst versus an FBS squad was 44 points this year and UNLV is a team that led Oregon St 21-20 and Oregon St threw an incomplete pass that had no chance late in the game on 3rd and 28 but a pass interference away from the play gave them a FD and a chance for the game winning FG in the final seconds. Look for the Rebels to make a game of this for awhile.
PHIL’S FORECAST TCU 37 UNLV 16
#9 LSU vs TULANE
Last year, Tulane was held to a season-low 163 yards and scored their only TD on a 43 yard interception return in the 4th quarter, but LSU only won 35-10. Tulane was also playing without RB Anderson and WR Williams their two best players who were both out the year at the time. LSU is 17-0 versus their instate foe. The teams have played each year since 2006 but LSU paid Tulane $700,000 to cancel the rest of their 10 game contract (thru 2015). LSU is in an Auburn/Bama sandwich. Tulane made a QB switch prior to last week and redshirt frosh Ryan Griffin (PS#45, 1st start) was 21-33 for 158 yards and an 0-1 ratio and fumbled twice in their 43-6 (-21) road loss at Southern Miss. They have now lost 3 in a row. LSU is off a dominating 31-10 win over Auburn, as they held Auburn to 193 yards and Auburn scored a TD on the last play. They are allowing just 304 yards per game and rank #12 in the NCAA allowing 13.9 points per game. LSU has large edges across the board (#52-111 offense, #8-114 defense and #6-119 special teams), and while this is Tulane’s last chance (in the near future) against the mighty Tigers, LSU should roll even with a big SEC game on deck.
PHIL’S FORECAST: LSU 41 Tulane 6
#11 GEORGIA TECH AT VANDERBILT
These 2 teams last met in ‘03 when Georgia Tech defeated Vandy 24-17 in overtime. Georgia Tech has won 10 of the last 11 (1 tie) with Vandy’s last win in 1941. These two coaches have faced off 8 times with Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson 6-2 versus Bobby Johnson going back to their FCS days at Georgia Southern and Furman. Paul’s Navy team defeated Bobby’s Vanderbilt team twice in ‘03 and ‘04. Bobby is familiar with the option and ran it at Furman. Vanderbilt was upset 16-13 in OT by Army’s option earlier this year and allowed 222 rush yards (3.9) but just 269 total yards. This is Georgia Tech’s 4th road game in 5 weeks and Georgia Tech is in an ACC sandwich off a 34-9 win over Virginia (first win in Charlottesville S/’90) with Wake on deck. Vanderbilt is off a 14-10 loss to South Carolina, and a loss here will eliminate them from the bowls. Both faced Mississippi St and were outgained, but Georgia Tech won by 11 while Vandy lost by 12. Vanderbilt is only averaging 7.8 points per game and 235 yards per game versus BCS foes this year and Georgia Tech should get a comfortable win.
PHIL’S FORECAST: Georgia Tech 34 VANDERBILT 14
#12 PENN STATE AT NORTHWESTERN
The Lions are 9-3 versus Northwestern but 2-2 the last 4. The last 4 in Evanston have been decided by 5 points per game. The Lions won in Ann Arbor for the first time since ’96, 35-10, as they outgained the Wolves 396-180 after the 1st drive and forced 4 Michigan turnovers. QB Clark (236 yards per game, 62%, 17-7 ratio) is the Big Ten’s most efficient passer with RB Royster (741 yards, 5.7) leading the league in rush yards. The Lions are #1 in NCAA scoring defense (8.9 points per game) and allowed their 1st first half TD versus Michigan. The Cardiac Cats are back as they set a school record rallying from a 28-3 2Q deficit to hit the game winning 19 yard FG with :21 left as they had 29-13 first down and 474-305 yard edges. Big Ten’s total offense leader QB Kafka (258 yards per game, 66%, 9-7 ratio) has accounted for 82.4% of the team’s yards the last 4 while the RB’s have struggled. Northwestern rallied despite missing its top 3 DB’s at times last week. Penn St is in a huge Michigan/Ohio St sandwich but their #6 defense will take care of business versus a shaky Northwestern offensive line.
PHIL’S FORECAST: Penn St 27 NORTHWESTERN 10
#14 VIRGINIA TECH vs NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina is 0-5 in the series since the Hokies joined the ACC. Last year North Carolina lost 20-17. North Carolina could’ve won the game as they led 17-3 but QB Yates was injured and backup Paulus hit just 3 of 8 for 23 yards. Yates is averaging 147 yards per game (59%) with a 7-8 ratio. RB Draughn has rushed for 481 yards (4.3) and has 20 receptions (6.0). Virginia Tech has a solid offensive edge (#24-101). QB Taylor is averaging 165 yards per game (58%) with a 9-3 ratio. RB Williams has 834 rush yards (6.0) and has won the ACC Rookie Player of the Week 5 times this year including back-to-back weeks twice. This is North Carolina’s 2nd straight Thursday Night game on national TV and they are still looking for their first ACC win this year after blowing a 24-6 3rd quarter lead last week versus FSU. Virginia Tech is 17-6 on Thursday’s but needs to rebound after seeing their National Title hopes disappear with their loss at Georgia Tech. The Hokies are at their absolute best when they are at home in Blacksburg on a Thursday night.
PHIL’S FORECAST: Virginia Tech 27 North Carolina 3
#15 HOUSTON vs SOUTHERN MISS
Last met in 2006 CUSA Title game, a 34-20 home win for Houston. Three of the last 4 in this series have been decided by 6 points or less. The home team is 4-0 and Houston is 8-0 at home under Sumlin. Southern Miss has a bye on deck while Houston travels to Tulsa. The Cougs come in ranked #15, off a 38-15 win over SMU. They are #3 in the NCAA averaging 40.4 points per game, led by QB Keenum who is averaging 391 yards per game (70%) with a 20-4 ratio and is #13 in pass efficiency. RB Beall provides a solid ground attack with 437 yards (4.8). WR Cleveland leads with 49 receptions (10.1). Southern Miss rolled Tulane last week as QB Young had his best outing in his 3rd start. He is averaging 170 yards per game (68%) with a 3-1 ratio as a starter. RB Fletcher leads with 598 yards (4.7). WR Brown is returning to form and has 9 receptions (13.7) and 3 TD’s the last 2 weeks. This is a critical CUSA game for both teams, so I expect it to follow the series trend and come down to the wire.
PHIL’S FORECAST: HOUSTON 35 Southern Miss 34
#17 OHIO STATE vs NEW MEXICO STATE
|N MEX ST||15||65||0||3.6||–|
First meeting. Ohio St has beaten all three WAC foes by an average of 42-9 (last: San Jose St in ‘02). New Mexico St has dropped 18 straight to BCS teams by an average of 44-12. Rare trip for the Ags who are 0-7 in the eastern time zone since ‘88 (average loss by 34 points per game). Ohio St once again started slowly leading Minnesota just 7-0 at the half as they missed a 30 yard FG and Pryor threw an interception near the goal line. The flood gates opened in the second half, however, as Minny committed 4 turnovers including muffing the opening kickoff which set the Bucks up for 24 points in a 38-7 win. Lightning rod QB Pryor (176 yards per game, 55%, 12-9 ratio, 471 rush yards) had his best all around game with 343 yards and 3 TD’s as RB Saine (concussion) left in the 2nd quarter. Bucks have allowed 3 non-garbage time TD drives in the last 6. The Aggies are off a 34-3 loss to Fresno in which they missed 2 FG’s and gave up an interception return TD and an 88 yard punt return TD but they actually outrushed the Bulldogs (and NCAA’s leading rusher Mathews) 238-189! I have a feeling that New Mexico St may have the lowest offensive production of any FBS team this season but check out my QB, RB, WR and Defenses of the Week on Thursday to confirm that.
PHIL’S FORECAST: OHIO ST 49 New Mexico St 0
#18 MIAMI, FL AT WAKE FOREST
Miami is 3-0 in the series winning by an average of 38-11. Last year Miami allowed their only TD on the opening drive and Wake Forest led 10-3 at the half with a 184-110 yard edge but Miami held Wake to 74 2nd half yards (16-10). Last time here Wake Forest led 17-14 in the 2Q before allowing 33 unanswered points (47-17). QB Skinner is averaging 244 yards per game (65%) with a 16-9 ratio. Miami has a solid edge on both sides of the ball (offense #17-63, defense #20-66). QB Harris is averaging 253 yards per game (65%) with a 13-10 ratio. Wake is 4-4 and needs 2 more wins to become bowl eligible but has a tough schedule ahead of them (UM, at GT, FSU and at Duke). With their OT loss last week versus Clemson, Miami probably diminished its chances of a berth in the ACC Champ game but should bounce back here.
PHIL’S FORECAST: Miami 34 WAKE FOREST 17
#19 UTAH vs WYOMING
While they are 6-1, the Utes have not been as impressive as their record. Last week they were outgained 318-267 by Air Force but won in OT. Two games ago, they had a 23-14 first down deficit but still won. Meanwhile, Wyoming has been a bit of a surprise this year going 4-3 under 1st year Head Coach Christensen. True frosh QB Carta-Samuels is averaging 191 yards per game (60%) with a 6-2 ratio in his 4 starts but really struggled versus Air Force. The Utes have not missed a beat without 1st Team MWC RB Asiata (out for year) as his replacement, Wide, has 4 consecutive 100 yard games. QB Cain continues to have a solid season averaging 215 yards per game (63%) with an 11-5 ratio. While the Pokes are off a bye, Utah is 12-4 in this series. The Ute defense might be the story here as the Wyoming offense has been shutout in 2 of their 3 road games this year.
PHIL’S FORECAST: UTAH 27 Wyoming 10
#20 WEST VIRGINIA AT USF
Friday, October 30th. Last year USF was in the cold of West Virginia, in Pat White’s final home game and was stopped on downs at the WV16 on an incomplete pass that looked like pass interference in the endzone and lost 13-7. USF has pulled the outright upset twice and West Virginia has been ranked in 3 of 4. Last week West Virginia held off an emotional Connecticut squad 28-24 despite being outgained 501-387. QB Brown started despite a concussion but wasn’t his efficient self. He is averaging 195 yards per game (67%) with a 9-6 ratio. RB Devine is averaging 130 yards per game (6.7) to rank #3 in the NCAA (90 yards, 5.3 last year). The Bulls have held the potent West Virginia run attack to 153 yards per game the last 3 years and are allowing 132 rush yards per game (3.9) this year. Last week USF lost to Pitt 41-14 but hurt themselves with penalties and 3 interceptions. Redshirt frosh QB Daniels is averaging 123 yards per game (53%) with a 7-6 ratio and leads all rushers with 415 yards (5.3) making up 48% of the offense. This is, by far, the most athletic QB West Virginia will face and the Bulls have outstanding speed across the board and USF has shut down their offense in their recent meetings. West Virginia is allowing 236 yards per game pass (52%) with a 12-12 ratio. These 2 teams have combined to score an average of 35 points per game in their 4 matchups. The Bulls faithful will be in full force and USF will rebound well.
PHIL’S FORECAST: USF 27 West Virginia 20
#21 SOUTH CAROLINA AT TENNESSEE
Since 2000, the average margin of victory in this series is 7 points per game. South Carolina is just 2-14 in the series but won last year 27-6, their 1st win over Tennessee in Columbia since 1992. Former Tennessee Head Coach Fulmer was forced to resign a few days later. Spurrier is 11-7 all-time versus the Vols. New Tennessee Head Coah Kiffin hired his brother-in-law David Reaves away from South Carolina last year which set off ugly accusations of Reaves contacting South Carolina recruits and telling recruits that Spurrier was going to retire after 1 more year. Last time here Tennessee led 21-0 at half-time and was outgained 338-62 in the 2nd half but survived and won in overtime. Tennessee is off a heartbreaking 12-10 loss to #2 Bama, their bitter rival in which they had a 341-256 yard edge but had 2 blocked FG’s in the 4th quarter. South Carolina escaped with a 14-10 win over Vanderbilt despite a 431-273 yard edge and QB Garcia had his second 300 yard pass gm (312, 2 TD). In the last 3 games, Tennessee QB Crompton is averaging 278 yards per game (58%) with a 7-2 ratio. RB Hardesty (720, 5.0) should find room to run versus a South Carolina defense allowing 148 rush yards per game (4.0) (195 yards per game the last 4). This one goes to the wire.
PHIL’S FORECAST: TENNESSEE 16 South Carolina 13
#22 OKLAHOMA vs KANSAS STATE
Homecoming. Stoops was a co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs coach under Bill Snyder at Kansas St from 1989-’95 and he is 5-1 versus his former boss. Oklahoma smacked Kansas last week 35-13 and despite their 4-3 mark the losses are by a combined 5 points. With Bradford opting for surgery and the NFL Draft, QB Jones (PS#3, 4 starts this year averaging 195 yards per game, 61%, 13-6 ratio) will be at the helm of this Sooner offense for the next 3+ seasons. Kansas St handcuffed Colorado last week (allowed just 244 yards, and 90 of them on a late drive) and is the only Big 12 North team with fewer than 2 conference losses. QB Gregory (70 yards per game, 62%, 3-1 ratio) started last week playing the entire game and may have solidified the spot. Oklahoma is riding a 27 game home winning streak and has allowed just 7 points at home this year, outgaining foes on average 560-194 in Norman. Both schools like to run the ball (Oklahoma 144 yards per game, 3.8; Kansas St 187 yards per game, 4.2) but Oklahoma is better at stopping the rush (Oklahoma 70 yards per game, 2.2; Kansas St 101 yards per game, 3.4).
PHIL’S FORECAST: OKLAHOMA 34 Kansas St 10
#24 MISSISSIPPI AT AUBURN
Last year Auburn QB (now WR) Burns hit 27 of 43 for 319 yards but threw 3 interceptions (career high yards and completions) and Auburn was held to 80 yards in the 1st half in a 17-7 loss. Auburn’s 7 points were the fewest versus Ole Miss since ’65. Ole Miss is off a 30-17 win over Head Coach Nutt’s former team, Arkansas and the Rebels dominated more than the final indicates with 31-13 first down and 553-299 yard edges. Ole Miss QB Snead is only averaging 206 yards per game (53%) with a 14-11 ratio, but has averaged 286 yards per game (67%) with a 5-2 ratio in the last two (career high 332 yards last week). Auburn started out 5-0 but now has lost the last 3 games by an average of 16.3 points per game. Auburn was dominated by rival LSU last week even more than the final indicates as Auburn scored a garbage TD with :03 left and LSU held them to 194 total yards. Auburn’s depth issues have been evident in SEC play and Ole Miss’ #13 defense will control this game.
PHIL’S FORECAST: Mississippi 27 AUBURN 17
#25 NOTRE DAME vs WASHINGTON STATE
San Antonio. This game will be played in the Alamodome. Notre Dame won 29-26 in overtime in their only meeting versus Washington St (‘03 opener). Notre Dame is 5-0 in regular season neutral site games and returned to their winning ways versus Boston College a week ago in yet another thriller (last 6 decided by a TD or less) as WR Tate stepped up again with an 11 reception (11.6), 2 TD performance. Notre Dame has now won 8 straight non-USC Pac-10 games including their overtime win versus Washington St rival Washington a few weeks back. The Cougars have numerous injuries on both sides of the ball, and have been virtually non-competitive over the past 2 seasons but showed some life last week with 299 yards at the half vs Cal behind frosh QB Tuel.
PHIL’S FORECAST: Notre Dame 49 Wash St 21
Colorado over Missouri