Week 13 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 195-51 79.3% 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 16 out of 32 times. Combined the first eleven week record is 211-67 75.9%!!
#1 FLORIDA VS FLORIDA STATE
Last year the Seminoles allowed 45 points in Tallahassee (most in Bowden era) and Florida had a 502-242 yard edge. Florida has won 5 in a row in the rivalry winning the last 2 by an average of 45-13. FSU clinched a bowl last week (lead NCAA with 28 consecutive bowl trips) with their 29-26 win over Maryland in longtime defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews’ final home game. FSU quarterback EJ Manuel (PS#4) has started the last two weeks in place of Christian Ponder and last week hit 17 of 27 for 206 yards with 3 interceptions (0 TD), but led the come-from-behind game winning TD drive with :32 left. This is Tebow’s home finale and last week he rushed for 102 yards and passed for 215 and sat out the 2nd half in a 62-3 win over FIU. Florida’s #2 defense held FIU to just 189 yards and 11 first downs. FSU ranks #83 on defense and allows 194 rush yards per game (5.1 ypc). The Gators have the SEC Title game on deck but will want to send Tebow out in style in his Swamp finale.
PHIL’S FORECAST: FLORIDA 44 Florida St 17
#2 ALABAMA AT AUBURN
Last year Alabama outgained Auburn 412-170 in a 36-0 win ending a 6 game losing streak in the Iron Bowl. It was the most lopsided Iron Bowl since ‘62 (38-0) Auburn lost 3 fumbles and Tuberville resigned following the loss. Over the last 8 years, (including 6 wins) the Tigers have been outgained by the Crismon Tide by 268 total yards. Auburn had the benefit of a bye last week, but Bama is off an easy 45-0 win over FCS Chattanooga in which super running back Mark Ingram (1,399 yards, 6.8 yards per carry) rushed for 102 yards and 2 TD’s in little more than 1Q and rested along with many of the other starters as the Tide led 35-0 at the half. Auburn running back Tate has 1,209 yards (5.4 ypc) in a battle of 2 of the best running backs in the SEC. Bama’s #3 defense is only allowing 70.4 rushing yards per game (2.4) while Auburn’s #44 defense is allowing 170 rushing yards per game (4.4). Auburn is particularly thin at linebacker and defensive back, which has caused problems late in games. Bama has the SEC Title game on deck and might be in look ahead mode, so the Tigers should keep it relatively close.
PHIL’S FORECAST: Alabama 30 AUBURN 20
#3 TEXAS AT TEXAS A&M
PHIL’S FORECAST: CLICK HERE at 12:00 EST on Thursday
#4 TCU VS NEW MEXICO
In the last two years vs TCU, Lobo quarterback Donovan Porterie has been KO’d and TCU has won by a 63-3 margin with an average yard edge of 356-152. In 4 MWC meetings, TCU has dominated winning by an average of 35-13. After opening last season vs New Mexico (earliest conference opener ever), The Horned Frogs and Lobos signed a contract to play each other in season finales. The Frogs were slow out of the gate vs Wyoming last week. They allowed the Pokes to hang around until the 2nd quarter before scoring 35 unanswered points in a 45-10 win. TCU finished with a 523-178 yard edge but did have 4 turnovers. Running back Joseph Turner (688 yards, 5.3 ypc) was banged up early and Matthew Tucker (605 yards, 6.5 ypc) finished with a career high 134 yards on the ground. New Mexico comes in flying high off their 1st win of the season. After knocking 2 FG’s and a PAT off the upright 2 weeks ago, Aho nailed 2 4th quarter FG’s including the game-winning 27 yarder with :12 left. New Mexico almost tripled their rush average putting up 270 yards (7.7 ypc) including 130 in the 4th quarter and finished with a 467-370 total yard edge. TCU has won their last four home finales by an average of 45-15. The Frogs are playing for the outright MWC Title and a BCS berth and while the Lobos have finally found their confidence, they will be quickly struck down by the high flying Frogs.
PHIL’S FORECAST: TCU 58 New Mexico 3
#5 CINCINNATI VS ILLINOIS
1st meeting. Cincinnati is 17-0 hosting non-conference foes and Illinois is 1-5 vs non-conference BCS teams. Zook used the bye as quazi-bowl practices, but did say that they won’t play for 2010 by stacking the lineup with younger players the last 2 games. Quarterback Juice Williams (did not play vs Northwestern) will start and looks to become the 1st Illini with 10,000 total yards. Illinois is #72 in pass efficiency defense (240 yards, 60%, 11-4 ratio) with only 1 NCAA team (UNLV-3) having fewer interceptions. Cincinnati has a huge game vs Pittsburgh on deck and a win there would give them a 2nd straight Big East champ/BCS bowl. The Bearcats spent the bye working on the run game on both sides. Cincinnati has averaged 189 yards per game (5.6 ypc) under the more mobile quarterback Zach Collaros (332 rush yards) vs 147 yards per game (5.2 ypc) with better passer Tony Pike (236 yards per game, 64%, 17-3 ratio) who is expected to get the call here. Cincinnati is allowing 133 rush yards per game (3.5 ypc) including 202 yards per game (4.8 ypc) last two games vs UConn and West Virginia (spread like Illinois). Cincinnati has big edges on offense (#10-53) and special teams (#28-107). This game could be close with the lookahead being the biggest factor for the Bearcats.
PHIL’S FORECAST: CINCINNATI 37 Illinois 20
#6 BOISE ST VS NEVADA
Boise St is 9-0 with an average margin of victory of 31 points per game. However, the last two games have been decided by one score (2 and 7 points) after the previous 7 were decided by 38.5 points per game (closest game being a 31 point decision). These two are the lone unbeatens in the WAC. Last time here (2007), these two combined for 1,266 yards and 136 points in 4 OT’s in a 69-67 Bronco victory which set the record for most points in an NCAA IA game since 1937 when official record keeping began. Since October, Nevada has rushed for 3,565 yards (446 yards per game) with 43 TD while racking up 4,785 total yards (598 yards per game) and last week became the 1st team in NCAA history to have 3 players top 1,000 yards rushing in 1 season (Taua 1,185 yards, 8.0 ypc; Kaepernick 1,129, 8.6; Lippincott 1,028, 7.7)! On the flip side, Boise is #1 in the WAC in scoring defense (17.3 points per game), total defense (302 yards per game) and pass defense (187 yards per game). The Broncos are also #9 in the NCAA in total offense (449 yards per game) and lead the WAC in scoring offense (44.4 points per game) led by the NCAA’s most efficient passer QB Kellen Moore who is averaging 253 yards per game (66%) with a 33-3 ratio. He’s thrown at least 3 TD passes in six of his last seven and will look to exploit Nevada’s #119 NCAA rated pass defense (286 yards per game) with wide receiver’s Austin Pettis (62 receptions, 13.7 ypc) and Titus Young (60 receptions, 13.5 ypc). This is Nevada’s season finale and the Pack is playing its 3rd away game in 4 weeks while this is the Broncos’ final “true” hurdle in keeping its BCS hopes alive with New Mexico St on deck.
PHIL’S FORECAST: BOISE ST 44 Nevada 30
#7 GEORGIA TECH VS GEORGIA
Georgia had won 7 in a row but last year blew a 28-12 halftime lead and Georgia Tech rushed for 409 yards in a 45-42 road upset. This is the first time that Georgia Tech has been favored in this rivalry since 2001. Georgia is off a 31-24 loss to Kentucky in which they had a 487-260 yard edge but a 4-0 turnover deficit set up 2 Kentucky TD’s in the 2nd half. Georgia quarterback Joe Cox threw 3 interceptions last week and is averaging 214 yards per game (56%) with a 21-14 ratio. Super wide receiver AJ Green (47 receptions, 16.0 ypc) missed the last game with a shoulder injury and is questionable this week but head coach Richt is hopeful that he will play. Georgia Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt is averaging 129 pass yards per game (46%) with an 8-4 ratio and has 847 rush yards (3.9 ypc). Running back Jonathan Dwyer has 1,203 rush yards (6.6 ypc). The Yellow Jackets are off a bye but have the ACC Championship game on deck. Georgia’s much-maligned defense is only allowing 121 rush yards per game (3.3 ypc) and actually ranks above Georgia Tech in our rankings (#28-39). The Ramblin’ Wreck have the edge on offense (#4-31), but the Bulldogs have a large edge on special teams (#7-78). UGA has put itself in a must-win situation to reach a decent bowl, and Georgia Tech is in a lookahead situation.
PHIL’S FORECAST: GEORGIA TECH 31 Georgia 24
#8 PITTSBURGH AT WEST VIRGINIA
This year will be the 102nd meeting of “The Backyard Brawl” (every year since 1943). Pitt spoiled #2 West Virginia’s National Title hopes here in 2007, which has been called the biggest upset in Pitt and arguably Big East history 13-9. Last year, Pittsburgh trailed 15-7 in the 4th quarter and scored twice, including a 1 yard TD run with :52 left. The Mountaineers gave #5 Cincinnati a scare up 14-7 before losing 24-21 as both quarterback Jarrett Brown and running back Noel Devine were playing thru ankle injuries. Brown is averaging 185 yards per game (65%) with a 12-8 ratio and running back Devine is averaging 110 rush yards per game (5.7 yards per carry, 51 ypg, 3.6 ypc, last three). The defense is allowing 121 rush yards per game (3.1 ypc) but 209 rush yards per game (5.7 ypc) the last two weeks to Louisville and Cincinnati. Pittsburgh has their Big East showdown on deck against Cincinnati and are off a bye after a 27-22 win over Notre Dame 2 weeks ago. Pittsburgh led 27-9 with 12:44 left and forced a fumble to seal the victory. Quarterback Bill Stull is averaging 212 yards per game (66%) with an 18-4 ratio and running back Dion Lewis is averaging 129 rush yards per game (5.8 ypc). The Panther defense leads the NCAA with 41 sacks and allows just 101 rush yards per game (3.1 ypc) including 129 vs Navy, 106 Connecticut, 38 Rutgers, and 66 Notre Dame. Pitt has the offense (#23-46) and defense (#19-27) edges while the special teams edge goes to West Virginia (#39-66). While it is tough to play at night in Morgantown, look for Pittsburgh to win their 3rd straight against the Mountaineers for the 1st time since ‘80-’82.
PHIL’S FORECAST: Pittsburgh 26 W VIRGINIA 23
#11 OKLAHOMA ST AT OKLAHOMA
This is the Bedlam rivalry. Gundy was 0-4 vs Oklahoma as OSU’s starting quarterback from 1986-‘89 and 0-8 combined as QB/Head Coach. Last year Oklahoma was on the road and needed an impressive win to get votes and into the Big 12 Title game. Last week behind #3 quarterback Brandon Weeden, the Pokes came back from 11 points down in the 2nd half vs Colorado keeping a BCS bowl shot alive. Quarterback Zac Robinson (192 yards per game, 64%, 15-7 ratio and 302 rush yards 3.2 ypc) was held out (concussion) last week but was dressed and will most likely play here. The Sooners were embarrassed last week vs Texas Tech (outgained 549-310) playing its worst game of the season. Oklahoma’s 5 losses are the most since Stoops’ 1st season in ‘99. Quarterback Landry Jones is averaging 232 yards per game (58%) with a 23-13 ratio. The Sooners are ranked #5 in our pass efficiency defense allowing 198 yards per game (55%) with an 11-15 ratio while Oklahoma St comes in #13 (244 ypg, 57%, 16-14 ratio). Oklahoma has won 29 straight home games, are outgaining foes on average 555-234 with a average score of 55-9 in Norman this year and Stoops will have his squad focused vs its rival after last week’s wakeup call.
PHIL’S FORECAST: OKLAHOMA 31 Oklahoma St 17
#14 VIRGINIA TECH AT VIRGINIA
Virginia Tech is 9-1 in the series. Last year the Hokies allowed only 249 yards but needed an interception in the end zone with 2:15 left to secure the win. Virginia had the dazzling debut of cornerback Vic Hall at QB. Hall ran for 109 yards and 2 long TD’s as a surprise starter. Virginia Tech has won their last two trips here by an average of 42-17. Virginia is ranked #118 in the NCAA in total offense and are being outscored 25-16 vs ACC foes and now face our #12 defense. Quarterback Jameel Sewell is averaging 173 yards per game passing (54%) with a 7-7 ratio. Meanwhile Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor is averaging 174 yards per game passing (56%) with a 13-3 ratio and has rushed for 310 yards (3.3 ypc). Running back Ryan Williams is #1 in the ACC with 1,355 rush yards (5.6 ypc). With a win here and in their bowl game, VT will have its 6th straight 10-win season while Virginia head coach Al Groh could be coaching in his last game as the Cavaliers will likely finish the season 3-9.
PHIL’S FORECAST: Virginia Tech 23 VIRGINIA 13
#15 CLEMSON AT SOUTH CAROLINA
In last year’s meeting, running back James Davis ran for 3 TD’s and Clemson defeated South Carolina 31-14 giving the Tigers’ their 6th win in the last seven vs its state rival and Dabo Swinney was named the head coach 2 days later. Last year Gamecock quarterback Chris Smelley went the whole game and hit 22 of 47 for 212 yards but threw 4 interceptions, which led to 3 TD’s for Clemson. South Carolina has won just once (2001) hosting Clemson since 1989. The Gamecocks are 6-5 and bowl eligible but have lost 4 of their last five. Quarterback Stephen Garcia is averaging 237 yards per game passing (57%) with a 14-8 ratio. South Carolina’s rush offense has struggled this year and they are #97 in the NCAA. Both teams have top 20 defenses (Clemson #9-17) but the Tigers have the offensive edge (#28-59) and huge special teams edge (#12-100). Quarterback Kyle Parker is averaging 189 yards per game passing (56%) with an 18-9 ratio. Heisman candidate running back CJ Spiller is averaging 188 all-purpose yards per game (#3 NCAA). South Carolina is coming off a bye with nothing on deck and are looking to move up in the bowl pecking order so they don’t get stuck in the Independence Bowl, while Clemson clinched the Atlantic Division Title and has the ACC Championship game vs Georgia Tech on deck.
PHIL’S FORECAST: SOUTH CAROLINA 21 Clemson 20
#17 LSU VS ARKANSAS
Arkansas is just 5-10 in the series but has two straight upsets beating #1 LSU 50-48 in 3 OT’s here in 2007 and last year trailed 30-14 at home but got a 24 yard TD pass with :21 left to win 31-30. LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson (179 yards per game, 61.5%, 14-5 ratio) made his first career start last year vs Arkansas. LSU is off a 25-23 loss to Ole Miss where they were outgained 426-290. LSU had a chance to kick a game winning Field Goal at the end but mismanaged the clock and ran out of time. LSU was held to 40 rush yards (1.5 ypc) but was down to their 3rd string running back with Charles Scott (542 yards, 4.7 ypc) and Keiland Williams (368 yards, 5.3 ypc) injured. Scott is out for this game and Williams is as well after breaking his ankle. Arkansas has their own injury problems as their running back Michael Smith is out for the year with a hamstring injury. Arkansas is off a 42-21 win over Mississippi St but only had a 396-376 yard edge. Quarterback Ryan Mallett became the first 3,000-yard passer in school history (averaging 291 yards per game, 59%, 28-6 ratio). LSU is 8-2 since 1999 in home finales. LSU has a large edge on defense (#13-52) and special teams (#16-62) but Ark has a large edge on offense (#6-60). LSU is #24 in our pass defense rankings allowing 189 pass yards per game (55%) with a 10-12 ratio but now face the SEC’s top passing team. LSU has been outgained on the year by an average of 308-322 but has 8 wins while Arkansas has outgained opponents by an average of 445-409 but only has 7 wins. The Tigers have won 35 of 36 Saturday night games at home (only loss was this year to Florida), but this one will probably come down to the wire.
PHIL’S FORECAST: Arkansas 27 LSU 26
#18 BYU VS #22 UTAH
Ten of the last 12 have been decided by a TD or less. In last year’s #16 vs #8 meeting, BYU quarterback Max Hall threw a career high 5 interceptions 3 in the 4th quarter alone leading to 14 Utah points. In both ‘06 and ‘07 BYU needed key late 4th down conversions to rally for close wins but last year Utah at home rolled 48-24. Utah is 5-2 in the “Holy War”. The Cougars are off a 38-21 win over Air Force as they finished with 26-18 first down and 498-300 yard edges in a game where running back Harvey Unga became BYU’s all-time leading rusher and quarterback Hall broke Ty Detmer and John Beck records. The inspired defense held the Falcons to just 212 yards rushing (3.8 ypc) which was their lowest vs a non-service academy this year. Utah showed no hangover from the TCU loss putting up 38 1st half points vs San Diego St and coasted to a 38-7 win. The Utes finished with 22-16 first down and 391-262 yard edges. Since taking over as the starter, true freshman Jordan Wynn is averaging 237 yards per game (55%) with a 4-2 ratio. This is a game circled on both teams’ calendars annually but BYU is at home and gets revenge for last year’s beating.
PHIL’S FORECAST: BYU 37 UTAH 20
#19 MIAMI (FL) AT USF
In their only other meeting (280 miles apart) USF fell to #9 Miami in ‘05, 27-7. Only 2 non-conference BCS teams have visited Tampa. USF won both (37-10 vs North Carolina, ‘07; 37-34 vs Kansas, ‘08). Last week, the Bulls rebounded from their shutout loss 2 weeks ago for a 34-22 win over Louisville. USF overcame missed opportunities early (led only 17-16 at halftime) and recorded 538 total yards in the win. QB BJ Daniels has accounted for 58% of the offense and had his 4th 100 yard rush game and has an 11-8 ratio. Daniels gave Florida St fits in their upset in Tallahassee, but stop the redshirt freshman QB and the Bulls stall. Last week #17 Miami defeated Duke 34-16. They overcame a 16-10 deficit to score the final 21 points in the 4th quarter. Quarterback Harris played with injured thumb and had his arm in a sling after the game but it turned out to be just a joke. Harris is averaging 273 yards per game (60%) with a 21-17 ratio. The defense has been banged up thru the year but linebacker Sean Spence returned to action last week. Head coach Jim Leavitt is 63-17 at home and this is a huge game for Bull fans, but they have been exposed in recent years as a better prey than predator. Miami has offense (#13-77) and defense (#22-40).
PHIL’S FORECAST: Miami, Fl 34 USF 24
#20 MISSISSIPPI AT MISSISSIPPI ST
The home team has won 5 in a row in the Egg Bowl, and last year Ole Miss dominated as their defense allowed the fewest yards in an FBS game in ‘08 with a 461-24 yard edge (yes, 24 yards). The Rebels set a school record with 11 sacks last year holding the Bulldogs to -64 yards rushing in last year’s 45-0 shutout and MSU head coach Sylvester Croom resigned after the game. Houston Nutt is 10-1 vs Miss St with his only loss by 1 point in ‘98. Ole Miss running back/wide receiver Dexter McCluster has 903 rush yards (6.9 ypc) with 739 rush yards (7.9 ypc) in the last four SEC games. Last week he threw a 27 yard TD pass out of the Wild Rebel package and had 148 rush yards in the nail-biting 25-23 win over LSU. Ole Miss outgained LSU 426-290 holding LSU to 40 rush yards (1.5 ypc) but was lucky to escape with a win due to LSU mismanaging the clock. Mississippi St was eliminated from bowl contention in their 42-21 loss to Arkansas last week. Running back Anthony Dixon (1,258 yards, 5.5 ypc) rushed for 176 yards and 2 TD but lost a rare fumble at midfield in the 4th quarter, which Arkansas turned into the game sealing TD. The Rebel defense has 30 sacks this year, which puts pressure on MSU’s inconsistent quarterback Tyson Lee (127 ypg, 60%, with a 4-13 ratio). The Bulldog defense has only 17 sacks on the year which means Rebel quarterback Jevan Snead (199 yards per game, 54%, 17-14 ratio) should have time to throw and a solid win vs their rival should secure a trip to the Capital One Bowl.
PHIL’S FORECAST: Mississippi 31 MISS ST 17
#23 NORTH CAROLINA AT NC STATE
These two are just 26 miles apart. The Wolfpack are 9-4 in home finales and North Carolina has now lost back-to-back games in the series including last year where the #25 Tar Heels were beaten soundly, committing 6 turnovers as NC St won 41-10 with a 263 yard edge. NC St quarterback Russell Wilson is considering pursuing a pro baseball career, which would likely make this his last game. On the season, he is averaging 252 yards per game passing (58%) with a 27-11 ratio. NC St does have the offensive edge (#36-88), but now faces our #8 defense, which has forced 10 turnovers and scored 4 TD’s the last two weeks. Last week the Tar Heel defense forced 6 turnovers which led to 24 points. Quarterback TJ Yates is averaging 152 yards per game (60%) with a 10-13 ratio. A 9-win season would be Carolina’s most since ’97 when the team went 11-1 under Mack Brown. The Tar Heels are looking to move up for the league’s upper-tier bowls while NC St would love to spoil their rivals season on what could be Wilson’s final game.
PHIL’S FORECAST: NC STATE 24 N Carolina 23
#24 USC VS UCLA
USC is fresh off a much needed bye after being destroyed in the Coliseum by Stanford (most points allowed in program history) and now look to repair a defense that has given up 35 points per game over their last five games after allowing just 43 total points (8.6 ppg) in their 1st 5 games of the season. UCLA is playing their 9th straight week and would need a win here to secure a better bowl game with a 7th win (became bowl eligible after last week’s win vs ASU but did not score an offensive TD for the 3rd time this year). The Bruins are 1-9 vs USC. The home teams usually plays well even though the campuses are just 15 miles apart and UCLA’s ‘06 upset of the Trojans cost USC a trip to the National Championship game, and with that in mind, it wouldn’t surprise me to see UCLA keep this one tight until the very end and possibly pull the upset.
PHIL’S FORECAST: USC 30 Ucla 21
#25 HOUSTON VS RICE
Rice has lost the last three on the Cougar’s home field. Last year the Owls rolled up a season-high 591 yards in a 56-42 home win that kept Houston from winning the CUSA West Title. Rice is trying to get through their worst season since 2005. The 2-9 Owls have a very young team as they have just 6 seniors on the entire 2-deep. They have won 2 straight after a 30-29 win over UTEP in which they were outgained 395-227, but forced 6 Miner turnovers. The offense has shown signs of life, averaging 29 points per game the last three after averaging just 15 points per game the 1st 8. The Cougars need a win to clinch their spot in the CUSA Title game. They took care of business last week, rolling to a 55-14 win over Memphis. The Cougs rolled up 689 yards of total offense as QB Case Keenum threw 5 TD passes and now leads the NCAA with 36 TD passes on the season. Houston is looking for a bit of revenge for last year’s loss at Rice as the Cougs will not let up here and should be able to name the score yet again.
PHIL’S FORECAST: HOUSTON 52 Rice 24
Ohio over Temple
Duke over Wake Forest
Colorado over Nebraska
ULM over Middle Tennessee