Week 9 Top 25 Forecasts

Every week I 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.

Last week the Top 25 forecasts went 14-5 picking the winners of each game and have gone 132-28 (82.5%) so far this season! On the bottom of the forecasts, I have also listed some Upset Specials for this week.

#1 OREGON AT #24 USC

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
OREGON 215
230
37
2.4
••
USC
195
310
31
2.8
-
It’s been tough being ranked #1 lately as the top team in either the AP or BCS polls has went down on the road to a ranked team for three straight weeks. This week the Trojans get their turn for the upset as Oregon becomes the first #1 team to travel to the Coliseum since 1988 (Notre Dame). USC is off a bye and could be undefeated if not for two last second losses by a FG to Stanford and Washington. Two weeks ago vs California they had their most complete game of the season jumping out to a 42-0 HT lead and outgained the Bears 602-245 in the 34 pt win. UO is also off another impressive outing as they exploded for 582 yds and 60 pts in the win over UCLA last Thursday. Last year the Ducks put up 613 yds and rolled the Trojans 47-20 giving USC their first loss by over a TD since 2001. USC is playing with revenge, has extra time to prepare and has proven they belong as they nearly beat Top 15 Stanford on the road and demolished Cal in their last two outings as they make it four straight weeks for an upset of the #1 team.

PHIL’S FORECAST : USC 38 OREGON 37

#3 AUBURN AT MISSISSIPPI

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
AUBURN 260
173
38
2.1
••
MISS
171
253
28
2.6
-
This is a dangerous spot for Auburn as the Tigers are off a big win at home vs LSU and now have to travel and take on a Ole Miss team with their HC Nutt having a track record of beating AP Top 10 teams including wins over #1 LSU in 2007 (while HC at Ark) and #2 Florida in 2008. Auburn QB Newton is the clear-cut favorite to win the Heisman right now as he has rushed for 1,077 yds (6.9) which is the most in SEC history by a QB. Last week Newton had 213 rush yds and the Tigers rolled up 440 rush yds (most ever for Auburn against an SEC opp). Ole Miss has their own dual-threat QB in Masoli who is avg 180 pass ypg (57%) with a 10-6 ratio and has added 400 rush yds (5.3). I would go with the upset here but Auburn OC Malzahn should have his unit focused as he plays against his former boss who decided his offense would not work in the SEC. The Tigers win another shootout and move to 9-0.

PHIL’S FORECAST : AUBURN 37 MISSISSIPPI 30

#4 TCU AT UNLV

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
TCU 288
193
46
1.3
••••
UNLV
88
133
7
2.0
-
Last week TCU’s speedy defense again showed their strength against the option offense and after allowing their first offensive TD in the month of October stiffened the rest of the way by limiting Air Force to just 184 rush yds and 7 pts. UNLV meanwhile is off a bye after a a 43-10 drubbing to Colorado St two weeks ago. Their leading WR Payne 23 rec (16.9) should be expected to be full go here as the Rebels will need all the help they can get. Last year TCU shutout UNLV and offensively rushed for 390 yds (8.1) which was their most since they joined the MWC (’05). TCU does have a huge showdown against Utah on deck but should have no problems here as they move to 9-0 for the second straight season.

PHIL’S FORECAST : TCU 41 UNLV 6

#5 MICHIGAN ST AT #18 IOWA

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
MICH ST 75
245
22
2.3
IOWA
130
255
29
1.8
-
This series has had some close finishes in recent years including LY’s 4&goal TD pass on the final play giving the Hawkeyes a win. This year Iowa will have to rebound from a disappointing 31-30 home loss to Wisconsin last week as they missed an XP, had a bad snap on a short FG and had clock management issues on their final drive. MSU, on the other hand rallied from a 17-0 deficit to Northwestern and their 21 yd fake punt pass on 4&11 being the key play. The Spartans are 8-0 for the first time since 1966 and QB Cousins is having a fine season avg 244 pass ypg (67%) with a 14-4 ratio. Iowa QB Stanzi is also having a stellar senior season and is avg 247 pass ypg (68%) with a 16-2 ratio. Iowa traditionally plays well under Ferentz off a loss and they end MSU’s national title hopes here.

PHIL’S FORECAST : IOWA 30 MICHIGAN ST 20

#6 MISSOURI AT #14 NEBRASKA

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
MISSOURI 152
188
25
2.0
-
NEBRASKA
214
223
28
2.4
Missouri is off to their first 7-0 start since 1960 and last week arguably had their biggest win in school history as they upset #1 Oklahoma by returning the opening KO 86 yds for a TD and also took advantage of 3 key Sooner TO’s. Nebraska is also off an impressive win as QB Martinez a week after being benched threw for a career high 323 pass yds and 5 TD’s in the 10 pt road win over Oklahoma St. Last year against Nebraska, Missouri was up 12-0 after 3Q’s but suffered a 4Q collapse as Nebraska scored 3 TD’s in just 11 plays. Gabbert was banged up in the game and this year despite not being 100% has avg 335 ypg (69%) with a 4-0 ratio the last two games. Nebraska had won 15 straight at home vs Missouri until the Tigers came into Lincoln two years ago and embarrassed them 52-17. This year will be a different story as Martinez’s new found passing game keeps the surprising Tiger defense guessing and the Huskers get a huge Big 12 North victory.

PHIL’S FORECAST : NEBRASKA 34 MISSOURI 20

#8 UTAH AT AIR FORCE

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
UTAH 218
195
39
2.4
•••
AIR FORCE
252
120
22
1.4
-
This has traditionally been a very close series and while Utah has won 3 of the L/4 none have been by more than a TD and LY the Utes stuffed Air Force on 4&2 from the 7 in OT to preserve the win. Close wins have not been the norm for the Utes this year as after a 3 pt win over Pittsburgh in the opener have outscored their opp’s by a 51-11 avg. Air Force after cracking the Top 25 for the first time in 8 years is off back-to-back losses to San Diego St and TCU but one of their key players for their option offense (FB Tew) is out and that will effect their running game which has only rushed for 169 yds (2.0) in their last two meetings vs Utah at home. The Utes get the win which sets up a huge showdown with TCU next week.

PHIL’S FORECAST : UTAH 34 AIR FORCE 24

#10 OHIO ST AT MINNESOTA

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
OHIO ST 221
230
43
1.9
MINNESOTA
79
195
15
2.6
-
Last week the Buckeyes coming off a loss to Wisconsin were dominant as they avenged their only Big 10 loss of 2009 by racing out to a 42-0 HT lead over Purdue and the Boilers did not crack the 100 yd mark on offense until their final possession. Minnesota on the other hand is having one of their worst seasons in school history and interim HC Horton has now lost his L/17 as a HC after last weeks loss to Penn St. A lone bright spot for the Gophers is QB Weber who became just the fifth QB in Big Ten history to top 10,000 career yds. On defense the Gophers are last in the Big Ten in rush giving up 194 ypg (5.5) scoring D (32 ppg) and have just 3 sacks on the year (last in NCAA) that does not bode well going up against a high-powered Buckeye offense.

PHIL’S FORECAST : OHIO ST 44 MINNESOTA 13

#11 OKLAHOMA VS COLORADO

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
COLORADO 89
188
12
2.5
-
OKLAHOMA
197
308
37
2.0
•••
Last week the Sooners became the latest victim of the #1 jinx as they allowed a 86 yd opening KR TD and also had 3 key TO’s in the loss to Missouri. Colorado HC Hawkins is clearly on the hot seat after losing 3 straight games following their win over Georgia a month ago. Last week CU blew a 10 pt 2H lead as QB Hansen was injured in the 1H and was replaced by Hawkins who threw for 274 yds (51%) with a 2-0 ratio and he will probably get the start here. The last time these two met was in 2007 and Colorado got the upset as a 3 TD underdog as they rallied from a 24-7 3Q deficit and got a 45 yd FG on the final play as the Sooners were clearly looking ahead to Texas. The Buffaloes have lost 15 straight games outside the state of Colorado and get a fired up Oklahoma team who should win easily here.

PHIL’S FORECAST : OKLAHOMA 45 COLORADO 0

#13 STANFORD AT WASHINGTON

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
STANFORD 225
208
39
3.9
-
WASH
191
273
29
2.1
-
The big question here is what Washington will show up?  In the opener the Huskies were beaten by BYU 23-17 only to follow up with a 41-20 win over an improved Syracuse team. Then after an embarrassing 35 pt loss at home to Nebraska, the Huskies beat USC on the road with a last second FG. UW kept the trend going with a dismal 10 pt loss to Arizona St at home only to follow it up with a victory over Top 25 Oregon St. Last week with Arizona playing a backup QB, the Huskies were demolished 44-14 and outgained 457-289. This week they get Stanford who has won back-to-back games here and last week  “only” won by 10 over Washington St as the Cougars scored 21 pts in the 4Q to make the score closer than what it really was. I’ll call for the Huskies to keep their “Jekyll and Hyde” routine going with an upset here as they have faced the 2nd toughest schedule in the country.

PHIL’S FORECAST : WASHINGTON 31 STANFORD 30

#15 ARIZONA AT UCLA

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
ARIZONA 138
219
25
2.2
-
UCLA
147
155
14
2.9
While Arizona QB Foles is currently listed as questionable, this will be a probable matchup of backup QB’s and while UCLA has been outgained by 243 and 288 yds the last two weeks with QB Brehaut (159, 70% 0-1 ratio), Arizona backup Scott passed for 233 yds (82%) with a 2-0 ratio while also adding 65 rush yds (9.3) as the Wildcats crushed Washington 44-14 last week. The Wildcats have won four of the last five games against the Bruins and last year overcame 5 TO’s to pull out a 14 pt victory as they had 27-10 FD and 456-211 yd edges. AZ clearly is in better hands with their backup QB and remain in the Pac-10 title chase.

PHIL’S FORECAST : ARIZONA 27 UCLA 13

#16 FLORIDA ST AT NC STATE

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
FLORIDA ST 221
220
33
2.6
••
NC STATE
114
305
26
2.4
-
This is a huge matchup for the ACC Atlantic division as FSU leads with a 4-0 record in conf play but a NC State win here would go a long way to the Wolfpack earning a berth in the ACC Champ game. These two teams last year played in a shootout as FSU QB Ponder who was not 100% led a 66/8pl TD drive with 1:36 left for the 45-42 win. Former FSU HC Bobby Bowden used to struggle in these Thursday Night away games but new HC Fisher seems to have the Seminoles pointed in the right direction with several impressive victories after the loss to Oklahoma and DC Stoops has the Seminole defense looking more like the units from ’87-’00 as they lead the NCAA with 30 sacks this season. I’ll call for the FSU D to get enough pressure on NC State QB Wilson and force him into a couple of TO’s and the Noles move to 5-0 in conf play.

PHIL’S FORECAST : FLORIDA ST 31 NC STATE 24

#17 S CAROLINA VS TENNESSEE

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
TENNESSEE 48
215
12
2.4
-
S CAROLINA
137
355
34
2.0
-
While the Gamecocks are just 2-5 against Tennessee they have outgained the Volunteers in all 7 games and last year had 3 key fumbles in the loss. SC is off a less than impressive 21-7 win at Vanderbilt as RB Lattimore 538 rush yds, 4.4) missed with an ankle injury. This week he is expected back and that should give the SC offense more balance. UT is off a 41-10 loss to Alabama as they only trailed 13-10 at the half but their lack of depth continues to show in the 2H of games. Spurrier’s 18 pt loss to Tennessee LY was his largest defeat ever against the Vols and I expect him and the Gamecocks to get some revenge here.

PHIL’S FORECAST : SOUTH CAROLINA 34 TENN 13

#19 ARKANSAS VS Vanderbilt

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
VANDERBILT 137
118
13
2.1
ARKANSAS
204
373
35
1.8
-
The big news here is the health status of Arkansas QB Mallett who a week after leaving the Auburn game with a concussion, left in the 2H of last weeks game against Ole Miss with an injury to his throwing shoulder. Mallett has said he is 100% and ready to go this week, which should give my #6 rated offense a boost. Vanderbilt is just #78 in my pass D rankings but they are catching the Razorbacks off a must-win against Ole Miss last week and they have ranked South Carolina on deck. It will be tight early but the Hogs pull away in the 2H.

PHIL’S FORECAST : ARKANSAS 38 VANDERBILT 17

#20 OKLAHOMA ST AT KANSAS ST

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
OKLA ST 193
285
39
2.8
-
KANSAS ST
192
240
38
2.4
Both teams have good offenses as Kansas St is led by RB Thomas who has rushed for 895 yds (5.4) and Oklahoma St has the triplets of QB Weeden, RB Hunter and WR Blackmon who leads the NCAA in rec yds. Blackmon maybe out here as he was cited with a DUI two days and it would be a major blow. Defensively both teams have big issues as the Wildcats were shredded by Baylor LW and Oklahoma St gave up 323 pass yds and 5 TD’s to a primarily running QB in Nebraska’s Martinez. Kansas St HC Bill Snyder has a 10-3 record against Oklahoma St and the home team has won 4 straight in this series. With the questions surrounding WR Blackmon I’ll go with the home team in this one.

PHIL’S FORECAST : KANSAS ST 42 OKLAHOMA ST 41

#22 MIAMI, FL VS VIRGINIA

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
MIAMI FL 228
215
32
1.8
-
VIRGINIA
107
155
13
3.8
-
The Hurricanes have rebounded from their disappointing loss to Florida St with two key ACC wins. Last week they scored 30 straight pts vs North Carolina and beat former HC Davis for the first time. RB Berry has been their go-to guy the past several weeks and has 4 str 100 yd games and QB Harris has just 1 int in his last two games after throwing for 9 in his previous four. This week the Canes get a Virginia team that they have outgained by a combined 496 yds the last two years. The Cavs defense has struggled vs ACC competition this year as they have allowed 490 ypg in their three matchups and that does not bode well going up against my #30 rated offense and that’s not even mentioning the Hurricanes #1 defense which is allowing just 150 pass ypg.

PHIL’S FORECAST : MIAMI FL 34 VIRGINIA 13

#23 MISSISSIPPI ST VS KENTUCKY

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
KENTUCKY 81
230
21
2.0
••••
MISS ST
209
125
30
1.3
-
Miss St was flat last week after their big win at Florida but were able to get their 6th win of the season and clinched bowl eligibility for the first time since ’07. Kentucky meanwhile lost for the fourth time in five weeks as they were held to just 70 yds rushing. Their QB Hartline is much improved this season avg 268 ypg (67%) with a 17-4 ratio. The key matchup here will be Kentucky’s defense, which is allowing 176 rush ypg (4.7) taking on a strong Miss St running attack which is avg 217 rush ypg (4.9). Winning the LOS usually equates to a win on the scoreboard and I’ll call for the Bulldogs to continue their surprising run here.

PHIL’S FORECAST : MISS ST 30 KENTUCKY 23

#25 BAYLOR AT TEXAS

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
BAYLOR 134
213
25
2.1
TEXAS
137
308
30
2.4
-
Who would have thought that Texas would be looking up to Baylor in the Big 12 Standings at this point in the season but that is the case here as the Longhorns lost another home game as a big favorite last week while Baylor clinched bowl eligibility for the first time since 1995 with a win over Kansas St. The Bears have dropped 12 straight to Texas by 39 ppg, which included a 45-21 win here back in 2008 (Griffin at QB). The Horns have 11 TO’s in their three losses but their defense has remained solid allowing just 261 ypg. Texas HC Brown was clearly upset after last week’s performance and will have the Horns focused here against a Baylor team that may still be celebrating.

PHIL’S FORECAST : TEXAS 38 BAYLOR 21

Upsets of the Week:
W MICHIGAN OVER N ILLINOIS
NEW MEXICO ST OVER SAN JOSE ST
PENN ST OVER MICHIGAN
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  • Mc05duck

    Phil, I know you have no love for Oregon and always bias against them. But since you are such an expert, it’s UO for University of Oregon, not ‘OU’, please don’t confuse Oklahoma with Oregon, I know it’s confusing, they both start with O’s, but I have confidence that with a little more effort, you might actually understand the dribble that comes out of your data.

  • floriduck

    Well Phil is 0 for 1 with NC State winning. Therefore, I will discount the rest of his forecast.

  • Donc

    brilliant predictions. does anyone still buy this hasbeen publication?

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

    Up until last week when have i picked against the Ducks? I had picked them SEVEN out of SEVEN weeks and picked them to win by an avg of 46-16! The Ducks were also my co-favorite in the Pac-10 this year in my magazine and that was released before the USC sanctions were announced. In the summer, I readjusted my bowl projections and had Oregon in the Rose Bowl! I don’t think you could call that “bias” in any way.