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Week 14 Top 25 Forecasts Plus Championship Games

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 12-8 picking the winners of each game and have gone 196-59 (77%) so far this season! On the bottom of the forecasts, I have also listed some Upset Specials for this week which are 7-4 the L/5 weeks.

#1 OREGON at OREGON ST

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
OREGON 263
190
37
1.9
••
OREGON ST
117
225
20
2.5
-
The last two matchups in the Civil War have been for the Rose Bowl as the Beavers have had their Rose Bowl Dreams shot down twice with Oregon getting the Rose Bowl bid LY. Ironically this year the Rose Bowl would be the consolation prize as the Ducks can clinch a spot in their first BCS National Title game with a win. LW despite trailing by 5 at HT, Oregon did their typical 2H surge outscoring AZ by a 34-10 margin. On the other side OSU has now lost 3 of their last 4 after getting shutout for the first time S/’02 as they were outgained 470-285 versus Stanford and need a win here to become bowl eligible. Despite Oregon being held to a season low 324 yds in their last road game (at Cal) the offense is avg 543 ypg and continue to play at a fever pitch if they’re ahead or behind. It is tough to imagine OSU being able to slow them as they’ve faced 3 Top 10 teams getting outgained by 198 yds to TCU, 241 yds to Boise and 185 yds LW vs Stanford. The Ducks defense should play inspired football as they will try to make a statement after allowing 506 yds LW incl a season high 448 yds passing. I’ll call for HC Riley and the Beavers to play with a lot of emotion early and maybe stand toe-to-toe with the Ducks for a half but in the end the Ducks will pull away and book their tickets to Glendale.

PHIL’S FORECAST: OREGON 44 OREGON ST 23

SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:
GEORGIA DOME, ATLANTA
#2 AUBURN vs #18 S CAROLINA

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
AUBURN 210
200
36
2.0
S CAROLINA
125
285
36
1.6
-
The last two years the SEC Champ game has featured #1 vs #2 Florida vs Alabama and while this year’s matchup won’t have the same build-up it is equally intriguing with 12-0 Auburn in contention for a national title and their QB Newton the Heisman frontrunner. These two teams did meet earlier this year which was a 35-27 win by Auburn at home on 9/25. In that gm, SC led 20-7 late 2Q and 27-21 early 4Q, but QB Garcia fmbl’d twice and then was pulled and bkup Shaw was int’d twice (all 4 TO’s in the 4Q and resulting in 14 pts for Aub). Newton threw for 158, 2 TD and rushed for 176, 3 TD in the 1st matchup while Garcia threw for 235 with a 3-0 ratio but RB Lattimore was held to 33 rush yds. Aub did have 492-384 yd and 29-20 FD edges in the gm. SC finished their ssn strong with 3 str DD wins incl LW’s 29-7 win over rival Clem (322-251 yd edge). SC QB Garcia is avg 221 ypg (66%) with an 18-9 ratio while RB Lattimore has 1,114 (4.8). Aub is off the biggest come-from-behind win over rival AL ever as they trailed 24-0 late 2Q but rebounded for a 28-27 win. They were fortunate to be only down by that score as AL scored just 3 pts on 3 drives inside Aub’s 20-yd line in the 1H. QB Newton was held to 39 rush yds but threw for 216 and 3 TD and the D held AL to 69 rush yds (2.3). While this is SC’s 1st trip to the SEC Title gm, it is Spurrier’s 8th and he is 5-2 in those games. Aub’s last title trip was in 2004, a 38-28 win over Tenn when Chizik was the DC here. Spurrier has the experience factor in his favor and I think SC can stay in the gm as long as Garcia doesn’t have another meltdown.

PHIL’S FORECAST: AUBURN 38 S CAROLINA 34

#9 BOISE ST vs UTAH ST

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
UTAH ST 77
90
3
2.8
-
BOISE ST
253
360
55
1.4
It is going to be real interesting to see how the Broncos respond to what easily was the most heartbreaking loss in school history LW as they blew a 17 pt 2H lead and missed 2 chipshot FG’s in the OT loss to Nevada. The loss snapped the nation’s longest win streak (24) and ended any hopes of a national championship or even a BCS Bowl for that matter. This week they take on a Utah St team that is coming off a bye but since becoming WAC foes (‘05), Boise is 5-0 against the Aggies and has scored no less than 45 pts in any gm while outgaining USU by 254 ypg the L/4 and the Aggies have lost by 28, 25, 39 and 35 pts in their L/4 trips to Boise. Utah St’s QB Borel is avg 188 ypg (55%) with an 8-11 ratio but his numbers are way down from LY (240 ypg, 58%, 17-4 as a Jr). Boise St QB Moore meanwhile continues to lead the nation in pass eff (187.97) and is avg 297 ypg (71%) with a 30-5 ratio and despite LW the Broncos also rank in the NCAA’s top 5 in ttl off (526 ypg) and ttl def (256 ypg). The game is on “The Blue” but will Boise respond by taking out their frustrations on the overmatched Aggies, or will they be suffering from a MAJOR hangover? I say they rebound in a big way and send the Seniors out on a good note with a resounding victory.

PHIL’S FORECAST : BOISE ST 55 UTAH ST 6

BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP:
COWBOYS STADIUM: ARLINGTON
#10 OKLAHOMA vs #13 NEBRASKA

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
OKLAHOMA 150
265
29
1.8
-
NEBRASKA
210
70
20
2.1
-
This is the exact matchup I predicted in my magazine and what better way for the final Big 12 championship game to go out with a bang than to pit two long-time Big 8/12 rivals in what could be the final game in the storied series history. Under Stoops OU is 5-2 vs the Huskers but did lose their last meeting 10-3 in Lincoln LY. The Sooners had 23-7 FD and 325-180 yd edges but couldn’t overcome QB Jones’ career high 5 int incl 1 which was ret’d to the OU1 setting up the gm’s only TD. OU’s K also missed 2 FG while having another blk’d as OU scored the fewest pts in the Stoops era. After struggling on the road the L/2Y the Sooners exploded for a comb 100 pts in wins in Waco and Stillwater to secure their 8th trip to the B12 Title game where they are 6-1. The Sooners had 28-19 FD and 588-379 yd edges over OKSt but had to overcome a 53 yd IR TD and an 89 yd KR TD by throwing 2 long TD passes and recovering an onside K with :36 left. The Huskers earned their 6th trip to the title gm (2-3) and 2nd under ex-OU DC Pelini (‘04) by beating Colorado 45-17. Minus QB Martinez (ankle/toe) and #1 rec Paul (foot) the Huskers went to the wildcat with IB Burkhead running for 101 and throwing for 2 TD. The Huskers are #1 pass eff D (145, 49%, 12-18) led by CB’s Amukamara and Dennard but will get one of their stiffest tests of the year facing the the three-headed monster of QB Jones, WR Broyles and RB Murray who leads the NCAA in RB catches with 64. Both suffered 1 pt losses in this stadium LY as the Sooners lost QB Bradford and the gm to BYU 14-13 in the ‘09 opener while the Huskers saw B12 officials add :01 back onto the clock which allowed Texas to hit the GW 46 yd FG. The big question here naturally is the health of QB Martinez, and with him not 100% the Huskers offense is too one-dimensional to stay with the high-powered Sooners offense.

PHIL’S FORECAST: OKLAHOMA 31 NEBRASKA 20

ACC CHAMPIONSHIP:
CHARLOTTE, NC
#12 VIRGINIA TECH vs
#20 FLORIDA ST

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
FLORIDA ST 170
190
19
2.5
-
VA TECH
205
175
23
1.7
-
This is one of the more marquee match-ups that the ACC Champ has had in its 6-year history. These two met in the inaugural ACC Champ gm, a 27-22 FSU upset and VT is 1-13 vs FSU S/’75. FSU backed into this gm as they lost to NCSt on a Thurs night when Ponder fmbl’d the handoff at the NCSt4 with :54 left. They beat MD 2W ago, 30-16, and MD’s win over NCSt gave FSU the Atlantic bid. That was not the only good news that the FSU received LW as they snapped a 6 gm losing streak to their rival Florida with a 31-7 win, finishing with 21-17 FD and 333-276 yd edges. VT meanwhile wrapped up the Coastal crown 2W ago, and LW’s 37-7 win over UVA was icing on the cake. After an 0-2 start to the ssn, VT is now the only tm in the FBS to have won 10 gms in each of the L/7Y. They are also the 1st to win every ACC gm S/’99 (Fla St). Their QB Taylor is avg 188 ypg (60%) with a 20-4 ratio and is the #2 rusher with 613 (5.2). VT uses a 3-headed monster at RB with Evans (748, 5.6, 10), Wilson (573, 5.9, 5) and Williams (428, 4.5, 9) comb for 24 of VT’s 28 rush TD’s (Taylor other 4). They run into the NCAA’s #23 run D (129 ypg, 3.3) and FSU has my #23 pass eff D (218 ypg, 58%, 13-12). QB Ponder (185 ypg, 62%, 20-8) has not thrown an int in 3 of the L/4 and is avg 213 (65%, 8-1) in that span (DNP Clem). The top rusher is Thompson (686, 6.8) while the top rec’s are Reed (53, 10.3, 2) and Haulstead (33, 15.2, 6). VT is #2 pass eff D all’g 192 ypg (49%, 14-20). TO’s could make a diff here (FSU +2, VT #1 NCAA +16!) as the edges are close all around. This is the 1st time the ACC Champ gm is in Charlotte and VT will have the noticeable crowd edge which would have been completely opposite had the game remained in Tampa. With that big intangible in their favor I’ll call for the Hokies to punch their ticket to Miami for the Orange Bowl.

PHIL’S FORECAST: VA TECH 27 FLORIDA ST 24

#14 NEVADA at LOUISIANA TECH

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
NEVADA 275
300
45
2.1
-
LA TECH
210
260
29
2.7
••
It will be interesting to see how Nevada responds having to travel across the country following their biggest win in school history LW over Boise. Despite falling behind 24-7 at HT, UN outscored the Broncos to 24-7 in the 2H before ending the game with a 34 yd FG as the Pack outgained BSU 528-493 and outFD’d them 28-21. La Tech meanwhile is off a couple of victories and needs a win to go bowling this year. LW La Tech RB Creer rushed for a career-high 252 yds and 3 TD (1st LT player S/’04 to rush for over 200 yds in a gm) and WR Livas tied a NCAA record with an 88 yd PR TD in a 45-38 win at San Jose St. Nevada has won the L/5 in this series by an avg of 24 ppg while outgaining LT by 206 ypg and has big edges on off (#5-71) and def (#63-99) but LT gets the nod on ST (#44-98). UN is #3 in the NCAA in ttl off (537 ypg) led by QB Kaepernick (#9 NCAA ttl off) who is avg 223 ypg (65%) with a 20-7 ratio to go along with 1,029 rush yds (7.1) and 17 TD’s. RB Taua also has 1,372 yds (5.9) and 17 TD. The last time here in ’08 the winner went to a bowl and UN trailed 31-14 late 3Q before mounting 71/9pl, 75/10pl and 80/4pl TD drives to win 35-31. While I think La Tech has the huge intangible edge in this one I’ll call for Nevada to pull it out in the end as they grab a piece of the WAC title and finish 12-1 (7-1).

PHIL’S FORECAST : NEVADA 44 LOUISIANA TECH 41

#23 WEST VIRGINIA at RUTGERS

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
RUTGERS 17
173
6
2.0
W VIRGINIA
219
243
36
2.0
-
West Virginia needs a win here and Connecticut loss to clinch a probable bid the Fiesta bowl. Their opp Rutgers has never won in Morgantown going 0-15 but in their L/2 trips they have lost by a total of 9 pts. The Knights were eliminated from bowl contention LW in their 40-13 loss to L’ville while WV is off a huge 35-10 win over rival Pitt as they used their Jumbo Back set with Alston and Clarke (both 225 lbs) in the backfield to help their production in the redzone LW and protect the QB and top rusher Devine (855, 4.5) only had 4 att (27 yds). WV QB Smith is avg 201 ypg (64%) with a 22-6 ratio while the RU QB’s have struggled TY with inj’s and inconsistency and starter Dodd is only avg 150 ypg (55%) with a 9-7 ratio. RU has been outgained by 100 ypg in BE play while WV is outgaining BE foes by 85 ypg. After earlier losses to Syr and Conn put HC Stewart on the hotseat, a strong finish and possible a BCS bowl trip will ease tensions in Morgantown. Meanwhile Rutgers has lost 5 straight gms which coincides with a spinal injury to DT Eric LeGrand and they finish the season on a down note in this one as WV rolls.

PHIL’S FORECAST : W VIRGINIA 34 RTUGERS 6

MAC CHAMPIONSHIP:
FORD FIELD DETROIT, MI
#24 NORTHERN ILLINOIS
vs MIAMI, OH

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
MIAMI OH 110
210
14
2.2
-
N ILLINOIS
265
155
40
1.9
-
Northern Illinois had already won the MAC West Crown but did not have a let down vs Eastern Michigan LW, winning 71-3, with a 646-160 yd edge. NI had its first ever undefeated MAC season (8-0) and its 9 gm win streak is its longest since moving to FBS (‘66) and they’re ranked for the 1st time S/’03. They have clearly been the MAC’s dominant team TY and have outscored conf foes by a 48-16 margin and outgained them 487-287! Meanwhile the RedHawks had its biggest turn-around season ever and an FBS best TY as they went from 1-11 to 8-4. On Tues, MU pulled the 23-3 upset of a dazed Temple team that had been KO’d of the MAC Champ race the prior wk. MU then had to wait until Fri and needed Ohio to lose to make it here. MU will be without QB Dysert (inj, out L/2) and bkup Boucher in 2 sts is avg 184 ypg (62%) with a 2-1 ratio. RB Merriweather leads with 736 (5.3) and has 8 of MU’s 9 rush TD’s. NI QB Harnish is avg 177 ypg (66%) with a 17-5 ratio and is the #2 rusher (761, 6.4, 5). RB Spann leads the MAC with 1,239 (5.5) and 20 TD’s. While this is NI’s 2nd MAC Champ appearance (0-1), Miami makes its 4th (1-2). Howevere NIU has won the L/5 in the series and has a huge off edge (#19-99) and proves they are the MAC’s most complete team by winning their first MAC Champ game!

PHIL’S FORECAST: NORTHERN ILLINOIS 38 MIAMI, OH 17

#25 HAWAII at UNLV

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
UNLV 70
150
13
2.4
-
HAWAII
175
395
47
2.0
While all the attention has been on Boise and Nevada TY in the WAC, the Warriors have quietly put together a fine season as they have won 8 of their L/9 gms and have outscored their opp on the year by an avg 38-23 with a 477-339 yd edge. They have been even more dominant at home avg 522 ypg (all’g just 303) and have outscored their opp 43-19. Their QB Moniz (#1 NCAA pass ypg) is avg an outstanding 354 ypg (66%) with a 32-10 ratio. The top rusher is Green (1032, 8.7, 16 of tm’s 19 rush TD) who set a UH record with 327 rush yds vs NMSt LW. The top rec’s are Salas (101, 15.7, 10, UH all-time leader rec yds) and Pilares (79, 14.5, 14) who are both over 1,000 yds. Their opp TW UNLV is on the opposite end with just a 1-7 record their L/8 and being outscored 42-17. LY in this game UH all’d a 67/14pl drive (4:40 TOP) as the Rebs scored the winning TD w/:36 left (34-33) in a gm that featured 8 lead changes. Despite splitting the L/4, UH has won the yardage battle in each by 155 ypg. While UNLV will treat this like a bowl week, they rank #109 pass eff D (212 ypg, 63%, 21-6 ratio) and that’s not good going up against the high-powered Warriors who reach double digit wins for the 3rd time in the L/5 yrs.

PHIL’S FORECAST : HAWAII 49 UNLV 14

CUSA CHAMPIONSHIP:
SMU at UCF

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
SMU 55
271
17
2.3
-
UCF
176
198
35
1.2
••••
LAST 13 YEAR MATCHUPS
UCF is playing this one at home which is a huge advantage. The Knights went thru CUSA with a 7-1 record despite being led for most of the yr by true Fr QB Godfrey (200 ttl ypg, 67%, 22 ttl TD) and without LY’s top rusher Harvey (1109, 4.2, 14 TD). RB Weaver (855, 4.8, 11 TD) as well as the UCF def (295 ypg all’d at home) have led to the team’s success TY. Following their OT victory over EC on Fri (SMU blew 14 pt 4Q lead), the Mustangs earned their first CUSA Title game appearance putting B2B successful ssns together after finishing ‘07 and ‘08 with identical 1-11 records. QB Padron (270 ypg, 59%) leads the off along with CUSA’s top rusher Zach Line (1297, 6.2). The UCF crowd served as a huge 12th man in their last CUSA Title game at Bright House and judging by the way the Knights have gone thru this conf with relative ease so far TY, another trip to the Liberty Bowl may be in the offing here.

PHIL’S FORECAST: UCF 31 SMU 14

Upsets of the Week:
7-4 L/5 Weeks!
PITTSBURGH OVER CINCINNATI
WASHINGTON ST OVER WASHINGTON
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  • Eschuyler5905

    Phil Steele was wrong about the Hokies…….weeks ago picking FSU …and he got the ACC player of the year and 1st team QB wrong as well…no one beats Taylor this year. player of the year deserved slam dunk