Top 25 – Week 6
Every week I will post my forecasts of all the games involving Top 25 teams.
Last week the Top 25 forecasts went 15-1 (94%) and on the year they are 91-12 88%! On the bottom of the forecasts, I have also listed some Upset Specials for this week which are 3-0 the last 2 weeks as both New Mexico and San Jose St pulled the upsets two weeks ago and Duke beat WF LW. To get projected box scores for all of the Top 25 games this week, click here.
#2 Oregon vs #23 Washington
Oregon has now won eight in a row in this series by an avg of 42-17. Last year UO had a huge game vs Stanford on deck and on the road only had a 381-278 yard edge. In fact, in the 1H UW had 11-6 FD and 23:54-6:06 TOP edges. The last time here UW only trailed 18-6 at the half. “In the 1H, when we were fresh and they were fresh, we outplayed them, but they wore us down,” Sarkisian said. This year UW had a bye and a Thursday game while UO is playing its 6th straight. The Huskies are off a 17-13 upset of Stanford as they came back from a 13-3 3Q deficit and held the Cardinal without an offensive td. Last week the Ducks led just 23-19 vs Wash St at the half but exploded for three 3Q td’s to blow the game open. No way can I go against the Ducks here at home as they get a 9th straight win over their rival.
PHIL’S FORECAST: OREGON 42 WASHINGTON 17
#3 Florida St at NC State
These two have played each other on a Thursday night the last four times here but Florida St has to be thankful that this one is on a Sat as they’ve been upset five times on weekday games. Last year FSU dominated at home as they had a commanding 444-166 yard edge in the 34-0 win. The 5-0 Noles are off a 30-17 win at USF. QB Manuel is #8 in the NCAA in pass eff averaging 229 ypg (73%) with a 9-1 ratio while the rush attack is averaging 261 ypg (6.8). NCSt is off a devastating 44-37 loss to Miami giving up a Hail Mary 62 yard td pass with :19 left. NCSt lost despite gaining 654 yards but was -5 in TO’s and allowed an ACC-record 566 pass yards. FSU HC Fisher has to be preaching all week of the past nightmares for FSU teams here as four Top 20 Noles teams have left here with an outright loss s/’98. However, FSU clearly has the talent edges and will take this game seriously after blowing a 21-7 halftime lead in their last trip here.
PHIL’S FORECAST: FLORIDA ST 38 NC STATE 13
#3 LSU at #10 Florida
Two years ago LSU pulled the upset 33-29 in The Swamp and while LSU had a 385-243 yard edge, they needed a fake FG that bounced off the ground and was caught and got a 3 yard td pass with :06 left for the win. Last year LSU was at home and UF was not only missing their #1 QB but also his backup and 3rd string true frosh QB Brissett who’d never taken a snap, got the start in Death Valley (8-14-94) and it was LSU’s most lopsided win over UF s/’71. The last time UF dropped 3 straight to LSU was from 1978-’80. LSU only had Towson last week but the Gators are off a bye. LSU been rather uninspiring the last two weeks including the 38-22 win over Towson and has dropped 2 spots in the polls. UF is 4-0 led by QB Driskel who is completing 70% with a 4-1 ratio while RB Gillislee is averaging 100 ypg (5.8). The Gators will also be getting back a couple of injured starters on D, have played a much tougher schedule (#4-105) and “Mr. 2H Adjustment” HC Muschamp has seen his Gators outscore their opponents 64-13 in the 2H and I will continue to ride my pick to win the SEC East.
PHIL’S FORECAST: FLORIDA 24 LSU 17
#5 Georgia at #6 South Carolina
The Gamecocks have now beaten UGA in B2B seasons for the first time s/’00-’01. UGA is 7-3 in this series. Last year was a bitter loss for UGA. Generally when a team gives up a defensive td, their odds of winning are slim but UGA gave up an amazing 4 defensive and ST td’s and yet still only lost 45-42. Spurrier said after game, “Georgia outplayed us but we won the game. Somebody was looking out for us tonight.” This is their first non-September meeting since UGA’s 1980 national championship season. Both teams are 5-0 and both were peeking ahead to this one last week. SC found themselves down 17-7 at the half at Kentucky but outscored the Cats 31-0 in the 2H. Meanwhile UGA led 27-10 at home vs Tennessee but a couple of fumbles in their own territory set up short UT scoring drives and a 30-30 halftime score. They were able to pull out a 51-44 win as their two frosh stud RB’s Gurley/Marshall each topped 100 yards. UGA is playing with revenge and SC won’t be able to count on as many lucky breaks as last year.
PHIL’S FORECAST: GEORGIA 27 SOUTH CAROLINA 24
#7 Kansas St vs Kansas
This is Bill Snyder’s most important game of the year every year. Snyder is 14-1 vs his rival winning by an average of 31 ppg! In ‘10 the Cats won 59-7 at KU. Last year KSU rolled to a 59-14 lead before giving up a garbage td with :01 left. Both are off byes with KU reeling (1-3) after B2B losses to non-BCS foes in which they blew 2H double-digit leads while 4-0 KSU is the Big 12’s highest ranked team after beating #5 OU for the first time in Norman s/’97. This is a tale of 2 QB’s as Hawks Crist (191 ypg, 48%, 2-4) is #116 NCAA pass eff. KSU’s star is QB Klein (190, 70%, 5-2, 289 rush) and he’s far less banged up than he was last year as he’s gotten help from the Big 12’s #2 rusher Hubert (431, 6.5). This is KSU’s first home game in this series s/’09 (KSU won 17-10). Snyder now has to recruit vs Charlie Weis every year and will want recruits to know there is a difference in the programs and clearly the Jayhawks have a ways to go to catch up to the Wildcats.
PHIL’S FORECAST: KANSAS ST 38 KANSAS 9
#8 West Virginia at #11 Texas
Last met in 1956. Last week despite being outgained 576-440 UT survived four 4Q lead changes driving 75/8pl to score the game-winning td with :29 left. QB Ash (252 ypg, 78%, 10-1) is #2 in the FBS pass eff and looked cool under fire on the game-winning drive converting a 4th & 6. WV’s first ever Big 12 game lived up to the hype as the biggest home in school history as they beat Baylor 70-63 (1507 total yards!) in the Big 12’s highest scoring game ever. WV led 56-35 in the 3Q but survived four more Bears td’s including the last one with 3:08 left as WV was able to run out the clock. New Heisman front runner QB Smith (#1 FBS pass eff, 432 ypg, 83%, 20-0) threw a Big 12 record 8 td passes hitting 45-51 for 656 (more td than incompletions!). WV’s first Big 12 away game and while they traveled to LSU in ‘10, this venue is almost double of the largest hostile crowd they faced last year (Maryland 53K). WV’s offense gets a lot of pub, but keep in mind they faced an FCS, the #118 and #97 D’s and MD’s #35 D which held them to just 365 yards and 24 offensive points and they now must face the #11 D!
PHIL’S FORECAST: TEXAS 38 WEST VIRGINIA 24
#9 Notre Dame vs Miami, FL (Soldier Field)
Soldier Field, Chicago. Catholics vs Convicts but much has changed since the series was labeled that. The last meeting was the ‘10 Sun Bowl where UM trailed 30-3 (-4 TO’s) and cold weather was a key factor in their 33-17 loss. The 4-0 Irish are off to their best start in a decade and to show you how dominant their D has been, ND is the only tm in the country to not trail in any gm this year and also to not allow a rush td. The Rees “Bullpen Reliever System” has worked to date as he has led ND to wins over Purdue/UM but expect Golson to get the start again here. UM sits at 4-1 after their 44-37 win over NCSt last week. QB Morris threw for an ACC record 566 yards including a 62 yd td pass with :19 left as the Canes benefitted from +5 TO’s. ND is making only a 90 min bus trip and is excited to play in front of huge Chicago alumni fan base while UM is making its fourth road trip in six weeks. An early look at the weather forecast has this upcoming Saturday as the chilliest to date this fall in Chicago with game time temps projected to be in the high-30s while Miami will be practicing in mid-80 degree temps all week! I look for the Miami players (coach Golden will be in short sleeves) to come out bundled up like its the North Pole, while ND will embrace the fall weather.
PHIL’S FORECAST: NOTRE DAME 34 MIAMI, FL 17
#12 Ohio St vs #21 Nebraska
Last year OSU made their first ever trip to Lincoln (first meeting s/’56). OSU led 27-6 in the 2H but QB Miller was injured and did not return and backup Bauserman hit just 1-10-13 in relief. After Miller went out, NU had a 15-3 FD edge and got the win 34-27 getting a td with 5:10 left on a 22 yard drive after a Bauserman interception. It was NU’s largest ever comeback win. #2 on NU’s comeback chart is last week’s 30-27 win over Wisconsin in which the Huskers rallied from a 27-10 2H deficit scoring the game’s final 20 points. Martinez (212 ypg, 68%, 11-1, 298 rush) is leading the Big Ten in pass eff over his more hyped counterpart Miller (187, 63%, 8-3, 577). RB tandem of Burkhead (273, 9.4) and Abdullah (486, 6.2) helps NU average 306 rush ypg (6.4) which is #5 FBS. Despite a 3-0 TO deficit OSU beat Michigan St 17-16. The Bucks came into the game dead last in the Big Ten in total D but shut down the conference’s #1 rusher Bell (17-45) and trailed for just 1:44 in the game as after MSU took a 13-10 3Q lead Miller hit Smith with a 63 yard td pass. NU lost to UW and Mich by 31 and 28 last year but this one figures to be much closer. OSU is 27-4 in Big Ten home games and is playing with legitimate revenge and I will call for them to get the exciting win this time.
PHIL’S FORECAST: OHIO ST 30 NEBRASKA 28
#13 USC at Utah (Thursday)
Last year these two played for the first time s/’01 and it featured one of the oddest situations in college football history. Utah, trailing 17-14, lined up for a game tying FG. USC not only blocked it but returned it for a td. On the return the officials (which were NOT replacement refs) called a celebration pen which negated the score. However, two hours after the game was over, the points were put on the board for USC giving them a 23-14 win. Both teams are off byes and USC is 2-0 in weekday games (both away). It should be noted that the three teams the Trojans have beaten to date (Hawaii, Syracuse and Cal) have yet to record a win vs a FBS opponent. While Utah has already pulled one upset at home this year, they will not get another one here.
PHIL’S FORECAST: USC 30 UTAH 17
#14 Oregon St vs Washington St
Last year the game was played in Seattle and OSU QB Mannion threw for a career high 376 yards hitting 26-34 as WSU’s front 7 put little pressure on him. OSU finished with 29-19 FD and 551-313 yard edges in a 44-21 win. OSU was playing with legitimate revenge as the previous year they lost at home 31-14 costing them a bowl in what was WSU’s lone win in their 1-17 two year conference record. The Cougs have disappointed me a bit this year as they are just 2-3. Last week they played perhaps their best half of the season trailing Oregon 23-19 at the half but were outscored 21-0 in the 3Q in the 51-26 loss. QB Halliday is averaging 301 ypg (55%) with a 9-6 ratio but the D is allowing 472 ypg. On the other side, OSU has been very impressive at 3-0 and last week rallied for a 38-35 win at Arizona. Mannion is averaging 363 ypg (#4) and has a 6-1 ratio (65%). He has two weapons on the outside in WR’s Cooks and Wheaton who are #5/6 in the NCAA in receiving yards per game! I feel this OSU team compares to the ‘06-’08 Beaver squads who all won 9 or more games and they should coast here to a 4-0 start!
PHIL’S FORECAST: OREGON ST 38 WASHINGTON ST 17
#15 Clemson vs Georgia Tech
Last year GT, at home, was taking on an unbeaten Clemson team. CU was without RB Ellington and GT ended CU’s unbeaten season 31-17 with a 443-399 yard edge. Last week both teams were off double-digit blown leads in conference action but while CU was able to rebound on the road winning 45-31 over BC without WR Watkins, GT fell on their faces in a 49-28 loss to Middle Tennessee at home. CU is playing with legit revenge and they have a bye on deck and should put maximum effort here. The CU offense (avg 511 ypg) has to be licking their chops vs a GT D that has allowed 560 ypg in the last two weeks and with Watkins back this week, I will call for the Tigers to roll to 40+ pts.
PHIL’S FORECAST: CLEMSON 45 GEORGIA TECH 28
#15 TCU vs Iowa St
TCU has gone 23-1 in Amon G. Carter Stadium with this being their first Big 12 home game. The Big 12 schedule makers allowed the young Frogs to ease their way into the new conference playing progressively tougher competition each contest. In a heavy rain TCU won its FBS best 12th straight game 24-16 over SMU despite being outgained 220-156 and held to 3 points and 27 yards in the 2H. Mustang TO’s (6) led to td ‘drives’ of 41, 8 and 4 yards as the Frogs intercepted SMU QB Gilbert 5 times. QB Pachall (237 ypg, 66%, 10-1) has been steady but the run game is starting to become a ? with diminishing returns in each game (54 vs SMU). Frogs D ranks near the top of the FBS in all of the major categories including scoring (#2 – 7.3) and rush D (#8 – 79, 2.8) vs a weak slate. ISU dodged an early bullet when LB Klein took an interception 87 yards for a td but ultimately was done in by the double revenge minded Raiders, 24-13. TT had 20-13 FD and 395-189 yard edges as QB Jantz (201, 67%, 7-7) had one of his worst games hitting 10-20-73 with 4 TO’s. TCU extends their streak to 13.
PHIL’S FORECAST: TCU 27 IOWA ST 14
#17 Oklahoma at Texas Tech
Heading into last year the home team had won 7 in a row. Last year a lengthy rain delay seemed to take the steam out of OU and only about 60,000 of the orig 85,000 returned for the game as TT ended the nation’s longest home win streak (39 games) and pulled the biggest upset of 2011. OU did not get a FD until the 2Q and TT led 24-7 at the half with a 329-205 yard edge. TT QB Doege hit 33-52-451. OU comes in off a bye after just their 4th home loss ever under Stoops (78-4) in a 24-19 upset by KSU as OU QB’s had a fumble returned for a td and fumbled the ball away on the KSU1. Jones (258 ypg, 64%, 5-2) has struggled with a rebooted receiving corps. OU has had 2 byes in the last three weeks making this D hungry to atone for allowing 572 yards at home (worst in Norman in over 11 years). TT got their revenge last week beating Iowa St. TT survived an early scare as Doege’s first interception of the year was returned 87 yards for a td. After ISU took a 13-7 3Q lead it was all TT as they drove 71/8pl for a td, drove 51/8pl but missed a 41 yard FG, after a 40 yard IR hit a 19 yard td pass, after a fumble drove for a 39 yard FG. Texas Tech has beaten OU for 4 straight times in odd number seasons (‘05, ‘07, ‘09 and ‘11) with 3 of them being upsets. OU is 3-0 the next year getting revenge winning by an avg of 27 ppg and look for more of the same this year.
PHIL’S FORECAST: OKLAHOMA 34 TEXAS TECH 24
#18 Stanford vs Arizona
Stanford has won the last 4 by an avg of 43-13 and has been +162 ypg. Last year SU’s big OL wore UA down in the 2H and the Cardinal on the road won 37-10 (567-333 yards). Both are off tough losses as SU failed to score an offensive td for the first time s/’07 in their 17-13 loss at UW. QB Nunes struggled completing 49% of his passes with an 0-1 ratio. Unlike SU, UA’s off isn’t the problem as they rolled up 545 yards in a 38-35 loss at home to Oregon St. Their D however has lived up to Rich Rod’s “we make up for our lack of size with our lack of speed” comments over the summer as they are allowing 527 ypg to FBS schools. The Cardinal do have a couple extra days rest off Thursday Night and did have a bye two weeks ago to help prep for the zone option and they get the bounce back win.
PHIL’S FORECAST: STANFORD 30 ARIZONA 23
#20 Mississippi St vs Kentucky
This could be this week’s largest strength of schedule diff (#12-113) with the Bulldogs off two teams that were in the FCS last year, Troy, Auburn and off a bye while UK is playing a 6th straight game including 4 bowl eligible teams (including Louisville, Florida and SC). UK was 4-1 (‘02-’06) but now MSU is on a 4-1 run including three in a row. Last year MSU alternated QB’s Russell and Relf. UK QB Newton was injured in the 1Q and Maxwell Smith hit 26-33-174. In the 1H MSU had a 271-127 yard edge and led 21-6 with UK getting a pair of FG’s on 18 and 7 yard drives following TO’s and MSU also being intercepted at the two (28-16 final). Last week UK was shockingly up 17-7 at the half vs SC with Fr QB Whitlow replacing an injured Smith. However, UK was outscored 31-0 in the 2H and now stands at 1-4 with the heat mounting on HC Phillips. The Bulldogs (4-0) are the team in the SEC that no one is talking about but I thought in the preseason they had a great shot at starting 7-0 due to their schedule and clearly KY will not offer up to much resistance.
PHIL’S FORECAST: MISSISSIPPI ST 30 KENTUCKY 13
#22 Rutgers vs Connecticut
RU had won 3 in a row but last year had a 6-1 TO deficit. At the half RU had a 158-133 yard edge but UC led 21-10 as they had td drives of 24 and 40 yards after TO’s and a 9 yard fumble return td as the Huskies won 40-22. The last time here RU had a 365-153 yard edge but needed ten 4Q points to pull out a 27-24 win. The 4-0 Knights come in off a bye and have been receiving slaps on the back after their road win over SEC Arkansas which looks less impressive with each week. UC is off a 24-17 win last week over Buffalo. While this is UC’s 6th straight including third away in four weeks they do have the ST’s edge (#30-51) and this game features a pair of Top 20 D’s. RU has faced just the #112 schedule to date and could be caught looking ahead counting “W’s” which makes this one closer than expected.
PHIL’S FORECAST: RUTGERS 16 CONNECTICUT 10
#24 Northwestern at Penn St
The last time here in ‘10 Northwestern had a 21-0 lead with :56 left 1H but lost 35-21 as Paterno got his 400th win. Last year saw 5 lead changes and PSU led 27-24 at the half. In the 2H PSU shutout Northwestern in a 34-24 win on the road. After their 0-2 start the Lions have won 3 in a row thanks to a D which hasn’t allowed a 1H td this year. PSU dominated a bumbling Illinois squad 35-7. The Lions scored their first td thanks to an IL fumbled P. McGloin (243 ypg, 59%, 10-2) looks like a new QB in O’Brien’s offense thanks to the Big Ten’s #1 receiver, Robinson (439, 13.7). NU is 5-0 for the third time in the last five years after setting a school record with 704 yards vs Indiana. The Cats led 27-0 early 3Q before Indy rallied to within 37-29 but NU drove 62/7pl for a td and with 2:21 left stopped IU at the NU8 to secure the win. NU finished with 36-16 FD and 704-425 yard edges! The QB combo of Siemien and Colter are avg 211 ypg (68%) with 3-2 ratio. Colter saw more action at WR last week leading the Cats in rushing (14-161-4) and receiving (9-131). Big Ten all-purpose leader RB Mark (538, 5.3) has run for 100 yards in 3 straight. NU’s 4 FBS opponents are a combined 1-11 vs FBS teams this year. If this comes down to the K remember that Lions K Ficken is 2-8 with a L/32 this year while NU has 1 of the league’s best in Budzien (11-11, L/44).
PHIL’S FORECAST: NORTHWESTERN 24 PENN ST 21
#25 UCLA at California
Last year at home UCLA was playing without 4 suspended WR’s as well as a suspended DT and OG. They still led 17-7 at the half and won it on homecoming, 31-14. The last time here Cal led 28-0 at the half (246-58 yards) and won 35-7. UCLA has lost their last six trips to Cal by an avg of 16 ppg. This year these teams look to be heading in opposite directions as UCLA under new HC Mora is 4-1 after last week’s 42-14 win over Colorado (29-14 FD edge) while Cal is now 1-4 after last week’s 27-17 loss to ASU and HC Tedford’s seat continues to warm. It is their worst start in his 11 years while the Bruins are off to their best start s/’07. UCLA will continue Cal’s woes.
PHIL’S FORECAST: UCLA 27 CALIFORNIA 24