Top 25 – Week 7
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.
After an outstanding 15-1 (94%) performance for the Top 25 forecasts two weeks ago, Shakeup Saturday truly lived up to its name as my forecasts went 12-6 (a decent 67%) last week but on the year are still 103-18 85%! On the bottom of the forecasts, I have also listed some Upset Specials for this week which are 4-0 the last 3 weeks as both New Mexico and San Jose St pulled the upsets three weeks ago, Duke beat WF two weeks ago and SMU upset UTEP LW. To get projected box scores for all of this week’s Top 25 Forecasts click here.
#1 Alabama at Missouri
Last met in 1978. Bama comes in off a bye while the Tigers are off Vanderbilt with a bye on deck. The Tide are the unanimous AP #1 team but they have lost 3 key players to season ending injuries and in their last outing only outgained Ole Miss by 87 yards, a team that Texas outgained by 277 yards! Despite the inexperience, it’s business as usual as the Tide D is #1 in both total/scoring D. QB McCarron is #5 in the NCAA in pass efficiency and has yet to throw an interception this year (12 td’s). Last week MO settled for 2 short FG’s in jumping out to a 6-0 lead, but then starting QB Franklin went down with injury (out indefinitely), and thanks to a bobbled xp snap and a bobbled punt, lost to VU 19-15. Backup QB Berkstresser who played well in a start earlier this year in a win over ASU, was just 9-30-189-1-0. Missouri did knock off #3 Oklahoma at home in ‘10 but without their starting QB will fall well short of an upset here.
PHIL’S FORECAST: ALABAMA 31 MISSOURI 10
#3 South Carolina at #9 LSU
LSU is 10-1 hosting SC (only loss in ‘94).Both teams are off tough games with LSU off a Florida road trip and SC off rival UGA but the results could not have been any more different. LSU led UF 6-0 at the half but was dominated at the LOS in the 2H in a 14-6 loss. QB Mettenberger continues to struggle but some of the issues have been a beat-up OL that at one point was missing 3 starters and overall LSU has lost 15 players since the summer to injury/transfer/suspension. SC, in its biggest home game in school history, crushed #6 UGA 35-7. It was their 10th straight win as their D held UGA QB Murray and the SEC’s top ranked off coming in to a total of 224 yards (was avg 48 ppg and 536 ypg prior). I expect the Tigers to be very angry here coming off a loss playing in front of a home night crowd where remember they have lost only one night game in Baton Rouge in the Les Miles era.
PHIL’S FORECAST: LSU 23 SOUTH CAROLINA 20
#4 Florida at Vanderbilt
In UF’s last trip here (‘10) they flat out dominated as they led 41-0 with Meyer confused as to what to tell his team to improve on during the halftime interview. UF has now won 24 in a row. Last year in the 1H UF fumbled into the EZ and missed a FG. UF had a 277-119 yard edge but only led 17-0 and VU got a td with 1:16 left to only lose 26-21. Arguably no team has been more impressive this year than the Gators, especially after their opener as they are now 5-0 after their 14-6 win over #4 LSU last week. UF dominated the LOS with a 176-42 rush yard edge thanks to RB Gillislee’s career-high 146 yards (4.3). VU is off a 19-15 win at Mizzou but was down 6-0 when MO QB Franklin left with injury and did not return. The Commodores also benefited from a botched xp snap and a bobbled P that led to a safety and were outgained by 100 yards. This is a dangerous sandwich game for UF as they are off that huge home game vs LSU and have SC and UGA on deck but the Gators have not lost in Nashville since 1988, winning 10 straight trips by 20 ppg. Even if UF sleep-walks through the 1H, Muschamp’s 2H adjustments have resulted in the Gators outscoring their opponents 78-13 including 41-0 in the 4Q!
PHIL’S FORECAST: FLORIDA 24 VANDERBILT 10
#5 West Virginia at Texas Tech
Only meeting was in 1938 Sun Bowl. Last week Oklahoma beat the Raiders 41-20 winning in Lubbock for the 1st time since 2003. QB Doege had his worst performance of the season hitting just 22-36-203 with 3 int including a pick-6 which essentially put the game out of reach in the 3Q. The D, which was ranked #1 total D by the NCAA coming in allowed a season high 380 yards. Holgorsen was a TT assistant from ‘00-’07 (OC ‘05-’07) and runs TT’s Air Raid offense. WV trailed Texas 38-34 entering the 4Q but drove 76/12pl and 76/8pl for td’s with 10:50 and 1:18 left for the upset. QB Smith continues to put up Xbox-type numbers as he’s #1 pass eff and pass ypg (399, 81%, 24-0) throwing to college football’s top tandem in Bailey (#2 FBS rec ypg – 710, 14.5 w/FBS best 13 td) and Austin (#1 FBS rec’s per game – 58 rec, 11.4, 8 td). The pass D continues to struggle however as they’re #117 pass eff D (336 ypg, 64%, 11-4). Once again in WV’s wild B12 debut season it may come down to whoever has the ball last but it’s tough going against the Mountaineers after I had to eat some crow last week.
PHIL’S FORECAST: WEST VIRGINIA 45 TEXAS TECH 42
#6 Kansas St at Iowa St
KSU has won 4 in a row. Last year the KO was delayed 2 hrs due to lightning and KSU won 30-23 scoring a td with 3:29 left to take the lead and ISU fumbled at the KSU46. The Cats are off their rivalry game vs KU (Snyder puts a lot of emphasis on KU game). KSU trailed KU 14-7 early 2Q after a td drive which was extended by successful fake P and FG’s before scoring 49 of the game’s final 51 points in a 56-16 rout. Cats QB Klein (177 ypg, 67%, 7-2, 405 rush) has been complimented by leading rusher Hubert (532, 7.0, 8 td). Last week Iowa St upset TCU, 37-23 which ended the Horned Frogs FBS-best 12 game win streak. In QB Barnett’s first start of the year (12-21-183-3-1) the Cyclones never trailed after the 4th play of the game despite being outgained 455-350 and outFD’d 24-15 as ISU forced 5 Frog TO’s including 3 int by first time starting QB Boykin (Pachall out). The home team has won 5 in a row and KSU has not traveled here since 2007 when ISU won 31-20 which is the last time their matchup was decided by more than 8 pts. ISU has proven time and again that it’s dangerous dog and this one will go down to the wire.
PHIL’S FORECAST: KANSAS ST 24 IOWA ST 20
#7 Notre Dame vs Stanford
In ‘09 Stanford snapped a streak of 7 ND wins in a row and now has won the last 3. Last year ND benched QB Rees after he hit 6-13-60 yards with Andrew Hendrix hitting 11-24-192 off the bench. SU (at home) led 28-7 when ND went 87/4pl getting a 2 yard td run with :23 left to “only” lose by 14. ESPN GameDay will be here for the 1st time since 2005 as ND is now 5-0 after last week’s 41-3 annihilation of Miami. QB Golson was benched due to being late for a team meeting, but replaced Rees after one series and had his best day yet hitting 17-22 for 186 yds with 51 rush yards. ND only threw 2 passes in the 2H as they rolled to 376 rush yards (most since 2000). Their D has not given up a td in 3 games and they still are the only team in the country yet to trail in a game this year. The same can’t be said for Stanford who trailed Arizona 48-34 late in the 4Q but was able to force OT and eventually win 54-48. QB Nunes rebounded from a poor outing vs Wash to throw for a career-high 360 yards. The Irish are 7-1 at home vs Stanford with their lone loss the last time here in ‘10. Stanford is traveling with the Big Game vs Cal on deck and the Irish have slight edges across the board.
PHIL’S FORECAST: NOTRE DAME 27 STANFORD 13
#8 Ohio St at Indiana
OSU has now won 17 in a row vs Indiana. OSU fans have outnumbered IU fans at this site and the Bucks are 5-0 here with their avg win by 35-10. OSU has outgained Indy by 268 ypg in the last 7. Last year this game was played 1 week after OSU had upset Wisconsin and Miller hit just 5-11-55 but had an 81 yard QB draw for a td. IU actually led 10-0 (13-13 half). Indy only trailed 27-20 when they were int’d at the OSU27 with 4:07 left and the Bucks added a td with 2:41 left for a 34-20 home win. OSU is off another big home win this year as they spotted Nebraska the 1Q before storming back to beat the Huskers 63-38, the most comb points in an OSU conference game since 1950. The Bucks did score td’s via an IR and a PR but they also scored td’s on 5 straight possessions as Miller and RB Hyde comb to run for 44-326-5. The D continued to either make big plays or give them up as they forced 4 TO’s but also allowed 7pl of 20+ yards including 2 of 70+ yards. Indy shocked Michigan St by jumping out to a 17-0 1Q and 27-14 halftime leads but the 2H was another story as the Hoosiers were held to just 37 yards & 2 FD’s in a 31-27 loss. QB Coffman hit 33-48-282-3-0 while running the no huddle vs the tough Spartans D. OSU moves to 6-0 in another high scoring contest.
PHIL’S FORECAST: OHIO ST 48 INDIANA 24
#10 Oregon St at BYU
Bronco Mendenhall played LB for OSU and is now 2-0 vs his alma mater both times winning by double digits (24, 10). Last year BYU, in Corvallis, had a 282-59 yard edge at half. Last week in a game marred by 8 TO’s, OSU beat WSU 19-6 as they had 370-227 yard and 39:15-20:45 TOP edges. OSU is 4-0 for the 1st time since 2002 and has already topped last year’s win total thanks to a dynamic pass game (#8) and an improved D allowing 17 ppg (31 ppg last year). BYU’s D continues to be among the best in the country (#3 scoring, #5 total) after last week’s 6-3 win over Utah St. The offense has been inconsistent due to QB play and Nelson (back) will return here but Hill, who started the last 2, is out for the year (knee). OSU is 2-11 in non-conference away games and now will be without st’g QB Mannion. While the Beavers are much improved this year, BYU is also improved and now has the altitude advantage in what should be a very low scoring game.
PHIL’S FORECAST: BYU 16 OREGON ST 10
#11 USC at Washington
The Trojans had won 7 in a row vs UW but Sarkisian, who spent 7 yrs with USC as an assistant HC and OC, took over at UW and the Huskies pulled upsets in his first 2 matchups vs his ex-team. Last year USC at home had a 426-175 yard edge and led 40-10 before UW drove 69 yards for a 4&4, 20 yard garbage td pass with :11 left. USC is 7-4 in Pac-12 away games and is off a 38-28 road win at Utah. Thanks to two fumbles, USC found themselves down 14-0 early 1Q but then outscored the Utes 38-7 before allowing a td w/1:20 left. USC is traveling for a 2nd week in a row but did play on Thursday and have a few extra days. UW is off back-to-back games vs Stanford and Oregon and last week lost their 9th straight to the Ducks 52-21 as UW had 5 TO’s. USC has the edges on offense (#10-68), D (#10-41) and ST’s (#5-104) and won at ND and Oregon last year playing in cooler temps and last week’s score was misleading due to the poor start.
PHIL’S FORECAST: USC 34 WASHINGTON 20
#12 Florida St vs Boston College
Prior to last year, BC had given FSU fits since they joined the ACC with the 2 teams 3-3 and BC never having lost by more than 11 points. Last year FSU dominated as they led 28-0 with a 214-16 yard edge en route to a 38-7 road win. Both teams are off 2H collapses as BC let a 24-14 2Q lead slip away in their 34-31 loss to Army as they were outFD’d 31-17 and outgained 595-420. After jumping out to a 16-0 halftime lead FSU seemed like they were content to just come out of Raleigh with a “W” and it cost them dearly as a key punt block set up NCSt for the game-winning td pass w/:16 left in the 17-16 FSU loss. NCSt amazingly converted three 4th downs on the drive including the td pass. BC is in between Army and Georgia Tech’s option offenses in the middle of a 3 game road trip. FSU has edges on offense (#6-77), D (#3-71) and ST’s (#2-56) and should roll for the 2nd year in a row in what, prior to last week, seemed like a flat spot but now will be a statement game.
PHIL’S FORECAST: FLORIDA ST 42 BOSTON COLLEGE 10
† #13 Oklahoma vs #15 Texas
Dallas. UT had lost 5 in a row to OU from ‘00-’04 and many wondered if Mack Brown could beat Bob Stoops. UT then won 4 of the next 5. Last year OU had the veteran QB while UT was rotating a frosh and soph and UT was -4 in TO’s in the 55-17 rout as OU scored 3 D td’s. OU used the bye to regroup and won their 19th straight off a loss by beating TT, 41-20. After TT took a 14-13 2Q lead, OU scored 27 straight points including a 46 yard pick-6 to pull away. Playing with a practically brand new receiving corps, NFL hopeful QB Jones (258 ypg, 63%, 7-2) is #9 in the Big 12 in pass eff. UT lost its 7th straight to a ranked team vs W Virginia as they led 38-34 going into the 4Q but couldn’t protect their lead as WV went on 76/12pl and 76/8pl td drives while UT drove to the WV34 but was SOD and the WV8 but missed a FG before scoring with :15 left. QB Ash (255 ypg, 78%, 11-1) is #3 in the FBS in pass eff. UT’s secondary has been a disappointment rating #90 in pass eff D (222 ypg, 60%, 9-7). Eleven of the last 14 RRR’s have been decided by double digits but I expect this one to come down to the wire as both teams can ill afford a second loss in Big 12 play.
PHIL’S FORECAST: OKLAHOMA 31 TEXAS 28
#18 Louisville at Pittsburgh
UL won the first 3 meetings in this series but Pitt has now won 4 in a row by 21 ppg. Last year Pitt won on the road 21-14. Pitt led 21-7 before UL got a 25 yard td pass with :12 left. UL comes in off a bye while Pitt (2-3) is off a tough Friday night loss at Syracuse, 14-13. The key play was a 52 yard fumble returned td for SU that gave them a 14-0 lead and while Pitt did have a 346-305 yard edge they were held to just 27 rush yards (0.7). Pitt’s inconsistent QB Sunseri has shockingly recovered to avg 315 ypg (73%) with a 7-1 ratio the last three weeks while his counterpart, UL QB Bridgewater, who avg’d 285 ypg (82%) with a 5-0 ratio the first three weeks, is avg just 141 ypg (56%) with a 3-3 ratio the last two. Despite not bringing home an outright Big East Championship, Pitt is at home and has the owned the series. Pitt grabs another key conf win here.
PHIL’S FORECAST: PITTSBURGH 24 LOUISVILLE 20
#19 Mississippi St vs Tennessee
Last met in ‘08. The Vols are 9-1 (6 straight wins by 40-15 avg) vs the Bulldogs. UT is off a bye while MSU is only off Kentucky with Middle Tennessee on deck. UT has not beaten an SEC team on the road other than Vandy and UK since 2007 and is 4-12 vs the West. Last week MSU beat UK 27-14 as they rolled to 25-13 FD and 427-228 yard edges. QB Russell is avg 218 ypg (56%) with a 10-1 ratio. Their D has been solid but they will face their biggest test of the season vs a UT offense that is avg 509 ypg and while the pass game has been as good as expected with QB Bray avg 317 ypg, it’s been the improved run game avg 179 ypg (4.6) after avg just 90 ypg last year that’s been the difference. While the Vols have the offensive edge (#15-49), MSU has the D (#23-44), ST’s (#20-53) and home field edges and moves to 6-0 on the season.
PHIL’S FORECAST: MISSISSIPPI ST 30 TENNESSEE 27
#20 Rutgers at Syracuse
Last year RU was on the road and had a 13-2 FD edge at the half but trailed 7-3. RU had settled for 1 FG and missed 2 and SU’s only td was a 65 yard fumble recovery. San San Te missed 3 FG’s for RU including a game-winning 44 yarder but RU still won it in OT 19-16. Last week a grinding offense and a suffocating D allowed RU to come away with a 19-3 win over UC. After the game HC Flood said, “If you could bottle today’s game, you’d have Rutgers football.” RB Jamison had another 100 yard effort and they did benefit from 5 UC TO’s. Meanwhile the Orange, after 8 straight losses to FBS teams dating back to last Oct, were able to beat Pitt last week 14-13 thanks to a stifling D which produced 5 sacks and limited the Panthers to 27 rush yards (0.7). QB Nassib is avg 277 ypg (66%) with a 10-6 ratio but will be tough sledding against my #14 D.
PHIL’S FORECAST: RUTGERS 27 SYRACUSE 13
#21 Cincinnati vs Fordham
The Rams had been a major college program prior to dropping football from 1955-1963. They had been playing in the Patriot League which was a non-scholarship league and so FBS teams could not count a win against them toward bowl-eligibility. In 2010 they became an associate member of the Patriot League (ineligible for league title) as they began offering scholarships to attract FBS foes. In 2011 they played Connecticut & Army and were outscored by a combined 90-3 and outgained by a combined 978-255. The Rams are 4-2 this year under new HC Joe Moorhead, with losses to FCS #10 Lehigh (34-31) and a Villanova team (28-13) that lost 41-10 to Big East member Temple earlier this year. Earlier this year, with a bye on deck, Cincy took on FCS member Delaware St and only won 23-7 despite a 467-261 yd edge as they had 6 TO’s including 2 in the redzone. Look for them to show a little more concentration here with only a non-conf game at Toledo on deck.
PHIL’S FORECAST: CINCINNATI 49 FORDHAM 10
#22 Texas A&M at #23 Louisiana Tech
Originally scheduled for week 1 but postponed due to Hurricane Isaac. LT is 0-10 vs A&M with the avg loss by 30 ppg. Only one game was away from College Station and that was also in Shreveport as A&M won 37-17 in ‘99. In the last game (‘10) LT trailed 14-10 but had 1&10 at the A&M16 with under :30 in the 1H. After a TO with :18 left, A&M went 73/3 plays for a Hail Mary 44 yard td pass to lead 21-10 and went on to a 48-16 win. LT hasn’t had back-to-back bowl seasons since ‘77 & ‘78 but are well on their way at 5-0 after last week’s 58-31 win over UNLV. After wins over BCS Illinois and UVA earlier this year, this is their last chance to make their case as a BCS Buster. QB Cameron is avg 291 ypg (68%) with a 13-0 ratio and while the offense is avg 523 ypg, their D is giving up 531 ypg (#123)! They will face their sternest test of the year as A&M comes in 4-1 and their offense led by QB Manziel is avg 517 ypg. Last week they pulled out a 10 pt come-from-behind win at Ole Miss 30-27 despite 6 TO’s. While both offenses and ST’s rank in my top 20, the Aggies have the huge D edge (#20-107) and should put enough pressure on Cameron (#7 NCAA sacks) to come away with a double digit win.
PHIL’S FORECAST: TEXAS A&M 48 LA TECH 34
#24 Boise St vs Fresno St
Last year marked FSU’s worst home loss in Pat Hill’s 15 year tenure. #5 Boise led 37-0 at the half and 50-0 after 3Q’s on Friday night en route to a 57-7 win. FSU’s 4Q td on a 79 yard PR stopped a Boise St streak of 111 straight points in the series as they had won 51-0 the year before. BSU has scored at least 51 points in each of the last four meetings but look for that to change here as the team does not resemble its previous editions. While Boise is 4-1, they are doing it with a bit of “smoke and mirrors” failing to score an offensive td in 2 games and last week were outgained 424-310 in a 40-14 win thanks to 5 Southern Miss TO’s. On the other side, FSU is 4-2 after last week’s 28-7 win at CSU where they outgained the Rams 408-249. QB Carr is avg 303 ypg (69%) and is #2 in the NCAA in td passes (18) while RB Rouse already has 711 (5.4). Fresno has the better off (#25-60) and is playing with new confidence under first year HC DeRuyter but you can’t go against the series domination here.
PHIL’S FORECAST: BOISE ST 30 FRESNO ST 24
#25 Michigan vs Illinois
UM had won 6 in a row in this series until Illinois pulled back-to-back upsets in ‘08 and ‘09 winning 45-20 at the Big House and at home 38-3. In ’10, UM hung on in what was the highest scoring game in Big Ten history, 67-65 in 3OT. Last year UM won 31-14. The Illini have now lost their last 3 while being outscored 118-45 after last week’s 31-14 loss to the Badgers. The Illini led 7-0 early 2Q but the Badgers scored 24 straight and outgained UI 427-284. After missing nearly 3 games due to injury, QB Scheelhaase has gone the distance the last 2 avg 224 ypg (61%, 1-3, 91 rush) behind a banged up OL which has allowed a Big 10 worst 20 sacks. Fresh off a bye UM clobbered Purdue 44-13 as the Wolves forced 4 TO’s and outgained the home standing Boilers 409-213. D-Rob atoned for the ND debacle by hitting 8-16-105-1-0 (1st game this year without an int) while running for 24-235 accounting for 84% of UM’s total yards. UM looks to be headed in the right direction while IL struggles continue.
PHIL’S FORECAST: MICHIGAN 31 ILLINOIS 13