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Top 25 – Week 8

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 15-3 83% and on the year they are 118-21 85%!! On the bottom of the forecasts, I have also listed some Upset Specials for this week which are 5-1 the last 4 weeks!! To get projected box scores for theses Top 25 games, click here.

#1 Alabama at Tennessee

Finally this game returns to The Third Sat in October. It may surprise some to know that from ‘95-’06 UT was 10-2 in this series. Since Bama lost at UT 16-13 in ‘06, they are 5-0 and have won their last 2 trips here 29-9 in ‘08 (+193 yards) and 41-10 in ‘10 (+221 yards). Last year’s game was surprisingly tied 6-6 at the half with Bama only having a 157-114 yard edge but Saban let them know about his unhappiness and Bama did not allow a FD in the 2H and had a 280-41 yard edge winning 37-6. The #1 Tide again have the nation’s #1 D and last week the only td allowed came on a 98 yard KR as they rolled Mizzou 42-10 racking up a 355-37 rush yard edge! Bama is on its second straight away which didn’t occur last year. After last week’s loss to Miss St 41-31, UT has lost 14 straight vs ranked opponents with the avg loss by 19 points per game. Despite huge improvements in the run game (avg 185 ypg), the Vols are 3-3 and Dooley is on one of the hottest seats in America. While Bama is well rested off a bye and blowout, they may be peeking ahead to games against Mississippi St and LSU on deck.

#2 Oregon at Arizona St

Last year UO was playing without RB James and lost QB Thomas to injury early. A key play happened late in the 1H when ASU was at the UO37 leading 17-14 and was intercepted in the EZ and UO got a 50 yard IR. UO went 50/3pl and got a td with :27 left in the half. UO at home won 41-27. UO has won 4 straight trips to Tempe but the last time here was very misleading. The Ducks were outgained by 212 yards (-9 FD) and trailed 24-14 late 2Q as the Sun Devils penetrated UO territory 7 times with 0 points and 7 TO’s. This year the Ducks have not been tested as they have won each of their games by 17 points or more while racing out to big 1H leads. QB Mariota is comp 68% of his passes with a 15-5 ratio and naturally he has Thomas and Barner with him in the backfield. The Ducks D is improved (giving up 360 ypg and 20 ppg but again this will be their biggest test this season against an ASU team that is 5-1 under new HC Graham and has been impressive on both sides of the ball. While calling for a Sun Devil upset might be a popular pick this week, I think the Ducks get the win.

#3 Florida vs #9 South Carolina

Naturally this is a special game to South Carolina Coach Spurrier who won a Heisman here and coached here for 12 years winning a National Title in ‘96. When Spurrier returned to SC in ‘05, they broke a 13 game losing steak with an upset win at home. Spurrier would drop the next 4 but has now won the L2Y. In ‘10 in The Swamp with the SEC Title on the line, SC dominated, winning 36-14 with a 395-226 yard edge. Last year both came in with struggling offenses, but the Gamecocks won 17-12 with a 299-261 yard edge. SC is off a 23-21 loss to LSU where they were fortunate to be that close as they were dominated at the LOS (258-34 rush yard deficit). That could be a concern as UF dominated LSU at the LOS two weeks ago with a 176-42 rush yard edge. Last week QB Driskel broke Tebow’s QB rush record with 177 yards (16.1) including a 70 yard td clincher in the 4Q as UF ran for 326 yards (even with 3 starting OL out due to injury) in a 31-17 win at Vandy. SC is playing 3 top SEC teams in three weeks while Florida is off a bye, LSU at home and only at Vandy last week. UF is the better team as evidenced by the LSU comparison, playing at home with revenge and gets the win.

#4 Kansas St at #17 West Virginia

WV is in the spot of proving their Big 12 mettle as they were crushed 49-14 at Texas Tech for their first loss of the ssn. The Mountaineers never led (trailed 35-7 at HT; 49-7 with 4:00 left) and were outgained 676-408. QB Geno Smith is still #1 in the FBS in passing eff (379 ypg, 75%, 25-0) but played the entire 2H without the FBS’s #4 receiver, Bailey (766, 13.9, 14 td) due to a foot inj. The D issues that were masked by the high powered offense were exposed as WV is #118 pass D (365, 67%, 17-5) with top DL Clark missing last week’s game due to injury. The Cats held off ISU as QB Klein had 12 4Q touches to grind out the win. Klein (179 ypg, 67%, 7-2, 510 rush, 10 td) may be the country’s least glamorous Heisman contender but he quarterbacks the Big 12’s highest ranked team. Most teams would have trouble adapting to this unusual setting in Morgantown with their juiced up home crowd but Snyder will have the Cats prepared and this one will come down to the wire.

#5 Notre Dame vs BYU

In the last meeting (‘05) the Irish won 49-23 with a 511-392 yard edge. ND is off perhaps its biggest win in the Kelly era as they were able to stop Stanford on 4th&gl from the 1 in OT (albeit controversially). QB Golson was hit and miss as he made several spectacular throws on the run but also had 3 TO’s including a fmbl that led to a SU td. He was knocked out of the game late in the 4Q but should play here and it was backup Rees closing out a win for the third time this year. The Irish def (#4) has not allowed a td in 4 games and is still the only D not to allow a rush td TY! BYU has a great D of its own (#11) but last week gave up 42 points and 450 yards to Oregon St in the loss. Taking on an OSU QB who hadn’t taken a snap in two years, it was just 28-24 late 4Q before 2 OSU td’s. Cougar QB Nelson was back in the starting lineup after missing 2 games and was his usual inconsistent self with 3 interceptions. While the situation favors BYU as ND is in a Miami/Stanford/OU sandwich, I’m not sold on BYU’s offense generating enough points in what should be a low scoring affair.

#6 LSU at #20 Texas A&M

Rematch of the 2010 Cotton Bowl when LSU rolled 41-24.In a game that was postponed by Hurricane Isaac from August 30, the Aggies survived a late LT rally in a 59-57 win. QB Manziel again broke the SEC record for total offense (576) and accounted for 6 td’s. A&M did overcome 19 penalties (165 yards) and was -2 in TO’s. LSU also overcame several mistakes to win 23-21 over #3 South Carolina. It was a game LSU should have won by 3 td’s as they had a 258-34 rush yard edge but settled for 3 FG’s of less than 25 yards, missed a 32 yard FG, gave up a 71 yard IR that set up a Gamecock td and gave up a 4&15 pass with less than 2:00 left that allowed SC to score on the next play. LSU is 0-4 in College Station with their last meeting in ‘95. A&M has the better offense (#4-28) while LSU has the better D (#5-28). This one will come down to the wire.

#7 Ohio St vs Purdue

PU upset OSU at home in ‘00, ‘04 and ‘09. The next year, OSU had wins of 35-9, 23-7 and 49-0 winning by 31 points per game and in ‘10 had a 489-118 yard edge. Last year PU, at home, outplayed OSU in the 1H with a 17-7 lead and a 242-97 yard edge. OSU battled back and on 4th&3 got a td pass for the apparent win but PU blk’d the xp and then won it in OT, 26-23. PU’s last win in Columbus came in ‘88 and since then they have dropped 8 straight by 22 points per game. PU last played a road game 6 weeks ago but since their bye the Boilers are 0-2 getting outscored by Michigan and Wisconsin by a combined 88-27. Last week Purdue was dominated by Wisconsin in the rain 38-14 as the Badgers finished with 30-11 FD and 645-232 yard edges. UW owned the LOS (467-128 yard rush edge) and the QB trio of TerBush, Marve and Henry combined to hit 11-31-124-0-1 while being sacked 5 times. OSU survived Indiana as the Hoosiers scored 15 points in 0:35 during the final 2:00 of the game before the Bucks secured a second onside K for the win. QB Miller (182 ypg, 61%, 11-4) and RB Hyde have combined for 272 rush ypg (6.6) in Big Ten play this year. OSU’s D attrition has shown the last two weeks (459 ypg, 44 points per game) with the Bucks being forced to play starting FB Boren at LB due to the loss of #3 tackler Sabino. However, I expect HC Meyer to be in the ear of the D all week long and I expect a much improved Buckeye D this week in what should be a rout.

#8 Oregon St vs Utah

Last year at home, Utah’s White ran for a career-high 205 yards. QB Hays hit just 6-14-62 yards but the Utes had a 225-32 rushing edge. Oregon St actually had a 17-13 FD edge but the Utes won 27-8. Utah is off a misleading 21-14 loss to UCLA as they got a 1 yard td pass on 4th&gl with 3:00 left on a 90 yard drive led by Hays who came off the bench as Wilson got the start (23-33-220-0-1). Utah’s only other td came on a fmbl’d PR as the UCLA player tried fielding it at the 3, bobbled it, and then bobbled it again into the EZ. OSU is 5-0 for the 1st time since 1939 after last week’s 42-24 win at BYU. With starting QB Mannion out, backup Vaz took his first snaps in 2 years and made it look easy going 20-32-332-3-0 as the Beavers racked up 450 yards on one of the best D’s in the country. The Utes are on the second of back-to-back away games and have been outgained in each of their 6 Pac-12 road games dating back to last year by an avg of 116 yards per game! Tough going against a Beaver team that is one of the biggest surprises in the country.

#10 Oklahoma vs Kansas

The Sooners have won 7 in a row by 23 points per game (+183 ypg). Last year these two also met the week after the RRR and OU only had a 335-246 yard halftime edge and led just 27-17 on the road. In the 2H OU settled for 27 and 20 yard FG’s, fmbl’d into the EZ for a TB and was intercepted at the KU28 as they won 47-17 and finished with a 610-252 yard edge. OU is in a large Texas/ND sandwich and this is the Sooners “C” game for October especially after last week’s second straight whipping of the Horns, 63-21. The Sooners led 36-2 at the half and didn’t allow an offensive td to be scored until the 4Q when the backups were in. The 677-289 yard margin was the most the UT program has been outgained by since 1950! QB Jones (271 ypg, 62%, 9-3) seems to have recovered from his slow start and has found a new receiver on a weekly basis. RB Williams is #2 in the Big 12 in rushing (508, 7.7) including last week’s RRR record 95 yard td run. Despite a 1:19 thunderstorm delay KU rallied from a 20-0 4Q deficit to drive to the OSU41 where they were SOD with 2:45 left. The Hawks forced a P but saw the comeback dreams die when they roughed the P with 1:46 left. HC Weis finally benched starting QB Crist (181 ypg, 49%, 3-7) and Cummings led the 4Q comeback hitting 5-10-75-1-0 aided by Sims (344, 4.7). The Hawks allow 201 rush ypg (5.0) which isn’t good news vs the revitalized Sooners.

#11 USC vs Colorado

Last year these two met for the first time since ‘02 with USC winning 42-17 on a Friday night with Barkley setting a school record with 6 td passes. CU did have 31 and 37 yard FG’s blocked and settled for a 30 yard FG after a 1st&gl at the 8. CU struggled with their first visits to new venues last year losing their first four (-271 ypg!) with their only Pac-12 road win vs fellow newcomer Utah. USC returns home after back-to-back wins over Utah (38-28) and Washington (24-14). The Trojans forced 4 TO’s and sacked UW QB Price 5 times while playing it safe in the 2H with a lead as Barkley’s 10 completions were his fewest since ‘10. One time Heisman favorite Barkley (246 ypg, 63%, 16-6) has been quiet with RB Redd (570, 5.6) stealing the spotlight with 150+ yards in 2 of the last 3. CU trailed ASU just 20-17 at the break before being outscored 31-0 in the 2H in a 51-17 Thursday night home loss. ASU had 31-16 FD and 593-255 yard edges. CU QB Webb (190 ypg, 57%, 8-4) has been sacked an FBS most 27 times. The Buffs are being shredded through the air allowing 313 ypg (63%) with a 20-3 ratio (#117 FBS). If Kiffin wants to get Barkley back into the Heisman conversation this is the perfect opportunity to start the chatter.

#12 Florida St at Miami, FL

Ten of the last 11 have been decided by a td or less. The visitor had won 5x prior to last year and Miami does not have much of a home edge. Last year the Canes actually had a 383-249 yard and 24-13 FD edges but lost 23-19. The last time here, #23 FSU rolled to a 45-17 win as the Noles fans were in full force with the War Chant drowning out the Miami cheers. After the very conservative approach in the 2H of the loss at NC State, the Noles came out firing in their 51-7 win over BC which featured Manuel passing for a career-high 434 yards and the Noles topping the 600 yard mark for the fourth time this year (most since the ‘99 National Champ team). The Canes come in wounded – literally and figuratively – off back-to-back losses to ND and UNC as QB Morris left the UNC game with an ankle injury. If he can’t go it will be Memphis transfer Williams who was 9-13-80 last week. The Noles have all the talent edges especially on D (#2-86) and I expect the War Chant to reverberate around Sun Life Stadium.

#13 Georgia at Kentucky

The last time here UGA led 28-3 late 2Q and 41-17 in the 4Q before allowing a couple of garbage time scores in their 44-31 win. Last year at home, UGA just needed to beat UK to wrap up the SEC East Title. The Dogs did have a 317-165 yard edge but in the 1H settled for 5 FG’s, missing one. In the 2H UGA was intercepted in the EZ and fmbl’d at the UK40 and the crowd started getting nervous as they only led 12-10 but got a td on the 1st play of the 4Q to go up 19-10 and UK never really threatened after that. UGA is off a bye after its devastating 35-7 loss to South Carolina but does have Florida on deck. UK is now 1-5 after last week’s 49-7 loss to Arkansas in a game that was called with 5:08 remaining in the 3Q! Due to injuries, UK is going with frosh QB Whitlow who hit just 2-10 last week and was #4 on the depth chart in preseason! He was spelled for two series by Newton, but he couldn’t spark the offense either. Even with a big game on deck, expect the Bulldogs to atone for their performance against SC and continue UK HC Phillips woes.

#14 Clemson vs Virginia Tech

These two met twice last year but prior to that the previous meeting was in ‘07. VT is playing with some serious revenge here. Last year in the regular season they had a tremendous situational edge off four easy games while CU was off two big games and on its first road trip. That game was played in light rain and 43 degrees and CU got a td with 1:49 left 2Q to lead 10-3 at the half and won 23-3. In the ACC Champ game, it was 10-10 at the half but the Tigers rolled to a 38-10 win. CU has the situational edge this time off a bye and while VT had just Duke last week, this is their 8th straight game and third away from home in four weeks. Last week VT fell behind 20-0 in the 1Q but exploded for 41 unanswered in their win over Duke as it was their best 48 minutes of football this year. Even with the revenge factor here, it worries me that Bud Foster’s D couldn’t stop Clemson last year and this year has allowed 495 yards or more in 3 games.

#15 Mississippi St vs Middle Tenn

Mississippi St is in an SEC sandwich between a huge home win vs Tennessee and Bama but Middle Tenn is on its third away game in four weeks including their upset at Georgia Tech and at 2-1 in conference play, the SBC crown will be their main goal. These 2 have played 2 recent games (‘08 &’09) with MSU winning both and the visitor covering both. While the Bulldogs did beat an FCS foe last year with #4 Bama on deck, they were also 2-3 in SEC play but this year they are ranked #15 and tied with #1 Bama for the SEC West. MSU is a different team this year as opponents need to respect the pass attack behind an extremely improved Russell who has gone from an 8-4 ratio last year to 12-1. They’re also different on the defensive side of the ball as they faced two Sun Belt teams and were outFD’d in BOTH (30-17 vs Troy and 21-15 vs USA) while totaling 1 sack. The Raiders strong offensive showing (434 ypg) can be attributed to an OL that has allowed just 4 sacks on the season including only 1 at GT. Middle Tenn has proven they can keep it close but that was with their best offensive player in RB Cunningham (5 td’s vs GT) who is now out for the year.

#16 Louisville vs USF

Last year USF was without QB Daniels (injury) and UL got the series’ third upset in four years. USF got a td with just :35 left in the 1H to lead 17-3 but UL got a 54 yard KR and would get a td with :13 left in the half to pull within 17-10. USF still led 24-20 in the 4Q and UL got a td with 9:38 left then drove 17 yards after a fmbl for another td with 4:12 left in the 34-24 win. USF is fresh off a bye after four straight losses that had the USF AD making news talking about re-evaluating the program and HC Holtz. Meanwhile UL is off to its best start since ‘06 after their 45-35 win over Pitt where the Cards benefitted from a couple of questionable decisions by Pitt HC Chryst including one that gave UL a FG on the last play of the 1H to cut the Pitt lead to 21-17 and gave them momentum into the locker room. QB Bridgewater is avg 240 ypg (72%) with a 9-3 ratio while his counterpart Daniels is avg 251 ypg (56%) with a 10-8 ratio. The last time here USF won 24-21 in OT and I expect the maximum effort out of the Bulls here after a tumultuous week but in the end it’s tough going against the undefeated home Cards.

#18 Texas Tech at TCU

The Raiders are off of their biggest home win under Tuberville and most lopsided ever vs a Top 5 team as they ambushed #5 West Virginia 49-14. TT led 35-7 at the break and finished with a 676-408 yard edge as QB Doege (32-42-499-6-1) easily out-dueled Heisman frontrunner Geno Smith (29-55-275-1-0). Doege is #7 in the FBS in pass eff (315 ypg, 71%, 21-7). The D has been the difference so far this year allowing a conference-best 243 ypg (#4 FBS). The Frogs took advantage of six Baylor TO’s to upset the neighboring Bears 49-21. BU was intercepted at the TCU20, fmbl’d at the TCU25 and was intercepted twice in the 4Q deep in its own territory which set the Frogs up for 14 and 44 yard td drives putting the game out of reach. QB Boykin hit 22-30-261-4-0 vs Baylor with all 4 td’s on third down including 3rd&19 in his first road start. TCU’s D allows 205 pass ypg (48%) with an 8-14 ratio as they lead the FBS with 20 TO’s forced. Whoever minimizes mistakes will win and I like the experienced Doege on the road here.

#19 Rutgers at Temple

This Big East series resumes after a seven year layoff. After getting kicked out of the Big East in ‘04, the Owls are shockingly 2-0 in conference play this year after last week’s 17-14 OT win at Connecticut, a game in which the Owls trailed for more than 59 minutes! One key to their surprising start has been a healthy RB Harris who ran for 142 yards (4.7), which has allowed Temple to avg 209 rush ypg the last two weeks. The unbeaten Knights are also off a misleading game as they were outgained 418-237 in a 23-15 win over Syracuse and benefitted from 4 Cuse TO’s and also a 75 yard blk’d FG returned for a td! Temple has been outgained by 82 ypg this year and their new found run game will find it tough sledding against the nation’s #2 rush D that is allowing just 62 ypg (2.3).

#21 Cincinnati at Toledo

UC HC Jones spent three years at Central Mich but never faced the Rockets. The Bearcats have a HUGE schedule edge playing in just their sixth game, coming off Miami (OH) and Fordham while UT is off 3 MAC West teams and playing its 8th straight game. However, UC does have the Big East showdown vs UL on deck. Last week, in a weird start, Fordham ran the first 22 offensive plays of the game and still trailed 7-3 thanks to a 76 yd IR td. UC would explode for 35 2H pts in the 49-17 win. UT in possible look ahead mode beat EM 52-47 as the teams combined for 1,279 yards. The Rockets in the last 15 years have beaten the likes of Purdue, #9 Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Kansas and Colorado at home so there is some history there. UT alsobasically beat Big East member Syracuse on the road last year (controversial xp, lost in OT) and has my #9 offense which means this battle may come down to the wire.

#22 Stanford at California

The Big Game which used to be the final game of the regular season but last year it was Stanford’s second-to-last game and this year makes the move to October. Last year’s game was played on a rain soaked field and Luck hit 20-30-257 yards while Maynard actually out-passed him with 280. Trailing 31-21, Cal went 74/10pl for a td with :14 left but Stanford recovered the onside kick. Cal had a 7-1 run from ‘02-’09 but SU has won the last two. SU is on the second of back-to-back away off a tough 20-13 OT loss at ND . The last time here SU handed Cal its worst loss in this rivalry since 1930. The Bears are off back-to-back impressive wins and playing with renewed confidence while the Cardinal HC Shaw and players found themselves questioning the officials in last week’s game and need to regroup.

#23 Michigan vs Michigan St

Ever since the “Little Brother” comment in ‘07, MSU has taken hold of this rivalry going 4-0 winning by an avg score of 31-18 and +157 ypg. Last year at home, the Spartans had a 313-82 rush yard edge and the team with more rush yards is 38-4 in this series. MSU has won its last two Big House trips by 14 and 17 points. The Wolves went just 16-14 at home from ‘07-’10 but Hoke has reinstalled the UM pride for an undefeated record the last two years. Since the bye the Wolves have outscored their foes 89-13 and outgained them 936-347 for a 2-0 SU start in Big Ten play. UM shutout Illinois last week 45-0 with 21-7 FD and 527-134 yard edges as the Illini’s deepest penetration into UM territory was the 32. QB D-Rob (184 ypg, 55%, 9-8, #4 FBS 134 rush ypg, 8.0) has accounted for 627 total yards and 5 td’s with 0 TO’s the last two weeks. Improving UM D has allowed 92 rush ypg (2.8) in the last four. MSU is off to a disappointing 1-2 Big Ten start after last week’s 19-16 2OT home loss to Iowa. MSU was leading 13-6 late 4Q when they allowed Iowa to drive 67/9pl for the game-tying td. After both hit FG’s in the first OT, Iowa was held to a 42 yarder in the second but a deflected pass was intercepted by the Hawks to end the game. QB Maxwell (230 ypg, 54%, 6-4) has struggled with a young receiving corps without #1 receiving TE Sims but the deflection was his first interception since the opener. RB Bell remains the Big Ten’s RB rush leader (916, 4.6). The Sparty D is strong on paper (#1 Big Ten rush, total and scoring D) but has the league’s fewest sacks with 6 after leading the conference last year. With the weight of Buckeyes’ streak lifted last year, this game was circled by the Wolves in the offseason and may be Michigan’s most important game YTD.

#24 Boise St vs UNLV

Last year at UNLV, 12,000 Boise fans were in attendance but BSU had their big showdown vs TCU on deck and the Rebels had a shocking 198-161 yard edge in the 1H with the Broncos getting a 5 yard td pass with :25 left to lead 21-14. BSU went on a to a 48-21 win (just 416-319 yards). The Broncos have no scheduling distractions this year with only Wyoming on deck. Last week the Broncos beat Fresno St for the seventh straight time 20-10 holding one of the nation’s best scoring offenses to zero points in the 1H (fourth straight game no points allowed before halftime). The Broncos are 5-1 thanks to a D that has forced 19 TO’s (#2) while the offense is avg just 369 ypg (lowest since ‘97!). UNLV is off what may be biggest home game of season vs instate rival Nevada as conference opponents for first time and after leading 31-14, allowed 28 unanswered points in the 42-37 loss. While the offense is much improved avg 414 ypg (274 last year), the defense is still allowing 479 ypg. HC Hauck is on the hotseat which won’t be helped here as the Rebs will be in awe of their first visit to the Blue Turf and it will show in the score.


5-1 last 4 weeks!!

Maryland over NC State

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