Top 25 – Week 10
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 I was disappointed with the Top 25 forecast results as they only hit 12-7 63% but on the year they are still a solid 148-31 83%!! On the bottom of the forecasts, I have also listed some Upset Specials for this week which moved to 6-4 60% the last 6 weeks!
#1 ALABAMA AT #5 LSU
Since the BCS started in ‘98 no teams involved in the National Title game have played each other the following year but that will change here. There have been 3 OT matchups in the last 7 meetings and in the last 5 regular season games Bama has won 2 and scored 112 points while LSU has won 3 and scored 110 points. Miles is 3-3 vs Saban. Last year in the first meeting, Bama missed 4 FG’s and was intercepted at the 1 and the Tide lost at home in OT 9-6. The National Championship game was a beatdown with Bama having 384-92 yard and 21-5 FD edges. LSU did not even cross midfield until the middle of the 4Q. The #1 Tide continue to be the media’s bulletproof juggernaut after last week’s 38-7 win over Miss St but they did benefit from +3 TO’s. QB McCarron is averaging 211 ypg (69%) with an 18-0 ratio and is #1 in the NCAA in pass efficiency while the Tide D is #1 in most categories including allowing just 57 rush ypg (1.9) this year (72, 2.4 last year!). LSU does come in extremely confident off back-to-back wins over Top 25 teams SC and A&M as frosh RB Hill has back-to-back 100 yard games and the Tiger D once again is no slouch allowing just 243 total ypg (#3). The concern has to be QB Mettenberger who is avg 177 ypg (57%) with a 7-4 ratio. LSU does have significant schedule edge off a bye while the Tide is on its 3rd away in 4 games. Miles said after the win vs SC earlier this year that, “Death Valley is a place where opponents’ dreams come to die.” While I don’t think Alabama’s dream dies here, I do think this one will come down to the wire!
PHIL’S FORECAST: ALABAMA 17 LSU 16
#2 OREGON AT #18 USC
The Pac-12 game that everyone has anticipated lost a bit of its luster last week with the Trojans slipping up in Tucson despite the efforts of WR Lee and his conference record 345 receiving yards and 16 catches (USC blew a 2 td 2H lead). The Ducks meanwhile got out to a 56-0 halftime lead before putting the offense in cruise control in the 2H for a 70-14 victory over a struggling Colorado squad (UO 425 rush yards). Last year the Trojans ended UO’s BCS Championship aspirations delivering a 38-35 win. The Ducks have put together an amazing road record in conf play over the last 4+ years winning 15 in a row while outscoring their Pac-12 foes by a 43-24 avg margin. While I expect the game to be closer than that, I also expect the Ducks to go into LA and take home a victory and continue their run towards a BCS berth while questions arise over Kiffin’s ability to keep the Trojans motivated down the stretch after suffering Bubble Burst.
PHIL’S FORECAST: OREGON 49 USC 42
#3 KANSAS ST VS OKLAHOMA ST
KSU dominated the first 3 meetings winning by an avg of 47-13. The next 4 meetings were all close games with OSU going 3-1 (wins by 4, 2, 10, loss by 4). Last year KSU nearly pulled an upset with an early 24-14 lead. OSU tied it up at 45-45 and got a td with 2:16 left. KSU had a 1st and goal at the 5 but then fired into the endzone 3 times at the end and was incomplete on all 3 (52-45). The Cowboys come in off a 36-14 win over TCU. OSU trailed 14-0 in the 1Q but scored the game’s final 36 points as they became the first team to hold the Frogs under 20 points in 33 games. OSU held their 3rd straight conference opponent under 20 points for the first time since the Big 12’s inception in 1996. A rusty QB Lunt hit 18-33-324-1-1 in his first action since week 3. KSU is 8-0 for the first time since ‘99 after their textbook 55-24 win over Texas Tech. The Cats led by just 3 points at the half but 2 Tech TO’s in the 3Q directly led to KSU td’s and the rout was on. Heisman contender Klein is #2 in the FBS in pass efficiency (204, 71%, 12-2, 634, FBS QB best 16 rush td’s). KSU is #5 in the FBS in TO margin at +15. The Cats are heading into uncharted waters while I expect the Cowboys to keep it close.
PHIL’S FORECAST: KANSAS ST 27 OKLAHOMA ST 24
#4 NOTRE DAME AT PITTSBURGH
Since ‘03 these two have met 7 times and the last 4 have been decided by 3, 5, 6 and 3 points. Last year ND did finish with a 398-268 yard edge but Pitt looked like they would win as they led 12-7 in the 4Q but had just 53 4Q yards and lost 15-12. The Irish are off arguably their biggest win since 1993’s upset of #1 FSU as they beat #8 Oklahoma 30-13 on the road. The game was a bit misleading as the Irish did benefit from a late holding call in the 1H that took a Sooner td off the board and the game was tied at 13 mid-4Q. What wasn’t misleading was ND’s domination at the LOS as they outrushed the Sooners 215-15 and QB Golson played by far the best game of his career hitting 13-25-177 while adding 64 rush yards and a td and committing no TO’s. LB Te’o also had a big game with 11 tkls, 2 tfl and a key int and may have cemented a spot in New York on December 8th. ND’s D did give up its first rush td this year but they still have allowed an FBS-low 7 td’s. Pitt is off one of its most impressive performances of the season with a 47-17 win over Temple. It continues to shock me that Sunseri is #8 in the NCAA in pass efficiency avg 275 ypg (69%) with a 13-2 ratio while he has a 1-2 punch in the backfield behind him with Graham and Shell combining for 1,063 yards (4.8). This is clearly a flat spot for the Irish here, but look for them to continue their most successful season in at least decade with a double-digit win.
PHIL’S FORECAST: NOTRE DAME 27 PITTSBURGH 10
#6 OHIO ST VS ILLINOIS
The Illini was 6-0 and sky high coming into last year’s game but OSU won 17-7 although IL had a 285-228 edge. IL HC Beckman was an OSU assistant in ‘05-’06. The undefeated Bucks dominated the 3Q at PSU sparked by a 17 yard IR td which gave them a 14-7 lead for good. After last week’s injury scare QB Miller (170 ypg, 57%, 12-6) accounted for 277 total yards and 3 td’s becoming the first 1,000 yard rusher in Meyer’s HC career (#1 Big Ten with 1093, 6.6). The improving OSU D held the Lions to 32 rush yards and they are #20 in the FBS allowing just 112 ypg (3.6) in that category. Off of a bye IL was at home vs Big Ten weakling Indiana for homecoming, but tied at 14 the Illini, fumbled a punt which set the Hoosiers up for a 22 yard td drive. A 3Q fumble set up a FG and the Hoosiers D did the rest, getting 7 sacks. QB Scheelhaase (140, 61%, 4-5) has struggled behind a banged up OL which has allowed 30 sacks (#117 FBS). The Illini has actually allowed 24 fewer ypg than OSU but has been put in bad spots by the offense which has coughed the ball up 20 times this year. The Bucks have a bye on deck (10th straight game) and the Illini may have already waved the white towel (5 straight losses).
PHIL’S FORECAST: OHIO ST 41 ILLINOIS 10
#7 GEORGIA VS MISSISSIPPI
UGA has now won 9 in a row but last year was the first meeting in 4 years. The Bulldogs won even more comfortably than the 27-13 final would indicate finishing with 25-8 FD and 475-183 yard edges but gave up an 81 yard PR td with :49 left in the half. The Bulldogs were very fortunate to win back-to-back games over rival UF for first time since ‘88-89 last week 17-9 as they benefitted from 6 UF TO’s. Two of the TO’s came in the UGA EZ with the Gators going in to score. One week after having a career game, QB Murray was shaky going 12-24-150-1-3. LB Jones was the game saver with 13 tackles, 3 sacks and 2 FF including the one on UF TE Reed with 2:00 left. After losing a school record 16 straight SEC games the Rebs have now won 2 in a row after last week’s 30-27 win at Arkansas and they are now 1 win away from bowl eligibility. Despite QB Wallace’s unimpressive 10-9 ratio, he is completing 66% and last week directed the 61/8pl drive that led to the game-winning FG on the last play. I think the Bulldogs maybe patting themselves on the back a little too much this week which could allow the feisty Rebels to keep it closer than expected here.
PHIL’S FORECAST: GEORGIA 30 OLE MISS 24
#8 FLORIDA VS MISSOURI
This is UF’s SEC FINALE!! (on Nov 3rd) with Louisiana, Jax St and Florida St on deck. This is only Missouri’s second SEC away game marking the first of 3 away in the last 4 weeks of the season and it is also the Tigers first experience in The Swamp. In a game where the winner claimed control of the SEC East, the Gators blew several chances and had 6 TO’s (only 4 TO’s in the first 7 games combined) in their 17-9 loss to UGA. The two most critical ones came at the end of the 1H as Driskel threw a lazy pass into the endzone that was intercepted costing the Gators a short FG and a possible 9-7 lead and the final one was the dagger with TE Reed heading for the endzone only to fumble. Missouri finally got its first SEC win last week 33-10 over Kentucky. The Tigers turned all 3 of UK’s fumbles into td’s and QB Franklin, who wasn’t supposed to play, came off the bench for an ineffective Berkstresser (10-18-71-0-2) to lead the win. UF still can claim a tie for the SEC East with a win here and I look for an agitated bunch of Gators to beat up on a Tigers team that has found that “old man football” is not for the young and weak.
PHIL’S FORECAST: FLORIDA 31 MISSOURI 6
#8 CLEMSON AT DUKE
The Tigers are off a dominating 42-13 win at Wake Forest as QB Boyd threw for a school record 428 yards with 5 td’s and WR Watkins had a school record 202 receiving yards as the Tigers raced out to a 35-0 lead in the 2Q. CU became the second ACC team in history to score at least 37 points in 7 straight games and their struggling D held WF to -23 rush yards in the 1H. Duke predictably didn’t handle clinching their first bowl bid since ‘94 well last week as they were demolished 48-7 at Florida St getting outgained 560-232 and QB Renfree was knocked out of the game after completing just 13-21-92-0-0 while backup Boone was 3-15-37-0-0. While CU has the talent edges, Duke has played exceptionally well at home this year going 5-0 outscoring their foes 43-21 and I think they could give the Tigers a game.
PHIL’S FORECAST: CLEMSON 41 DUKE 31
#12 LOUISVILLE VS TEMPLE
In their only other meeting in the last 15 years, UL won 62-0 in ‘06. The Owls are on their 3rd away game in 4 weeks and last week were hammered 47-17 at Pitt in what was their 2nd straight 25+ point loss after starting Big East play 2-0. The Cardiac Cards continued their march to the Big East Championship last week with a 34-31 OT win over Cincy. UL trailed by 10 on two different occasions but picked off Cincy QB Legaux 3 times. They also benefitted from Cincy HC Jones calling a TO right at the snap, which was high, on the game-winning FG attempt in OT which allowed UL a re-kick. QB Bridgewater is avg 264 ypg (71%) with a 13-4 ratio. While the Cardinals have won 5 games by a td or less this year they have the offense (#54-108) and defense (#48-86) edges and should allow their fans to breathe easy this week with a double-digit win.
PHIL’S FORECAST: LOUISVILLE 38 TEMPLE 21
#13 OREGON ST VS ARIZONA ST
The home team is 10-2 in this series with the huge differences in climate and surface. OSU had won 3 in a row until last year when ASU pulled out a 35-20 home win. OSU QB Mannion hit 40-66-341 but had 4 int’s. OSU’s shot at its first ever 7-0 start came to a shocking end last week in a 20-17 loss at Washington as Mannion was rusty in his first start back from injury throwing 4 interceptions and was replaced by Vaz who threw a late 4Q td to tie the game before UW hit a game-winning FG. The Beavers had a 427-293 yard edge. ASU is off its own heartbreaking loss falling 45-43 to UCLA after the Bruins kicked a 33 yard FG as time expired. The Devils did rally from a 42-33 4Q deficit to take the lead before the FG. QB Kelly is avg 251 ypg (68%) with a 19-5 ratio but the D has allowed 44 ppg and 470 ypg in back-to-back losses. Both teams need rebound wins but I like the Beavers who have a big home edge and it looks like Vaz will start here.
PHIL’S FORECAST: OREGON ST 27 ARIZONA ST 17
#14 OKLAHOMA AT IOWA ST
OU has won 13 games in a row vs Iowa St. Last year the Sooners were off their big upset loss to Baylor and ISU was off its huge upset win over Oklahoma St. In 30-40 mph winds, Oklahoma only won 26-6 at home after having beaten ISU 52-0 in ‘10 also at home. The Sooners had commanding 27-13 FD and 509-245 yard edges but settled for 20, 27, 36 and 21 yard FG’s. ISU upset #2 OSU last year, #22 Texas in ‘10, lost to #9 Nebraska by 1 point in ‘10 and Texas in ‘09. Last week they beat Baylor 35-21 and moved within 1 game of bowl eligibility for the 3rd time in 4 years. Jantz started over the ineffective Barnett and threw for a career-high 381 yards (tied a school record with 36 completions) but that came against arguably the worst D in the country and the Sooners rank as my #10. The Sooners, of course, are off their 30-13 loss to #5 Notre Dame. They did have a late holding call wipe out a td in the 1H and it was tied at 13 with 9:00 left. Jones did throw for 356 yards but the run game was held to 15 (0.6). There is no one in the country better than Stoops off a loss as he stands at a perfect 20-0 in that situation. The Sooners, with a clear offensive edge (#7-80) will want to get last week’s bad taste out of their mouths and do so here.
PHIL’S FORECAST: OKLAHOMA 30 IOWA ST 13
#15 STANFORD AT COLORADO
Last year these two teams met for the first time since 1993. Colorado was not only a banged up team but they also suspended 5 players and WR Richardson sat out. SU had 28-11 FD and 533-263 yard edges and won 48-7. This is Stanford’s first trip to the altitude of the newcomers and also its first away game in 6 weeks. The Cardinal is off a close 24-17 win over WSU after having to rely on the defense which produced a school record 10 sacks and an IR td. The offense struggled being outFD’d 25-13. QB Nunes continues his up and down season and is avg 203 ypg (53%) with a 10-7 ratio. CU is among the FBS’s worst teams and last week predictably fell behind Oregon 56-0 at the half with both teams trying to end the game quickly in the final 30:00. The Buffs anemic offense (#105) is only outdone by a defense (#113) that is allowing 204 rush ypg (5.3). Stanford is 10-2 on the Pac-12 road and its 10 wins have been by 26 ppg. While the Cardinal is unlikely to put a huge number on the Buffs like UO/Fresno did, they can name the score here and look forward to a pivotal 3 game conference stretch on deck that will determine their bowl/Pac-12 North division fate.
PHIL’S FORECAST: STANFORD 42 COLORADO 14
#16 TEXAS A&M AT #17 MISSISSIPPI ST
MSU is 3-2 vs A&M but the last and only recent match up took place in the 2000 Independence Bowl which MSU won 43-41 in the snow. MSU is coming off its first loss of the season after falling 38-7 to Bama being outFD’d 22-16 and outgained 414-256. The Bulldogs avoided the shutout with backup QB Prescott leading them on a 63/9pl drive with 4:39 left in the game. QB Russell is avg 218 ypg (59%) with a solid 15-2 ratio and Perkins leads with 762 rush yards (5.4) and 8 td’s. Last week A&M QB “Johnny Football” accounted for 5 td’s building a 49-7 lead before being pulled early in the 3Q in the Aggies 63-21 win over Auburn. A&M finished with 34-18 FD and 671-335 yard edges. Manziel is avg 277 ypg (64%) with a 16-6 ratio and is the #1 rusher with 793 and 13 td (#3 FBS total offense). The Aggies are 5-20 in November road games and may be thrown off by their first visit with the cowbells.
PHIL’S FORECAST: MISSISSIPPI ST 31 TEXAS A&M 30
#19 BOISE ST VS SAN DIEGO ST
Last year for this matchup BSU was coming off its upset loss to TCU and was suffering from Bubble Burst, but Bronco fans made up about half of the crowd. BSU led 42-14 at the half (306-238 yard edge) but the Aztecs went 76 yards including a 4&14 conversion and got a td with :05 left to only lose 52-35. Last week SDSt beat UNLV 24-13 in QB Dingwell’s first start (13-26-231-2-1). The Aztecs outgained the Rebels 506-300 but were -3 in TO’s with 2 inside the UNLV25. RB tandem Muema (892, 6.2) and Kazee (644, 5.5) both ran for 100 yards in the same game for the 2nd time this year. BSU overcame a slow start to win its 7th straight. The Broncos led just 17-7 at the half but pulled away with a 21 point 3Q including a 19 yard FR td which made it 31-7. QB Southwick is avg 210 ypg (66%) with a 9-6 ratio. The Boise streak of not allowing a 1H point was snapped at 6 games. This is SDSt’s first trip to the Blue and they are a warm weather team in Boise in November. The Broncos roll.
BOISE ST 34 SAN DIEGO ST 17
#20 TEXAS TECH VS TEXAS
UT is 8-1 in this series. Last year UT’s true frosh RB Bergeron rushed for 195 yards and the team rushed for 439 yards as a whole. The Longhorns played without top RB Brown and top WR Shipley. After the first drive of the 3Q Texas led 38-6 and won easily 52-20 with Texas Tech getting a 74 yard garbage td drive with 1:01 left. Texas narrowly avoided an upset last week at Kansas as the Horns drove 84/7pl and 70/9pl for td’s on their final 2 poss to score the game winning td with :12 left. QB Ash (216, 69%, 12-5) was benched after throwing an int at the KU11 and McCoy led the game-winning drive. In their last home game the Red Raiders knocked off previously undefeated #5 West Virginia 49-14 for their biggest MOV ever over a Top 5 team. The Raiders only trailed undefeated KSU by 3 at halftime but 2 costly TO in the 2H directly led to KSU td’s and in all the Cats scored 6 2H td’s in a 55-24 win. QB Doege is the team’s barometer as in TT’s 6 wins this year he avg’s 334 ypg (72%) with a 28-4 ratio while in the 2 losses the numbers plummet to 267, 66%, and 2-4. TT has been favored twice in this series in the last 26 meetings (‘96 and ‘04) and lost both games! Make it three for three!
PHIL’S FORECAST: TEXAS 35 TEXAS TECH 34
#21 NEBRASKA AT MICHIGAN ST
Last year NU had a big situational edge off of an easy win while MSU was off of back-to-back W’s over Michigan and Wisconsin on a Hail Mary and had to travel. The Huskers won 24-3 with a 270-187 yard edge holding the Spartans to a season-low 187 yards. This time NU is off a big home win over Michigan and has to travel while MSU again is off a last second win over the Badgers. The Huskers took the Legends lead by dominating the 2H in their 23-9 win over the Wolverines. UM trailed just 7-6 when QB D-Rob left the game late in the 2Q and backup Bellomy hit just 3-16-38 and 3 int as the Wolves had just 52 2H yards. NU finished with a 326-188 yard edge and the D finally earned their Blackshirts. Prior to a strong performance vs Northwestern 2 weeks ago Big Ten pass efficiency leader QB Martinez (223, 66%, 16-5) had struggled on the road vs BCS foes in the last 2 years avg 166 ypg (52%) with a 3-7 ratio with the Huskers going 2-4. The Spartans ended Wisconsin’s 21 game home win streak by driving 75/12pl for a td to tie the game at 10 with 1:08 left. After the Badgers hit a FG, MSU got a 12 yard td pass on 3rd & 8 for the win. QB Maxwell (224 ypg, 56%, 9-5) hit 9-11 in the final 2 drives playing his best game as a starter. Big Ten’s #1 rush D MSU (#7 FBS, 91, 3.0) held UW to 19 yards with QB Stave being knocked out of the game early 3Q severely limiting their offense. NU has a big off edge (#17-85) and this one will come down to the wire.
PHIL’S FORECAST: NEBRASKA 20 MICHIGAN ST 17
#22 LOUISIANA TECH VS UTSA
First meeting. Last week the Bulldogs led New Mexico St just 7-0 at the half thanks to 3 missed FG’s. They were up 28-0 before the Aggies scored 2 td’s in the last 8:00 to make the final score respectable. QB Cameron is #5 in the FBS in pass ypg (325, 71%, 21-0) joining Bama’s McCarron as the only other QB who has started every game this year but still hasn’t thrown an interception. The Bulldogs are #3 in the FBS with 24 TO’s forced. After a 5-0 start vs NMSt and 4 lower division teams reality has set in as UTSA has now lost 3 straight by 26 ppg as they were pounded 48-17 by WAC leader Utah St last week. Utah St had a 522-299 yard edge but blk’d a P which set up a 5 yard td drive and UTSA shanks gave the Aggies the ball at midfield or in Roadrunner territory on 3 other 1H possessions. The Bulldogs, of course, have all of the edges and roll at home.
PHIL’S FORECAST: LA TECH 55 UTSA 24
#23 WEST VIRGINIA VS TCU
This game pits the new Big 12 members. TCU is on its 3rd away game in 4 weeks and has been working its way up the Big 12 ladder with diminishing returns. Last week the Frogs jumped out to a 14-0 1Q lead vs Oklahoma St but the Cowboys scored the game’s final 36 points handing TCU a 36-14 loss. TCU had just 1 offensive td ending its FBS-best streak of 33 straight games of scoring 20+ points. QB Boykin (140 ypg, 62%, 11-6) limped off the field and didn’t finish the game but should play here. TO’s have been the story as the Frogs lead the league in both TO’s forced (22) and lost (20). WV, meanwhile, is off a bye (TCU 9th straight game) after back-to-back pastings by K-St and TT by a combined 84-28. Former Heisman favorite QB Smith (345, 74%, 26-2) was held to 211 ypg (58%) with 2-2 ratio in the losses throwing both of the td’s in 4Q garbage time. The D fell near the bottom of the chart in nearly every NCAA category including pass D (#120 – 360 ypg, 69%, 20-5). The situation here greatly favors WV with TCU on a long and unusual trip East and running low on gas.
WEST VIRGINIA 47 TCU 41
#24 ARIZONA AT #25 UCLA
UA has now won 5 in a row in this series and has been +219 ypg in those 5 winning by an avg of 34-17. Last year was an ambush. It was a Thursday night game and UA had just fired its coach and interim HC Tim Kish changed the D to including the Double Eagle Flex. UCLA may have taken them lightly and UA came in fired up and it was 42-7 at the half with UA having a 416-177 yard edge. While Mora should have no trouble motivating his troops by showing them the film of last year’s embarrassment his NFL staff now faces Rich Rod’s run oriented spread option. In their first crack at the spread option this year the Bruins allowed Neb 439 yard including 260 rush in a 36-30 win. Each pulled upsets last week in shootouts as the Bruins kicked a 33 yard FG on the game’s last play to beat Arizona St. UCLA trailed 14-0 but had a 42-33 lead with 6:00 left when ASU scored twice to take a 43-42 lead. The Bruins drove 60/12pl for the win led by QB Hundley (274 ypg, 66%, 18-8) and Pac-12’s #1 rusher Franklin (1042, 6.7). Trailing by 15 in the 3Q UA scored 4 straight td’s to end USC’s National Title hopes. USC had 5 TO’s and scored 0 points on 4 trips inside the UA35. QB Scott was the hero accounting for 469 yards with 4 td’s and he’s #2 in the FBS in total offense (341 pass ypg, 63%, 20-9, 365 rush) but took a shot at the end of the game to his head but is probable here. With that in mind I will take the home team with a healthier QB.
PHIL’S FORECAST: UCLA 38 ARIZONA 34
For projected box scores on all of this week’s Top 25 games, please click here.