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Top 25 – Week 11

Last week the Top 25 Forecasts went 15-4 79% and on the year they are now 163-35 82%! On the bottom of the forecasts, I have also listed some Upset Specials for this week which added another winner last week when East Carolina upset Houston.

For projected box scores and Last 14 Years Matchups for all of these games, please click here.

#1 Alabama vs #15 Texas A&M

Bama is, of course, coming off the huge game vs LSU although they do only have Western Carolina on deck. A&M, meanwhile, is on its third straight away game and playing for the 10th straight week. Last week the Tide jumped out to a 14-3 halftime lead at #5 LSU but found themselves down 17-14 late in the game as McCarron completed just 1-7 passes for 0 yards in the 2H prior to the final drive. LSU blew some opportunities to put the game away including 3 failed FG attempts. McCarron led Bama 72/5pl in a drive that culminated with a td pass with just :51 left as the #1 Tide won 21-17. McCarron has still not thrown an int this year but the #1 Tide D did give up 435 yards and they will have their hands full again this week vs ‘Johnny Football’ who tore through Miss St’s D to the tune of 440 total yards (30-36 passing!) as the Aggies rolled to a 38-13 win at MSU. A&M outgained MSU 693-310 and had a 36-15 FD edge. Keep in mind, the last 2 times Bama has lost a game it came at the hands of mobile QB’s in Cam Newton and Jordan Jefferson. Still I can’t step in front of the elephant here as A&M’s offense has been sluggish in the 2H of games vs the other two elite D’s it faced earlier this year in UF/LSU.



#2 Oregon at California

Bears HC Jeff Tedford was the OC at UO from ‘98-’01 before coming here. He was 4-1 from ‘04-’08 but has now dropped 3 in a row to the Ducks. Two years ago Tedford’s D held UO to a season-low 317 yards and a missed FG cost them the upset win at home,15-13. Last year his D did it again, at least in the 1H, as Cal led 15-14 at the half but the Ducks ended up winning 43-15 on a Thursday night. The Ducks offense was virtually unstoppable last week at USC putting up 62 points, 37 FD’s and 730 yards in an 11 point win. UO RB Barner rushed for a school record 321 yards and 5 td’s while earning some mentions for the Heisman in the process. Cal, meanwhile, outgained the Huskies on Friday night but was done in by 4 TO’s and now enters this meeting with some major injury concerns at both QB (Maynard questionable, knee) and WR (Allen out, knee). The Ducks have now won 16 in a row on the road in Pac-12 play but in a USC/Stanford sandwich and playing their third away game in 4 weeks means the Bears could keep it closer than expected.


#3 Kansas St at TCU

KSU is Patterson’s alma mater (‘83) so this game is special to him. The Frogs come in off their 2OT thriller at WV as TCU rallied from a double-digit 2H deficit scoring the game tying td with 1:44 left on a 96 yard pass after the WR had been knocked OOB by a defender and came back in. WV missed 2 game-winning FG’s (55 and 36 yarder blocked) and the Frogs scored the game-winning points after a 25 yard td pass and 2 point conversion, 39-38. QB Boykin (176, 59%, 13-7, 280 rush) directed his 2nd 4Q comeback. The Frogs are #8 in the FBS in rush D (97, 3.1). Despite losing FBS pass efficiency leader Klein (208 yards per game, 71%, 12-2, 698 rush, 17 td) due to a 3Q head/arm injury the Cats took advantage of 5 Oklahoma St TO’s in a 44-30 win. The Cats are #1 FBS in TO margin at +22 but that would be tested should QB Sams (5-6-45-0-0 with 20 rush last week) take the reins here. However, I fully expect Klein to play and even if he is not 100%, I can’t go against my reigning coach of the year in Bill Snyder.


#4 Notre Dame at Boston College

Last year at home ND did finish with a 417-250 yard edge but only led 13-7 at the half and they only won 16-14. After winning 6 straight from 2001-08, BC has dropped 3 straight by 8 points per game. Trailing 20-6 in the 4Q, #4 ND was able to pull out a 29-26 3OT win over Pitt last week thanks to a missed 33 yard FG in the 2nd OT. ND overcame a -3 TO deficit (including 2 in the Pitt endzone) but did have huge 34-13 FD and 522-308 yard edges. The star was QB Golson who was benched earlier in game, but came back to throw 2 td’s and run for another as he tallied 301 total yards. After 12 straight bowl appearances, BC is now staying home for a second year in a row after last week’s 28-14 loss to Wake. The story remains the same as the BC offense relies solely on QB Rettig (285 yards per game, 56%, 16-8 ratio) while the rush offense is #118 averaging just 75 yards per game (2.7). That doesn’t bode well vs an ND rush D allowing just 101 (3.3). However, the last 2 times ND was undefeated this late in November (‘93 & ‘02), it was the Eagles who dashed their National Title hopes with upset wins but that was vs ND teams playing in huge flat spots while this year’s ND team overcame its flat spot last week and will be much more focused here.


#5 Georgia at Auburn

At one time the visitor dominated this series as they went 11-3-1 from 1992-2006. The last 5 years the home team is a solid 4-1 and UGA is 4-1 in that span. The last time here Newton and an Auburn team heading for #1 won 49-31. Last year at home UGA dominated with 528-195 yard, 29-9 FD and 304-51 rush edges. UGA led 35-7 at the half and won 45-7. Last week UGA fell behind 10-0 early but thanks to 2 long td passes including one with :03 left, rallied to take a 14-10 halftime lead in their 37-10 win over Ole Miss. They did have a 533-234 yard edge and QB Murray rebounded from his poor performance at UF to go 21-28-384-4-0. Auburn notched just its 2nd win of the year last week with a 42-7 rout of New Mexico St. They did only lead 7-0 at the half and relied heavily on their run game (311 yards) in QB Wallace’s first start (9-16-164-1-1). Brian VanGorder, UGA’s DC from 2001-04, was hired by AU this year. Still, the Bulldogs can clinch a spot in Atlanta with a win here and after a few anxious moments will put the Tigers away in the 2H.


#7 Florida vs Louisiana

Last met in ‘96 and UF has won all 4 meetings by 43 points per game. UF is off SC, UGA and Mizzou but only has Jax St on deck. They are 6-0 in these November non-SEC/non-Florida St home games with the avg win by 59-14 but last year vs Furman did trail at half before pulling out the 54-32 win. The Gators clinched a least a share of the SEC East Title last week with a 14-7 win over Mizzou. UF sleep walked thru the 1H down 7-0 probably as a result of the devastating loss the prior week to rival UGA but was able to outscore the Tigers 14-0 in the 2H and int’d MO QB Franklin 4 times. They now finish the season with 3 straight non-conference opponents. UL just played its rival ULM last week and they pulled an upset, 40-24, as QB Broadway threw 4 td’s and they outgained the Warhawks 607-407. Naturally, the Gators have all the talent edges and can name a score here as they try to finish off what Muschamp wanted prior to the season in reclaiming The Swamp’s home field edge.


#8 Florida St at Virginia Tech

In their 2 regular season meetings the home team is 2-0. Last met in the 2010 ACC Title game and VT won 44-33. FSU is fresh off a bye after destroying Duke 48-7 two weeks ago and moving back into control of the Atlantic Division (owns tie-breaker over Clemson). QB Manuel is #2 in the FBS in pass eff avg 257 ypg (70%) with a 16-4 ratio on the year. He upped that to 317 ypg (69%) with a 6-2 ratio in the 3 games prior to the bye. VT is off a Thursday night loss to Miami 30-12 despite having 24-15 FD and 421-347 yard edges. That is the same Canes team FSU beat 33-20 3 weeks ago finishing with 23-14 FD and 447-258 yard edges. QB Thomas avg 234 ypg pass (53%) with only a 13-12 ratio, however, he is the team’s top rusher with 422 (3.7) and 6 td’s and has put together his 2 best rush performances the last 2 weeks (223, 5.2, 2 td’s). VT is tough at home on Thursday nights (5-2) and has won 2 of its last 3 vs Top 10 foes in Lane Stadium, but FSU has a big edge with the best DL in CFB (#1 NCAA total D, #3 rush D) vs a young O-line that has struggled. The Hokies are looking for a signature win in a rather disappointing season but will not get it here as the Seminoles continue their march toward the ACC Title.


#9 LSU vs #22 Mississippi St

The Bulldogs upset LSU in ‘99 but since then the Tigers are 12-0. The Tigers have won the last 12 by 27 points per game but, tightening that time-frame, they’ve won last 4 by just 12 points per game. Last year was on a Thursday night and MSU came in with a banged up OL and QB Relf was not 100% after rushing 27 times the previous week. LSU led just 6-3 at the half (177-117 yard) and won 19-6 but did finish with a 361-193 yard edge. Last year Miss St caught Bama off its titanic battle with LSU and now they catch LSU off that game. However, this is the third straight Top 20 opponent for the Bulldogs who have been destroyed in each of the first two by an avg of 38-10 and last week were outgained 693-310 with their D missing countless tackles in the open field in a 38-13 loss to A&M. Of course, the Tigers are off a very disappointing loss to #1 Bama 21-17 as they led 17-14 before allowing a 72/5pl td drive with :51 left. Les Miles certainly lived up to his “Mad Hatter” reputation as not one of his gambles paid off last week including 3 failed FG attempts. QB Mettenberger did have a career day going 24-35-298-1-0. LSU has all of the edges (offense #26-56, defense #5-26 and special teams #7-31) but may come off a little sluggish after last week’s disappointment.


#10 Clemson vs Maryland

Last year featured the second greatest comeback in Clemson history as the Tigers trailed 35-17 but were down just 45-42 with 7:35 left. Watkins got an 89 yard KR td to snare the lead, 49-45, and CU sealed it with a 44 yard td run with 3:55. Unlike previous years with 2H collapses, the Tigers continue to roll with 5 straight wins after last week’s 56-20 demolition of Duke. For the 2nd straight week Boyd tied a school record with 5 td passes and is now #4 in the NCAA in pass avg 298 yards per game (68%) with a 25-9 ratio. CU racked up nearly 500 yards by halftime and had a 718-342 yard edge for the game. Last week MD was down to its 5th string QB due to injuries (a converted frosh LB) and fell behind 27-0 late in the 3Q before finally getting on the board in a 33-13 loss. CU has really had a great season this year and even impressed me in their lone loss at FSU. They will roll here.


#11 Louisville at Syracuse

UL is 6-2 in this series after last year’s 27-0 win. The Cards are 9-0 for the 1st time in school history after last week’s 45-17 win over Temple. UL, of course, is led by QB Bridgewater who threw 5 td’s and is now #5 in the NCAA avg 270 yards per game (70%) with an 18-4 ratio. The ground game is led by Perry (703, 5.2, 11 td) and Wright (657, 4.7, 9) who account for 91% of the team’s rushing td’s this year. The Cuse, coming off their biggest comeback in school history, led Cincy last week 24-21 in the 3Q before losing 35-24. SU set up a pair of Cincy td’s by fumbling twice deep in its own territory, including one on the opening KO and they also missed a FG, had another blocked, and got penalized 12 times for 104 yards. QB Nassib is avg 308 yards per game (63%) with an 18-8 ratio and ranks #11 in the FBS in total offense. The top rusher is Smith (731, 5.0, 1 td) but the Orange have hit pay dirt on the ground just 11 times all season. The offenses and defenses in this matchup are close but the Orange have played a much tougher schedule (#37-93) and Louisville is playing with undefeated pressure. This one will go down to the wire but it’s tough picking against a team that’s won 5 gms by seven or less already this year.


#12 South Carolina vs Arkansas

Last year UA again dominated with a 253-45 yard edge at the half in their 44-28 win. The Hogs had a commanding 435-207 yard edge and settled for 5 FG’s, missing 2, or the final score could have been worse. SC is fresh off a bye after their close 38-35 win over Tennessee. However, as everybody knows by now, they lost RB Lattimore in that game. Backup Miles has played significantly in his career (1000+ yards) and will try to fill the void, but enters this game with just 42 touches (Lattimore 143), 149 yards (662) and 1 td (11). After putting up a paltry 72 passing yards vs the Gators, Shaw rebounded with 356 last week and is now avg 167 yards per game (66%) with a 12-5 ratio (#2 rusher, 311, 3.0, 2). He does up his game some at home though, averaging 175 ypg (73%) with an 8-2 ratio in Williams-Brice. UA is off a 19-15 win over Tulsa. The Hogs jumped out to a 10-0 lead but needed a 76/4pl drive capped by a 1 yd td run with 10:08 left in the game before handing it over to their D (TU punt, 4&out, fmbl on L/3 drives). Hamilton broke the single-season receptions record with an 11 catch day (now at 69, previous record held by Jarius Wright, 66 last year). Since missing the Bama game, QB Wilson has avg’d 327 yards per game (60%) with an 11-7 ratio in the last 6. Johnson is the top rusher, but 98 (4.5, 2 td) of his 598 rush yds have come in UA’s 2 road games this year. The Hogs are sitting at 4-5 and will need 2 wins against the likes of SC/Miss St/LSU just to qualify for a bowl after starting the season in the Top 10. They certainly have the talent to make at least one surprise this year but I don’t think it happens in this one.


#13 Oregon St at #16 Stanford

The Cardinal went into Boulder last week and ripped apart Colorado 48-0 holding CU to just 76 total yards for the game (6 FD’s). Stanford does, however, appear to have a QB controversy on hand with Hogan (200+ total yards, 2 td’s) taking over for an ineffective Nunes early and having vast success. The Beavers found themselves down 14-3 early before coming alive and knocking off the Sun Devils by 10 (outgained ASU 424-303) as Vaz retook the starting QB job from Mannion for another week. From 2000-08 OSU was 6-2 in this series. The last 2 years Stanford has dominated with a 38-0 win at home in ‘10 and last year, despite being in a huge flat spot, still managed a 38-13 win with a 300-33 rush edge. Situational edge goes to OSU as Stanford again has a meeting on deck with the Ducks while the Beavers host an injury-plagued Cal squad and can put all their eggs into one basket as the winner here has a legit chance at the Rose Bowl.


#14 Oklahoma vs Baylor

Last year Oklahoma St had lost the previous night so the Sooners perhaps got caught up talking about their BCS possibilities. They were also without their top RB and WR and struggled. OU was -3 in TO’s they got a td with :51 left and were going to go for 2 points and the win but a penalty had them kick the xp. BU got a key FD then a 34 yard td pass with :08 left for the upset. The Sooners are playing with legit revenge as they had been 20-0 in the series and had won the previous 13 meetings by 29 points per game and were +255 yards per game. The Sooners beat ISU 35-20 finishing with 34-19 FD and 593-290 yard edges but kept ISU in it as they were SOD at the ISU5 and were also int’d twice. QB Jones is avg 302 yards per game (65%) with a 16-6 ratio. OU’s pass D is #1 in the Big 12 (170, 52%, 3-9). The Bears got their first Big 12 win this year by beating KU 41-14. BU finished with 32-14 FD and 666-342 yard edges as they scored the game’s final 24 points. FBS’s #1 passer Florence’s (377, 64%, 25-11) favorite target is the FBS’s #1 rec Williams (1340, 18.9, 10 td). Bears D remains the FBS’s worst allowing 527 yards per game. OU has won the last 5 home games vs Baylor by 24 points per game. The Sooners have revenge on their minds for the 2nd time this season (Texas Tech, 41-20) which spells trouble for the Bears.


#17 UCLA at Washington St

Two teams heading in opposite directions here. Last week the Bruins scored their most points in a contest s/‘97 with a 66-10 win over Arizona after building a 42-3 halftime lead and outgaining the Wildcats 611-257. The Cougs meanwhile were held without a point until the final play as Utah had a 453-255 yard edge holding WSU to -4 rush yards in a 49-6 Utes win. From 2001-07 WSU actually was 6-1 with 4 upsets but UCLA has now won 4 in a row (by 20 points per game) including last year when the Bruins needed a td and 2 point conversion with 3:26 left to pull out the 3 point win. Tough spot for UCLA here however with the long trip to Pullman and a date with the rival Trojans in the Rose Bowl next week. The Cougars could use the situation and the weather to their advantage, but I still expect the Bruins to pull out the win with huge edges on both offense (#14-94) and defense (#17-79).


#18 Nebraska vs Penn St

Last year this was one of the most talked about and watched games of the season as PSU had fired Joe Paterno during the week. PSU finished with a 375-331 yard edge but had a couple of blown opportunities and lost 17-14. The Lions are on their third away game in 4 weeks. They bounced back from the OSU loss to bury Purdue 34-9 after trailing in the 1Q for the 1st time all season. PSU outgained the Boilers 506-375 dodging several bullets (PU was SOD 3x inside the PSU40) but allowed their only td on the game’s last play. The Big 10’s #1 passer QB McGloin (271, 62%, 18-3) is the conference’s most improved player under first-year head man O’Brien. Nothing wrong with a Lions D which is allowing 107 rush yards per game (3.6) in Big Ten play. The Huskers won their third straight overall and had their 2nd straight conference road 4Q double-digit comeback by driving 80/9pl and scoring the game-winning td with :06 left in a 28-24 victory at Michigan St. NU finished with a 473-361 yard edge. NU’s new career total offense leader QB Martinez is avg 216 yards per game (63%) with an 18-8 ratio and has 666 rush yard (5.7). The Huskers could clear the way to Big Ten Title game with a win here.


#19 Texas vs Iowa St

UT won the first 6 Big 12 meetings including a 56-3 victory in ‘07. After not playing for 2 years, Texas was beaten 28-21 at home in one of Mack Brown’s worst losses in ‘10. Last year UT was bent on revenge. The Longhorns led 34-0 at halftime with ISU only getting a couple of late 4Q td’s on 86 and 63 yard drives moving the home team’s record to just 2-4 in this series. UT moved to 7-2 after their 31-22 upset win over Texas Tech. The Horns never trailed despite being outFD’d 25-18 as TT settled for 4 FG’s in the redzone and had a td called back due to a penalty. QB Ash (221, 68%, 15-5) went the distance after getting the vote of confidence from Brown during the week and RB Gray (533, 5.3) ran for 100 yard in his 2nd straight game. Iowa St comes in off a 35-20 loss to Oklahoma. The Sooners had 34-19 FD and 593-290 yard edges but int’s kept ISU in the game in the 1H as 2 picks set up Cyclones FG’s. ISU cut the deficit to 21-13 mid-3Q but the Sooners scored 2 td’s to put it out of reach. QB Jantz hit 20-40-191-0-1 going the distance for ISU. UT can still go 10-2 and starts down that road with a big home win here.


#19 Louisiana Tech vs Texas St

First meeting. Franchione beat LA Tech 45-14 in ‘06 while he was the HC at Texas A&M. The #19 Bulldogs come in 8-1 with their only loss being by 2 points to #15 Texas A&M. They are off a 51-27 win over other WAC newcomer UTSA but they did just lead 27-21 mid-3Q. QB Cameron incredibly has yet to throw an int this year with a 24-0 ratio!! (#4 pass eff) and is avg 327 yards per game (71%). Texas St is now playing its third straight game vs the top teams in the WAC and last week lost 38-7 to Utah St getting outFD’d 24-9 and outgained 593-158 and it could have been worse if not for 3 Utah St TO’s. The Bulldogs do have the WAC Championship game on deck vs Utah St followed by another tough game vs San Jose St, which has me thinking they will build an early lead (outscoring foes 41-23 avg score in the 1st 3Q’s this year) before getting their starters out to rest for the next 2 games.


#21 USC vs Arizona St

The National Title was a distinct possibility at the start of the year but now USC is stinging with its third Pac-12 loss. It hurts even more because Oregon put up the most-ever points allowed by a USC team (started playing in 1888) in their 62-51 win. UO and USC combined for the 3rd highest point total involving ranked AP teams in the poll’s 76 year history (FYI: the top 2 also happened this year – WV/Baylor, A&M/LT). The Trojans defense had allowed UO’s RB Barner to set the rushing record for a USC opponent by the 3Q (he finished with 321) as the Ducks rolled up 730 total yards. QB Barkley passed for his 2nd 400 yard game in a row and is avg 337 yards per game (68%) with a solid 17-4 ratio at the Coliseum this year. His top target Lee (88, 14.6 12 td) is #2 FBS in receiving with 3 straight 100 yard games (including 345 two weeks ago in the loss to Arizona). ASU ranks #11 in my pass eff D allowing just 162 ypg (51%) with a 14-12 ratio. Last year USC had come in winning 11 in a row including their last 5 trips to Tempe, but ASU won 43-22 although the game was much closer than the final as USC had a 402-393 yard edge. The Sun Devils meanwhile blew an early 14-3 lead to Oregon St and are still a game away from bowl eligibility. QB Kelly is throwing for 233 yards per game (60%) with a 10-3 ratio away from home this year. His top target, Coyle, leads with 43 (11.7) and just 2 td’s and while the run game has 4 players over 300 yards, ASU is only averaging 188 yards per game vs my #110 slate of rush defenses. While on the surface you may question what USC’s mind-set is off back-to-back losses with rivals UCLA and ND on deck, they still control their own destiny in the Pac-12 South and could end up in Pasadena if they win out.


#24 Rutgers vs Army

RU has now won 7 in a row vs Army. Last year in Yankee Stadium, Army was off a tough loss to Air Force and QB Steelman was out with an injury. RU only led 13-12 when they blocked a P for a td with 6:36 left and then on 3&7 when a FD might have let them run out the clock, they got a 56 yard td run by Jamison. Both teams played Kent St this year and both lost despite outgaining the Golden Flashes. Army now has a shot to win its 1st Commander In Chief’s Trophy since ‘96 after last week’s 41-21 win over AF snapping the Knights 13 game losing streak vs their service academy rivals. Steelman ran and threw for 100 yards and they benefitted from +5 TO’s. RU is fresh off a bye off its loss to Kent while Army plays for a 10th straight week and RU has extra time to prep for the bone with a large D edge (#18-117).


#25 Texas Tech vs Kansas

Texas Tech has won 5 in a row in this series. Last year KU actually led 20-0 with 3:39 left in the 1Q but TT would outscore them 45-7 until KU got a td with 3:30 left to only lose 45-34. The Raiders were upset 31-22 by Texas last week despite a 25-18 FD edge. TT scored a late 3Q td but missed the 2 point conversion which would have tied it. After UT scored a 4Q td, the Raiders drove to the 2 but a holding penalty forced a 23 yard FG attempt which was blocked. The Horns then ran out the final 5:15. QB Doege (319, 69%, 31-8) is #16 in the FBS in pass efficiency. KU trailed Baylor just 17-14 late 2Q before unravelling in a 41-14 loss. The Bears had 32-17 FD and 666-342 yard edges but were aided by being SOD at the BU45 and int’s on back-to-back-to-back 3Q drives to put the game away. Hawks QB’s Cummings and Crist combined to hit 11-26-96-0-2 vs one of the nation’s worst pass D (KU #118 FBS pass eff). KU is allowing 250 pass yards per game (62%) with a 15-9 ratio. This is TT’s home finale and this is an opportunity for a feel good win.



Houston over Tulsa

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