NCF Nation: game predictions 102110

Big Ten predictions: Week 8

October, 21, 2010
10/21/10
9:02
AM ET
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

I learned how to Bucky. Unfortunately, it was too late.

My lack of faith in Wisconsin on its home field at night cost me a perfect week in Week 7. The Badgers overpowered No. 1 Ohio State and handed me my lone loss.

Here's an attempt at a clean sweep this Saturday.

Michigan State 28, Northwestern 20: The Spartans will have to work for this one, but they'll remain perfect. Kirk Cousins hits on several play-action passes, Edwin Baker has a long touchdown run and Keshawn Martin breaks off a big return or two. Northwestern comes out with a pass-heavy offense and quarterback Dan Persa has some success, but the Spartans make enough plays in the second half to win their first game outside Michigan soil.

Illinois 26, Indiana 20: This is my Prediction of the Week. Check the blog this afternoon for a video post explaining my selection in greater detail.

Penn State 21, Minnesota 17: As Minnesota interim coach Jeff Horton said Tuesday, the Gophers have nothing to lose. Their head coach has been fired and changes are on the way, but in a sense, the pressure is off the Maroon and Gold. Penn State, meanwhile, faces a must-win situation and needs to show greater passion and interest in salvaging its season. I could see this one going either way, but Evan Royster finally gets it going against a vulnerable Minnesota defense and Penn State prevails.

Ohio State 35, Purdue 16: A dose of reality arrives this week for Rob Henry and the Boilermakers, although Ohio State's injuries on defense create a window of opportunity for Danny Hope's squad. Ultimately, Terrelle Pryor attacks Purdue's new-look secondary with talented receivers Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey, and the Buckeyes pull away in the third quarter.

Iowa 27, Wisconsin 25: It'll be a great one in Iowa City, especially along the line of scrimmage. Expect a pretty even battle between the Wisconsin offensive line and Iowa's defensive front. The two run games cancel each other out, and ultimately it comes down to the quarterbacks, both of whom lead fourth-quarter scoring drives. Ricky Stanzi gets the ball last and takes Iowa downfield, leading to a Michael Meyer field goal as time expires.

Bye: Michigan

Last week: 4-1

Season record: 49-8 (.860)

Pac-10 predictions: Week 8

October, 21, 2010
10/21/10
9:02
AM ET
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

Went an uninspiring 1-2 last week. Season record gets chipped to 34-12.

These picks fight hard.

Thursday


Oregon 44, UCLA 17: I played this game in my head, like, 71 times, and UCLA never won. Maybe I should do it 72, but I'm going with the Ducks. Not a good thing to show up in Autzen Stadium with quarterback questions and no passing game no matter who stands behind center.

Saturday


California 28, Arizona State 27: Anyone else struggling to get a feel for this one? I would not touch this game in Vegas. Both teams have plenty of talent. The Sun Devils showed something by winning at Washington and have had an extra week to prepare. But Cal is a different team at home. And wouldn't it be just like the Bears to come out sharp? Any final number here wouldn't surprise me, including a blowout either way. By the way, I just switched the teams and kept the score and may do it again. When you're not looking.

Stanford 45, Washington State 27: The Cougars defense just isn't built to stop the Cardinal. And Jeff Tuel and company aren't going to outscore them.

Arizona 27, Washington 24: New starting Wildcats quarterback Matt Scott will do just enough in Nick Foles' stead to give his tough defense enough of a cushion to outlast Jake Locker and the Huskies. And, despite the win at USC, the Huskies typically struggle on the road. On the other hand, if the Huskies manage to pull the upset, you could probably turn the page to a new chapter in Steve Sarkisian's rebuilding project -- beating USC, Oregon State and Arizona over a four-week span would be notable.

Big East predictions: Week 8

October, 21, 2010
10/21/10
9:01
AM ET
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

I had a good week last week, going 4-0 and predicting the exact margins of victory for both Rutgers and Cincinnati. Let's keep it going.

Friday

Cincinnati 24, South Florida 14: The Bulls will finally score an offensive touchdown, but they simply don't have enough firepower to keep up with Zach Collaros, Isaiah Pead and the explosive Bearcats offense. South Florida's best hope is to run the ball effectively and control the clock, and it will do reasonably well at that for a while until Cincinnati scores a couple of back-breaking touchdowns late.

Saturday

Pitt 23, Rutgers 20: This is my game of the week. Check my video post later this afternoon for a breakdown of this game and an explanation for my pick.

Louisville 25, Connecticut 22: The Cardinals have been close to pulling off a big win, coming up just short against Kentucky, Oregon State and Cincinnati. They match up well against a UConn team that hasn't been able to put it all together. Charlie Strong gets his first big victory at Louisville.

West Virginia 24, Syracuse 10: This will be standard operating procedure for the Mountaineers: Get a lead early, then let the defense take over. Syracuse doesn't have enough speed on offense to counteract the Big East's best defense, and the Orange aren't built for coming from behind.

Last week: 4-0

Season results: 36-7 (83.7 percent)

Big 12 predictions: Week 8

October, 21, 2010
10/21/10
9:01
AM ET
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

I'm headed to Columbia this weekend for Missouri and Oklahoma, and I'll be milling around "College GameDay" on Saturday. Last week was another good week of picks for the Big 12 blog, even if my margins of victory were maybe the most off of any week this season. Texas' win over Nebraska was my only whiff of the week.

Texas (UCLA, Nebraska) joined Kansas (North Dakota State, Georgia Tech) and Texas Tech (Baylor, Iowa State) as the only three teams whose games I've picked incorrectly more than once this season.

Last week: 5-1 (.833)

Overall: 51-8 (.864)

No. 19 Texas 31, Iowa State 7: Iowa State hasn't looked like the improved team I thought they'd be this year, and Texas' defense looks like its back to its old ways. As for Paul Rhoads' preseason comments, we're seeing the worse record. I'm not so sure about the better team.

No. 16 Nebraska 38, No. 14 Oklahoma State 27: This is my pick of the week. Come back later today for a video of me explaining my pick.

Baylor 34, No. 22 Kansas State 21: Kansas State's defense looked pretty slow against Nebraska. Get ready for more of that when Baylor has the ball with speedsters like Kendall Wright and Robert Griffin making plenty of plays. Up front, defensive tackle Phil Taylor wins the battle on the line of scrimmage and gives way to a big game from lineback Antonio Johnson, who limits Daniel Thomas' effectiveness. Throw the Oasis' "Wonderwall" single in the tape deck and whip out your VHS of "Forrest Gump," Baylor fans. We're back in 1994 again.

Texas Tech 34, Colorado 24: I almost picked an upset special in this one, but Colorado's offense won't be able to keep up with the Red Raiders.

Texas A&M 44, Kansas 7: I've picked Kansas to lose close the last two times they've played. Not this week. The Aggies take their anger out on the Jayhawks, who don't have the talent on defense to keep up with the Aggies' weapons in every facet of the game on offense.

No. 1 Oklahoma 31, No. 11 Missouri 27: The emotion of the team and atmosphere helps the Tigers jump out to an early lead, but Oklahoma's too strong. Missouri's corners have looked good so far, but they haven't covered a receiver this year as difficult to blanket as Ryan Broyles. Breaking up passes on jump balls to Jeff Fuller is a lot different than trying to keep the league leader in receptions from getting open.

SEC predictions: Week 8

October, 21, 2010
10/21/10
9:01
AM ET
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

Go ahead and throw me in the SEC’s Eastern Division.

That’s about where I belong with my mediocre record for picking games to this point.

I might have to pull an Urban Meyer and do an extensive self evaluation to see where it’s going wrong. Then again, I’m not ready to say I’m struggling as much as the Florida offense.

At least, not yet.

Anyway (as the Head Ball Coach would say), I was 4-2 last week and am now 43-13 (.768) for the season. I missed Kentucky’s win over South Carolina and Mississippi State’s win over Florida.

I need to start taking more chances if I’m going to get back to that .800 plateau. The tricky part is knowing when to take those chances. Where's Les Miles when you need him?

To get some of that Miles karma working this week, I had my hat sitting directly on top of my head in Miles-esque fashion when I made my picks. I can assure you there is a sincere want to achieve victory this week, but I will hold in abeyance any braggadocios chatter about what my record will be once we cease competition.

Here goes:

Auburn 28, LSU 24: This one was perhaps the toughest of the season so far to call. LSU is terrific on defense. Auburn is terrific on offense. Both teams have made a ton of clutch plays to get to this point. In the end, I just don’t see LSU being able to score enough points to keep up with Auburn, which has been a juggernaut in the fourth quarter this season. They're already stocking up on toilet paper at Toomer's Corner.

Alabama 27, Tennessee 10: It’s not the Third Saturday in October this year, and it hasn’t been much of a rivalry since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide have won three in a row, although Terrence Cody’s blocked field goal saved them last season. Cody won’t be around to save them this season. But it won’t matter. The Vols simply don’t have the horses and will be fortunate to even keep it close.

Georgia 35, Kentucky 31: The last time Georgia ventured up to the Bluegrass, it was a track meet with the two teams combining for 80 points. This one has that same feel. The Bulldogs are a different offense with A.J. Green in the lineup, and the Wildcats have playmakers all over the field. Kentucky has been awfully resilient this season, but Georgia looks like it’s hitting its stride at just the right time and finally starting to put it all together.

Arkansas 38, Ole Miss 28: The Houston Nutt Bowl III doesn’t have quite the drama the first two did. It’s sort of become old hat now, although I’m not sure Nutt and Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino are exactly pen pals. Nutt has yet to lose to the Hogs since he left, but this will be the best Arkansas team he’s faced. In the end, the Rebels won’t be able to slow down the Hogs defensively.

South Carolina 28, Vanderbilt 17: The Commodores have been hard on the Head Ball Coach. In fact, Bobby Johnson sort of owned him these past couple of years. Johnson’s retired now and playing golf, and the onus is on Robbie Caldwell to figure out a way to get this game into the fourth quarter. The Gamecocks are still smarting from their loss at Kentucky last week, but they’ll find a way to snap their seven-game SEC road losing streak.

Mississippi State 31, UAB 14: There’s a lot of momentum right now in the Mississippi State program. The Bulldogs are playing well, playing with confidence and getting a little national love with their first appearance in the Top 25 polls in nine years. They get a chance to run their winning streak to five straight games Saturday. There might be a little bit of an emotional letdown coming off such a big win, but not enough to lose this game.

ACC predictions: Week 8

October, 21, 2010
10/21/10
9:00
AM ET
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

Welcome to the coachspeak picks.

Had it not been for the Pack’s loss to ECU, I would have gone undefeated last week. But I’m like Virginia coach Mike London after the loss to USC -- I don’t settle for moral victories. After seven weeks, my record stands at 45-13 (77.5 percent). But I don’t pay attention to the numbers. Sure, it would be nice to be ranked ahead of Chris Low, but where you finish the season is more important. Besides, these things go in cycles.

With only five games this week, my margin for error is slim. I can’t afford to beat myself with silly mistakes and mental errors. What’s that? Georgia Tech fans are tired of me picking Clemson? I don’t know, I don’t read the comments. The only things I can worry about are the things I can control, and that’s trying to get some W’s this week:

Boston College 14, Maryland 10: The Eagles’ offense is inept, but Maryland will continue to struggle to run the ball against the No. 10 rushing defense in the country.

Clemson 28, Georgia Tech 24: Georgia Tech’s defense won’t be able to stop Andre Ellington, and Kyle Parker will get some more help in the passing game. Clemson has so many freaks on defense the Tigers will force the Jackets into some mistakes. Georgia Tech is a completely different team than the one that won the ACC title -- that team was better.

Virginia Tech 45, Duke 17: Even if the Blue Devils completely eliminate their turnovers, they won’t be able to stop this offense. Tyrod Taylor and his supporting cast are clicking on all cylinders now.

North Carolina 24, Miami 21 (OT): In a game that’s been decided by turnovers for the past three years, it would be foolish to ignore Miami quarterback Jacory Harris’ penchant for turnovers. Until proven otherwise, the benefit of the doubt goes to the team that has made fewer mistakes this season.

Virginia 38, Eastern Michigan 14: Virginia is banged up and still trying to find its identity, but is still talented enough to get its third win of the season. Quarterback Marc Verica will make fewer mistakes and the Cavaliers’ offense will suddenly look dramatically better against one of the nation’s worst defenses.

Non-AQ predictions: Week 8

October, 21, 2010
10/21/10
9:00
AM ET
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

My picks in Week 7 were so hideous, I should be disqualified from making any more of them for the rest of the season. I mean not even a dog guesses and finishes 2-8. Wow, that hurts my fingers. Also because of all the e-mails and mailbag comments I have received, I will begin picking all games involving ranked non-AQ teams. See, I do hear you!

With a 43-31 overall record, I am ready to avenge my poor performance from Week 7. Or am I?

On to the picks!

No. 5 TCU 24, Air Force 10. Gary Patterson takes the Falcons seriously because of their dangerous triple-option. But there might be a little less danger this week with top fullback Jared Tew out (broken leg). Air Force still has the top-rated rush offense in the country and was a two-point conversion away from sending its game against San Diego State into overtime last week. But the TCU defense is looking really strong, and the Horned Frogs have never lost to the Falcons at home.

No. 9 Utah 44, Colorado State 3. The Utes beat Wyoming last week, but had three interceptions and are still lacking when it comes to creating turnovers. They are going to have to do better than minus-6 headed into their tough stretch, which starts next week at Air Force. Colorado State quarterback Pete Thomas can throw the ball, but not sure how much progress he will make this week.

UPSET SPECIAL: Navy 20, Notre Dame 18. The Midshipmen have not made things easy on themselves this season. Essentially all of their games have come down to the fourth quarter. While the offense might not be as prolific as expected, the defense has been terrific and kept this team in games. Last week against SMU, Navy forced three turnovers and held the Mustangs to 21 points. Notre Dame has had problems stopping the option, and Ricky Dobbs is not pressing as much.

SMU 38, Houston 28. My how the tide has turned in the West Division of Conference USA. Houston has dropped two straight, and it is the Mustangs who are alone in first place and in control of their own destiny. Ja’Gared Davis will cause fits for true freshman quarterback David Piland, and Kyle Padron will be able to throw on a Houston defense that continues to struggle.

UPSET SPECIAL II: Miami (Ohio) 28, Ohio 21. The emergence of the RedHawks has been one of the most pleasant surprises in the MAC and college football. Their three-game turnaround from last season is the best of any team so far this season. They sit alone atop the East at 3-0, but Ohio is right behind at 3-1 in this crucial matchup. Ohio has won four straight in the series, but the Miami defense makes the difference in this one.

BYU 20, Wyoming 17. Two of the worst scoring offenses in the country face off in a fight for their bowl lives. BYU is averaging 14.7 points a game and Wyoming 11.6 points a game. The Cowboys rank last in rushing defense, and that is going to be the difference. Because BYU has proved it can run the ball behind a strong offensive line and JJ Di Luigi. Coach Bronco Mendenhall promised more power running, and that should work this week.

Hawaii 44, Utah State 24. The Warriors are coming off a big win over Nevada, while Utah State had a week to prepare for the best passing offense in the country. Utah State has been one of the most inconsistent teams in the WAC this season, so it is hard to figure the Aggies out. But we do know Hawaii will pass and pass some more. The Warriors have won four of the five meetings between the school in WAC play.

Northern Illinois 30, Central Michigan 20. The Chippewas have won three straight in the series, but they are on a four-game losing streak and are 1-3 in the division, an unusual spot for them after winning the MAC championship three of the last four years. Many figured this would be a rebuilding year with Dan LeFevour gone and a new coach in Dan Enos. Meanwhile, Northern Illinois has won four straight and has found a groove with Chad Spann and Chandler Harnish leading the way on offense.

Middle Tennessee 27, ULM 24. The Blue Raiders need this game in the worst way. At 2-4, they are in a fight to become bowl eligible, though they have only played two conference games to date. ULM has needed two comebacks to beat FAU and Western Kentucky -- two of the worst teams in the league.

UTEP 31, Tulane 21. UTEP beat up on some bottom feeders en route to a 5-1 start. But the Miners stumbled on the road at UAB last week (one of two picks I got right!) and had only 229 yards of total offense. They are banged up going into this game but should have enough to beat the Green Wave, who are improved over last season.

Pick o' the Irish, Week 8

October, 21, 2010
10/21/10
9:00
AM ET
I'm on a roll with four straight correct picks. But all Irish fans know how Navy can derail a seemingly-successful season. On to the pick:

Notre Dame 23, Navy 20: This will not be an easy game. Navy is no fun to play because of its option system and cut blocking, and the Midshipmen can control the clock with their penchant of going for it on most fourth downs. The Irish offense will have fewer opportunities, and they'll have to make the most of each possession while playing without second-leading receiver Theo Riddick and perhaps star wideout Michael Floyd.

Still, this Navy team does not look like one of the service academy's best in recent years, and I think Notre Dame will make fewer mistakes than it did in last year's game. There won't be much time to exhale until the end, but the Irish escape in the Meadowlands.

Last week: Correct pick

Season record: 5-2

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