NCF Nation: Game-predictions-102711

Predictions: Big Ten Week 9

October, 27, 2011
The Big Ten bloggers need to pick themselves up off of the mat after a lousy performance in Week 8. All 12 conference teams are in action Saturday, providing a six-pack of matchups that could make us or potentially break us.

Bennett holds a slim one-game lead in the overall standings and hopes to create some breathing room before the November stretch run. Rittenberg must bounce back from a losing mark in Week 8 after three perfect weeks of picks to begin Big Ten play.

Let's get to it ...


Brian Bennett: Northwestern has finally found a pass defense worse -- or at least as bad -- as its own. Dan Persa may be hobbled, but his pimp walk is good enough to slap three touchdown passes on the Hoosiers. ... Northwestern 41, Indiana 28

Adam Rittenberg: Your ignorance of this series is showing, BB. It's always close between these two. Indiana is actually only 45th nationally in pass defense, but Persa being out there will be the difference for Northwestern. Tre Roberson makes some plays, too, but Persa and Jeremy Ebert hook up for two touchdowns as Northwestern wins a close one. ... Northwestern 34, Indiana 31


Adam Rittenberg: I really like what I'm seeing from Purdue, and the Boilers will be in this one until the end. Expect Michigan's defense to bounce back a bit, however, and Denard Robinson will record a pair of rushing touchdowns in the second half to lift the Wolverines. ... Michigan 28, Purdue 21

Brian Bennett: Al Borges has had two weeks to come up with all kinds of new twists, and there shouldn't be Wizard of Oz-style winds to deal with. Robinson bounces back in a big way and Michigan comes up with two key turnovers to hold off a tough Boilers bunch. ... Michigan 31, Purdue 23


Brian Bennett: Winning in Lincoln won't be tough, but I just don't see how Nebraska is going to mount a passing attack against Michigan State's defense. This will be a grind-it-out game that comes down to who makes fewer mistakes and a late field goal. The Spartans continue the magic. ... Michigan State 23, Nebraska 20

Adam Rittenberg: I've gone back and forth all week on this one. Picking against Michigan State burned both of us last week. and this looks like a special season. Then again, the Spartans haven't been overly impressive away from East Lansing. Nebraska desperately wants to prove itself after the Wisconsin debacle, and Huskers players recognize what this game means. The Huskers make a few more plays in space on both sides of the ball, and Taylor Martinez scores late to lift Big Red. ... Nebraska 24, Michigan State 23


Adam Rittenberg: James Vandenberg and Marvin McNutt have to be licking their chops. The Iowa quarterback and wide receiver connect for two touchdowns and Marcus Coker continues his midseason surge as the Hawkeyes regain control of the pig. Minnesota makes a bit of noise on offense. ... Iowa 38, Minnesota 17

Brian Bennett: Oink, oink. Floyd is about all Minnesota has left to be proud of this season, but he's on his way back to Iowa City. Are the Hawkeyes any good? Still not sure. But I know Minnesota isn't. ... Iowa 42, Minnesota 14


Brian Bennett: I expect the Illini to bounce back a little, because they are better than what they've shown the past two weeks. The problem is that Penn State defense. Silas Redd gets another 100 and a key interception seals the deal for the surging Lions. ... Penn State 21, Illinois 17

Adam Rittenberg: Redd's health concerns me a bit, as he suffered a stinger against Northwestern but still ran wild. But Penn State should be able to generate a better ground game than Illinois, which has been extremely limited when the Scheelhaase-Jenkins connection isn't cranked up. This one could go either way, but Gerald Hodges and the Penn State defense come up big again. ... Penn State 19, Illinois 17


Adam Rittenberg: The Badgers have a mini hangover early in this one as Ohio State jumps ahead. But Wisconsin won't stop itself as much as it did last week. The offense delivers a more efficient performance in the second half as Wisconsin gets out of Columbus with its league title hopes still alive. ... Wisconsin 24, Ohio State 17

Brian Bennett: Ohio State has the defense to give the Badgers some trouble, but even Michigan State gave up 31 to Russell Wilson and Co. last week. The Buckeyes will try to pound the ball with Boom Herron to keep the Wisconsin offense on the sideline, but it just doesn't have enough firepower to keep up. ... Wisconsin 28, Ohio State 20


Brian Bennett: 52-15 (.776)

Adam Rittenberg: 51-16 (.761)

Predictions: Big 12 Week 9

October, 27, 2011
Thanks for the memories, Oklahoma.

I was on track for my third consecutive perfect week of picks until the Sooners lost in the nightcap. Oh, well. It's been a solid run in recent weeks, and one I think will continue this week.

On to the picks!

Last week: 3-1 (.750)

Overall: 39-10 (.796)

No. 16 Texas A&M 41, Missouri 24: Winner gets to stay in the SEC West, right? The Tigers, by way of a blowout, didn't get the full Kyle Field treatment last season. That will change this year, and the Tigers, with a young quarterback, aren't nearly as well suited to deal with it. A steady diet of Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray will be too much.

No. 3 Oklahoma State 44, Baylor 30: This will be fun to watch. Missouri didn't quite have the firepower to keep up with Oklahoma State's offense. Baylor does. But finally, will slowing the Bears (44.3 points a game) get the OSU defense a little respect? I doubt it. But this will be eight wins for the Pokes.

No. 9 Oklahoma 27, No. 8 Kansas State 24: This will be a fascinating game, and further validation that K-State's defense is legit, but it's also my pick of the week. Come back later Thursday for a video of me explaining the pick.

No. 24 Texas 41, Kansas 20: The Longhorns have struggled this season when they've faced elite offenses and elite defenses. They've thrived when they face neither. Kansas fits the bill, and won't be leaving Austin with a win. Another big day for Malcolm Brown, who has NFL back written all over him.

No. 20 Texas Tech 38, Iowa State 27: No ugly losses for this Texas Tech team, and no worries for the oft-hyped "hangover" following a big win. Texas Tech doesn't need any help remembering what happened in Ames last year. Seth Doege's march, no matter how awesome he plays, continues to be quiet.

Predictions: ACC Week 9

October, 27, 2011
At 5-1 last week, I was real close to bowl eligibility, but not quite. The only game I missed was NC State’s win at Virginia, which was impressive and not a complete shock. My overall record stands at 51-14 for a winning percentage of .785. I can do better. Can Georgia Tech?

Clemson 38, Georgia Tech 28: Because Clemson has struggled against the run, it seems likely the Jackets will be able to move the ball and their offense will find a spark again. Just not enough to win. This game will be close until the fourth quarter and then the Tigers will win their ninth straight game.

Boston College 21, Maryland 20: Yes, the Terps have home field advantage, but the Eagles have stability at their quarterback position, and the offensive line has been making gradual progress each week. Coach Frank Spaziani has kept this team in games, the Eagles are due for an ACC win, and this is the weekend they’ll get it.

Florida State 31, NC State 28: The Seminoles need to be concerned about NC State cornerback David Amerson in this game. He leads the nation in interceptions and has been a bright spot in an otherwise dreary season for the Pack’s defense. FSU, though, has one of the best defenses in the country, and the defensive line will be the difference, as the Noles find a way to fluster quarterback Mike Glennon.

Wake Forest 28, North Carolina 24: The Deacs’ offensive line will be challenged, but the injuries have been piling up for UNC. Wake Forest will take advantage of a struggling secondary with its passing game just like Clemson did, and the Deacs will leave Chapel Hill bowl eligible.

Virginia Tech 38, Duke 21: The Blue Devils will put up a fight and hang around like they always seem to do, but the Hokies will overpower Duke’s defense in the fourth quarter. The difference will be Virginia Tech’s running game, led by David Wilson, and the decision making of quarterback Logan Thomas, who has completed 60.5 percent of his passes of 10 yards or more with five touchdowns and no interceptions in his last three games

Miami 35, Virginia 14: This isn’t the Orange Bowl. Virginia has never won in Sun Life Stadium, and the Canes have been on a roll. Miami is starting to turn the corner under first-year coach Al Golden, and the Canes’ defense --which has been holding opponents to 21 points per game -- will stifle the Hoos. Miami also has the edge at quarterback with Jacory Harris, who is No. 14 in the country in passing efficiency.

Predictions: Big East Week 9

October, 27, 2011
We already went over how bad my picks were last week. But Pitt finally came through for me, so Week 9 is off to a good start. I now sit at 36-13 with two games on tap Saturday.

Syracuse (5-2, 1-1) at Louisville (3-4, 1-1), noon, Big East Network. All right, Orange fans -- can Syracuse avoid the big "L" as in letdown after a huge win over West Virginia last week? The way in which they won was certainly unexpected after so many close calls this season. But if last week is any indication, Syracuse has gotten its act together. But so has Louisville. The Cardinals finally got a solid performance from their offensive line last week, opening up the run game and giving Teddy Bridgewater time to pass. I think they have a much tougher time this week against a physical defensive front that frustrated Geno Smith and the Mountaineers. They also do not have the deep passing game to take advantage of a secondary that has given up its share of big plays this season. One more bonus note: The Orange were a perfect 4-0 on the road in conference play last season; Louisville has not won consecutive league games under Charlie Strong. Syracuse 24, Louisville 17.

No. 25 West Virginia (5-2, 1-1) at Rutgers (5-2, 2-1), 3:30 p.m., ABC. This game lost a bit of luster after both teams lost last week, but it is important nonetheless for conference championship hopes. The Mountaineers have beaten Rutgers 16 straight times, and are going to be looking for a measure of redemption after their poor performance against Syracuse last week. Luckily for the West Virginia defense, it is facing an offense that does not have an experienced quarterback, established running game or a solid tight end. True freshman Gary Nova is going to have to rebound from a poor performance against Louisville, in which he threw three interceptions. The one big key for the West Virginia defense is to contain Mohamed Sanu. The last time the two played at Rutgers, Sanu had 158 all-purpose yards, including a career-long 62-yard touchdown. West Virginia won 24-21. But what everyone will be watching is how West Virginia handles the pressure Rutgers will bring. The Scarlet Knights do lead the league with 24 sacks, but had none last week against a shaky offensive line and true freshman quarterback. I think West Virginia has learned its lesson. West Virginia 35, Rutgers 24.

Notre Dame Prediction: Week 9 vs. Navy

October, 27, 2011
With three losses in its past four games against Navy, Notre Dame has to be wary of the Midshipmen. Even with Navy at 2-5.

This isn't one of those "throw the records out the door" rivalries, but Notre Dame has to look past the fact Navy has a five-game losing streak and see what has caused Navy's bowl hopes to be in jeopardy with five games left in the season.

A missed field goal against East Carolina after a controversial no-touchdown call. A blocked field goal at Rutgers. Another missed field goal in overtime against Air Force.

Navy's triple option ran all over Notre Dame last year, and it will provide a stiff test for a depleted Irish defensive line. Still, the Notre Dame starters played fairly well against a much more versatile offense in Air Force's, and that was without Ethan Johnson, who will likely see some action for the first time since suffering a sprained right ankle suffered Oct. 1. Now it is Kapron Lewis-Moore who is out as the Irish look to avoid their second losing streak of the season.

Throw in the fact Navy has a quarterback who will be making his first career start, and the recent history between these two teams, and it's tough to see the Irish not taking out their frustrations from last week on their struggling guests.

I wouldn't expect any Air Force-esque numbers, but it should be an interesting one.

Prediction: Notre Dame 34, Navy 17

Predictions: Pac-12 Week 9

October, 27, 2011
Went 3-3 last week -- yeesh -- and the season record is now 43-15.

Of course, Oregon State and California fans should be sending me cookies.

Stanford 38, USC 24: USC will hang around but eventually Stanford -- as it is wont to do -- will wear down the Trojans.

Oregon 48, Washington State 17: Ducks, with or without running back LaMichael James and quarterback Darron Thomas, just have too much for the Cougars.

Arizona State 45, Colorado 10: Arizona State is getting healthy. Colorado is not. This could get ugly.

California 31, UCLA 20: Will the Bruins rally for coach Rick Neuheisel? There hasn't been any evidence they will so far. And Cal QB Zach Maynard seemed to find his rhythm last week in a win over Utah.

Utah 24, Oregon State 21: This isn't because we're using the transitive property -- Utah crushed BYU; Oregon State lost to BYU -- it's because we believe the Utes will rally at home.

Washington 42, Arizona 31: The Wildcats showed fight while beating UCLA last Thursday, but those four suspensions really hit the depth in the secondary, where the Huskies and QB Keith Price should feast.

Predictions: SEC Week 9

October, 27, 2011
I’m done talking.

Besides, the Kid does enough talking for the both of us.

I guess it’s just his generation, even though he’s really not that bad a kid.

But, hey, I know the stakes. I know what I have to do to get back into this thing.

As Bill Parcells used to say, you are what your record says you are.

And right now, my record says I’m winning the silver medal and the Kid’s winning the gold medal.

We both turned in perfect 5-0 records last week. The truth is there weren’t any tough picks on the schedule.

That changes this week.

We’ll see if I can make up any ground on the Kid. He’s 54-7 (.885), and I’m 51-10 (.836).

It’s a long way from being over, though. It wasn’t over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, and it’s not over now just because some upstart who took one too many soccer balls off the noggin has carved out a three-game lead.

But, again, enough with the talking, and let’s get to the picking:


Chris Low: You can see the frustration in Houston Nutt’s face and hear it in his voice. His Rebels have lost 10 consecutive SEC games dating back to last season, but haven’t quit fighting. They face an Auburn team that has won 12 in a row at home. … Auburn 30, Ole Miss 14

Edward Aschoff: Ole Miss held its own against Arkansas last week and even though the Rebels lost, they might have some momentum to take into Auburn. However, the Tigers are tough to beat at home. This could get really ugly on offense for both teams, but Auburn pulls it out in the fourth. ... Auburn 20, Ole Miss 17


Chris Low: The days of rolling into the Music City, touring the Grand Ole Opry and then cruising to an easy victory over the Commodores are over. James Franklin and his crew ain’t taking nothing from nobody. Vanderbilt has the secondary to match up with Arkansas’ passing attack. It won’t be easy for the Hogs, but they will make enough big plays to escape. … Arkansas 28, Vanderbilt 23

Edward Aschoff: The Razorbacks came out slow against Ole Miss last week and it almost resulted in a loss. You can bet coach Bobby Petrino will have his players ready this week, especially with the talent Vanderbilt has in its secondary. ... Arkansas 31, Vanderbilt 17


Chris Low: The Wildcats are breaking out the all-black uniforms against the Bulldogs in a game that’s going to mean the first conference win for somebody. Both teams have had trouble moving the ball and scoring points, but Mississippi State has a few more playmakers and will lean heavily on senior running back Vick Ballard. … Mississippi State 24, Kentucky 17

Edward Aschoff: One of these teams is finally going to get a conference win. The question is, which offense will come to play in Lexington? Mississippi State's offense has been nonexistent since Week 2 and Kentucky had its best offensive performance last weekend against Jacksonville State. This one has the makings to get pretty ugly as well. ... Mississippi State 20, Kentucky 13


Chris Low: There’s never an ideal time for a true freshman quarterback to get his first start in this league, but Tennessee’s Justin Worley will debut against a South Carolina defense that leads the SEC with 24 forced turnovers and is third with 15 sacks. The Gamecocks have been pretty average on offense, particularly with Marcus Lattimore sidelined, but they’ll win this one with their defense. … South Carolina 24, Tennessee 16

Edward Aschoff: Justin Worley might feel a little slighted for not getting an offer from South Carolina. Now, he'll make his first start against the Gamecocks. But South Carolina's aggressive defense should make his day miserable at times. We'll also get our first glimpse of South Carolina's offensive life after Marcus Lattimore. ... South Carolina 23, Tennessee 10


Chris Low: Both teams should be as healthy as they’ve been coming off the bye week, and Georgia gets back its best defender – inside linebacker Alec Ogletree. Florida hopes to get quarterback John Brantley back from a high ankle sprain that’s caused him to miss the past two games. It’s debatable how healthy Brantley really is and how effective he’ll be, which is why the Bulldogs get the nod. For only the fourth time in the last 22 years, they’ll leave Jacksonville with a win. … Georgia 28, Florida 21

Edward Aschoff: This is a must-win for both teams. Florida's offense hopes to get a major boost offensively if John Brantley can play. The Gators will need it against this rejuvenated Georgia defense. History isn't on the Bulldogs' side and it will bite the Dawgs again. ... Florida 24, Georgia 20