NCF Nation: game predictions 102810

Big Ten predictions: Week 9

October, 28, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

Bucky Badger got me again.

For the second straight week, I picked against Wisconsin. And for the second straight week, I fell short of a perfect record.

My apologies to Bret Bielema and his crew. Don't worry, my faith has been restored, and it will show up in the November predictions.

At least Wisconsin won't get me this week, as the Badgers get a well-deserved bye.

Here's how I see things shaking out Saturday:

Illinois 30, Purdue 13: Vic Koenning's Fighting Illini defense is performing at an extremely high level, and the Purdue offense might be without starting quarterback Rob Henry, a game-time decision because of a laceration on his throwing hand. Not a good combination for the Boilers, who will have a hard time putting up points. The big key is whether Purdue's defense can rebound after getting steamrolled in Columbus. If not, this one will get ugly.

Northwestern 34, Indiana 33: I went back and forth all week on this game. Neither defense is very good, and both quarterbacks are capable of putting up huge numbers. The recent series is filled with close games, and we'll see another at Memorial Stadium. Expect big days for Dan Persa and Ben Chappell, as well as their top targets Jeremy Ebert and Tandon Doss. It could go either way, but I'm going with a Northwestern team that plays well on the road under Pat Fitzgerald.

Iowa 27, Michigan State 24: The Spartans have that magic quality Iowa possessed in 2009, and Mark Dantonio's squad is more than capable of beating the Hawkeyes on Saturday. But Iowa knows it can't afford another loss, and the Hawkeyes match up well in several areas, namely the defensive line versus Michigan State's run game and the downfield passing game versus Michigan State's secondary. Ricky Stanzi stretches the field for two long touchdown passes and Iowa generates enough pressure on Kirk Cousins to secure a must-win game.

Ohio State 41, Minnesota 14: Jim Tressel's squad hasn't been great on the road this season, but the trend ends Saturday night at TCF Bank Stadium. Minnesota's defense can't stop anyone, and Ohio State will light up the Gophers secondary with Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey. Adam Weber tests the Buckeyes' banged-up secondary and fires two touchdown passes, but Ohio State pulls away before halftime and never looks back.

Michigan 31, Penn State 27: This is my prediction of the week. Check back this afternoon for a video post that explains my selection in greater detail.

Bye: Wisconsin

Last week: 4-1

Season record: 53-9 (.855)

Big East predictions: Week 9

October, 28, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

Well, I didn't see the Syracuse and South Florida road upsets coming last week, that's for sure. And I gave UConn and Rutgers a little too much credit.

On to better things this week ...


West Virginia 28, Connecticut 14: I think the Mountaineers bounce back after last week's disappointing loss to Syracuse. They are eager to show the critics that was a one-week hiccup. Besides, I don't see how UConn -- which couldn't do anything offensively last week against Louisville -- is going to move the ball much against the West Virginia defense with Zach Frazer coming back to start at quarterback again.


Cincinnati 20, Syracuse 17: This is my game of the week. Check my video post later this afternoon for a breakdown of this game and an explanation for the pick.

Pittsburgh 35, Louisville 24: The Cardinals are brimming with confidence and come into Heinz Field with stats that are similar to and in many cases better than the Panthers'. Yet I remember how Cincinnati's receivers dominated the Louisville secondary, and it's hard to envision those same defensive backs dealing with Jon Baldwin, Devin Street and Mike Shanahan while the defense also has to gear up to stop Dion Lewis and Ray Graham. Pitt just has too much talent in this one and is playing too well right now.

Last week: 2-2

Season results: 38-9 (80.9 percent)

SEC predictions: Week 9

October, 28, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

For all those people beating up on Tennessee’s Derek Dooley for his analogy about the Germans and D-Day, at least he got his facts right.

I mean, it’s not like he pulled a Blutarsky and exclaimed something about the Germans bombing Pearl Harbor.

On the subject of getting things right, I’m pleased to announce that I got all six SEC games right last week, my first unbeaten week.

It would be nice to make it 11 in a row this week.

But you can’t talk about it. You have to go out there and do it.

For the season, I’m now 49-13 (.790). Now’s the time to get busy. They remember what you do in late October and November.

Championships aren’t won in September.

With that, here are my picks for Week 9:

Georgia 27, Florida 21: I realize it’s going against the grain to pick against Urban Meyer when he’s had more than a week to prepare for a team. He’s 31-3 during his career when that’s the case. But the Gators’ offensive problems were such that they weren’t going to get fixed in a week, while the Bulldogs seem to have worked out most of the problems plaguing them earlier in the season. The winner stays alive in the East race, and the fact is that Georgia’s playing better football right now in all facets of the game.

Auburn 34, Ole Miss 28: This is one of those games that has “danger” written all over it for Auburn, which will try to avoid becoming the fourth consecutive No. 1 team to lose this season. The Tigers are playing their ninth straight game without a break, and this trip to Ole Miss comes on the heels of two tough, emotionally draining wins over ranked opponents. Ole Miss quarterback Jeremiah Masoli looks like he might be due for one of those memorable performances before his one and only season is up in Oxford. The only problem with that is Cam Newton has one of those games every week.

South Carolina 35, Tennessee 13: With this being a day game, surely the Vols won’t break out those hideous black jerseys they wore on Halloween night a year ago against the Gamecocks. These are two teams headed in opposite directions. South Carolina is trying to win its first Eastern Division championship in history. Tennessee is trying to avoid its worst record in school history. The Vols have fought hard in the first half of games this season. It’s the second half that gets them and will again in Columbia on Saturday in yet another double-digit loss, making them 0-for-October.

Mississippi State 28, Kentucky 24: This is new ground for the Mississippi State players, who are in the middle of a five-game winning streak and trying to play their way into a bigger bowl. The Wildcats have scored points on everybody. By the same token, they haven’t been able to stop anybody, particularly on the ground. The Bulldogs run the ball better than anybody in the conference with the exception of Auburn. Dan Mullen’s club has come too far to slip up now. They’ll make it six in a row on Saturday and then head into their bye week dreaming really big dreams about that trip to Alabama on Nov. 13.

Arkansas 34, Vanderbilt 14: It’s never a good sign when you start changing offensive coordinators and playcallers during the middle of the season. But when you consider how unproductive the Commodores have been on offense, why not give Des Kitchings a shot? He better figure out a way to score some points because the Hogs are going to light up the scoreboard every chance they get. Simply scoring more than a touchdown would be an improvement for the Commodores, but asking them to score five or six is probably asking too much.

Big 12 predictions: Week 9

October, 28, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

Last week was OK, but my string of 5-1 weeks was broken by Texas and Missouri. Sometimes erring on the side of history doesn't pay off. That gave me my first miss on Missouri this season, but I've now missed the Longhorns three times this season (UCLA, Nebraska, Iowa State). It seems like the only person having a harder time figuring them out than me is Mack Brown. Doesn't look like an easy task for either of us, with a tough game for the Longhorns on Saturday and a tough pick for me.

I'll be in Lincoln this weekend taking in the de facto Big 12 North championship game between the Huskers and Missouri. Should be a great one.

This is the most difficult week of picks we've had this season, but that's what you get in conference play. Three of the six games look like toss-ups, and I went against my gut on two of them.

Last week: 4-2 (.667)

Overall: 55-10

No. 17 Oklahoma State 41, Kansas State 24: Justin Blackmon's absence will be felt, but the Cowboys still have plenty of power on offense that Kansas State can't account for. This already looked like a pretty bad matchup for the Wildcats, and only slightly less so without Blackmon. Kendall Hunter will get loose a lot in this one. Look for 200-plus yards from him once again.

Iowa State 31, Kansas 17: Kansas gets a little closer against the Cyclones, but Collin Franklin and Alexander Robinson have good days in a solid win for Iowa State.

No. 6 Missouri 31, No. 14 Nebraska 27: Count this as me going against my gut No. 1. Check back later today for a video of me explaining my pick.

Texas A&M 27, Texas Tech 24: The Aggies buck the trend of road teams winning two in a row in the series, start Jerrod Johnson and eventually go with Ryan Tannehill, who engineers a couple touchdown drives for the win.

Texas 21, No. 25 Baylor 20: Going against my gut here, too. I picked against an angry Texas team in Nebraska, but you have to think it'll only be more intense this week. Nebraska's offense is better than Baylor's, and the Horns shut it down. They've got the corners in the back to slow Kendall Wright and Josh Gordon through the air, and Sam Acho and Keenan Robinson play well up front to keep Robert Griffin III and Jay Finley from having the kind of days they enjoyed last week against Kansas State. And D.J. Monroe gets more than one carry!

No. 9 Oklahoma 45, Colorado 10: This one's not close. Roy Finch makes Sooners fans drool yet again, making a few late highlights in the fourth quarter. He'll be a good one real soon.

Pac-10 predictions: Week 9

October, 28, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

Went 4-0 last week and improved to 38-12 on the year.

But I didn't put 110 percent into these picks.

Oregon 41, USC 30: This will be a competitive game, with both offenses getting their licks in. But the Trojans won't be able to keep up the pace in the second half.

Oregon State 30, California 27: If the Cal team that whipped Arizona State last weekend shows up, the Beavers are in trouble. But because the Bears haven't produced that team on a regular basis, we're tapping the Beavers.

Arizona State 35, Washington State 24: The Sun Devils figure to be smarting after the loss at Cal, and that should help them focus on the Cougars, who no longer can be taken lightly. But the Cougs are banged up, and the Sun Devils are too athletic to pick the upset.

Arizona 33, UCLA 17: UCLA has too many issues. And Arizona is too good on both sides of the ball. Wildcats DEs Brooks Reed and Ricky Elmore should have a fun day chasing Richard Brehaut around.

Stanford 40, Washington 31: There's a temptation to see an upset here -- the Huskies always seem to follow a disappointing effort with a good one. Expect Jake Locker to have a good day at home with Andrew Luck on the opposite sideline. The issue is the Huskies defense, which is down two starting D-linemen and wasn't even playing well with them.

ACC predictions: Week 9

October, 28, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

Well, I finally picked a Clemson-Georgia Tech game right, but it didn’t help my winning percentage much. I struck out on the Terps’ win at BC and Miami’s win over the Heels. That added up to a 3-2 week and a grand total of 48-15 (76.1 percent). It’s not getting any easier, starting tonight with a tough pick in the ACC’s game of the week:

NC State 31, Florida State 28 (OT) -- This is the biggest game the Wolfpack have played in years, and it’s an upset in the making. The Carter-Finely crowd will make for a great atmosphere, and quarterback Russell Wilson will be the difference. Linebackers Audie Cole and Nate Irving will help slow down the running game, and FSU quarterback Christian Ponder will be forced into a costly turnover.

Navy 38, Duke 14 -- The Blue Devils won’t be able to get Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs off the field, and therefore won’t get enough possessions to get into a shootout with him. The Middies are coming off a big win over Notre Dame and have the momentum.

Clemson 28, Boston College 14 -- The Eagles’ defense won’t be the same without its best pass-rusher, defensive end Alex Albright, and the offense has been anemic all season. Andre Ellington will have another big running day and DeAndre Hopkins will continue to blossom as a receiver.

Maryland 24, Wake Forest 17 -- The Deacs have had a week to rest and prepare, but still have what is statistically one of the worst defenses in the country. Wake has won three of the past four meetings, but the difference this time around will be Maryland’s defense, especially against the run.

Miami 31, Virginia 17 -- The talent, speed and depth of the Canes will be too much for Virginia to overcome. The difference, though, is in the turnover margin, where Miami’s defense up front will force quarterback Marc Verica into another interception or two and create a short field for Jacory Harris.

North Carolina 31, William & Mary 24 -- The Tar Heels will overlook the Tribe, and it will be a closer game than necessary, but UNC will pull away in the second half thanks to a strong running game and some big plays by the defense.

Non-AQ Picks: Week 9

October, 28, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

My picks in Week 8 were back to being decent, and I got one of my two upset specials right. Navy beat Notre Dame to help me get to 7-3, but did anyone expect the Midshipmen to win that decisively? Not I said the cat.

With a 50-34 overall record, I am ready for what Week 9 has to bring. I think.

On to the picks!

No. 4 TCU 41, UNLV 3. The Horned Frogs keep on rolling in their first road game since Oct. 2 against Colorado State. Keep in mind they won that game 27-0 after some struggles on offense. Andy Dalton is going to have to play well on the road for TCU to have any shot at staying undefeated. TCU has outscored its Mountain West opponents 141-10.

No. 8 Utah 31, Air Force 13. This game is usually really tight, but not this year. After a good first quarter, Air Force struggled to move the ball against TCU last week and had its lowest rushing output of the season. Utah has one of the more unheralded defenses in the nation, and ranks in the Top 10 in the nation in scoring D, total D and rush D.

No. 24 Nevada 35, Utah State 13. The Wolf Pack return to the field after a week off, hoping to erase the sting of their first loss of the season. Colin Kaepernick had four turnovers in that loss to Hawaii, and is going to have to be mistake-free for Nevada to have a shot at winning the rest of its games. Coach Chris Ault said his team had physical practices leading up to this game, and is eager to see how it responds. Utah State has scored 13 points in its past two games.

UCF 27, East Carolina 24. The Pirates own this series, having won four straight and eight of nine. But UCF gets the edge here because it’s at home and has the best defense in Conference USA. The Knights haven’t faced an offense quite as potent as this one, but the defensive line is playing outstanding and should be able to pressure Dominique Davis into making mistakes.

Hawaii 45, Idaho 17. Hawaii is playing lights out football, and should clinch a bowl berth into the Hawaii Bowl with a win over the hard-to-read Vandals, who have alternated wins and losses this season. They won last week, so a loss must be in the stars. The Warriors have scored 40-plus points in four of their past five games, and present a big challenge to Boise State on Nov. 6.

UPSET SPECIAL Tulsa 33, Notre Dame 30. Yup, two weeks in a row I am going to pick Notre Dame to lose in my upset special. No, Tulsa doesn’t run the triple option, but the Golden Hurricane have an offense capable of racking up yards and points. Notre Dame is going to have to find an answer for the trio of Damaris Johnson, Trae Johnson and Charles Clay.

Central Michigan 33, Bowling Green 17. Talk about disappointment. Both teams made bowl games last season and are now floundering. The Falcons have already been eliminated from bowl contention. Meanwhile, the Chippewas have lost five straight, but get the edge behind Ryan Radcliff, Kito Poblah and Nick Bellore.

Western Kentucky 30, North Texas 28. Can it be true? Two in a row for the Hilltoppers? After breaking their 26-game losing streak last week, Western Kentucky returns home to play a team that just fired its head coach and is on its fourth-string quarterback (though there is hope Riley Dodge can play). They came awfully close to a win earlier this month, so the improvement is there for the Hilltoppers.

FIU 24, FAU 20. One thing you have come to expect from the “Shula Bowl” -- an FAU win. The Owls lead the series between the rivals 7-0, although the lone FIU win in 2005 was vacated due to NCAA sanctions. FIU is flat out better this season. FAU has lost five straight, and its lone win came in the opener on the final play of the game.

Colorado State 44, New Mexico 20. The Rams have shown glimpses of an offense this season behind true freshman quarterback Pete Thomas, although he has been on his back more often than he probably likes. The Rams have given up 29 sacks this season, but should be able to do enough to protect Thomas against one of the worst teams in the country.

Pick o' the Irish: Week 9 vs. Tulsa

October, 28, 2010
Navy confounded Notre Dame and my picks streak yet again. Darn those Midshipmen.

You get what you deserve, as Brian Kelly said. Let's see if I deserve to get back on track this week:

Notre Dame 41, Tulsa 28: You get into a game with Tulsa, and you know the scoreboard operator will be busy. The Golden Hurricane are dangerous because they can score points -- they're averaging 38.4 points per game, which is 13th best in the FBS. But this is the same team that gave up 51 to East Carolina and 65 to Oklahoma State -- in regulation, mind you. I see this as the game the Notre Dame offense breaks out, even if Michael Floyd isn't 100 percent.

Tulsa can play and has a puncher's chance in South Bend because of its offense. But if the Irish can't beat a middling Conference USA team at home, they might as well cancel the rest of the season.

Last week: Incorrect pick

Season record: 5-3