NCF Nation: game-predictions-112410

Big Ten predictions: Week 13

November, 24, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

By Week 13, you are what you are. And I'm not Mr. Perfect (my wife reminds of this daily).

I've accepted the fact that I'll never have another spotless week of predictions. Came close again in Week 13, but whiffed on the Wrigley Game. Figures, given the curses that live in that building.

Three of the predictions this week are no-brainers, while the other two took some time to decide.

I spent most of my time on Michigan State-Penn State. For weeks, I've projected Penn State to knock off the Spartans, but I'm switching it up now. After several days of deliberations, I think Michigan State had its major scare against Purdue and will play better in Happy Valley. And while the environment will be tough, a noon ET kickoff and no drama regarding coach Joe Paterno's future works in Michigan State's favor.

Yes, I know this doesn't fall in line with my bowl projections for Penn State and Iowa, but I'll fix that on Sunday if things go as forecasted.

Without further ado ...

Ohio State 38, Michigan 20: Not even the magical powers of Greg Robinson's stuffed animal can get Michigan's defense to a place where it can knock off the Buckeyes. Denard Robinson keeps the Wolverines in this one for a while, but Ohio State takes over just before halftime and never looks back. Expect a big game for Dan "Boom" Herron on the ground, and wideout DeVier Posey bounces back with a touchdown grab.

Michigan State 28, Penn State 24: I'm buying in, Spartans fans. This is your year. Kirk Cousins is banged up and the Spartans haven't won in Happy Valley since the year before Paterno became Penn State head coach, but they get it done this year. Penn State lacks the pass rush to truly rattle Cousins, who will attack the Lions secondary with receivers Mark Dell and B.J. Cunningham. Michigan State rallies for the win and claims its first league title since 1990.

Purdue 31, Indiana 27: I'll break down the Bucket game in a video post later Wednesday. Check it out this afternoon.

Iowa 34, Minnesota 17: The Gophers end their scoreless streak against Iowa and even take an early lead in this one. But Iowa has too much pride and too much skill to fall apart, especially against a vulnerable Minnesota defense. Ricky Stanzi gets it in gear and tosses touchdown passes to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Marvin McNutt as Iowa retains the Floyd of Rosedale.

Wisconsin 48, Northwestern 14: There's too much going for Wisconsin right now, and not enough going for Northwestern. This one turns into a rout as Montee Ball and James White run all over an inconsistent Northwestern defense. Badgers defensive end J.J. Watt records a pair of sacks and Wisconsin turns it on in the third quarter to essentially lock up its first Rose Bowl berth in 11 years.

Bye: Illinois

Last week: 4-1

Season record: 68-14 (.829)

Big 12 predictions: Week 13

November, 24, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

I hit on my upset special last week when I picked Texas A&M to beat Nebraska, but I'll pause and give you a few seconds to plead your case about why it shouldn't count...

...I'm counting it anyway.

For the second consecutive week, my only miss came courtesy of those plucky Boulder Buffs, so maybe it's time to start picking them to win. We'll see.

I'm headed to Stillwater this week for Bedlam, a.k.a the Big 12 South championship game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, but here's who I've got this week in the rest of the games across the conference:

Last week: 5-1 (.833)

Overall: 71-18 (.798)


No. 17 Texas A&M 20, Texas 13: This is my pick of the week. Come back later this afternoon for a video of my explanation.


No. 15 Nebraska 19, Colorado 13: Nebraska's defense is playing better than it has all season. Its offense is playing as poorly as it has all season. It's anyone's guess as to if or how well Taylor Martinez plays on Saturday, but he won't be the same Martinez that routinely racked up 125 yards on the ground early in the season. Without being able to plant on that ankle, Martinez's passing mechanics suffered against Texas A&M as well. Nebraska finds enough offense to win with Rex Burkhead and Roy Helu Jr., but it's close against a Colorado team that's finally utilizing its apparent talent.


No. 14 Missouri 31, Kansas 14: Kansas is getting better, and played a great first half against Oklahoma State last week. The Tigers offense is good, but they don't have the number of high-level options Oklahoma State used to blow out the Jayhawks in the second half. Don't be surprised if Turner Gill has something up his sleeve for this game, and pulls it out to help put some points on the board early.

Kansas State 41, North Texas 17: The Mean Green got a nice bump after firing Todd Dodge earlier in the year, but that bump isn't going to put them over Kansas State. They don't make running backs like Daniel Thomas in the Sun Belt. The Wildcats overpower the home team and head to a bowl game with a better taste in their mouth than after last week's loss to Colorado.

Texas Tech 47, Houston 24: Houston has lost its last three games, and given up 42 points a pop doing it. That streak won't end in Lubbock against the Red Raiders. Taylor Potts goes out on a high note heading into a bowl game.

No. 9 Oklahoma State 47, No. 13 Oklahoma 38: Expect this one to be well worth the price of admission. Oklahoma State's defense has made big strides down the stretch, and they'll be the difference this week. Mike Gundy gets his first win over the Sooners with the most on the line and on the biggest stage. Couldn't ask for a better time. I'll be back on Friday with my three keys to this game for each team.

Regular season complete: Baylor (7-5), Iowa State (5-7)

Big East predictions: Week 13

November, 24, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

I started off strong last week, correctly predicting that West Virginia and Pittsburgh would win on the road. But then Syracuse laid another egg on the road to derail the bandwagon, and Rutgers' defense helped turn Cincinnati into Oregon. So it was another .500 week, and if there were a BCS standings for prognosticators, I'd be as invisible as the Big East.

West Virginia 17, Pittsburgh 14: This is my game of the week. Check out my video post later Wednesday afternoon for a breakdown of this game and a full explanation of the pick.

Connecticut 35, Cincinnati 21: If Louisville had made one of its two missed field goals, every Cincinnati opponent in Big East play would have scored at least 30 points. So I see that trend continuing. I don't see the Bearcats scoring 69 again. UConn stays in the picture.

Louisville 21, Rutgers 14: I have zero confidence in the Scarlet Knights and the way they are playing right now. Louisville's pressure schemes should cause problems for Rutgers' offensive line, and the Cardinals do enough on the toad to attain bowl eligibility.

Miami 27, South Florida 10: Two teams coming off disappointing losses that pushed them out of their conference title races. The Hurricanes have been up and down, but I think they have too much speed and skill for the Bulls, who will struggle mightily to score points.

Syracuse 19, Boston College 17: My time aboard the Syracuse bandwagon has been a bumpy ride, and Orange fans probably hoped I'd jump off it this week. Nope. This is a matchup of two defensive-minded teams and it could be a slog. I've got to believe Syracuse is going to win one meaningful home game before the season ends.

Last week: 2-2

Season results: 43-14 (75.4 percent)

ACC: Week 13 predictions

November, 24, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

Well, it was a 4-2 record last week, bringing my grand total to 61-24 (71.7 percent) heading into the final week of the regular season. It’s a passing grade, but I feel like Randy Shannon – not in championship form. Speaking of championships, the Atlantic Division title is on the line this week and so are some bragging rights. Here’s a look at who will come out on top in Week 13:

Syracuse 13, Boston College 10: Without leading rusher Montel Harris (knee), Syracuse will win this game. True freshman Andre Williams is good, but there is no relief behind him, and Syracuse has a better defense than Virginia does. It has the No. 34 rushing defense in the country, and is No. 6 in total defense. Regardless, expect a low-scoring game.

South Carolina 24, Clemson 21 – The Gamecocks are No. 7 in the country in rushing defense and holding opponents to under 100 rushing yards per game. It’s going to be a tough day for Jamie Harper, and this defense will get pressure on quarterback Kyle Parker and force him into a key mistake or two.

Florida 28, Florida State 24 – The Seminoles are the ranked team for a reason, and they’ve got the momentum and home field advantage in their favor. But Florida’s defense and special teams will be the difference. The Gators have also done a better job of protecting the football this year.

NC State 35, Maryland 21: Russell Wilson is that good. Danny O’Brien is smart, and he has been poised in big games, but he’s more of a facilitator right now while Wilson is a game-changer. You also have to wonder how motivated Maryland will be now that the Terps know they’re out of the Atlantic Division race.

Vanderbilt 24, Wake Forest 21: This is how it goes for the Deacs, even against a similarly bad team; They’ll lose on the last play of the game, probably a field goal, and finish the season on a 10-game losing streak. Ouch.

UNC 28, Duke 17: Regardless of who’s on the field for the Tar Heels, they’re still too good on defense to lose this game. UNC quarterback T.J. Yates is coming off a record-setting performance in the loss to NC State and won’t want to close his career with a loss at Duke. He and his team are good enough that they shouldn’t have to.

Georgia 35, Georgia Tech 21: The Jackets are going to score some points, but Georgia has bowl eligibility on the line and will play like it. The rushing defense is one of the best in the SEC and country, and they’re No. 18 in the country in turnover margin.

Miami 28, South Florida 27: South Florida has been playing pretty well down the stretch, and won three of its past four, but the Cane have the better athletes and as long as they don’t turn it over should win. South Florida has one of the worst offenses in the country and Miami will have the edge up front.

Hokies 42, Virginia 10: This one could get ugly. Don’t expect the Hokies to roll over just because they’ve already got the Coastal Division locked up. There’s still plenty on the line, including the Commonwealth Cup, bragging rights, and the chance to become the ACC’s first undefeated team in conference play since Florida State in 2000.

SEC predictions: Week 13

November, 24, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

It’s rivalry week in the SEC, which means the picks always get a little tougher.

Or course, with the roll I’m on right now, tougher is better.

I’m Larry Bird, and the basket looks the size of the Pacific Ocean.

I’m Jack Nicklaus, and the cup looks the size of the Grand Canyon.

I’m Les Miles, and the scrumptious blades of green grass stretch on forever.

You get the idea.

I was 6-0 last week and am now 72-16 (.818) for the season. Over the past five weeks, I’m a scorching 29-3.

They absolutely remember what you do in November, and here we go with my picks for Week 13:


Alabama 34, Auburn 31: It’s difficult to see either defense shutting the other offense down, which means it’s going to get down to who can make a clutch stand defensively in the second half or force a timely turnover. Alabama’s passing game will be the key. If Greg McElroy is on, which he has been for most of this season, look for him to take advantage of a suspect Auburn secondary. Cam Newton will get his yards, but the Crimson Tide will get the win.


Arkansas 31, LSU 21: It’s always a treat to watch one of the best offenses in the SEC go up against one of the best defenses. Of course, LSU didn’t play like one of the best defenses last week in its 43-36 escape against Ole Miss, and Arkansas’ offense is more explosive than ever now that Knile Davis has become such a home-run threat in the running game. The Hogs are playing as well as anybody in the league right now, which will only be reinforced Saturday in Little Rock.

Ole Miss 30, Mississippi State 24: The “school up north” hasn’t had a lot to cheer about this season. In fact, it’s been one of those seasons most fans of the “school up north” would just as soon forget. That’s why we have rivalry games. One win can help make up for an entire season of disappointment. The “school up north” is due to put one of those wins together Saturday at home.

Tennessee 37, Kentucky 34: The Vols and Wildcats should make an agreement before the game that the first team to 40 points wins. In other words, don’t look for a lot of defense in this one. The Vols are starting to believe right now after winning three in a row, and even though history doesn’t win football games, it’s difficult to get past Tennessee’s 25-game winning streak in this series.

Florida State 24, Florida 17: Urban Meyer has owned his rivals since taking over at Florida in 2005 and has never lost to Florida State. There’s a first time for everything, especially when your offense is as hit and miss as the Gators have been this season on that side of the ball. Playing at home, the Seminoles will turn to their defense to end a six-game losing streak to the Gators.

South Carolina 27, Clemson 21: Yes, I know all about the history in this rivalry and that Clemson has dominated and South Carolina hasn't won two in a row since the Gamecocks won three straight from 1968-70. But repeating something the Head Ball Coach said back in August, this is a different South Carolina football team, not to mention a South Carolina team with Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery taking turns carving opposing defenses apart. If the Chicken Curse were still hovering, South Carolina fans would have reason for concern. But it was permanently exorcised at the Swamp two weeks ago, meaning the Gamecocks get their ninth win of the season Saturday.

Georgia 38, Georgia Tech 21: Georgia redshirt freshman Aaron Murray has had time to rest up after taking a beating in the Auburn game two weeks ago. He should be good to go, and so should A.J. Green in what will almost certainly be his final game in Sanford Stadium. A couple of farewell touchdowns by Green will send the Yellow Jackets packing.

Vanderbilt 28, Wake Forest 24: As bad as Vanderbilt looked last week in a 24-10 loss to Tennessee, there’s still some life left in the Commodores. For one, they see a Wake Forest team that has lost nine in a row. They also may be playing for their coach, Robbie Caldwell, who conceded this week that there are no guarantees he will be back next season.

Pick o' the Irish: Week 13

November, 24, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

I went back over .500 with last week's pick of the Irish over Army. Time to finish out the season strong.

USC 28, Notre Dame 21: The Irish have looked good the last two weeks while the Trojans are coming off a blowout loss at Oregon State and may not have starting quarterback Matt Barkley. That's why I think this one will be much closer than the last four installments of this series in Los Angeles.

But I still think USC has an advantage in athletes and experience, and that Notre Dame's now-youthful offense will struggle in a true road environment. The Irish have closed the gap and should be in better shape in this rivalry going forward once probation takes its tolls on the Trojans. But we're not there yet.

Last week's: Correct pick

Season record: 6-5

Non-AQ picks: Week 13

November, 24, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

I lost both upset specials last week, but that was it en route to an 8-2 record. Hope this week is not full of turkeys!

With a 79-45 overall record, bring on Week 13.

No. 3 TCU 55, New Mexico 3. The Horned Frogs should have no problem against one of the worst teams in the country, and they are going to have to pour on the points and look impressive to have any shot of holding off Boise State in the BCS standings. A win would give TCU the Mountain West title outright, and the third unbeaten and untied regular season in TCU history.

No. 4 Boise State 41, No. 19 Nevada 20 (Friday). The Broncos are going to have a big challenge, yes, but this is a team that looked absolutely dominant last week in a 51-0 win over Fresno State. Nevada is better than Fresno State, and the Wolf Pack will no doubt be fired up. Colin Kaepernick has had some good games against Boise State, but has been limited in the ground game in the past two contests. The score the past two years may have been closer than the way the games went, but Boise State knows it has got to dominate this game.

No. 20 Utah 28, BYU 20. Anything can happen in rivalry games, and BYU certainly appears to have righted the ship going into the final game between the two as Mountain West members. But Utah has the edge here at quarterback with Jordan Wynn and on defense as well. The Utes needed that win over San Diego State headed into this game, and while BYU has won five of six, the last four wins have come against the worst teams in the league.

SMU 44, East Carolina 31 (Friday). SMU needs this one to clinch the West and a spot in the C-USA title game, and after watching the Pirates play defense this year, it is hard to imagine them stopping an offense that has the ability to have some balance with Kyle Padron and Zach Line. East Carolina ranks last in the country in total defense and scoring defense.

Tulsa 35, Southern Miss 33 (Friday). The Golden Eagles have won four straight road games, the most since winning five away from home during the regular season in 2003 and 2004. But Tulsa is the hotter team, having won five straight. This one features a terrific quarterback matchup between G.J. Kinne of Tulsa and Austin Davis of Southern Miss. These are two of the top scoring offenses and total offenses in C-USA. Tulsa is going to have to slow Davis down on the ground in addition to through the air.

Ohio 31, Kent State 17 (Friday). The Golden Flashes will be inspired to play in this one, the final game for coach Doug Martin, who announced his resignation effective at the end of the game. But the Bobcats have won seven straight and are the much more complete team. They are the more physical team, too. Ohio has to win this game to win the East and get to the MAC title game.

Akron 21, Buffalo 17 (Friday). You heard it here first. The Zips will get their first win of the season in the final game of the season. They have come really close the last several weeks, and coach Rob Ianello has seen vast improvement. Alex Allen is playing well, with back-to-back 100-yard rushing games in close losses to Ball State and Miami (Ohio). The Bulls, meanwhile, have lost six straight. They have scored a total of 20 points in the last two weeks -- against two of the worst teams in the MAC in Ball State and Eastern Michigan. The time is now for the Zips.

FIU 35, Arkansas State 28. The most unlikely league championship will be won in Miami. Nobody pegged FIU as the Sun Belt champion, but the Panthers have steadily improved throughout the season, and now have a pretty powerful offense to go with the best defense in the Sun Belt. That defense will face a challenge in Ryan Aplin, who leads the league in total offense. But FIU is too strong. This is a unit that had seven sacks and three interceptions in a win over Louisiana last week.

Texas Tech 34, Houston 28. The Cougars have lost three straight in their attempt to become bowl eligible and now have to rely on a victory over the Red Raiders to get to six wins. Their running game has abandoned them, and so has their defense. Houston has given up 137 points in its past three games. The final stretch of the season has simply been brutal -- they had to close against four teams that have six or more wins.

ULM 30, Louisiana 17. Louisiana has won two straight over its rivals, but ULM needs a win to become bowl eligible. The Warhawks have never made a bowl game, despite being bowl eligible twice in their history, including last season. But this could be the year that changes. Kolton Browning makes the difference in this one. He threw for a school-record five touchdowns last week, and needs 199 yards of total offense to set the ULM single-season record with 2,966 yards.

Pac-10 predictions: Week 13

November, 24, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

Went 2-1 last week. Anybody go 3-0? The season record is now 50-17.

Arizona State 27, UCLA 17
: The Sun Devils will survive this bowl elimination game because they are at home. And they are better than their 4-6 record.

Oregon 38, Arizona 28: Expect a familiar pattern in which Oregon eventually asserts itself in the fourth quarter. But also expect this one to be hard-fought and competitive for three quarters.

California 24, Washington 20
: Another bowl elimination game. Huskies QB Jake Locker ripped Cal apart last year, so expect the Bears defense to want revenge. Can the Bears score enough to win? They should be able to at home against the Huskies' struggling D.

Stanford 41, Oregon State 21: A week ago, this felt like a gimme. Not so much now with how the Beavers whipped USC. Still, the Beavers will have a hard time duplicating their emotional peak on the road, and the Cardinal is too physical on both lines.

Notre Dame 28, USC 24: Notre Dame's defense has been playing better, and the Trojans offense looked terrible at Oregon State. And will QB Matt Barkley be able to play? Notre Dame has lost eight straight to the Trojans, which ties a school record for consecutive losses to an opponent, but the Irish will not lose a ninth.