Week Nine Predictions
Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC Tags:
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As I look at Saturday's games, I see a ton of upset potential for this weekend. #2 Florida and #3 Kansas State need to be on super alert as #10 Georgia and #14 Texas Tech, respectively, would love to shake up the top five. #9 USC also has a tricky game, hitting the road to play unranked, but dangerous, Arizona. And - believe it or not - #1 Alabama even gets a test this weekend, facing #11 Mississippi State at home. Here are my picks for this week's games:
* All rankings BCS, all times EST
Tennessee at #13 South Carolina - noon - ESPN - The previously top five Gamecocks just went 0-2 in what would have to be considered the toughest two-game stretch any team in America will face this season. Losses at LSU and Florida the past two weekends have South Carolina more than ready to get back into their home stadium. And not only will they be back in the comfort of home, but they will host a UT team that has all sorts of problems, getting beat by 33 in their home stadium a week ago by bitter rival Alabama. In this one, the Gamecocks get some relief, and a confidence booster for shaken QB Connor Shaw, in a win. South Carolina, 33-17.
Kentucky at Missouri - noon - ESPNU - In a battle of two of the SEC's unfinest, we will see here which team is worse. My guess is Kentucky. With a combined eleven losses between them, I am not real sure how this game even made the slate. Mizzou is 96th in the nation in scoring. Kentucky is worse - they are 111th. In a game like this you have to go with the home team, as the visitor really doesn't have a prayer! Missouri, 30-20.
NC State at North Carolina - 12:30 - ESPN3.com - Talk about two unpredictable programs! NCSU started rough, but then beat Florida State, who was ranked #3 at the time. UNC is under a first-year head coach (Larry Fedora), so you know they are unpredictable. In this one, I am going to go with the home guys. On paper, the Heels have the edge, ranking in the top 25 in both points for and points against (the Wolfpack rank 75th and 28th, respectively). So with those stats, home-field advantage, and a chance to do this week what Duke did to them last week, I will pick UNC. North Carolina, 36-29.
UCLA at Arizona State - 3:00 - FX - These teams need to break out of their losing ways, and obviously one of them will this weekend. UCLA has lost two of their last four while Arizona State suffered their second loss a week ago (Oregon). The Sun Devils are at home, and - on paper - have the better squad, ranking in the top 25 in both points allowed and points scored. UCLA is better this year under Jim Mora, but I still see them going through some growing pains, and this game will be an example of that. Arizona State, 36-27.
#9 USC at Arizona - 3:30 - ABC regional - As I stated in my opening paragraph, there are lots of games that signal the upset special this Saturday. This game is certainly among them. USC has one loss and have yet to play Oregon or Notre Dame - two high-profile games that could get them back in the BCS mix. The Trojans know a national title is still not out of the realm of possibility. But they must get by this game first, and it cold be a speed-bump. Arizona is under Rich Rodriguez in year one, and they can score (they don't play much D, but they can score). They will also have a rowdy home-field crowd and a lot of energy on their side. But USC has a respectable defense (18th nationally in points against), and I think they can hold off the Wildcats just enough to sneak away unharmed. USC, 35-31.
Duke at #12 Florida State - 3:30 - ESPNU - The Devils are having their best season in 17 years as they have become bowl eligible already, beating rival UNC last weekend for win number six. But a beatdown in Tallahassee Saturday will bring David Cutcliffe's team back to reality just a hair. The 'Noles are solid, and are on a mission to jump back into the BCS national discussions. I think they get an early scare from Duke, but win going away. FSU, 40-17.
#2 Florida vs. #10 Georgia - 3:30 - CBS - Georgia is a pretty good football team that ran into a buzzsaw in Columbia three weeks back, giving them an ugly reputation as a top ten wannabe when South Carolina embarrased them. Since then, though, the Dawgs have worked out some issues with an open date then a win at Kentucky. Florida, meanwhile, has jumped into the national spotlight with wins over LSU and South Carolina (both at home). I am trying so, so hard to not make this my upset special, but I can't help it. I think UGA will play their hearts out, and in an emotional win for Coach Mark Richt, the Dawgs shake up the SEC East. Georgia, 30-28.
Michigan State at #25 Wisconsin - 3:30 - ABC regional - Both of these teams will bring solid defenses and horrid offenses into this game. I really don't know what else much to say in this capsule because this is usually where I would talk about the offensive star, or some reason one team would score more than the other. But basically, they are both strong on D and weak on O, and it is anyone's guess who will score more (or less) Saturday. Home team. Wisconsin. 13-7.
#14 Texas Tech at #3 Kansas State - 3:30 - FOX - Do I pick an upset here? Wow, it is hard not to. TTU has played some lights-out ball as of late, pounding West Virginia and then winning on the road in an OT shootout at TCU. But KSU is led by probably the best player in the game in Heisman candidate QB Collin Klein. A dominant player, I expect Klein to save the day in Manhattan, keeping his team in the top five while doing it. This game will probably be high-scoring in typical Big-12 fashion. Kansas State, 46-38.
TCU at Oklahoma State - 3:30 - no TV - With so many good games this weekend, this one tends to be a bit overlooked. But this coud be the best game of the day. Both are good, as usual, but a few heartbreak scenarios have happened to both. TCU lost in triple OT a week ago at Texas Tech, while OSU lost to Texas on a late score. In this one, I will go with the home Cowboys to put up a lot of points. TCU has a good defense as always, but OSU is fourth nationally, scoring nearly 46 points a contest. Oklahoma State, 39-24.
Ohio State at Penn State - 5:30 - ESPN - Here is a battle of two programs that have had tremendously nightmarish offseasons of late and are just glad to be playing football - good football. OSU is 8-0 but on probation from the jerseys-for-tats scandal back in 2011. PSU, as every one in the ultraverse knows, is on probation following their situation with butthead (can't even type his name). So while the fanbases at the schools had nothing to do with either of those problems, I am glad they just get to enjoy the sport itself again. The Lions at 5-2 will be the host and you can bet an electric 110,000 will be on hand to see it. But I think OSU is a better team under the guidance of Urban Meyer - one of the best coaches of all-time in my opinion - and I will take the visitors. Ohio State, 29-21.
#22 Michigan at Nebraska - 8:00 - ESPN2 - Usually it is the Cornhusker defense that gets the talk and publicity. But in this one, it is the Wolverine defense that is getting the love. UM is tenth nationally in total defense and will face a NU offense that is 16th best in scoring at 41 ppg. That, my friends, is a good matchup to watch. On the flip side, Taylor Martinez (Nebraska) and Denard Robinson (Michigan) are two QBs that are exciting to watch. While all teams play better in their own stadium, I feel Nebraska is one of those teams that plays ten times better at home than on the road. With that, I say they not only stay in this one, but pull off the win. Nebraska, 37-31.
#5 Notre Dame at #8 Oklahoma - 8:00 - ABC - The Irish are hot. Ranked in the top five and back in the national spotlight, ND and their fans are thinking about all of the titles of yesteryear. They also have one of the most exciting players in the game in LB Manti Teo. But all of that excitement will be toned down a bit when the polls come out Sunday and ND is back in the group of teams that have been defeated. OU is not the greatest team on Earth. But they are pretty darned good - and at home. I expect a great game here and I cannot wait to settle in and watch the entire thing. Oklahoma, 36-30.
#11 Mississippi State at #1 Alabama - 8:30 - ESPN - Coach Dan Mullen brings his Bulldogs into Tuscaloosa to tangle with the nation's top ranked squad in the Crimson Tide. While I respect what MSU is doing, and respect Mullen as a coach, I think playing Nick Saban's boys in their home stadium is too daunting of a task for anyone right now. Throw in a night crowd and national TV and Bama will be out to prove even further that they are the best in the biz. Mississippi State will play hard, and put up a respectable fight, but in the end, Alabama pulls away. Alabama, 38-21.
#7 Oregon State at Washington - 10:15 - Pac-12 Network - The Huskies are reeling, having lost three in a row. But two of those losses were tough road trips (Oregon and Arizona) and the other was USC in a respectable loss (24-14). I saw Washington defeat Stanford in week four from CenturyLink Field in Seattle, and I think the same thing could happen again. The home of the NFL's Seahawks is a nice home-field for Washington while their stadium is remodeled. With a solid defense and the play of Sean Mannion at QB, though, I don't think the Beavers will let UW pull another big home win. Oregon State is a tad untested, and will face a bit of a test here. I think they will pass. Oregon State, 30-27.
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