Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oregon Over USC Is My Upset Special

I guess the biggest surprise last week was Texas A&M's 52–30 victory over Texas Tech.

I have a friend who went to Texas A&M, and he has been somewhat despondent over the football program this season. But after last weekend, he was positively giddy.

Another surprise in the Top 25 was Clemson's 40–37 win over Miami (Florida). Was that an upset? Well, technically, I suppose it was, since Miami was ranked and Clemson was not. But Saturday was only the third time the schools have played since Miami joined the ACC — before that, their last meeting was in 1956.

Following its win on Saturday, Clemson holds a 2–1 edge in the series since both have been members of the ACC, and all three games have been decided by a single score. Close contests have been the norm when these two schools have played, regardless of whether either one was ranked.

The Aggies, meanwhile, snapped a four–game skid with their win over the Red Raiders, and it was their first win in Lubbock since 1993. So I have to think that was a more significant upset.

Second–ranked Alabama, #17 Pittsburgh and #24 Arizona are off this week.
  • Georgia at #1 Florida, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on CBS — The Georgia–Florida series ebbs and flows. In the last two decades, the Gators have had the upper hand. Georgia held the upper hand in the two decades before that, and things were fairly even in the 1960s. So, when you look at the results, it looks like it's been close to a split since 1959, with the Gators leading the series in that time, 27–22–1. But the numbers that matter are the recent ones, and Florida has won three of the last four encounters. The Gators should make that four of the last five when the teams face off this weekend.

  • #3 Texas at #13 Oklahoma State, 7 p.m. (Central) on ABC — The Longhorns have won the last 11 meetings with the Cowboys. Sometimes the score has been close, sometimes it hasn't. But the last OSU victory over UT (in 1997) came when the Longhorns were struggling. They aren't struggling this year. I'll take Texas.

  • #4 USC at #12 Oregon, 7 p.m. (Central) on ABC — Oregon has been a thorn in USC's side in recent years. The last 10 meetings have been split right down the middle and the last time Oregon was the home team, the Ducks prevailed, 24–17, in 2007. Perhaps this is wishful thinking, but I pick Oregon to do it again in my upset special.

  • San Jose State at #5 Boise State — Boise State is 8–0 against San Jose State since joining the WAC in 2001. I see no reason why Boise State won't make it nine in a row.

  • UNLV at #6 TCU, 3 p.m. (Central) on Versus — TCU has won four straight against UNLV since becoming a member of the MWC in 2005. The Horned Frogs should make it five straight.

  • #7 Cincinnati at Syracuse, 11 a.m. (Central) on ESPN U — These schools don't have extensive histories against each other. Cincinnati is 6–0 against Syracuse in this decade. Syracuse won all three encounters in the 1990s. But, clearly, the Bearcats have the upper hand and should prevail this weekend.

  • Indiana at #8 Iowa, 11 a.m. (Central) on ESPN — The series has been split, 2–2, in the last four games. Indiana won the last game that was played in Iowa in 2007, but I expect the Hawkeyes to prevail this time.

  • Tulane at #9 LSU — This is a natural instate rivalry, but it hasn't been played every year, perhaps because LSU has won the last 16 games with Tulane. It's been nearly 30 years since Tulane beat LSU (in 1982), and I would be shocked if Tulane's losing streak comes to an end this weekend.

  • #10 Penn State at Northwestern, 3:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPN — Penn State is 9–3 against Northwestern since joining the Big Ten in 1995, and the Nittany Lions have won the last two meetings, but I'm sure that Joe Paterno and his coaches harbor memories from earlier this decade when Northwestern claimed two consecutive wins (in 2004 and 2005). I expect Penn State to win the game, but don't be surprised if Northwestern gives PSU a rough outing.

  • #11 Georgia Tech at Vanderbilt — This is a nonconference game so these two don't face each other every year. The last time the two schools met was in September 2003. Tech won. Tech also beat Vanderbilt the year before, and those are the only two games the schools have played since September 1967 (another Tech victory). In fact, a 10–10 tie to open the 1965 season is the closest Vanderbilt has come to beating Tech since 1941. I don't expect Vandy to end that skid this weekend.

  • North Carolina at #14 Virginia Tech, Thursday at 6:45 p.m. (Central) on ESPN — Virginia Tech has won all five games with North Carolina since joining the ACC. Make that six in a row.

  • New Mexico State at #15 Ohio State, 11 a.m. (Central) on Big Ten — I don't think these schools have ever played each other in football. It's hard for me to imagine NMSU going to Columbus and leaving with a win. Ohio State looks like a sure thing in this one.

  • Southern Mississippi at #16 Houston — Southern Miss is 7–2 against Houston since 1996. I don't think the schools played prior to that, but Houston won their last encounter in Houston (in 2005) and I expect the Cougars to prevail this time.

  • #18 Miami (Florida) at Wake Forest, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on ABC — Miami is 3–0 against Wake Forest since joining the ACC. The Hurricanes won the first two meetings (in 2004 and 2005) rather handily, but they struggled last year. I expect Miami to win by a wider margin this year.

  • Wyoming at #19 Utah, 7 p.m. (Central) on MTN — Utah is 8–2 against Wyoming since 1999, which happens to be the last time Wyoming won a game at Utah. I think it will still be that way after this weekend.

  • #20 West Virginia at South Florida, Friday at 7 p.m. (Central) on ESPN2 — Since South Florida joined the Big East in 2005, the series between the two schools is 2–2. I can't say that I know much about either team, but I'll go with West Virginia, the team that is ranked.

  • #21 South Carolina at Tennessee, 6:45 p.m. (Central) on ESPN — Tennessee is 114–3 against South Carolina since the Gamecocks joined the SEC in 1992, but the Volunteers aren't what they used to be. South Carolina won last year's game at home, and its only win at Tennessee since joining the SEC came in 2005, but USC is likely to get its second road win against the Vols on Saturday.

  • #22 Ole Miss at Auburn, 11:21 a.m. (Central) on SEC — Ole Miss is 4–15 against Auburn since 1990, but the Rebels are 1–0 against the Tigers under Houston Nutt. I predict they will be 2–0 after this weekend.

  • Kansas State at #23 Oklahoma, 6 p.m. (Central) on FSN — Now that these schools are in different divisions in the Big 12, they don't play each other every year, but they have had an interesting history. KSU's last victory over OSU came in the Big 12 Championship game in 2003. Kansas State hasn't beaten Oklahoma during the regular season since 1997, which also happens to be the last time KSU won at Norman, Okla. The Sooners will win.

  • Washington State at #25 Notre Dame, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on NBC — The last time these two played each other was in 2003. That game also was in South Bend, and Notre Dame pulled off a 29–26 victory over a Washington State team that finished the season 10–3. I don't believe the schools played prior to that. Will the weather be a factor? Maybe, although the current forecast for South Bend isn't too bad for the last day in October — mostly cloudy with a high of 54°. Can't imagine that posing much of a problem for a team from Washington state. Whether it does or not, though, I'll take Notre Dame.
Last week: 20–2.

Season: 114–25.

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