Saturday, October 24, 2009

Upsets Do Not Seem Likely Today

Last week's top–ranked team, the Florida Gators, remained unbeaten, but they didn't play up to expectations and were replaced atop the Associated Press poll.

What's more, the officiating crew that handled last Saturday's Arkansas–Florida game has been suspended until Nov. 14. I believe that is a first for the SEC.

Neither Florida nor the team that displaced the Gators at the top of the poll, the Alabama Crimson Tide, should have a lot of trouble this weekend. Alabama probably has the tougher assignment, playing rival Tennessee. Florida faces Mississippi State. But neither opponent is likely to be a serious challenger.

Only two games match ranked teams this week. The TCU–BYU game has the most attractive rankings, but the Oklahoma–Kansas game may have more traditional appeal.

Fifteenth–ranked Virginia Tech is idle.
  • Tennessee at #1 Alabama, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on CBS — Tennessee is no match for Alabama.

  • #2 Florida at Mississippi State, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPN/ESPN2 — And Mississippi State is not capable of handling Florida, even though MSU has the advantage of playing at home.

  • #3 Texas at Missouri, 7 p.m. (Central) on ABC — I think Missouri should be able to score against Texas. The Tigers might even keep it close since they're playing at home. But Texas is on track to meet either Alabama or Florida for the national title in January.

  • Oregon State at #4 USC, 7 p.m. (Central) on ABC — Oregon State has beaten USC two of the last three times the teams have met, but both those games were played at Oregon State. USC has won seven of the last 10 meetings, and I don't think the Trojans have lost at home to the Beavers since the Eisenhower presidency. Give me USC.

  • Louisville at #5 Cincinnati, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPNU — Since Louisville joined Conference USA in 1996, the Cardinals are 9–4 against Cincinnati. The history of the series has been even more unpleasant for Cincinnati than that. Louisville's last loss in Cincinnati came in 1997, and the Cardinals have exceeded 40 points against the Bearcats four times. But Cincinnati snapped a five–game losing streak to Louisville last season. Unbeaten Cincinnati has a Heisman–worthy quarterback who may or may not play. Will it matter against 2–4 Louisville? I don't think so.

  • #6 Boise State at Hawaii — I see no way that Hawaii, which has lost its quarterback for the season, can win this game.

  • #7 Iowa at Michigan State — This has been a pretty competitive series in recent years. The trend lately has been for the home team to win. In fact, the last time the home team lost this game was in 1995, when Iowa traveled to Michigan State and won, 21–7. Some folks are picking Michigan State to keep that home team streak going. But I'm not. The score may be close, but I'll take Iowa to win.

  • Clemson at #8 Miami (Fla.), 2:30 p.m. (Central) on ABC — In the old days, teams played each of their conference rivals, but, in recent years when conferences have expanded to include a dozen members, conferences have broken into divisions and teams alternate which nondivisional foes they face. Such is the case with Clemson and Miami, both of whom belong to the Atlantic Coast Conference but play in different divisions. The teams haven't met since 2005, and they haven't faced each other in Miami since 2004, the year Miami joined the ACC. Clemson won the last time it played in Miami. I don't expect the Tigers to beat the Hurricanes today.

  • Auburn at #9 LSU, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPN/ESPN2 — Twenty–one years ago, unranked LSU upset fourth–ranked Auburn in Baton Rouge. The game is remembered as "The Earthquake Game" because the noise from the home crowd was picked up by a seismograph at LSU's Geoscience Complex. The two teams meet in Tiger Stadium again today. This time, Auburn is unranked and LSU is in the Top 10. Auburn hasn't beaten LSU on the road since 1999. If either team scores 17 points today, that might be enough to win. Whatever the score is, though, I expect LSU to come out on top.

  • #10 TCU at #16 BYU, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on Versus — This will be the ninth time the two teams have met since 1987, and BYU has won five of them. But the last four have been played when both were members of the Mountain West Conference, and both teams have come away winners twice. The games at BYU have been entertaining — BYU won in 2007, 27–22, and TCU won in 2005, 51–50. I think TCU will win, but it might be another close one.

  • #11 Georgia Tech at Virginia — History doesn't seem to favor Georgia Tech in this game. Virginia is 7–3 against Tech since 1999, 13–7 against Tech since 1989. The Cavaliers lost their first three games, then they bounced back to win their last three games. But I expect that streak to end today. Tech should cruise to victory, which would be its first win at Virginia since 1990.

  • #12 Oregon at Washington, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on ABC — Oregon has won the last five against Washington, but the last time the Huskies won was when they hosted Oregon in 2003. And Oregon would be well advised to remember that Southern Cal's only setback (so far) came when the Trojans played in Seattle last month. I will take Oregon — narrowly.

  • #13 Penn State at Michigan, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on ABC — When Penn State beat Michigan last year, it was the first time the Nittany Lions had beaten the Wolverines since 1996. It might be close, but I'm going to pick Penn State to make it two in a row.

  • #14 Oklahoma State at Baylor, 11:30 a.m. (Central) on Versus — OSU usually wins this game. A couple of times, the Cowboys have scored 60 points or more. OSU is 5–1 in games in Waco. Plus, Oklahoma State is simply better than Baylor. I have to take the Cowboys.

  • SMU at #17 Houston, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on CBS CS — SMU has only beaten Houston once since the Mustangs resumed football 20 years ago. I'm confident the Cougars will prevail again.

  • Minnesota at #18 Ohio State, 11 a.m. (Central) on ESPN/ESPN2 — Ohio State has beaten Minnesota six straight times. I think the Buckeyes can make it seven in a row.

  • Air Force at #19 Utah, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on Versus — Air Force won the last time this game was played in Utah, but the Utes usually beat Air Force at home. I'll take Utah.

  • South Florida at #20 Pittsburgh — Each team has three wins in the last six meetings. I'll take Pittsburgh, but it might not be easy.

  • Texas A&M at #21 Texas Tech — I'm convinced that Tech is good and A&M is not. I'll go with Tech.

  • Connecticut at #22 West Virginia, 11 a.m. (Central) on ESPNU — West Virginia usually beats Connecticut pretty handily. Since 2004, West Virginia is 5–0 against UConn, winning by an average of 42.8 to 15.4. I'll go with West Virginia.

  • Vanderbilt at #23 South Carolina, 6 p.m. (Central) on ESPNU — I can't see Vandy winning this game.

  • #25 Oklahoma at #24 Kansas, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on ABC — At 3–3, the Sooners could be in big trouble if they don–t win this game. Kansas hasn't beaten Oklahoma since 1997. I think it will still be that way when the day is done.
It was kind of a rough week for me last week. I got 11 out of 17, which isn't bad, but it isn't as good as it was last month. My big setback was picking Oklahoma over Texas. Close but no cigar. And Ohio State, Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Kansas and Missouri let me down as well.

Last week: 11–6.

Season: 94–23.

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