Daily Blog • Wednesday, September 26th

Every week I will post my forecasts of all the games involving Top 25 teams. As usual, it includes my computer's projected box score for each game.

Last week the Top 25 forecasts went 17-2 (89%) and on the year they are 76-11 87%! On the bottom of the forecasts, I have also listed some Upset Specials for this week which went 2-0 LW as both New Mexico and San Jose St pulled the upsets.

#1 ALABAMA VS OLE MISS
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
OLE MISS 92 / 80
94 / 138
11 / 14
3.3
ALABAMA
226 / 125
263 / 180
39 / 33
1.5
This is Ole Miss’ SEC opener and the #1 Tide has rolled thru its sked outscoring foes 168-21 and scoring 134 straight points before allowing a long 4Q garbage time td drive in last week’s 40-7 win over FAU. UA had 25-6 FD and 503-110 yard edges but settled for 4 FG’s. QB McCarron (205 ypg, 63%, 10-0) ranks #4 in the NCAA in pass eff. The D has allowed one 1H td this year (when they led 31-0). Ole Miss dominated Tulane 39-0 as they led 26-0 in the 1Q and never looked back. QB Wallace (179, 64%, 7-4) is still learning Freeze’s system while the ground game finished with a 304-14 yard edge over the Green Wave. In their only previous matchup vs a BCS team this year Ole Miss was rolled 66-31 vs Texas as the Horns had 300+ yards running and passing and I expect more of the same here.
PHIL’S FORECAST: ALABAMA 45 OLE MISS 7
#2 OREGON VS WASHINGTON ST (CenturyLink Field)
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
OREGON 309 / 300
255 / 169
48 / 51
2.6
•••
WASHINGTON ST
27 / -8
320 / 410
19 / 26
3.2
Coming into last year UO had won 4 in a row with an avg score of 53-12’ (+262 ypg). WSU had some blown chances in the 1H twice getting intercepted at the 2 then missing a 25 yard FG but got a 14 point swing with a 76 yard IR td to pull within 15-10 and at the half WSU had a 260-215 yard edge! Bennett came in for UO in the 2H and guided them 58/3, 77/14, 94/7pl on his first 3 possessions for td’s and they also got a 93 yard KR td to go up 43-20. Last week in a game billed as a battle between offensive juggernauts, UO scored its first conf shutout since ‘03 as they blanked Arizona 49-0. The stats were much closer than the final as UA failed to score on six trips into the redzone! Wazzu lost at home last week to Colo 35-34 as they allowed a td run with :09 left and unbelievably HC Leach decided to go for a td up by 17 points in the 4Q and the 4&gl call from the 6 did not convert. Halliday did have his second straight solid performance throwing for 401 yards and 4 td’s but completed only 32 of 60 (53%) and threw 2 interceptions. The Ducks avg road win last year was 43-26 and I think they can exceed that margin here as Duck fans could out-number Wazzu fans with this game being played in Seattle.
PHIL’S FORECAST: OREGON 49 WASHINGTON ST 14
#3 LSU VS TOWSON
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
TOWSON 79 / 188
52 / 103
10 / 22
-
-
LSU
271 / 158
275 / 238
49 / 38
2.2
-
FIRST MEETING
After LW's narrow 12-10 win on the road at Auburn, it seems like many people are throwing LSU in the trash and questioning whether or not they are a national title contender. I am not one of those people as I still think the Tigers are one of the best teams in college football and last time I checked they can still run the ball and stop the run on D about as good as any team in the country which we all know is a key to winning a lot of games. Their opponent this week ranks #12 in the FCS and last years “Turn-around Tigers” went from 1-10 in 2010 to CAA Champs and made the playoffs finishing 9-3. They return 18 starters from last year’s team including last years Jerry Rice Award winner (Top FCS Frosh) RB Terrance West, who led all off Div-I with 29 rush td’s. West has just 5 td’s this year through 3 games (250 yds, 5.1 ypc) but QB Grant Enders is avg 202 ypg (75%, 4-3). The Tigers were disappointed with their other FBS game this year losing 41-21 to Kent St. The Tigers do have a huge Conf game on deck vs James Madison, a game which could decide the CAA Champ. So while they went into the Kent St game expecting a chance to win, they will probably be looking to remain healthy for that show-down. Naturally I look for LSU to cruise here as they may take a peep into next week's showdown in the Swamp.
PHIL’S FORECAST: LSU 49 Towson 7
#4 FLORIDA ST AT USF
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
FLORIDA ST 168 / 183
298 / 242
43 / 30
1.7
•••
USF
118 / 125
230 / 143
17 / 17
2.5
The last and only game was in ‘09, a 17-7 USF win. USF led 14-0 into the 4Q but FSU cut the deficit to a td when a sack/fumble led to a USF FG with 3:44 left. It was then freshman QB Daniels’ coming out party as he threw for 215 yards and 2 td (126 rush). Thanks to a fumbled P at the CU31 and 2 missed FG’s (44 & 37) the Noles trailed Clemson 28-14 early 3Q when FSU went on a 35-3 run before allowing CU to a td with 2:17 left. QB Manuel (226 ypg, 73%, 8-1) became the first FSU QB to throw for more than 300 yards and run for 100 in a game since Heisman winner Charlie Ward in ‘92. In a clear sandwich game USF trailed Ball St most of the way before driving 99/14pl for a td with 5:19 left to take a 27-24 lead. The Cardinals responded with 75/10pl drive hitting a td pass with 1:02 left and intercepted Daniels on the final drive. Inconsistent Daniels is avg 286 ypg (57%) with a 9-6 ratio and has 199 rush yards. This is FSU’s first road game although Noles fans should split the crowd in Tampa and they clearly have the better personnel on both sides of the ball and RB Thompson has been a pleasant surprise for my national title pick.
PHIL’S FORECAST: FLORIDA ST 35 USF 10
#5 GEORGIA VS TENNESSEE
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
TENNESSEE 79 / 197
269 / 281
20 / 44
2.5
GEORGIA
218 / 282
303 / 278
40 / 51
2.2
Coming into last year the home tm had won by 21, 12, 26 and 27 being +195 ypg. Last year UGA had a 366-269 yard edge and held the Vols to -21 yards rush (3rd lowest school hist). The game was tied at 6 at the half but UGA led 20-6 when UT went 76/14pl for a td with 2:45 left to only lose by 8. Last week UGA was dominating Vandy 27-0 at the half en route to a 48-3 win, the Commodores worst loss since ‘03. The Dawgs have scored 40 points in their first 4 games for the first time in school history led by QB Murray (273 ypg, 66%, 10-2) and the frosh RB combo of Gurley (406, 9.2) and Marshall (264, 6.3). Tied at 23 at the half with Akron, the Vols allowed UA to zip on down the field on their first 3Q poss before getting an int at the GL. Two poss later an Akron fumble return at the UA36 was overturned on replay as the Vols drove for a td. UT did have 33-18 FD and 633-344 yard edges as they scored the game’s final 17 points. QB Bray is avg 325 ypg (64%) with a 12-3 ratio. UT is off Akron with a bye on deck and UGA may be caught looking ahead to the all-important SC game on deck, keeping it closer than it should be although for the first time this season they will be at full strength as they get S Rambo and LB Ogletree back from suspension.
PHIL’S FORECAST:  GEORGIA 31 TENNESSEE 21
#6 SOUTH CAROLINA AT KENTUCKY
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
SOUTH CAROLINA 186 / 200
230 / 148
32 / 38
1.7
KENTUCKY
103 / 120
225 / 123
14 / 17
2.7
••
SC had won 10 in a row in this series but in 2010 SC was off its upset of #1 ranked Alabama. SC had a 28-10 lead at the half and 369-139 yard edge here at UK but UK would get 2H td’s including one with 1:15 left to lead 31-28 and Garcia was intercepted in the endzone from the UK20 with :11 left. Last year, playing with revenge, Shaw got the start and SC rolled up their most yards on offense since ‘01 in a dominating 54-3 win with a 639-96 yard edge. Last week after missing his first pass, a healthier Shaw completed a school record 20 straight throws in SC’s 31-10 win over Missouri to improve to 11-1 as a st’r. On the other side the Wildcats were demolished 38-0 by Florida. QB Newton got the start in place of an injured Smith (shoulder) and was dreadful (7-21-48-0-3) but Smith should be back for this game. HC Phillips is clearly on the hot seat as UK is now 1-3. SC does have a key stretch vs UGA, LSU, UF and Tenn on deck but you can bet that Spurrier’s tm has not forgotten that loss 2Y ago and they should win this one comfortably.
PHIL’S FORECAST: SOUTH CAROLINA 31 KENTUCKY 10
#8 STANFORD AT WASHINGTON
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
STANFORD 184 / 65
200 / 170
28 / 13
2.3
••
WASHINGTON
58 / 71
246 / 177
18 / 17
2.6
Stanford is now 6-1 in this series and has won its last three trips to UW by an avg of 32-10. The last time here they won 41-0 with a 470-107 yard edge (2nd fewest yards allowed in school history). Last year SU powered to 446 yards rushing and finished with a 615-430 yard edge at home, winning 66-21. Both teams are off byes as the undefeated Cardinal upset USC in their last game while UW is 2-1 with a blowout win over an FCS school. This will be QB Nunes first road start and UW is 4-0 after a bye so I think this one will be close but in the end the Cardinal are just too dominant up front.
PHIL’S FORECAST: STANFORD 28 WASHINGTON 21
#9 WEST VIRGINIA VS #25 BAYLOR
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
BAYLOR 169 / 119
359 / 581
40 / 63
2.3
WEST VIRGINIA
186 / 151
421 / 656
47 / 70
2.3
FIRST MEETING
The Mountaineers’ first Big 12 game and first series meeting. Holgorsen coached with Briles at Texas Tech (‘00-’02) and both run the Air Raid offense. WV jumped out to a 14-0 1Q lead last week over Maryland but could never quite put the stubborn Terps away winning 31-21 with just a 363-351 yard edge. QB Smith ranks #2 in the NCAA in pass eff (357 ypg, 81%, 12-0) and his top target is the school’s new all-time leading receiver Austin (#1 NCAA 34, 11.3). WV’s new 3-4 D doubled its sack total with 5 vs the Terps and forced 3 TO’s including a FR td. In their first road trip of the year the Bears won their 9th straight game outlasting ULM 47-42 on Friday night. BU QB Florence (335 ypg, 65%, 11-4) bounced back from two 1Q interceptions which set up ULM td’s to rally the Bears. BU’s D forced 3 more TO’s (28 in L/8 games). BU is just 6-57 on the Big 12 road all-time and this is their first time to take on the fierce WV home crowd and make the long trip to the East. Expect the Mountaineers to take home their first ever Big 12 win.
PHIL’S FORECAST: WEST VIRGINIA 47 BAYLOR 40
#12 TEXAS AT OKLAHOMA ST
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
TEXAS 203 / 136
244 / 304
36 / 41
2.0
OKLAHOMA ST
176 / 275
313 / 301
37 / 36
3.1
Texas had won 12 in a row in this series from 1997-’09 with many come-from-behind wins. However, in ‘10 UT lost 33-16 at home. Last year they wanted revenge and were at home once again. UT held the ball for 20:35 in the 1H but was intercepted at the OSU25 and SOD at the OSU32 and allowed OSU a 4&9, 16 yard pass to keep a td drive alive and they trailed 21-10. UT was SOD at the OSU1 and gave up a 74 yard td run when they trailed 31-24 and OSU won 38-26. UT’s last and only loss in Stillwater was in ‘97 (6-0 since). The Horns are off to a 3-0 start led by improved QB Ash (234 ypg, 76%, 7-0) and the RB trio of Brown, Bergeron & Gray (259 rush ypg, 5.9). In UT’s last outing they demolished Ole Miss 66-31, running and passing for over 300 yards on the road for the first time in school history. The bye gave OSU the chance to work more with QB Walsh (165, 67%, 6-1) who is likely to step in for the injured Lunt (196, 68%, 4-3) here. OSU led the NCAA in TO’s forced last year but only has 3 in the first 3 games. Both teams are off byes but UT has WV and OU on deck while OSU has another bye on deck. This one will go down to the wire but UT does have the edge on D and finally gets revenge.
PHIL’S FORECAST: TEXAS 38 OKLAHOMA ST 31
#14 OHIO ST AT #20 MICHIGAN ST
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
OHIO ST 115 / 204
115 / 179
16 / 17
1.5
MICHIGAN ST
150 / 34
233 / 269
17 / 16
2.6
Ohio St had won 7 in a row in this series until last year. The Spartans led 7-0 at the half (170-87 yard edge). In the 2H OSU QB Miller was benched and MSU missed a 51 yard FG and from the 6 was intercepted in the EZ. With 1:51 left OSU went 62/6pl avoiding the shutout with a 33 yard td pass with :10 left as the Spartans had 9 sacks. MSU last beat OSU 2 years in a row in ‘98 & ‘99. OSU is 6-1 in its last 7 trips to East Lansing including 3 straight wins by an avg of 38-11. Both teams went through the motions last week as MSU trailed EM 7-6 at the half and failed to score a td vs the Eagles until 7:19 was left. RB Bell (610, 5.2) has had two 200 yard games this year despite QB Maxwell (217, 57%, 3-3) failing to find a compliment to TE Sims (277, 12.6). Sloppy OSU was outgained 403-347 by a UAB tm that took a 9-0 lead thanks to a blocked P returned for a td. OSU scored three 2Q td’s in 2:42 and after the Blazers cut it to a 6 point lead early 4Q OSU scored a td & 2 point conv to put it away. QB Miller’s (189 ypg, 61%, 7-2, 441 rush) carries have been cut in the last two games with the return of RB Hall (192, 5.6). MSU has the schedule edge with Indy on deck while this is OSU’s first road game and they have Neb on deck. Both D's are tops in the Big 10, but while I think OSU can limit Bell like ND did, OSU QB Miller is an "X" factor that can beat you with his arms and legs.
PHIL’S FORECAST: OHIO ST 16 MICHIGAN ST 13
#15 TCU AT SMU
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
TCU 154 / 54
295 / 102
30 / 24
2.7
••••
SMU
73 / 30
288 / 190
17 / 16
2.7
TCU had pounded SMU 48-7, 39-14 and 41-24 the previous 3 years but lost to SMU last year in OT which knocked the Frogs out of both polls for the first time since ‘08 and snapped the Frogs’ 22 game home win streak. SMU led throughout and even blew a 17 point lead. TCU drove 46 yards for a td with 1:16 left to force OT but TCU dropped a 4th & 2 pass in OT. After the game TCU HC Patterson made national news by questioning the officiating and also taking offense to some comments made by SMU HC Jones (which actually complemented TCU). TCU is off a misleading 27-7 win over UVA as they benefitted from shoddy officiating, poor UVA QB play and +4TO’s. QB Pachall is #1 in the NCAA in pass eff avg 280 ypg (76%) with an 8-1 ratio and will be facing an SMU D that is allowing an NCAA-worst 383 pass ypg. The last four times TCU has lost the Iron Skillet the following yr they are 4-0 outscoring SMU by 15 ppg (+81 ypg) the next yr. This year SMU comes in off a bye and TCU’s D (#9 NCAA) may be a bit overrated (my #29) which means SMU will put up the points, but TCU has won 10 of the last 11 in this series and ups that number here.
PHIL’S FORECAST: TCU 30 SMU 20
#17 CLEMSON AT BOSTON COLLEGE
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
CLEMSON 194 / 209
276 / 367
33 / 45
2.3
BOSTON COLLEGE
166 / 51
249 / 369
25 / 31
2.6
Huge schedule edge to BC as the Tigers are off their showdown vs FSU and the Eagles are off a bye. The home team has won 3 straight in series and CU is 3-1. Last year CU OC Morris emphasized all week that they hadn’t put up a td vs BC since ‘08 and CU went on its opening drive 80/8pl for a td. They were clearly in a flat spot coming off Auburn, FSU and VT. They led 23-7 at the half (295-142 yard) and won 36-14. Last week the Tigers, thanks to a halfback td pass, a key FSU fumbled P and 2 missed FSU FG’s, were up 28-14 in the 3Q before allowing 35 points in a span of a 20:00 as their D allowed 667 yards in the 49-37 loss. BC is sitting at 1-2 but QB Rettig has impressed avg 317 pass ypg (57%) with a 6-1 ratio. No doubt Clemson has the edge in skill position players and speed but I'm wondering what their mindset is after LW and think BC has a shot to make it close.
PHIL’S FORECAST: CLEMSON 38 BOSTON COLLEGE 28
#18 OREGON ST AT ARIZONA
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
OREGON ST 117 / 180
348 / 433
24 / 38
1.8
ARIZONA
176 / 142
215 / 403
21 / 35
2.2
Oregon St is now 11-2 in this series. Last year OSU led 30-6 mid-3Q in a 37-27 and they have won their L/5 here in Tucson. The Beavers have been impressive so far this year as they dominated the LOS against Wisconsin then last week upset high-powered UCLA 27-20. QB Mannion (328 ypg, 65%, 3-1) has a pair of weapons to work with in Wheaton (237, 13.9) and Cooks (255, 21.2). The D has been the story however holding two of the nation’s leading rushers (UCLA’s Franklin and UW’s Ball) to 54 rush ypg (2.1). The Rich Rod era hit its first turbulence as the Cats suffered their first Pac-12 shutout since ’03, 49-0 at Oregon. UA trailed just 13-0 at the half but turned the ball over 5 times including two pick sixes which bust the game open. QB Scott (hip) left in the 1H but returned. This game should come down to the wire with the winner’s bowl hopes getting a major boost and I have to go with Riley and the Beavers who make it three for three this year in impressive wins.
PHIL’S FORECAST: OREGON ST 24 ARIZONA 21
#19 LOUISVILLE AT SOUTHERN MISS
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
LOUISVILLE 162 / 184
209 / 85
30 / 21
1.8
SOUTHERN MISS
155 / 224
224 / 25
21 / 17
1.8
These former conf foes (‘96-’04 CUSA) will be reunited next year in the Big East. SM has lost 5 in a row vs UL but the last three were by a combined 8 points. The last meeting was in the ‘10 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl. SM led 28-21 early 4Q but allowed a 95 yard KR td and the game-winning FG with 6:30 left. These two teams look to be going in opposite directions as SM is 0-3 and UL is 4-0. Last week UL QB Bridgewater completed 19 of 36 (2 int), one more incompletion than he put up in his first 3 games comb in UL’s 28-21 win at FIU. UL found themselves down 14-7 early 2Q before scoring 21 unanswered. SM’s woes continue under first year HC Johnson as last week they fell to 0-3 for the first time since ‘76 in their 42-17 loss to WKU as they were outgained 560-264. Third string QB Lloyd was the leading passer (4-5-72-1-0) as starter Campbell was knoceked out in the 2Q (neck) and backup Alford was 2-7-14-0-0. SM is 16-2 at home but UL is 8-4 on the road under Strong and snatches a road win here.
PHIL’S FORECAST: LOUISVILLE 28 SOUTHERN MISS 21
#22 NEBRASKA VS WISCONSIN
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
WISCONSIN 163 / 56
122 / 239
19 / 27
1.9
NEBRASKA
221 / 259
252 / 181
39 / 30
2.1
Last year was the first meeting since ‘74 and this was a much anticipated night game on ABC and Nebraska’s first ever Big Ten game. The game turned late 2Q and early 3Q. NU was leading 14-13 with 5:37 left in the 1H when QB Martinez tossed 3 int’s which UW turned into td’s to blow it open 34-14 and rolled 48-17. Neb is off a 73-7 white-washing of Idaho St as RB Burkhead returned to the lineup after missing the last 21/2 games (knee) and ran for 119 yards (14.9). Much was made of Martinez changing his throwing mechanics in the offseason and so far he looks much improved avg 220 ypg (71%) with a 9-1 ratio. The same improvement can’t be said for the Badgers’ QB’s as last week backup Stave got the start over the ineffective O’Brien and went 12-17-210-1-1 in UW’s 37-26 win over UTEP. The big news was the injury to RB Ball (head) but backups White and especially Gordon (112 yards, 14.0) filled in nicely. The Huskers should be hell bent on revenge from last year (they even made the back-to-back Big Ten champs their Homecoming opponent) and get a big win here.
PHIL’S FORECAST:  NEBRASKA 34 WISCONSIN 17
#24 BOISE ST AT NEW MEXICO
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
BOISE ST 196 /  203
270 / 311
31 / 32
1.9
••
NEW MEXICO
155 / 330
99 / 44
12 / 29
3.3
Boise is 3-0 in the series (last year won 45-0) and the Broncos will have extra rest coming off a Thursday night showdown vs BYU while NM is off a 3 game road trip. Last year vs the option (AF), BSU HC Petersen admitted to not prepping and they gave up 264 rush yards. Last week Boise for the 2nd time this year, was held without an offensive td (1st at home since ‘97) as NT Atkinson had a 36 yard IR td as they held off BYU 7-6. QB Southward has struggled avg 208 ypg (62%) with a 2-2 ratio. New NM HC Davie made it an emphasis to retake the state and last week his Lobos did just that as they ended a 3 game losing streak to New Mexico St in their 27-14 win. His new option offense is avg 235 rush ypg (5.0) and they are now 2-2 after winning just 1 game in each of the last three years. Even with their struggles on offense I think Boise has enough to get by this week but it wouldn't surprise me if NM keeps it close early.
PHIL’S FORECAST: BOISE ST 31 NEW MEXICO 14
Upsets of the Week: 2-0 LAST WEEK!!
Duke over Wake Forest