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Predictions 101 — Week 9

Cocktail AP

There we were, sitting as pretty as pretty can be. Six games already nestled comfortably in P101’s bag, half of which were upsets.

We really didn’t need to pull off a clean sweep. We’d be as proud of 6-1 as Maria Sharapova. And any “player” worth his salt would have hedged his way into the winner’s circle, turning the Florida State-Miami game into an exercise to see how much gravy could be found.

But there we were, watching the Hurricanes do more than hold their own. The pregame smoke and the first quarter mirrors had them up 10-0 … a good thing in our book. We knew what was coming.

It came … and the Seminole margin was oh so sweet in the fourth quarter. That is until the entire gridiron became four-down territory for Miami, which led to a touchdown being gifted to FSU with 2:45 remaining.

The Seminoles led, 33-13, and we’re dealing with opening lines (+17.5) here at P101, not closing ones (+21). So, we were sunk. The Hurricanes still had a couple minutes to work with, but they weren’t going to kick a field goal and hadn’t mounted a touchdown drive since a meager 22-yarder within the first four minutes of the game.

But Brent & Herbie seemed to share some belief, cheering Miami on down the field. They giggled while mentioning “interested mathematicians” a couple times along the way.

Sure enough, the Hurricanes went 75 yards in eight plays and got the job done.

Yes. Finally. Last week, we went 7-0 straight and 7-0 versus “the number.” Holy Toledo (thank you, Rockets), 14-0!

Oh well … on to this week, where we can only go down from here.

TOP 5 GAMES OF THE WEEK (Thurs., Oct. 25, thru Sat., Oct. 27)

1) No. 3 Florida vs. No. 12 Georgia (at Jacksonville, Fla.)
Sat., Oct. 27 — 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

If South Carolina players were to judge this fight, there’s no question who they’d predict as winners. Two weeks after they hosted and routed Georgia, 35-7, the Gamecocks got roughed up at Florida, 44-11.

Too bad the transitive property doesn’t apply to college football. If it did, we could just call for a 61-point Gator victory and be done with it.

All that aside, Florida does hold a clear edge in this game.

Despite the fact that Georgia had the most fun at the last “Cocktail Party,” winning 24-20, the Gators have dominated this rivalry for more than a couple decades, taking 18 of the last 22. And this one doesn’t seem to match up well for the Bulldogs.

Last week, Georgia allowed Kentucky to rush for 206 yards. Please note that the Wildcats came into that contest ranked 106th in the country in rushing offense. Granted, the poor run defense and less-than-impressive 29-24 victory in Lexington came without the services of outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who was resting a sprained right ankle, and defensive end Abry Jones, who injured his left ankle in the first quarter, but we’re still talking Kentucky here.

It doesn’t look promising for the disappointing Bulldog defense, which is yielding 24 points and 367 total yards per game, as it lines up against the Gators’ powerful run game.

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is one of the more efficient passers in the nation, but in the loss at South Carolina he showed that consistent pressure from a variety of sources can really knock him off-kilter. The Bulldogs can’t afford for that to happen since running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall are finally starting to look like freshmen.

Last week, we talked up Florida’s excellent punt unit and it did play a large role in the Gator victory over South Carolina. Here we go again. Georgia ranks dead last in the SEC and 109th in the country in net punting. It might be most apparent on special teams, but the Gators have a significant advantage over the Bulldogs in all three phases of the game.

Opening point spread: Florida by 3 1/2

The pick: Florida 31-20

2) No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 8 Oklahoma
Sat., Oct. 27 — 8 p.m. ET, ABC

As they roll into Norman for the first time in 46 years, the Fighting Irish will encounter a Sooner team far different from the one Ara Parseghian’s 1966 squad squashed, 38-0, on its way to a national championship.

The current Oklahoma team, which has scored 156 points in its last three games, won’t be blanked. This will be the Sooners’ third consecutive home game and in the previous two — a 63-21 slaying of Texas, followed by a 52-7 rout over Kansas — the offense scored on 15 of 20 drives, 12 of which were touchdowns.

After this week, we won’t be hearing about how Notre Dame hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown all year.

We’ll take Oklahoma’s duo of Landry Jones and Blake Bell (leads team with eight rushing touchdowns) over ND’s Everett Golson and Tommy Rees. While Jones and Bell operate efficiently in their clearly defined roles, the feeling here is that the Sooner defense, which has come up with nine takeaways in the last three games, will squeeze game-changing turnovers out of the Irish backfield.

Yes, college football is much better off when the Golden Domers are relevant, but put the hype aside for a moment and take a long look at their schedule and results. You’ll realize that our friends in the desert are seeing this one clearly.

Opening point spread: Oklahoma by 9

The pick: Oklahoma 27-13

3) No. 15 Texas Tech at No. 4 Kansas State
Sat., Oct. 27 — 3:30 p.m. ET, FOX

This prediction comes courtesy of Shane Hedani from the P101 satellite office in Maunawili, Hawai‘i.

The Red Raiders have the talent and coaching to beat the Wildcats, but do they have the answer for “Optimus Klein.”

Led by quarterback Collin Klein, the current Heisman Trophy frontrunner, Kansas State is also talented and well coached. The Wildcats will scratch and claw to defend their conference and national title hopes. Bill Snyder’s balanced team doesn’t make mistakes. Only one squad in the country (Ohio, which also is 7-0) has had fewer turnovers than the Wildcats (just four).

You wouldn’t know it by his throwing motion, but Klein ranks second in the nation in passing efficiency. His counterpart, Seth Doege, isn’t far behind in fifth and directs an aerial assault that averages 362 yards per game.

But it isn’t all about offense at Texas Tech, which is home to a stout defense that’s ranked seventh in total defense and is particularly effective versus the pass.

Something’s got to give, but maybe it’ll require some extra time to happen.

We’ll take a stab and say that Red Raiders get held to a field goal on their first overtime possession, leaving “Optimus” the opportunity for a Heisman moment as he pounds into the end zone for the win.

Opening point spread: Kansas State by 8

The pick: Kansas State 33-30

4) No. 13 Mississippi State at No. 1 Alabama
Sat., Oct. 27 — 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

We can’t remember a game between teams ranked within the top 13 that is so disparate on paper.

Off paper, however, it has the makings of a trap game for the Crimson Tide, who travel to LSU next week. That’s where Nick Saban comes in … and we go back to what we see in black and white.

We’ll be the first to dump loads upon loads of credit at the feet of Dan Mullen for the job he’s done in Starkville. Nine consecutive victories versus anybody, is still nine consecutive victories. No less than 117 FBS teams would love to boast of such a winning streak.

But we have to be honest and point out that the Bulldogs’ sparkling 3-0 record in SEC play comes at the expense of Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee. Those three teams not only weren’t able to beat Mississippi State, they haven’t won any conference games so far this season in a total of 14 tries.

Alabama leads the nation in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and passing efficiency defense, so it ain’t any shock that only one team has lost by less than 27 points to the Tide this season. That tight 33-14 victory over Ole Miss essentially served as their “wake up call.” Saban’s gang isn’t falling into any traps.

Opening point spread: Alabama by 24

The pick: Alabama 41-13

5) Duke at No. 11 Florida State
Sat., Oct. 27 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU

How could we exclude a game between the undisputed leaders of the ACC’s Atlantic and Coastal Divisions? Yup, you read that right.

Hooray for the Blue Devils, who are bowl eligible for the first time in 18 years, but still hungry.

After their big 33-20 victory at Miami last Saturday night, the Seminoles will spend a full week in Tallahassee having their backs slapped.

Duke’s defense is porous, but it does force turnovers. Something’s telling us that the Blue Devils will stay within range.

Opening point spread: Florida State by 26

The pick: Florida State 41-17

UPSET SPECIAL OF THE WEEK

Mississippi at Arkansas
Sat., Oct. 27 — 12:21 p.m. ET, SEC Network

Once again, the USOTW prediction comes courtesy of Marc Doche (@MDoche) from the P101 satellite office in Burbank, Calif.

Forgive us if we’re not impressed by blowout victories over Auburn and Kentucky, who are a combined 0-10 in SEC play. We don’t see it as a signal that the Razorbacks ship has been righted after four painful defeats earlier in the season, which produced some epic press conference moments for John L. Smith.

With kickoff at just past 11 a.m. local time in Little Rock, the Hog faithful are likely to lack their typical fervor, if there is any left after the last time Arkansas played at War Memorial Stadium and were knocked from their lofty perch in the Top-10 with a 34-31 overtime loss to mighty Louisiana-Monroe (still the only team Auburn’s been able to beat).

Both teams enter with a pair of conference losses to the same schools, but Ole Miss was much more competitive while falling a field goal short against Texas A&M and losing by just 19 at Alabama. Conversely, Arkansas was taken to the woodshed by a combined score of 110-10 against those same foes.

Each offensive unit can move the ball through the air, but a Rebel defense that allows just 210 yards passing per game is much more likely to slow the opposition down than a Razorback unit that ranks near the bottom of the FBS, allowing 304 yards through the air.

Opening point spread: Arkansas by 4 1/2

The pick: Mississippi 31-27

RIVALRY GAME OF THE WEEK

Cincinnati at No. 16 Louisville
Fri., Oct. 26 — 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

If the “Keg of Nails” were actually a keg filled with nails, it would be the best rivalry trophy in the land. But even though it’s merely a painted empty keg, it’s still in the conversation. It just sounds so awesome! No wonder the Bearcats and Cardinals annually lay it all on the line for the “Keg of Nails.”

The original “Keg of Nails” (yes, this one is actually “Son of Keg of Nails”) was first awarded in 1929, signifying that the players on the winning team were as “tough as nails.” Ah … college football …

As a side note: We don’t believe the tale about the original “Keg of Nails” being misplaced and lost during some office construction at Louisville. C’mon, who would lose track of a keg of nails, trophy or not? Seriously now, the Cardinals should be docked three points in each game until they come up with it.

Last week, we gave you Toledo over Cincinnati. This week, we’re tempted to give you the Bearcats. Cincinnati has been in control of the series as of late, winning the past four, and should have the emotional edge as they drive along Interstate 71.

But, when your problems are turning over the football and giving up big plays, the corrections aren’t easy to find.

The Cardinals, led by sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (21-of-25 for 256 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s over South Florida), are much more reliable at this point.

Opening point spread: Louisville by 6

The pick: Louisville 27-26

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20 Responses to “Predictions 101 — Week 9”
  1. dmcgrann says: Oct 24, 2012 10:10 PM

    I can’t predict winners or losers, but my prediction for most entertaining is Texas Tech-Kansas State and for most potentially surprisingly entertaining game is Duke-Florida State.

  2. anonymouslyanonymouscommentor says: Oct 24, 2012 10:26 PM

    You kidding? No mention of Penn State vs. Ohio State? This feels like the biggest game Penn State has played since these two teams played in ’05.

  3. pricecube says: Oct 24, 2012 11:42 PM

    Here is a prediction. Dooley loses to South Carolina. He is fired the following Monday.

  4. cambodianbreastmilk says: Oct 25, 2012 6:10 AM

    Oklahoma played Texas in Dallas…in the Cotton Bowl…like they do every year. They may have been the “home” team, but it definitely wasn’t a home game.

  5. polegojim says: Oct 25, 2012 10:27 AM

    Oklahoma will win convincingly… handily… impressively. There will be no escape for ND.

    I’ve said it many times – I enjoy with ND is good, but they’re 15-20 at best. The ‘luck of the Irish’ got them past UM and Stanford… Denard was wearing gold underwear that day. As evidence, they BARELY beat the same Purdue team that Michigan destroyed 44-13.

    But hey, sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good… right? But I do believe ND is ‘GOOD’.

  6. florida727 says: Oct 25, 2012 11:10 AM

    “…as it (Georgia) lines up against the Gators’ powerful run game.”

    Powerful run game? 142 yards against Texas A&M. 176 against LSU. 89 against South Carolina. EIGHTY-FREAKING-NINE AGAINST SOUTH CAROLINA. I guess my definition of “powerful” is a little different than most. Yeah, 300+ against Vandy and Kentucky, but even one of those was largely because our QB ran for 181.

    Once against, if Florida is to prevail, the defense has to bring its “A” game. Murray is proven to be dangerous if given time to throw. We need to pressure him a lot and from various looks in order to throw him off his game. The one comfort factor for Gator fans is that we should dominate the special teams game.

    Really looking forward to the Notre Dame – Oklahoma game at 8p ET. That’ll be the game of the day. Actually looking forward to Penn State – Ohio State too. TTU/K-State and ‘Bama/MSU will be great too.

    Praise God for the guy that invented the “Last” button on the remote! He’s my MVP this week!

  7. beedubyatoo says: Oct 25, 2012 11:59 AM

    Is the entire Big 10 having a bye this week. Or is MSU-Wisconsin to tough to call? Or PSU-OSU?

  8. gripless says: Oct 25, 2012 12:05 PM

    Good call beedubyatoo!

    PSU-OSU is a very intersting game but not worth the haters attention I guess.

    Go State

  9. hor2012 says: Oct 25, 2012 12:15 PM

    I can’t wait for OU vs ND this game will show of ND is truly back. I think the key to this game will be the Irish running game. The mark it between 150 to 200 yards in the game. If the Irish get there they will win. But, I don’t see that happening OU 27 ND 21

  10. florida727 says: Oct 25, 2012 12:31 PM

    Hey, don’t write off ALL the SEC fans. I’m looking forward to the Ohio State – Penn State game. One of my friends that I play basketball with every weekend is an Ohio State graduate/fan. So I love watching them play. I still give him flak for “stealing” Urban Meyer. Come to think of it, he still owes me a Buckeyes jersey for pledging my allegiance to them :)

  11. blitz4848 says: Oct 25, 2012 1:28 PM

    The B1G 10 has been pretty much forgotten this year but their play this season is the reason!!!

    The Ohio St-Penn State should be good and close but let’s be honest—not many people watch much B1G 10 unless they live in the Midwest.

  12. dkhhuey says: Oct 25, 2012 5:56 PM

    Hmmmm – I guess Urban didn’t leave the cupboard all bare and sparce afterall, eh

  13. micklethepickle says: Oct 25, 2012 6:17 PM

    While I’ll always be rooting for my Dawgs to pull out a W, and understand why UF is the favorite, Florida remains unimpressive to me. Their win streak has had some “Tebow-esque” dumb luck, and feel like they could easily be a 1-loss team as well. Guess Saturday will prove me right or wrong, but regardless of whether the Dawgs win, I see UF as the same kind of team UGA was last year – speed bump on the way to the BCS Championship (by way of the SEC CG) to whoever comes out of the West.

  14. 808raiderinparadise says: Oct 25, 2012 6:33 PM

    polegojim says:
    Oct 25, 2012 10:27 AM
    Oklahoma will win convincingly… handily… impressively. There will be no escape for ND.

    I’ve said it many times – I enjoy with ND is good, but they’re 15-20 at best. The ‘luck of the Irish’ got them past UM and Stanford… Denard was wearing gold underwear that day. As evidence, they BARELY beat the same Purdue team that Michigan destroyed 44-13.

    But hey, sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good… right? But I do believe ND is ‘GOOD’.

    ——-

    Gold Underwear AKA the 2nd best defnese in the country?

    Look ND has NFL talent all over its front 7 …. Defense is elite, offense is mediocre.

    OK, hasn’t played a D like ND.

    I expect a close game.

  15. somedayphilly says: Oct 25, 2012 10:03 PM

    National media don’t want to talk about a psu team and coach who had nothing to do Sandusky. They will have no choice if psu gets a surprise win.

  16. rfkovacsrobert says: Oct 26, 2012 1:47 PM

    Anyone who thinks Notre Dame will make a game of it against Oklahoma is in for a rude awakening. There won’t be any “homer” calls like they got against Stanford. Remember, West Virginia’s was exposed as a lucky pretender a few weeks ago. The same thing will happen to Notre Dame. Their offense is mediocre at best; their defense hasn’t faced anything close to that of Oklahoma. I would say 45-3.

  17. imaduffer says: Oct 27, 2012 1:54 AM

    Mississippi at Arkansas, a battle of the SEC bottom feeders. Really?

  18. dirtyharry1971 says: Oct 28, 2012 2:02 AM

    How did that pick work out for ya loser? hahahhahha bye bye sooners!

    polegojim says:Oct 25, 2012 10:27 AM

    Oklahoma will win convincingly… handily… impressively. There will be no escape for ND.

    I’ve said it many times – I enjoy with ND is good, but they’re 15-20 at best. The ‘luck of the Irish’ got them past UM and Stanford… Denard was wearing gold underwear that day. As evidence, they BARELY beat the same Purdue team that Michigan destroyed 44-13.

    But hey, sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good… right? But I do believe ND is ‘GOOD’

  19. dirtyharry1971 says: Oct 28, 2012 2:02 AM

    And you clearly know NOTHING about college football junior!! Another hater pick that blew up right in your face!! Gotta love it!!

    rfkovacsrobert says:Oct 26, 2012 1:47 PM

    Anyone who thinks Notre Dame will make a game of it against Oklahoma is in for a rude awakening. There won’t be any “homer” calls like they got against Stanford. Remember, West Virginia’s was exposed as a lucky pretender a few weeks ago. The same thing will happen to Notre Dame. Their offense is mediocre at best; their defense hasn’t faced anything close to that of Oklahoma. I would say 45-3.

  20. chicagoirish23 says: Oct 29, 2012 12:03 PM

    rfkovacsrobert – you want to revise your above statement? you were right about a team being exposed in this game…you were wrong about which team.

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