Navy at No. 22 Notre Dame (-12)— Navy brings their signature triple-option rushing attack to South Bend this week in a bid to upset the Irish for the second time in three years. The Midshipmen, currently the third-ranked rushing attack in the nation, are led by QB Ricky Dobbs who leads the nation with 16 touchdowns.
The Irish have a QB standout of their own in Jimmy Clausen who is second in the nation in pass efficiency having thrown 18 TDs to only two INTs. Clausen may very well lead the Heisman race at this point of the season and will continue the campaign with a comfortable win over Navy.
Notre Dame 34, Navy 17.
LSU has won four straight at Alabama but their offense has had some well-chronicled struggles finding the end zone this season. ‘Bama RB Mark Ingram will continue pacing the rushing attack which is averaging 217 yards per contest.
With two top 10 scoring defenses playing for keeps, this will be another low-scoring affair, I think LSU keeps it close but ‘Bama will prevail on their home turf.
Alabama 20, LSU 13.
No. 8 Oregon at Stanford (+7)— Everything about this game screams “letdown” as Oregon goes to The Farm to take on Stanford who are undefeated at home in 2009. The Ducks were so impressive last week against USC that they have launched themselves into talks regarding the BCS title game if they get a little help from some teams losing ahead of them.
Stanford QB Andrew Luck ranks first in the PAC-10 in passing efficiency and RB Toby Gerhart leads the conference in rushing but they will have their work cut out for them against Oregon’s defense which lets up only 17 points a game. Oregon’s eighth-ranked rushing attack will simply be tough for Stanford to handle.
Oregon 38, Stanford 27.
No. 16 Ohio State at No. 11 Penn State (-4)— The stakes are high in this Big Ten matchup and Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor will visit Beaver Stadium, a place the western Pennsylvania native spurned last year to end a highly publicized recruiting battle.
The Buckeyes still control their own destiny in the conference but have struggled to find an identity on offense this season even with the talented Pryor. The Nittany Lions lead the Big Ten in offense and have the nation’s stingiest defense, yielding just 9.3 points per contest.
Expect a hard-hitting, low scoring affair (even with some possible defensive scores) and Penn State to shut down Pryor when it counts.
Penn State 16, Ohio State 10 .
No. 6 TCU at San Diego State (+24 ½)— At this point, TCU is focused on winning one game at a time...but some style point wouldn’t hurt in their quest for a BCS bowl. The Horned Frogs have the nation’s top-ranked total defense (yardage) and will look to grind it out with their rushing offense that averages over 233 yards per game.
San Diego State’s offense is almost exclusively an aerial attack which ranks in the top 20 in the FBS. There is not much debate as to who will win this game but can TCU provide another blowout to impress voters? I think they may be looking towards the big contest with Utah next week…
TCU 35, San Diego State 14.
Seminoles’ QB Christian Ponder has become a leader of this team and a standout player in a tumultuous year for FSU; he is banged-up but ready to go against the Tigers in Death Valley.
Clemson will be missing pass-rushing monster Da’Quan Bowers for this contest and their inconsistent offense will need to be in check against the ‘Noles who always have enough talent to beat anyone. Clemson is so bad in these games that everyone is picking the upset but I say they squeak one out.
Clemson 30, FSU 28.
Connecticut at No. 5 Cincinnati (-17 ½)— The Cincinnati Bearcats will be showing off their squad in prime time when they host the UConn Huskies on Saturday night. UConn’s season has been heartbreaking both on and off the field but they have played extremely hard every step of the way.
Cincinnati boasts a top 10 offense and a top 10 defense and will look to go 9-0 for the first time since 1951, a school record. The Bearcats will be just too much for most teams in the Big East this season and the buzz saw continues.
Cincinnati 34, UConn 14.
The Sooners are back on track with QB Landry Jones filling in well for Sam Bradford and still leading an explosive offense. Nebraska has a top 10 defense led by DT Ndamukong Suh and will look to slow down the Sooners by pressuring the quarterback.
I think Oklahoma has had some bumps in the road but is clearly the better team this season.
Oklahoma 27, Nebraska 17.
No. 15 Houston at Tulsa (+1)— Houston QB Case Keenum takes his Heisman dark-horse aerial show on the road to Tulsa who is looking to avoid a four-game losing streak. The Cougars score more points than anyone in the country not named Texas and will likely continue the onslaught this Saturday.
The Golden Hurricane has been inconsistent and will have a QB question with starter G.J. Kinne questionable with a concussion. This spread is the ultimate red flag since it should be a blowout but I am going against the home underdog this time.
Houston 45, Tulsa 31.
Fresno State at Idaho (+8)— Idaho has put themselves in position at 7-2 to receive their first bowl bid since 1998 and will try to continue the good feelings this week against Fresno who looks to gain bowl eligibility this weekend.
Both teams rank in the top 25 in yards and points on offense so expect a back-and-forth contest in Moscow. Idaho will have to avoid the trap of looking ahead to an even bigger game in Boise but the real question is whether or not they can slow down the nation’s leading rusher in RB Ryan Mathews.
I expect a fairly close one like most Idaho games this season but Fresno State may be too much for the Vandals, just as Nevada was two weeks ago.
Fresno State 40, Idaho 30.
Last Week: 8-2