College Football Week 9 Picks: Predictions for All the Big Games
College Football Week 9 picks anyone? It's never too early in the week to take a look at the key games this weekend and get the blood boiling a little bit.
Can Auburn avoid another No. 1 collapse and stay on the throne this week at Mississippi?
How about No. 20 South Carolina? Been a pretty tumultuous three weeks for the Gamecocks, who beat then-No. 1 Alabama, lost to Kentucky and barely outlasted Vanderbilt in consecutive weeks.
Tennessee, trying to get back to national relevance, will invade Columbia this weekend for an SEC showdown.
In the Big Ten, No. 5 Michigan State will travel to No 18 Iowa in a key battle as the season winds down.
No. 6 Missouri, coming off its huge upset of Oklahoma last week, heads to Lincoln to face No. 14 Nebraska in the Big 12.
And No. 2 Oregon heads to USC Saturday night in a game with all kinds of intriguing possibilities.
This one will go a long way to determining the BCS title-game picture, and will serve as the national championship of sorts for the disappointing Trojans.
Here are some predictions for this weekend's games.
15: Florida State at N.C. State (Thursday Night)
No. 16 Florida State is putting together a very good season under first-year coach Jimbo Fisher.
The Seminoles (6-1, 4-0) will head into Raleigh in first place in the Atlantic Division of the ACC.
Christian Ponder has turned plenty of heads leading the offense, but he will be overshadowed by Russell Wilson of N.C. State Thursday night.
Expect to see plenty of offense in this one, in which the winner will control its own destiny in the race for the spot in the conference title game.
N.C. State (5-2, 2-1) finally seems to be buying into Tom O'Brien and is healthy.
Prediction: N.C. State 38, Florida State 34
No. 14: Stanford at Washington
Two great quarterbacks on display with teams heading in different directions.
Jake Locker of Washington was thought to be one of the top players in college entering this season and a shoo-in for being a top pick in the NFL draft.
Now, however, Andrew Luck has taken over that brand and established himself as not only one of the top NFL prospects, but also a major player in the Heisman Trophy race.
Luck will lead his Stanford Cardinal into Washington Saturday for a Pac-10 battle that could be quite a showcase.
No. 13 Stanford has won two straight since being clubbed by Oregon, while Washington can't seem to find any consistency.
Prediction: Stanford wins easily 45-17
No. 13: No. 25 Baylor at Texas
This one is strange. Seems the rankings should be reversed, but alas, it hasn't been a typical year for the Texas Longhorns.
Texas has lost three of its last four games—all at home—including a bad loss to Iowa State last week.
Baylor has won two straight, including against No. 22 Kansas State last week that propelled the Bears into the rankings.
Robert Griffin III has thrown for almost 2,400 yards and 18 touchdowns this season for Baylor (6-2, 3-1 Big 12).
Texas, however, has won 12 straight in this series and let's just go ahead and make it 13, why don't we?
Prediction: Texas 27, Baylor 17
No. 12: Utah at Air Force
This one will have plenty of intrigue. Utah is on the outside looking in for a BCS bowl berth. Air Force is always capable of scoring plenty of points.
Utah's defense has been the force this season, allowing an average of 12.9 points per game this season, fourth best in the country.
The Utes are also averaging 47.7 points per game on offense, which is third-best in the country.
Utah will have to find a way to stop the vaunted Air Force rushing attack, which puts up almost 327 yards per game. Air Force has also lost its last two games and this one should be no different.
Prediction: Utah controls the game with its defense and rolls 49-14.
No. 11: TCU At UNLV
No. 4 TCU is right in the thick of the BCS-title chase once again, and should have no trouble on the road against UNLV Saturday night.
The Horned Frogs (8-0, 4-0 MVC) have the nation's best defense (9 ppg) and seventh most-potent offense (39.9 ppg).
Since a nine-point win against Oregon State in its first game of the season, TCU hasn't really been threatened since.
Don't expect that to happen this week, either.
Prediction: TCU 56, UNLV 10
No. 10: Colorado at Oklahoma
Poor Colorado. It is about to feel the wrath of some scorned Sooners.
No. 9 Oklahoma, coming off an upset last week at the hands of Missouri, will be out for a little payback.
Landry Jones should have a field day in this one and Bob Stoops will score as many points as he wants to against Dan Hawkins.
Oklahoma will try to make some more BCS folks notice that last week's loss was a fluke.
Prediction: Oklahoma 45, Colorado 17
No. 9: Michigan at Penn State
Which Michigan team is going to show up? Will Penn State show up?
Denard Robinson looked like the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy until his injury a couple of weeks ago.
Since opening their season 5-0, the Wolverines have lost their last two.
Penn State (4-3) has wins against Youngstown State, Kent State, Temple, and Minnesota. Not exactly your murderer's row.
I don't think things will be very pleasant in Happy Valley on Saturday.
Prediction: Michigan 24, Penn State 7
No. 8: East Carolina at Central Florida
What's so special about this game, you ask? East Carolina is scary good. So is Central Florida.
This one is for first place in C-USA East.
ECU (5-2, 4-0) can put up some points to the tune of 36.9 per game.
The fewest amount of points the Pirates have scored this season was 33 in a win against in-state rival N.C. State.
Dominique Davis has thrown for over 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns already.
Central Florida (5-2, 3-0) is allowing just 13.9 points per game.
Something's got to give.
Prediction: Central Florida 27, East Carolina 24
No. 7: Tennessee At South Carolina
South Carolina is in the driver's seat for a berth in the SEC title game and will host Tennessee, which has yet to win a conference game, on Saturday.
That sounds pretty strange, doesn't it?
Marcus Lattimore, the Gamecocks' freshman-sensation running back, should be back from the sprained ankle he suffered last week to help lead the way in this one.
Prediction: South Carolina 31, Tennessee 17
No. 6: Arizona at UCLA
No. 15 Arizona heads to UCLA for a Pac-10 clash that could prove to be interesting.
UCLA has been running hot and cold all season, upsetting Texas in Austin and getting ripped against Oregon last week.
Quarterback Nick Foles of Arizona might not be ready to play, but backup Matt Scott has proved to be a very capable replacement.
UCLA's defense has looked more like a spaghetti strainer in recent weeks, allowing 95 points.
Somehow, though, Rick Neuheisel finds a way for his team to win.
Prediction: UCLA 27, Arizona 21
No. 5: Vanderbilt at Arkansas
Arkansas will be fighting the injury bug against Vanderbilt on Saturday, but still shouldn't have many problems.
Ryan Mallett, who left each of the last two games with injuries, should be good to play. Arkansas found its running game with Mallett and his top two receivers out with injuries in recent weeks, which gives the Razorbacks more balance.
Mallett is second to Cam Newton in the SEC with over 2,000 passing yards and 15 touchdowns.
Arkansas scores early and often in this one.
Prediction: Arkansas 45, Vanderbilt 17
No. 4: Auburn at Mississippi
The No 1 team in the country has lost in each of the last three weeks.
Not going to happen this week.
Cam Newton has established himself as the best player in college football this season and will lead Auburn to a rout against Mississippi in this SEC game.
Auburn (8-0, 5-0) has its BCS fate in its own hands the rest of the way.
Prediction: Auburn 38, Mississippi 10
No. 3: Missouri and Nebraska
Big game in the Big 12. Missouri will be riding high after an upset of No.1 Oklahoma last week, while Nebraska won a shootout at Oklahoma State.
Expect more fireworks this weekend, with plenty on the line in the race for first place in the conference in the North division.
Taylor Martinez has been quiet in recent weeks, but he will make the difference in this one.
Prediction: Nebraska 31, Missouri 28
No. 2: Michigan State at Iowa
What a year it has been for Michigan State. Coach Mark Dantonio suffered a heart attack right after his team beat Notre Dame and missed the next two games.
The Spartans have responded in a huge way for their coach, putting together a perfect 8-0 (4-0 Big Ten) mark with another key showdown against Iowa Saturday night. A win would go a long way for Michigan State towards a conference title.
The Hawkeyes (5-2, 2-1) were in a similar spot to the Spartans a season ago after winning their first nine games.
Iowa will be fighting to stay alive in the conference race. And Ricky Stanzi, who has been sensational this season in throwing 16 touchdowns against zero interceptions, will make the difference late.
Prediction: Iowa 24, Michigan State 23
No. 1: Oregon at USC
It hasn't been the dream season at his dream job that Lane Kiffin might have wanted, but Saturday gives USC a little extra incentive when No. 2 Oregon comes to town.
USC (5-2, 2-2 Pac-10) will have to shut down the high octane Oregon offense, which leads the nation with 55.1 points per game, its lowest point total of 42 coming in a win against Arizona State.
Oregon's defense has been getting it done as well, allowing just 15.9 points per game.
USC is allowing an average of 24.3 points a game, which would seem to indicate that points will be there for the taking.
The Trojans will have no answer for LaMichael James, who will run wild all over the men of Troy.
Prediction: Oregon 38, USC 28