Week 9 Predictions Recap: The Halloween Mixed Bag Edition
1. Straight Chalk On Top 10
I was right on these, with the exception of the only difficult one to pick. No. 1 Florida had their most impressive win of the season with a 41-17 beatdown of Georgia. As predicted, Georgia (and Joe Cox in particular) struggled with Florida’s defense. Cox passed for his third-lowest yard total this year and had a season-high three interceptions, one of which went the other way for six points. Tim Tebow, on the other hand, had a Heisman-worthy performance, leading his team in rushing (85 yards) and accounting for all four of the Gators’ offensive touchdowns (two passing, two rushing).
No. 6 TCU rolled to a 41-0 win over UNLV.
No. 7 Boise St. crushed San Jose State, 45-7.
No. 8 Cincinnati had no problems with Syracuse, despite missing their starting QB for a second straight game, as they won 28-7.
And No. 9 LSU easily dispatched Tulane, 42-0.
Now, for the one I missed. I’m not stunned that No. 10 Oregon defeated No. 5 USC. I am stunned at how they did it. I am stunned that Oregon ended up handing USC its worst loss since 1997 in its 47-20 upset. I thought that Oregon would struggle because the only teams that have challenged USC have passed well against them. But, as it turned out, Jeremiah Masoli did just fine taking advantage of USC’s passing defense with his second highest passing total of the season (19-of-31 for 222 yards). The real shocker, though, was the way the Ducks ran all over the Trojans. They ran 49 times for 391 yards and four TDs. That’s an astonishing eight yards per carry.
Add it all up and it comes out to an incorrect pick for me, Oregon’s biggest win of the season and a new No. 8 ranking for the Ducks.
2. There’s No Place Like Home In The SEC (Unless You’re Vanderbilt)
My two best picks of the week involved the SEC. All of the SEC teams playing at home won this weekend, save Vanderbilt and Kentucky. That does include Tennessee’s 31-13 upset of No. 22 South Carolina and Auburn’s 33-20 upset of No. 25 Ole Miss. Speaking of which…
3. Game To Watch: No. 25 Mississippi at Auburn
I said that Mississippi’s strength was running the ball and that defending the run was Auburn’s weakness. That definitely showed up Saturday as the Rebels ran for 219 yards (against just 175 passing). However, I also pointed out that Mississippi’s weakness was turnovers and that Auburn was 4-0 when forcing at least two turnovers.
Make it 5-0.
The score was close after a turnover-free first half. Auburn was up just 10-7. But the Tigers scored 23 points in the third quarter, at one point sporting a 31-7 lead. They were helped in large part by two Rebel turnovers, one of which was an interception that went back 29 yards for a TD. Auburn forced another interception in the fourth to make it three turnovers in the game and walk away with the victory.
4. The Running Game: No Problem For West Virginia’s Defense Or California’s Offense
This was my worst prediction of the week. And after watching South Florida upset No. 21 West Virginia, I didn’t find any new love for the Big East. Outside of Cincinnati, that is a really bad conference that doesn’t play offense or defense particularly well, and routinely has games where the teams look like they show up completely unprepared to play. That was what I saw from West Virginia last Friday.
A team that had defended the run pretty well up to that point allowed QB B.J. Daniels to torch them for 104 yards on 14 carries (7.4 yards per carry). Running back Moise Plancher added 86 yards on 18 carries. What was worse for the WVU defense, however, was the way that a running QB like Daniels could post season highs for passing yards (232) and passing TDs (3) even while also running all over them. High praise to Daniels for his performance, but West Virginia’s defense was abysmal.
At least I picked one Pac 10 game right by choosing Cal to best Arizona State. Though, I have to admit that winning 23-21 on a late field goal was a lot closer than I expected, and that Cal didn’t win for the reason I expected them to. The Sun Devils found their defensive footing again and held Jahvid Best to 63 yards on 18 carries with no rushing TDs (though he did have seven catches for 61 yards and one TD). Best has shown to be Marshawn Lynch-like in his ability to run wild on some teams and get bottled up like a JV running back against others. He’s incredibly inconsistent.
Kevin Riley came to the rescue, though, in one of his best performances on the year. He had season highs in attempts, completions (27-for-44) and yards (351) as he guided his team to victory with two TDs and zero INTs.
5. Penn State On Upset Alert…Yes, Against Northwestern
Don’t be deceived by the 34-13 final score…this game looked like it was headed for an upset for the first 45 minutes of play. Northwestern had a 13-10 halftime lead and went into the fourth quarter tied at 13. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, that was when Daryll Clark and the Nittany Lions offense took control and scorched Northwestern for 21 points.
The game just wasn’t the same after Northwestern’s starting QB, Mike Kafka, was forced out with an injury during the second quarter. After that, Northwestern managed just one field goal and was held scoreless in the second half. Despite the final score, I consider this a lucky escape for Penn State as the Big 10’s power schools continue to appear inconsistent, at best.