Week 9 College Football Picks From WhatIfSports.com image

Week 9 College Football Picks

NCAA football predictions for every FBS game
By Eric Schmoldt and Paul Bessire, WhatIfSports.com
October 26th, 2009

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Each Monday morning, we will preview every college football DI FBS game of the upcoming week. All of our college football content, including our most recent power rankings and links to the pre-season preview are located here.

The inputs to the 10,000 simulations of these games are based on a rigorous analysis of each team that considers strength-of-schedule-adjusted team and player ratings and then makes modifications for injuries and depth at each position. To see other picks like our Upset and Locks of the Week, as well as our season-to-date performance, click here.

Game of the Week: #4 USC 24 @ # 8 Oregon 21
Before the season started, this game looked like a blowout victory for USC. It looked even worse when Oregon was overmatched in Week 1 at Boise State. Now, as hot as any team in the country, the Ducks appear poised to make this a game.

As we geared up during the preseason, this week appeared to belong to the Big East. And while that conference still has plenty of intriguing games on the schedule, this week's West Virginia-South Florida matchup has lost some of its luster with the Bulls' recent decline.

Alternatively, the USC-Oregon matchup, once considered a virtual lock as a Trojan victory 95% of the time has gone from an also-ran game to this week's Game of the Week.

At 5.54 yards per play, the Ducks' offense certainly isn't earth-shattering, but Oregon is still recovering from its season-opening loss to Boise State. The Ducks have won six games in a row since then and have scored more than 30 points in five of those contests. Most people remember that Week 1 game for LaGarrette Blount's post-game punch. Oregon's then-starting running back remains suspended, but its rushing attack hasn't suffered with freshman running back LaMichael James and rushing quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. The Ducks are 14th in the nation in total rushing offense at more than 210 yards per game, though partly due to the stumble out of the blocks, they're still averaging fewer than five yards per carry. Against the tenth toughest schedule this season, Oregon's defense ranks ninth in the country giving up just 4.1 yards per play.

USC's stumble came two weeks later than Oregon's with a 16-13 loss at Washington in the third week of the season. The Trojans have rebounded with four straight victories in which they've averaged more than 33 points per game. Saturday's game in Eugene, however, will be their stiffest test since the setback in Seattle. USC will rely on one of the most prolific offenses in the country. It ranks third in the nation, picking up 6.96 yards per play. At 242 yards per game, the Trojans are just 40th in the country in passing offense, yet, behind the arm of freshman signal-caller Matt Barkley (who didn't play in the Trojans' loss) they are one of just nine teams in the nation that average more than nine yards per passing attempt. Playing against the 12th ranked FBS schedule to date, USC also has the 11th-ranked defense and is giving up 4.3 yards per play. Only eight teams have given up fewer total touchdowns than the Trojans.

A 24-point rout for the Trojans in a game that was even considered to be amongst the week's best is now the week's top game, but USC still prevails. The visiting Trojans win 64.5% of the time over 10,000 simulations, but by three touchdowns fewer than we thought they might at the beginning of the season. USC holds off Oregon 24-21 in a battle of top ten teams from our most recent power rankings.

Other Notable Games in Week 9
Texas will put its national title hopes on the line at Oklahoma State. The Longhorns will face by far their toughest test of the final five weeks (six weeks if you include the Big 12 Championship against an obviously inferior North Division winner) when the go to Stillwater to take on the Cowboys. Texas remains unbeaten 63.3% of the time, edging Oklahoma State by a field goal, 31-28. In a battle of Big 12 teams trying to remain relevant, Texas Tech tops Kansas 57.0% of the time, 27-25.

In what once looked like it might be this week's best game, West Virginia hands South Florida its third consecutive loss 81.3% of the time. The Mountaineers win on the road by a score of 30-20. Elsewhere in the Big East, Connecticut tries to remain in the conference race, beating Rutgers 58.2% of the time and by less than a touchdown. And, no matter who plays at quarterback, Cincinnati stays unbeaten 95% of the time at Syracuse.

In the week's most intriguing out-of-conference matchup, Central Michigan, 7-1 on the season, will try to jump into the top 25 with a statement game against a team from a BCS conference. Dan LeFevour and the Chippewas go on the road to beat Boston College 59.0% of the time and by just a single point, 22-21.

In the SEC, our most recent top-ranked Florida remains unbeaten against Georgia 83.7% of the time and by two touchdowns and, once considered serious contenders for the conference title, Ole Miss and Auburn will fight to remain relevant with the Rebels winning 77.7% of the time on the road.

To see other picks like our Upset of the Week and Lock of the Week, as well as our season-to-date performance, click here.

College Football Week 9
MatchupWin%Avg Score
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 5.04
@ Clemson Tigers95.044
North Carolina State Wolfpack19.118
@ Florida State Seminoles80.932
North Carolina Tar Heels37.115
@ Virginia Tech Hokies62.922
Central Michigan Chippewas59.022
@ Boston College Eagles41.021
Duke Blue Devils62.918
@ Virginia Cavaliers37.116
Miami (FL) Hurricanes83.728
@ Wake Forest Demon Deacons16.318
Arkansas State Red Wolves41.819
@ Louisville Cardinals58.223
Rutgers Scarlet Knights41.819
@ Connecticut Huskies58.223
West Virginia Mountaineers81.330
@ South Florida Bulls18.720
Cincinnati Bearcats95.039
@ Syracuse Orange 5.09
New Mexico State Aggies 5.07
@ Ohio State Buckeyes95.034
Indiana Hoosiers 8.413
@ Iowa Hawkeyes91.632
Purdue Boilermakers33.117
@ Wisconsin Badgers66.926
Michigan State Spartans81.724
@ Minnesota Golden Gophers18.314
Michigan Wolverines84.130
@ Illinois Fighting Illini15.917
Penn State Nittany Lions90.029
@ Northwestern Wildcats10.014
Akron Zips19.514
@ Northern Illinois Huskies80.529
Western Michigan Broncos62.520
@ Kent State Golden Flashes37.517
Ohio Bobcats81.725
@ Ball State Cardinals18.313
Toledo Rockets82.527
@ Miami (OH) RedHawks17.516
UCLA Bruins15.113
@ Oregon State Beavers84.928
USC Trojans64.524
@ Oregon Ducks35.521
California Golden Bears80.924
@ Arizona State Sun Devils19.115
Washington State Cougars 8.017
@ Notre Dame Fighting Irish92.037
Tulane Green Wave 5.07
@ LSU Tigers95.035
Eastern Michigan Eagles 5.08
@ Arkansas Razorbacks95.041
Georgia Bulldogs16.319
@ Florida Gators83.733
Mississippi State Bulldogs39.415
@ Kentucky Wildcats60.622
South Carolina Gamecocks45.417
@ Tennessee Volunteers54.621
Mississippi Rebels77.728
@ Auburn Tigers22.320
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets94.436
@ Vanderbilt Commodores 5.614
San Jose State Spartans 5.09
@ Boise State Broncos95.043
Hawaii Warriors11.222
@ Nevada Wolf Pack88.841
Utah State Aggies13.122
@ Fresno State Bulldogs86.940
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs26.321
@ Idaho Vandals73.732
Temple Owls35.917
@ Navy Midshipmen64.125
Kansas State Wildcats28.317
@ Oklahoma Sooners71.726
Kansas Jayhawks43.025
@ Texas Tech Red Raiders57.027
Iowa State Cyclones45.023
@ Texas A&M Aggies55.027
Texas Longhorns63.331
@ Oklahoma State Cowboys36.728
Missouri Tigers80.126
@ Colorado Buffaloes19.919
Nebraska Cornhuskers81.324
@ Baylor Bears18.714
Southern Miss Golden Eagles15.123
@ Houston Cougars84.941
Southern Methodist Mustangs32.720
@ Tulsa Golden Hurricane67.327
UAB Blazers37.825
@ UTEP Miners62.231
Marshall Thundering Herd41.013
@ UCF Knights59.019
East Carolina Pirates76.923
@ Memphis Tigers23.115
UNLV Rebels 5.010
@ TCU Horned Frogs95.045
Wyoming Cowboys13.512
@ Utah Utes86.528
New Mexico Lobos33.512
@ San Diego State Aztecs66.519
Air Force Falcons83.725
@ Colorado State Rams16.314
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers23.117
@ North Texas Mean Green76.929
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders31.517
@ Florida Atlantic Owls68.526
Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks43.420
@ Troy Trojans56.625
Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns94.829
@ Florida International Golden Panthers 5.211

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Eric Schmoldt is a writer and Paul Bessire is the Product Manager of Content and Quantitative Analysis for WhatIfSports.com, a division of FOX Sports Interactive specializing in NCAA Matchup analysis and college football sim games. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, Paul and Eric can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com. Thanks!

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