Week 9 Pickoff: UCLA-Oregon, Texas Tech-Oklahoma; more

Friday October 25th, 2013

Jadeveon Clowney and South Carolina will look to make a SEC East push starting this week at Missouri.
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Will Marcus Mariota and Oregon keep rolling against UCLA? Can Missouri stay unbeaten against Jadeveon Clowney and South Carolina? Which Top 25 team should be on upset alert this Saturday?

My picks for all of this week's top games are below. For more Week 9 walk-up coverage, check out the Mailbag, Andy Staples' Walkthrough, my story on Red Raiders head coach Kliff Kingsbury and Martin Rickman's feature on Oregon State's Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks.

Friday, Oct. 25
8 p.m. ET (ESPN) Boise State (5-2) at BYU (5-2)
Boise State junior quarterback Grant Hedrick will make his first career start against a BYU team that ranks in the top 30 nationally in pass efficiency defense, though it has generated just 13 sacks to date. Cougars dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill is coming off a career-best 545-yard day at Houston. Hedrick should be fine, but the Broncos' mediocre defense will struggle to contain Hill.
Saturday, Oct. 26
Noon ET (ESPN) No. 25 Nebraska (5-1) at Minnesota (5-2)
Gophers coach Jerry Kill, still on leave while dealing with his epilepsy, is expected to attend as a spectator. He might not like what he sees. Minnesota's run-heavy offense is not explosive enough to exploit a Nebraska defense prone to allowing big plays. Meanwhile, Huskers quarterback Taylor Martinez should play for the first time since Sept. 14. Even if he's limited, Nebraska should roll.
3:30 p.m. ET (CBS) Tennessee (4-3) at No. 1 Alabama (7-0)
Butch Jones' Vols have made huge strides since the start of the year, culminating in last week's upset of South Carolina. Tennessee's offensive line can protect quarterback Justin Worley, but expect linebacker C.J. Mosley and the Crimson Tide to confuse him with a variety of coverages. Meanwhile, T.J. Yeldon and 'Bama's ground game should have its way with the Vols' 98th-ranked rushing defense.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN2) NC State (3-3) at No. 3 Florida State (6-0)
The Wolfpack dashed Florida State's national title hopes last fall with an early-season upset in Raleigh. The 'Noles are playing at a much higher level than now than they were then. NC State, which has yet to crack 14 points in an ACC game, is not. Jameis Winston may start slower than in last week's 51-14 rout at Clemson, but Florida State's defense should suffocate the Wolfpack.
3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 9 Clemson (6-1) at Maryland (5-2)
Clemson can't afford to let disappointment from its blowout loss to Florida State bleed into this week. But Maryland is truly reeling. In last Saturday's loss to Wake Forest, the Terps lost receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long to season-ending injuries, and quarterback C.J. Brown and top rusher Brandon Ross are out this week. Vic Beasley (nine sacks) and the Tigers' defense could carry the day.
3:30 ET (FOX) No. 10 Texas Tech (7-0) at No. 17 Oklahoma (6-1)
The injury-riddled Sooners' defense has struggled against the run the past two weeks, but it has been vicious to opposing passers all season, ranking No. 2 nationally in passing defense (5.3 yards per attempt). While Red Raiders quarterback Davis Webb won't throw for 450 yards, he'll make some big throws. Oklahoma's offense has shown little to suggest it can keep up in a shootout.
3:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU) Duke (5-2) at No. 16 Virginia Tech (6-1)
Duke is one win away from securing back-to-back bowl berths for the first time in school history. Last year, the Blue Devils lost to the Hokies 41-20 a week before clinching bowl eligibility. Virginia Tech has shown little ability to score 41 on a league opponent thus far, but its stifling pass defense (5.8 yards per attempt, No. 8 nationally) will put the clamps on Duke's Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette.
7 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 12 UCLA (5-1) at No. 2 Oregon (7-0)
This is a bad matchup at a bad time for the Bruins, who had two offensive linemen go down with injuries last week and will start three freshmen on the line this Saturday. Stanford manhandled that unit, and while Oregon isn't as strong up front, it should slow UCLA's one-dimensional attack. Anthony Barr and company may limit Marcus Mariota and the Ducks early, but not for four quarters.
7 p.m. ET (ESPN2) No. 20 South Carolina (5-2) at No. 5 Missouri (7-0)
Maty Mauk, meet Jadeveon Clowney. After helping his team rack up 500 total yards on Florida's previously dominant defense, Mizzou's redshirt freshman quarterback will take on the Gamecocks' talented front. Dylan Thompson will start for South Carolina in place of the injured Connor Shaw, and he's perfectly capable. But Steve Spurrier's teams are 1-7 against ranked SEC road foes since 2009.
8 p.m. ET (ABC) Penn State (4-2) at No. 4 Ohio State (7-0)
The Buckeyes are allowing 26 points per game in league play and have allowed 61 passing plays of 10-plus yards on the season. There will be opportunities for Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg and receiver Allen Robinson. But Penn State has not faced a rushing attack like Carlos Hyde and the Buckeyes since UCF ran for 240 yards in Happy Valley. Ohio State will grind it out.
10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 8 Stanford (6-1) at Oregon State (6-1)
East Coasters should stay up late to see national passing leader Sean Mannion (2,992 yards) and receiver Brandin Cooks (168 yards per game) go against safety Jordan Richards and the Cardinal. Stanford has given up chunks of yards through the air in part because its run defense is so stout. Mannion and Cooks will come back to Earth in this one.
Saturday, Noon ET No. 19 Oklahoma State (5-1) at Iowa State (1-5)
The Cyclones may be 1-5, but they very nearly knocked off Texas at home and put up 35 points at Texas Tech. The Cowboys have rolled off home wins over 2-4 Kansas State and 3-4 TCU, but they lost at 3-4 West Virginia in their lone conference road game to date. Iowa State will force a few turnovers and come away with an ugly victory.
Record Last Week: 6-5               Record This Season: 64-25

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