By Stewart Mandel
October 30, 2009
College Football Week 9
Saturday, October 31
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 4 USC (6-1) at No. 10 Oregon (6-1)
There are a lot of perfectly sensible reasons to pick Oregon. The Ducks' defense has allowed fewer than 10 points per game in Pac-10 play. Autzen Stadium will be rocking. And USC's defense has been shaky its past two games. Still, it's one thing to predict a customary Trojans letdown (Washington), but until Pete Carroll's team gives me a reason, I'm not picking against it in an actual big game.
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 3 Texas (7-0) at No. 13 Oklahoma State (6-1)
The Cowboys deserve commendation for rolling off five straight wins despite injuries (Kendall Hunter) and suspensions (Dez Bryant), but those victories have come against Rice, Grambling, Texas A&M, Missouri and Baylor. And while Oklahoma State's run defense has improved from last year, it still ranks 106th nationally against the pass -- bad news when facing Colt McCoy.
3:30 p.m. ET (CBS) No. 1 Florida (7-0) vs. Georgia (4-3)
Gators fans have been growing impatient as their offense continues to struggle. Tim Tebow is due for a breakout game, and the Dawgs' 90th-ranked pass defense would seem to provide that opportunity. But the real story here figures to be the return of four key Florida defenders, most notably LB Brandon Spikes. A healthy Gator defense figures to suffocate Georgia's one-dimensional offense.
1 p.m. ET Southern Miss (5-3) at No. 15 Houston (6-1)
Coming into the season, many felt this would be the Conference USA title game matchup, and it remains a possibility (both have one conference loss). But while Cougars QB Case Keenum (70.1 percent completions, 20 TDs, four INTs) is a proven commodity, Southern Miss' Martevious Young will be facing significant pressure in just his fourth career start. Oh, and Houston has won 12 straight at home.
8 p.m. ET (ESPN2) No. 20 West Virginia (6-1) at South Florida (5-2)
After starting 5-0, South Florida has begun its customary mid-season swoon. Last week's 41-14 loss at Pittsburgh was ugly. But the Bulls' defense has had West Virginia's number for several years, beating the Mountaineers in 2006 and 2007 before falling 13-7 last season. Playing at home and against a West Virginia offense that's been up and down, Jim Leavitt's team should pull this one out.
7:45 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 21 South Carolina (6-2) at Tennessee (3-4)
Apparently Vegas doesn't hold as high an opinion of the Gamecocks as do the pollsters -- it has deemed the 3-4 Vols a six-point favorite. That probably has to do with Tennessee's notably improved play against Georgia and Alabama and South Carolina's scares against Kentucky (28-26) and Vanderbilt (14-10). Tennessee's Eric Berry will help put the clamps on Steve Spurrier's passing attack.
12:21 p.m. ET No. 24 Ole Miss (5-2) at Auburn (5-3)
The Rebels' season has fallen along a fairly discernible divide: Jevan Snead and Co. have struggled miserably against the two elite defenses they've faced (South Carolina and Alabama) and ripped up pretty much everybody else. The Tigers are far from an elite defensive team (No. 74 nationally) and lately, their one-time prolific offense has stalled, averaging 15.7 points in three straight losses.
3:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU) Central Michigan (7-1) at Boston College (5-3)
This marks the Chippewas' third test of the season against a BCS-conference foe. They lost 19-6 to Arizona in their season opener but followed it up with a 29-27 win at Michigan State. Four-year star Dan LeFevour is having another banner year (2,218 total yards, 25 total touchdowns), but the Eagles are 5-0 at home and their defense fared well against N.C. State's dual-threat Russell Wilson.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC) Kansas (5-2) at Texas Tech (5-3)
Redshirt freshman Seth Doege is expected to become the third quarterback to start a game for Texas Tech in its unusually turbulent season. He'll have the good fortune of going against a Jayhawks' defense ranked 100th nationally against the pass. But the Red Raiders aren't much better (91st), and Kansas has the more proven passing attack led by stars QB Todd Reesing and WR Dez Briscoe.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC) Cal (5-2) at Arizona State (4-3)
Upset Special: The Bears have gotten their groove back on offense recently, rushing for 299 yards per game the past two weeks. They did that, however, against 3-4 UCLA and 1-6 Washington State. As Oregon and USC showed, if you can slow down Cal's running game, you can pin the Bears in a corner. The Sun Devils have quietly assembled an extremely stingy defense that ranks sixth nationally against the run.
Record Last Week: 8-2               Overall: 45-35

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)