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STEELE'S TOP 25 FORECAST

September 13, 2012
INDIANA SPORTS PAGE



# 1 ALABAMA at ARKANSAS
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
ALABAMA 177
271
34
1.9
-
ARKANSAS
65
282
22
3.0
•••
Naturally the story line here is the injury to Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson who is ? for this game. Alabama has now won 5 in row in this series. The last time here, Arkansas appeared on its way to an upset as they led 20-7 in the 3Q and Bama didn’t get its first lead until 3:18 was left in the game in a 24-20 road win. Last year at home the Tide rolled to a 38-14 win with a 397-226 yard edge. Arkansas is off last week’s shocking 34-31 OT loss to ULM (Ark led 28-7 mid-3Q)! QB Wilson took several shots and was KO’d of the game in the 1H (concussion-like symptoms) and never returned. If he can’t go backup QB Allen who went just 6-20-85 last week will get the reps but keep in mind two wks ago South Carolina backup QB Thompson looked bad relieving an inj'd Shaw but after a week of practice threw for more than 300 yards last week vs E Carolina (naturally Bama is much better than ECU but the point stands). Last week in a huge flat spot, the Tide beat WKU 35-0 but actually were outFD’d thru 3Q’s and despite outweighing the WKU DL by 45 lbs per man the Bama OL allowed 6 sacks! QB McCarron did throw for a career-high 4 td’s. I am shocked that Alabama is now favored by nearly three touchdowns and with everyone piling on the Hogs this week, I actually think they have a shot to be competitive here.
PHIL’S FORECAST: ALABAMA 27 ARKANSAS 20

 

#2 USC at #21 STANFORD
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
USC 113
288
30
2.4
STANFORD
148
239
27
2.6
-

USC has had this game circled as they have lost 4 of the L/5 to Stanford including upset losses at home in ‘07 and in ‘09. The last two years have been frustrating for USC as the last time here they gave up a 30 yard FG on the last play of the game to lose 37-35. Last year the game went to 3OT with USC blowing numerous opportunities and they fumbled into the EZ for a TB in the 3rd OT in the loss. Last week USC was content in just getting the “W” (42-29) in a game that saw the 2H delayed 70 min for weather. QB Barkley did match a school record with 6 td passes and WR Woods had 200 all-purpose yards. A depth-shy USC team did lose its All-Pac-12 starting C for several weeks (leg). A week after an unimpressive opener, the Cardinal routed Duke 50-13. The game was a bit misleading as Duke had a 385-373 yard edge (FD’s even) and SU benefitted from +3 TO’s. I will call USC to get the win here but I wouldn't be surprised if the game went down to the wire.

PHIL’S FORECAST: USC 31 STANFORD 28

 

#3 LSU VS IDAHO
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
IDAHO -13
147
3
3.0
-
LSU
274
261
41
2.0

These two last met in 1998, a 53-20 win by the #6 Tigers. LSU is a 23-0 under Miles in non-conference home games with the avg score 41-7. and Idaho has dropped 23 straight road games vs BCS teams. The Tigers were arguably the most impressive Top 5 team last week as they mauled UW 41-3 with 24-12 FD and 437-183 yard edges (242-26 rush edge). Meanwhile a week after losing to a FCS team at home, the Vandals were much more competitive in a 21-13 loss to BG. QB Blackman, who was suspended for the opener hit 30-37-352. Even though it’s a huge sandwich game for LSU, Idaho does have a young team with just 10 starters back taking on a deep veteran Tigers squad in Death Valley.

PHIL’S FORECAST: LSU 42 IDAHO 7

 

#4 OREGON VS TENNESSEE TECH
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
TENNESSE TECH 44
104
7
-
-
OREGON
428
271
59
2.3
-
FIRST MEETING
The Ducks have received some bad news this week on the injury front learning that two of their 4-Y st'rs in OL York and S Boyett will be out for the year. However, the Oregon offense has simply not missed a beat this year. In their first two games, they have raced out to 50-3 and 35-3 leads in the first half and late second half garbage scores have made their outcomes more respectable.This week's opp the Golden Eagles were co-OVC Champs last year and made their first ever FCS playoff appearance. They are no stranger to FBS opponents facing at least 1 every year since 1997 including facing 2 in 5 of those years. They have their OVC opener on deck and in their last 11 games vs FBS opponents have gone over 7 pts just once (10 pt in’08) and have been shutout twice. I will call for the Ducks to put up 60+ for the first time this year and also avoid giving up several late scores.
PHIL’S FORECAST: OREGON 63 TENNESSEE TECH 7

 

#5 FLORIDA STATE VS WAKE FOREST
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
WAKE FOREST 14
135
5
2.5
-
FLORIDA STATE
160
342
42
1.7
•••
The Revenge Tour 2012 for FSU kicks off here. Last year FSU was off 2 losses and a bye and opted to start Trickett at QB. Down 16-7 in 2Q FSU brought Manuel off the bench but WF did open it back up to 32-17 at the start of the 4Q. FSU got a td with :54 left but missed the 2 pt and WF upset FSU, 35-30. FSU is 23-6-1 vs WF but 4 losses have come in the last six years. The last time here WF was shutout (31-0). Last week the FSU/Savannah St game was called with 8:39 left in the 3Q with the Noles on top 55-0 (413-28 yard edge). In the 1Q alone the FSU starters held SSU to -20 yards while piling up 255 yards of off. WF meanwhile stunned NC 28-27 in a game that also had a weather delay (KO postponed 75 minutes for lightning). QB Price did throw for a career-high 327 yards while leading a 93/11pl drive for the winning score w/3:04 left. FSU is playing with legitimate revenge, is off a pair of FCS foes and this is their ACC opener so they should be motivated. It would not shock me if the FSU D which I rank as the best in the country pitches a shutout here.
PHIL’S FORECAST: FLORIDA STATE 35 WAKE FOREST 0

 

 

#7 GEORGIA VS FLORIDA ATLANTIC
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
FLORIDA ATLANTIC -7
98
0
3.4
-
GEORGIA
234
312
51
1.3
FIRST MEETING

Georgia is 9-0 vs the SBC with the average score 46-11. Despite missing 4 D starters (suspensions) the Dawgs rallied from a 17-9 early 3Q deficit to score 32 2H points in a 41-20 win. Up 27-20 in the 4Q Missouri had an interception returned to their 1 and a fumble recovered at the 5 which set up short UGA td ‘drives’ to blow the game open. Ex-FAU HC Schnellenberger used these “money games” to play backups and get his team ready for conference play. They have a new HC in Pellini and are off a 31-17 loss to Middle Tennessee in which they trailed just 7-0 at the half before being worn down by the Raiders run game being outrushed 302-96. UGA did beat NMSt in an SEC sandwich last year 63-16 and look for more of the same here.

PHIL’S FORECAST: GEORGIA 49 FAU 3

 

#8 SOUTH CAROLINA VS UAB
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
UAB 37
182
7
3.2
••
SOUTH CAROLINA
277
294
48
2.1
-

In the last game ('08), SC never trailed and led 26-6 prior to a UAB garbage td with :24 left. McGee has scored 43 points per game (439 yards per game) vs SC the last two years as OC with Arkansas but does not have the same horses to work with. Last week QB Thompson got the start over Shaw (shoulder) and hit 21-37-330 in the 48-10 win over East Carolina. After the game Spurrier said that, “If Shaw is 100%, he’s our guy. We now know if something happens to him, Thompson can go in there.” The game was a bit misleading as SC benefitted from a late garbage td and was +4 TO’s. UAB did have a 459-453 yard edge in a 39-29 loss to Troy in their opener but no matter who starts at QB SC has the clear talent edges and should cruise to 3-0.

PHIL’S FORECAST: SOUTH CAROLINA 45 UAB 7

 

#9 WEST VIRGINIA VS JAMES MADISON
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
JAMES MADISON 153
119
21
-
-
WEST VIRGINIA
208
394
45
-
-
 
This game will be played at FedEx Field which is just two hours away from the James Madison campus and the Dukes did avg more than 25,000 fans at their games last year which was #2 in the FCS. The Mountaineers offense looked like it did not miss a beat from the Orange Bowl in their win over Marshall two weeks ago as Geno Smith locked up the Davey O'Brien QB of the week. These teams only prior meeting was a 45-10 WV win in 2004. The Dukes made headlines in 2010 upsetting Virginia Tech 21-16 but last year lost to North Carolina 42-10. While they have their CAA opener on deck it is against a Rhode Island team that has just 9 starters back. The Dukes are our pick to win the tough CAA but won’t be able to sneak up on West Virginia, who should be paying attention to the Dukes.
PHIL’S FORECAST: WEST VIRGINIA 52 JAMES MADISON 17

 

#10 MICHIGAN STATE VS #20 NOTRE DAME
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
NOTRE DAME 73
198
19
2.3
-
MICHIGAN STATE
126
257
20
2.4
-

The last time here MSU faked a 46 yard FG (“Little Giants” play) and even though the play clock had already run out, MSU got a 29 yard td pass for the daring 34-31 win in OT. Both teams come in ranked for the first time since ‘00. Last year Notre Dame was 0-2 and got its first win over Michigan St by more than a td since ‘93. ND won 31-13 leading 28-10 early 3Q but was outgained 358-275. Last week on the road MSU crushed Central Michigan 41-7 with a 495-245 yard edge and the Spartans D has yet to allow an off td this year! ND meanwhile let a 17-7 3Q lead slip away as Purdue tied it on a 4&10 15 yard td pass with 2:19 left. ND QB Golson did perform well (21-31-289-1-0) before a late fumble. However, HC Kelly made an interesting move going back to last year’s starter Rees for the final drive (loud boos from crowd) but it paid off with the Irish getting a 27 yard FG with :12 left for a 20-17 win. After the game HC Kelly affirmed that Golson will be the starter here. Both teams are close talent-wise. Nine of the last 12 meetings have been decided by single digits (4 of the last 7 by a FG) and I’ll call for more of the same here.

PHIL’S FORECAST: MICHIGAN STATE 20 NOTRE DAME 17

 

#11 CLEMSON VS FURMAN
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
FURMAN 64
112
10
-
-
CLEMSON
259
366
52
-
-
The Tigers offense has looked good so far this season and now they welcome back All-American WR Sammy Watkins who was suspended the first two games just in time for a huge ACC Showdown vs Florida St next week. Clemson has won 29 straight vs Furman but last met in 2007, when #20 Clemson won 38-10 despite being outgained 384-377 as they were +3 TO. The Paladins are off a 3 OT loss to Coastal Carolina as they failed to make the 2 pt conv that would have sent to a 4th OT. With just Presbyterian on deck look for a solid effort from Furman for this in-state game, but with just 5 starters back on offense don’t look for them to get close to an upset and the Clemson offense will want Watkins to get some touches to get his feet back under him before next week.
PHIL’S FORECAST: CLEMSON 52 FURMAN 10

 

 

#12 OHIO STATE VS CALIFORNIA
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
CALIFORNIA 81
200
17
2.7
-
OHIO STATE
243
218
40
1.9
•••••
FIRST RECENT MEETING

This is only the 3rd trip east of Mississippi in 8 seasons for Cal. These two last met in ‘72 (OSU 5-1 in series). It’s been a solid start for new HC Meyer as the Bucks are 2-0 coming off a 31-16 win over a much-improved UCF squad (10-10 in game’s first 29 minutes). A week after setting an OSU record for QB’s with 161 rush yards, Braxton Miller became the first OSU QB to run for 3 td’s (141 rush yards) in 34 years! He became even more valuable when starting RB Hyde left the 1H with a knee injury and did not return. Hyde (MCL) is expected to miss this week but projected starter Jordan Hall (foot) could be ready. After a disappointing home opening loss to Nevada, Cal struggled with Southern Utah leading just 20-17 after 3Q’s before exploding for 30 4Q points in their 50-31 win. Cal did have 2 non-offensive td’s and HC Tedford’s seat is getting warmer by the week. This is the only BCS team Ohio St plays in the first four weeks so expect great effort from them as they dominate the visiting Bears.  

PHIL’S FORECAST: OHIO STATE 38 CALIFORNIA 17

 

#13 VIRGINIA TECH at PITTSBURGH
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
VIRGINIA TECH 143
192
24
1.5
PITTSBURGH
169
213
20
2.3
-

Two contrasting programs as far as stability as Pitt has its 6th HC in the last 20 games while VT has the active all-time leader in career wins! Last week the Hokies, off a key Monday Night conference win, predictably sleep walked thru the first 20:00 leading just 7-0 before pulling away 42-7 over Austin Peay. Trying to replace #1DC RB Wilson, VT focused on trying to get their RB’s going but none topped 40 yards. Their star is QB Thomas who was an efficient 15-23 (65%) for 212 yards. It’s been a nightmare start for new HC Chryst as Pitt is 0-2 with big losses to both Youngstown St and Cincy. Last week’s 34-10 loss to the Cats was closer than the final indicated as Pitt had a td wiped out by penalty, QB Sunseri had an int in the endzone and he held on to the ball too long on the final play of the 1H with Pitt in FG range. RB Graham is regaining his ‘10 form (out last year, ACL) as he had 103 yards (5.4) last week. While Pitt could be dangerous here, I'll call for the Hokies by 10.

PHIL’S FORECAST: VIRGINIA TECH 24 PITTSBURGH 14

 

#14 TEXAS at MISSISSIPPI
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
TEXAS 198
236
32
1.9
-
MISSISSIPPI
157
168
17
2.8
FIRST RECENT MEETING

The Horns are my #1 Surprise Team this year off to a 2-0 start and have a bye on deck. Last week the Horns found themselves up 17-0 at the half over NM despite having the ball for only 10:00. They rolled in the 2H to a 45-0 win as QB Ash threw for a career-high 221 yards. The Rebs have already matched last year’s win total after last week’s 28-10 win over UTEP. The most impressive stat so far has been the play of UM’s OL/DL has they have a 567-55 rush yard edge over their first two opponents. That will change here vs the top-notch UT ground attack and one of the better DL’s in the country. Last year Ole Miss played a tough home schedule and was actually -192 ypg at home and this is their first real test in the Grove this year. UT HC Brown called last week’s game a morale booster for his team and after this week, I'll say the morale of the Horns will be the best it's been since Colt McCoy was behind center.

PHIL’S FORECAST: TEXAS 35 MISSISSIPPI 17

 

#15 KANSAS STATE VS NORTH TEXAS
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
NORTH TEXAS 63
219
12
2.5
-
KANSAS STATE
267
237
47
1.5
••
Kansas St’s only loss vs North Texas was in ‘85 (1st game) and since then they have won five straight by 28 points per game. In the last three in Manhattan (‘00, ‘05 and ‘08) the Mean Green have been outgained by 367 yards per game with the average score 51-8. Last week KSU dominated the Canes jumping out to a 52-6 4Q cushion before UM scored their only off td and the Cats finished with 27-13 FD and 498-262 yard edges. NT crushed Texas Southern 34-7 dominating the line of scrimmage with a 352-31 yard rush edge. McCarney has won two of the last three vs Snyder including in ‘04 when they won here 37-23 but he doesn't have enough here as Kansas St goes into a Top 15 showdown vs Oklahoma next week undefeated.
PHIL’S FORECAST: KANSAS ST 38 NORTH TEXAS 14

 

#16 TCU at KANSAS
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
TCU 231
250
40
2.6
•••
KANSAS
143
193
21
2.3
-

This is TCU’s first ever B12 game. Last week TCU celebrated the opening of a new stadium and set an FBS record for completions without an incompletion (QB’s Pachall/Boykin 17-17). Patterson is now the winningest coach in school history (110-30) after their 56-0 win over Grambling. The Frogs had a 531-70 yard edge. The Charlie Weis era is off to a sluggish start as the Jayhawks blew a 24-16 4Q lead last week in a 25-24 loss to Rice. QB Crist has been erratic avg just 157 ypg (52%) with a 2-3 ratio but the KU ground game has been surprising with Pierson/Cox comb for 444 yards and 4 td in the first two weeks. It is Weis’ offensive mind vs Patterson’s D but clearly TCU has the better personnel.

PHIL’S FORECAST: TCU 35 KANSAS 21

 

 

#17 MICHIGAN VS UMASS
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
MASSACHUSETTS 56
126
5
3.5
MICHIGAN
282
259
42
1.8
-
In the only prior meeting in 2010, Michigan won 42-37 but trailed 17-7 late 2Q before scoring 28 unanswered points. UMass did have 2 garbage td drives in the last 5:15. UMass was an FCS team then but now is in the MAC with a first year HC. UMass has been destroyed in each of their first two games vs BCS schools this year. Two weeks ago they gained just 3 FD’s and 59 yards in a 37-0 loss to Conn and last week Big Ten bottom-feeder Indiana rolled to a 45-6 win over them as IU had 33-14 FD and 606-264 yard edges. Last week in a clear flat spot off the huge Bama showdown, Mich struggled with the Air Force option (allowed 290 rush yards) in their 31-25 win. QB Robinson did get back on track accounting for 426 total yards and 4 td’s as he became the first ever player in CFB history to have at least 200 yards rush and passing in 3 games. Last year the UM D gave up just 7 points per game vs non-conference non-BCS foes and you have to think after two sub-par performances by the D (allowing 424 yards per game), UM DC Mattison will try to go for the shutout here.
PHIL’S FORECAST: MICHIGAN 52 MASSACHUSETTS 0

 

#18 FLORIDA at #23 TENNESSEE
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
FLORIDA 159
215
24
2.5
••
TENNESSEE
90
262
18
2.7
-

UF has now won 7 in a row all by double-digits in this series including their last two here, 30-6 and 31-17. Last year UF and actually led 30-7 in the 3Q (33-23). UT WR Hunter who entered #1 in the SEC in rec, injured his knee on the opening drive and was OFY. UF is off a trip to College Station last week. The Gators, after falling behind 17-7 in the 1H, scored 13 unanswered points and limited A&M to just 65 2H yards in the 20-17 win. QB Driskel got the start and was an efficient 13-16-162 despite being pressured with 8 sacks. The Vols are the fresher team off of a win over Georgia St (51-13) with Akron on deck. UT’s offense has gained 500 yards in back-to-back weeks for the first time since ‘00. My computer calls for Florida to have a 159-90 rush yd edge and keep in mind the team that has rushed for more yards has won 9 straight and 21 of the last 22. The old adage about the way to win games on the road is to bring your defense and special team’s and the Gators have the edges in both as they grab yet another key SEC road win.

PHIL’S FORECAST: FLORIDA 24 TENNESSEE 20



#19 LOUISVILLE VS NORTH CAROLINA
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
NORTH CAROLINA 150
276
29
2.2
••
LOUISVILLE
126
275
25
2.5
-

Last year at home UNC led 14-0 before Louisville got an 18 yard td pass with :42 left in the game. UL did control the 1H with a 188-59 yard edge but missed a 49 yard FG, was SOD at the NC43, intercepted at the 19 and missed a 36 yard FG and it was 0-0 at the half. Last week UL, in a big sandwich game, (Kentucky and this one) cruised to a 35-7 win over Missouri St. QB Bridgewater has been sensational completing 82% of passes so far this year throwing for a career-high 344 yards last week. UNC lost a heart-breaker 28-27 to Wake Forest last week as with a slick field and the game being delayed 75 minutes due to lightning, UNC all-everything RB Bernard was a late-scratch (knee, probable here). QB Renner was having a great game (10-14-118) before taking a huge hit and was never the same. My computer calls for an upset here and with a healthy duo of Bernard/Renner, I'll call for the same.

PHIL’S FORECAST: NORTH CAROLINA 28 LOUISVILLE 27



#22 UCLA VS HOUSTON
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
HOUSTON 116
282
26
2.6
-
UCLA
294
303
44
2.0
••
Last year Houston had a clear-cut edge in the weather as they had been practicing in high heat and LA’s high temperature all summer had been 76 degrees. The game was moved to 3:00 in the afternoon and it was 92 degrees at kickoff. UH led 31-14 at the half. UCLA got a td with 1:19 left to pull within 4 but UH recovered the onside kick and took a knee. The last time here UH trailed 31-3 after 3Q’s. QB Keenum was injured late in the 2Q and UH was down to its 3rd string late in the 3Q (current QB Piland did not play). These teams seem to be heading in different directions under first year HC’s as UCLA is 2-0 and UH is 0-2. Last week both teams were involved in shootouts as the Bruins pulled a 36-30 upset over Nebraska while the Cougs set multiple NCAA records in a 56-49 loss to La Tech. UCLA frosh QB Hundley has been sensational averaging 254 yards per game (69%) with a 6-1 ratio while RB Franklin leads the NCAA in rush with 431 (10.5!). UH QB Piland, after struggling in the opener (UH OC fired), rebounded nicely completing 53-77-580 and a 4-0 ratio. This looks like a completely different Bruin team from the past several years and I'll call for them to enter Pac-12 play a perfect 3-0 with their 3rd straight impressive win.
PHIL’S FORECAST: UCLA 42 HOUSTON 21

 

#24 ARIZONA VS SOUTH CAROLINA ST
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
SOUTH CAROLINA ST 110
108
4
-
-
ARIZONA
303
319
45
-
-
FIRST MEETING
Having a mobile QB already in place to run his offense is something that Arizona HC Rodriguez did not have at West Virginia and Michigan but he has that here in Matt Scott and the Wildcats offense has been running on full cylinders in their 2-0 start after last week's upset win over Oklahoma St. Their opponent the Bulldogs are off a big MEAC conf loss to Bethune-Cookman, thanks in part to 4 TO’s including a fumble that was returned for a TD. They have another long trip out West to face an FBS opponent on deck in Texas Tech before playing last year’s MEAC champ Norfolk St. While starting 1-3 may not help their return to the playoffs staying healthy enough to finish strong in conference play could. As while talented, SCSU does not have the ability to beat 2 solid BCS teams, but does have enough to make a solid run at the MEAC Title. While Arizona is in a bit of a flat spot here coming off the upset win with Oregon on deck, I will still call for a huge win as they move to 3-0.
PHIL’S FORECAST: ARIZONA 45 SOUTH CAROLINA ST 10

 

#25 BYU at UTAH
 
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
BYU 112
205
19
2.4
-
UTAH
118
199
21
2.5
-
This could be the final “Holy War” (which has been played every year since ‘46) with Utah now in the Pac-12. The rivalry has been decided by a td or less in 12 of last 15. TO’s were the key in last year’s game. At the half, BYU had a 227-187 yard edge but trailed and had 7 TO’s and were -5 in TO’s for the game which snowballed in the 2H into a 54-10 route. Last week Utah not only lost to in-state rival Utah St on the road 27-20 in OT but for the 2nd consecutive year, they lost QB Wynn in the 2Q. On Monday it was announced that Wynn has decided to end his career. BYU has looked very good in its 2-0 start and last week cruised to a 45-13 win over Weber St. While QB Nelson is not spectacular, he’s efficient and two weeks ago Wazzu HC Leach went so far to say, “Nelson didn’t beat us with his arm or legs, he beat us with his leadership.” With Utah beat-up and their confidence shaken I will go with the revenge-minded Cougars in this winner take-all bragging rights for state supremacy.
PHIL’S FORECAST: BYU 17 UTAH 13
 

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