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Viewers Guide, Picks: Week 9

We are back with the Viewers Guide and Picks for Week 9 of the college season.

Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Notre Dame's Manti Te'o

Last week, I ended up 22-4 straight-up and 12-14 against-the-spread. For the year, I am now 155-46 SU and 93-97-1 ATS.

In Big Ten games, I was 5-1 straight-up (lost on Indiana) and 4-2 ATS. Through eight weeks, I am 56-12 straight-up and 31-29 ATS.

There are four match-ups this weekend between ranked teams, including Florida-Georgia, Texas Tech-Kansas State, Notre Dame-Oklahoma and Mississippi State-Alabama.

Here we go with the Viewers Guide and Picks for Week 9 of the college football season:

Thursday’s Game

* Clemson at Wake Forest – I apologize. I got caught up covering the Big Ten media day in Chicago and did not get the picks done in time for that game. I would have picked Clemson 42-13, though.

Friday’s Game

* Cincinnati at Louisville (-3 ½), 8 p.m. (ESPN2) – This was setting up as a battle of unbeatens until UC went up to Toledo and got dispatched last Saturday night (29-23). Still, the winner will remain unbeaten in Big East play. This is the 52nd meeting for the Keg of Nails. UC lost despite rolling up 478 yards total offense at Toledo. Louisville edged South Florida 27-25 last week to get to 7-0. Nice QB match-up with UC’s Munchie Legaux and Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater. UC has won four straight in the series, including 25-16 last year. This has the potential to be one of those fun Friday night games with lots of scoring, twists and turns. Louisville 38-33

Saturday’s Games

* Tennessee at South Carolina (-13 ½), noon (ESPN) – South Carolina must bounce back from losses to LSU (23-21) and Florida (44-11) the last two weeks. UT is 0-4 in SEC play with losses to four ranked teams. UT owns a commanding 22-6-2 lead in the series, but South Carolina has won three of the last four meetings (including 14-3 in Knoxville last year). South Carolina 27-19

* Iowa at Northwestern (-6), noon (ESPN2) – Iowa was on top of the world after winning at Michigan State (19-16 in OT) but crashed back to earth with last week’s home loss to Penn State. That 38-14 loss was Iowa’s worst home defeat in 12 years. Northwestern has suffered a pair of hard luck losses to Penn State (39-28) and Nebraska (29-28) after enjoying double-digit leads in both games. NU has won three of the last four over Iowa, but lost a wild 41-31 decision last year at Iowa City. I just think the Wildcats have too much offense here for the sputtering Hawkeyes. Northwestern 34-20

* Texas (-20 ½) at Kansas, noon (Fox Sports Net) – Kansas comes in off a 52-7 spanking at the hands of Oklahoma, dropping the Jayhawks to 1-6 for first-year coach Charlie Weis. Meanwhile, UT coach Mack Brown is feeling some heat. The Longhorns are banged up, but they’ll get healthy in Lawrence. Texas won 43-0 at home last year and has won its last four visits to Kansas. Texas 43-17

* Indiana at Illinois (-2), noon (Big Ten Network) – Illinois is favored despite the fact the Illini have suffered their five losses by an average of 29.8 points. The Illini are coming off a bye week and QB Nathan Scheelhaase could be healthy again. Indiana just can’t seem to put anybody away. IU is also 2-5 but four of those Hoosiers losses have come by a total of 10 points, including last week’s 31-30 loss at Navy. It says here that Indiana has won once in its last 13 trips to Champaign. But I am writing here that the Hoosiers get it done and Kevin Wilson secures his first Big Ten win. (And Tim Beckman will have to wait for his.) Indiana 31-17

* UCLA at Arizona State (-6 ½), 3 p.m. (FX) – Both of these teams are 5-2, but neither can afford another conference loss. That would probably take them out of contention in the USC-dominated Pac-12 South Division. UCLA 34-31

* Colorado at Oregon (-46 ½), 3 p.m. (Pac-12 Network) – Can Oregon top USC’s 50-6 win over the Buffaloes from last week? No, I think you have to draw the line somewhere. Oregon 54-10

* Michigan State at Wisconsin (-6 ½), 3:30 p.m. (ABC regional; ESPN2 outer market) – These teams have met three times in the last two years with MSU winning twice at home (34-24 in 2010 and 37-31 on a Hail Mary last year) and Wisconsin winning last year’s Big Ten title game in Indy (42-39). MSU has fallen on hard times with tough Big Ten losses to Ohio State (17-16), Iowa (19-16 in 2 OT) and Michigan (12-10). The Badgers – and RBs Mon-tee (don’t call me Mon-tay) Ball and James White – are getting hot at the right time. But MSU’s stingy defense is one of the Big Ten’s best. Something has to give. Unfortunately, it’s not MSU’s losing streak. (And the Spartans will still need two more wins to get bowl-eligible.) Wisconsin 27-24

* USC (-6 ½) at Arizona, 3:30 p.m. (ABC regional; ESPN2 outer market) – USC must avoid a letdown after last week’s romp over Colorado and also can’t afford to look ahead to next week’s home showdown with Oregon. This will be Arizona’s fifth ranked opponent. The Wildcats are 1-3 in those games but they snapped a three-game losing streak with last week’s rout of Washington (52-17). USC and QB Matt Barkley are simply too much, even in Tucson and even in what looks like a possible set-up. USC 35-26

* Florida (-6 ½) vs. Georgia, at Jacksonville, Fla., 3:30 p.m. (CBS) – They don’t call it the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party any more. But it is still a fun game as these two rivals meet each year at EverBank Field. Georgia leads the all-time series 47-40-2 and won 24-20 last year. But Florida has won three of the last four, five of seven, 11 of 14 and 18 of the last 22 meetings. Amazingly, Florida can wrap up the SEC East title with a win. But Georgia would also gain control of its own destiny with a win. Florida QB Jeff Driskel has enjoyed a nice sophomore year. Getting Florida back to the SEC title game for the first time since 2009 would help make him a Gainesville legend. Florida (in a real battle) 25-23

* Texas Tech at Kansas State (-7 ½), 3:30 p.m. (FOX) – Kansas State and sudden Heisman front runner QB Collin Klein just keep chugging along. They made a statement last week with their 55-14 destruction of West Virginia in Morgantown. But they can ill afford a letdown with Texas Tech, humming along at 6-1, coming to Manhattan. The Red Raiders also routed WVU (49-14 in Lubbock) and just slipped by TCU 56-53 in triple overtime last week. Big numbers should abound here. Kansas State 44-29

* Purdue (-3) at Minnesota, 3:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network) – Both teams are 0-3 in Big Ten play. It kind of depends what quarterback shows up for Minnesota. I wouldn’t give the Gophers much of a shot if freshman Philip Nelson has to play. Purdue got off the mat last week at Ohio State, but still got a painful overtime loss (29-22) for its trouble. Purdue won 45-17 last year in West Lafayette. Both teams have a lot of work to do to become bowl-eligible. Purdue (I just think they are the better team) 27-20

* Boise State (-16 ½) at Wyoming, 3:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network) – Boise State (remember them?) remains unbeaten in Mountain West play. Wyoming is at home, but the Cowboys are just 1-6 on the year. Boise State 40-20

* Ohio (-7) at Miami (Ohio), 3:30 p.m. (SportsTime Ohio) – Ohio is ranked 23rd in the BCS standings this week, its first ranking ever in those standings. But the Bobcats need a win over their rivals in Oxford just to keep pace with Kent State in the MAC East. At 7-0, OU is off to its best start since 1968. Miami leads this all-time series 51-35-2 with wins in the last six meetings (including 21-14 last year in Athens). Ohio 31-21

* Duke at Florida State (-27), 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU) – Duke, at 6-2, is bowl-eligible for the first time in 18 years and also enjoys a half-game lead in the ACC Coastal Division. FSU has been downright dominant at times and can ill afford a letdown going into a Nov. 8 showdown at Virginia Tech. Since 1992, FSU is 15-0 against Duke. That includes eight home wins by an average of 34.1 points. Florida State 38-17

* Ohio State (-1) at Penn State, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN) – OK, make your jokes. This is the Battle of the Banned and so on. But it’s also the continuation of what has been a great rivalry since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993. Ohio State leads the all-time series with Penn State 14-13. That includes a 12-7 edge in Big Ten games played since Penn State joined the conference in 1993. The series is tied at 5-5 in games at University Park, Pa. OSU has won three of its last four visits to PSU, but the Lions won 20-14 last year in Columbus. Great match-up with OSU QB Braxton Miller against PSU’s defense, led by Butkus Award candidates LBs Mike Mauti and Gerald Hodges. Though neither team can play for the Big Ten title, the winner of this game will take sole possession of the Leaders Division lead heading into the final month of the season. OSU is the nation’s only 8-0 team, while PSU has won five straight after an 0-2 start. Ohio State 31-27

* Texas A&M (-15) at Auburn, 7 p.m. (ESPNU) – Auburn a two-touchdown home dawg to the SEC newbie?? Who woulda thunk it? Gene Chizik’s days on the Plains seem numbered unless he can muster some magic down the stretch here. A&M will try and bounce back from last week’s heartbreaking home loss to LSU (24-19). Auburn has lost four in a row and fallen to a dismal 1-6 – the Tigers worst start since 1952. Texas A&M 28-21

* Notre Dame at Oklahoma (-11), 8 p.m. (ABC) – At 7-0, Notre Dame is off to its best start since 2002. But the Fighting Irish face a tough challenge at Oklahoma. ND is 8-1 all-time against Oklahoma. ND snapped OU’s 47-game winning streak in Norman in 1957 with a 7-0 win. This is ND’s first visit to Oklahoma since 1966 (38-0 ND win). The tough ND defense will be tested by QBs Landry Jones and Blake Bell as the Sooners average nearly 45 points a game. Everett Golson again gets the call at QB for Notre Dame. But will the Irish be able to keep up? Should be a heck of a game. Oklahoma 26-20

* Michigan at Nebraska (-2 ½), 8 p.m. (ESPN2) – The winner will have at least a share of the Big Ten Legends Division lead by the end of the night. Nebraska needed a furious late comeback to beat Northwestern 29-28 last week. Michigan has won three straight games, although the offense struggled in last week’s 12-10 survival of Michigan State. Michigan dominated Nebraska 45-17 last year in Ann Arbor. UM leads the all-time series 4-2-1. This is Michigan’s first visit to Lincoln since 1911, when the teams tied 6-6. (Did the Wolverines take the train or stagecoach to Nebraska for that one?) Nebraska has won 13 of its last 14 home games. Two great QBs here with Michigan’s Denard Robinson and Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez – each averaging around 300 yards total offense on the season. He who has the ball last laughs the loudest. Michigan 33-30

* Mississippi State at Alabama (-24), 8:30 p.m. (ESPN) – Mississippi State has won nine straight dating to last year and this is their “all-in” game as they try and take down the defending national champions and top-ranked Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. The Bulldogs won’t beat themselves, though. QB Tyler Russell has thrown 15 TDs against just one interception. Alabama is 74-18-3 all-time against MSU with four straight wins in the series. Alabama won 24-7 last year in Starkville. MSU has won twice in Tuscaloosa since 1957 (wins were in 1997 and 2006). That covers MSU’s last 25 trips to T-Town. Alabama can’t get caught looking ahead to next week’s pivotal game at rival LSU. Alabama 36-19

* Oregon State (-3 ½) at Washington, 10:15 p.m. (Pac-12 Network) – I think it will be midnight, literally, for Cinderella Oregon State, which has opened 6-0. But Washington has lost three straight. The Huskies need to get back to holding serve at home. Oregon State has won eight of the last 11 against U-Dub, including 38-21 last year in Corvallis. Washington 31-28

And in case you missed it:

Our Big Ten Blast for the week

And coverage of the Big Ten basketball media day

Quickie Bowl Projections

We will try and update these each week. Here goes absolutely nothing:

* BCS National Title Game (at Miami) – Alabama vs. Oregon (I know Oregon has dropped to No. 4, but if the Ducks can beat USC twice – a huge if – they’d still get here)

* Rose Bowl – USC vs. Michigan (Wolverines got over the Michigan State hump. A win over Nebraska would set them in motion for the Big Ten title game)

* Orange Bowl – Florida State vs. Louisville (Cardinals getting into meat of Big East schedule now with Cincinnati this week)

* Fiesta Bowl – Kansas State vs. Notre Dame

* Sugar Bowl – Florida vs. Oklahoma (This would really be something, huh?)

* Capital One Bowl – South Carolina vs. Wisconsin

* Outback Bowl – Georgia vs. Nebraska

* Cotton Bowl – LSU vs. Texas (Here’s a crazy thought: Maybe they go Texas A&M-Texas?)

Enjoy this big weekend of college football and best of luck to your team!

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