Will Sparty Stumble in Iowa City?
Big Ten battle headlines Week 9 action.
By: Mitch Light | 10/29/10, 11:00 AM EDT
Michigan State (+6.5) at Iowa
We’re just about halfway through the Big Ten season, and Michigan State, picked no higher than fifth by most media outlets, remains as the league’s only undefeated team. The Spartans have been one of the most consistently solid teams in the country through the first eight weeks; they aren’t great in any one area, but they don’t have many weaknesses, either. Iowa is coming off its first Big Ten loss, a 31–30 setback at home to Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes’ defense, considered one of the best in the country, has given up a total of 329 yards rushing the past two weeks. Slowing down MSU’s two-headed tailback monster of Edwin Baker and Le’Veon Bell will be the focus this Saturday. Iowa is too good to lose two straight at home.
Iowa 24, Michigan State 21
Missouri (+7.5) at Nebraska
These two Big 12 North clubs both responded in big spots Saturday. Missouri proved that its undefeated start and gaudy defensive stats weren’t a fluke by beating Oklahoma 36–27 in Columbia, while Nebraska bounced back from its loss at home to Texas by outlasting Oklahoma State, 51–41, in Stillwater. The key development for the Huskers was the play of quarterback Taylor Martinez. After basically getting shut out vs. Texas, Martinez was sensational against O-State, throwing for 323 yards (by far his career high) and five touchdowns while adding 112 yards on the ground. Nebraska will be very difficult to beat if Martinez can replicate those passing numbers.
Nebraska 30, Missouri 24
Florida (+2.5) vs. Georgia
It’s the first time the Florida-Georgia showdown hasn’t featured at least one ranked team since 1979. The Bulldogs, however, are playing their best football of the season of late, with consecutive victories over Tennessee (41–14), Vanderbilt (43–0) and Kentucky (44–31). Aaron Murray has been very good at quarterback, and Washaun Ealey is finally emerging as a big-time producer at tailback. Florida, on the other hand, doesn’t have many answers on the offensive side of the ball. The Gators have scored a total of four offensive touchdowns in their last three games — all losses (two at home). Urban Meyer vowed to fix his team’s problems in the bye week, but the Gators just don’t seem to have the right pieces in the right places.
Georgia 27, Florida 17
Auburn (-7) at Ole Miss
Auburn hits the road for just the third time this season, and the Tigers’ previous two trips produced wins by exactly three points, at Mississippi State and Kentucky. Ole Miss has been a difficult team to get a read on. The Rebels have already lost at home to Jacksonville State and Vanderbilt. The Commodores scored 28 points in Oxford, 18 more than their other three SEC games combined. Ole Miss, though, does have solid wins over Fresno State (55–38) and Kentucky (42–35). While it’s tempting to think upset in this game, don’t forget that the Ole Miss defense is giving up over 30 points per game. Expect another big day from Cam Newton.
Auburn 37, Ole Miss 28
Oregon (-6.5) at USC
USC is an underdog at home for the first time since the final game of the 2001 season against UCLA. The Trojans won that game, 27–0, but it won’t be quite as easy this week against Oregon, the No. 1 team in the nation in both the AP and coaches’ polls. The Ducks are deserving of their ranking, but keep in mind that this team has only one quality win (Stanford at home). The Ducks still have to play at California and at Oregon State and host Arizona, but this trip to USC might be their toughest test. USC already has two league losses, but this is still a talented team that has been playing very well on offense. Over the past two games, sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley has averaged 371 yards with a total of eight touchdowns and no interceptions. Oregon should remain undefeated, but it won’t be easy.
Oregon 38, USC 30
Kentucky (-6.5) at Mississippi State
Mississippi State has quietly won five straight games to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2007 and only the second time since 2000. The Bulldogs are getting it done with a run-first offense and a defense that is giving up only 17 points per game. Kentucky’s offense will be a challenge for Dan Mulllen’s club. The Wildcats have scored 31 points or more in each of their last four SEC games and have the league’s No. 2-ranked passing attack. Defense, however, is where the Cats have serious issues. In five conference games, they are allowing an average of 39.8 points. That will get you beat on most nights.
Mississippi State 30, Kentucky 23
California (+2.5) at Oregon State
Cal continues to be one of the most schizophrenic teams in the nation. In the last five weeks, the Bears have lost at Nevada by 21, lost at Arizona by 1, beaten UCLA by 28, lost at USC by 34 and beaten Arizona State by 33. The defense has held five of its seven opponents to 17 points or less but got lit up for 52 and 48 in the other two games. Good luck trying to figure out what is going to happen in Corvallis this weekend. Oregon State hit a speed bump two weeks ago, losing at Washington, 35–34, in double-overtime, but this is a team that has played very well in October and November under Mike Riley.
Oregon State 30, Cal 24
Baylor (-7) at Texas
The Baylor Bears are bowl-eligible for the first time since 1995 after improving to 6–2 with a 47–42 win over Kansas State. Led by the underrated Robert Griffin at quarterback, Baylor rolled up 683 yards of offense en route to its third Big 12 win of the season. Getting win No. 4 won’t be easy this week, despite Texas’ recent struggles. Baylor has lost 12 straight to Texas, and the average margin of defeat has been an astounding 37 points. Don’t count on a lopsided Texas victory this season. The Horns have lost three of their past four and have not scored more than 24 points in their five games vs. BCS conference opponents. After the latest loss (28–21 at home to Iowa State), Mack Brown threw both his players and assistant coaches under the bus, saying you “can’t trust your team, can’t trust your coaches when they’re not getting things ready to go.” The pressure will be on Texas this Saturday.
Texas 28, Baylor 20
Michigan (-3) at Penn State
It’s quite an indictment on Penn State that the Lions are a three-point underdog at home to a Michigan team that has lost eight of its last nine conference games dating back to last season. Penn State broke a two-game losing streak last week with a 33–21 win at Minnesota, but this is a team that struggles to put points on the board. Prior to the win at Minnesota, the Nittany Lions’ season-high against FBS competition was 24 points vs. Kent State in Week 3. And with uncertainty at quarterback — it looks like Matt McGloin will get the start — it’s hard to envision PSU scoring enough points to beat Denard Robinson and the Wolverines.
Michigan 33, Penn State 24
Florida State (-3.5) at NC State (Thu)
NC State has had a week off to recover from its crushing overtime loss at East Carolina. The Pack are clearly an improved team in 2010, but if you want to take the next step as a program you have to beat East Carolina, even on the road. That loss, however, did not hurt the Pack’s standing in the ACC Atlantic Division race, where they are one game behind Florida State in the loss column. A loss Thursday night would all but end NC State’s title hopes. The Seminoles were a bit sluggish in their last game — a 24–19 win at home over Boston College — but they had been playing very well leading up to that game. This one is tough to call; let’s go with the Pack in the mild upset.
NC State 34, Florida State 30
Last week: 6–4 overall (5–5 against the spread)
Season: 52–28 overall (39–37–4 against the spread)
Most Popular Articles
Contests & Promotions
Athlon Sports Fantasy Racing!
Enter the Athlon Sports Fantasy Racing game. Just head over to athlon.myfantasyracing.com and register for your chance to win a chance to watch a 2014 race from the grandstands. You'll also have a chance to win other amazing prizes such as an autographed Kyle Busch helmet.