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Fearless Rick's 2011-12 College Football Week 9 - Early Games

Rick Gagliano | October 26-29, 2011

All times Eastern - Click here for late games.

Tuesday, October 25

8:00 pm Troy (-6 1/2, 55) at Florida International - How the masterminds of Las Vegas make the Trojans of Troy nearly a touchdown favorite is an interesting question. Troy is a 2-4 team that has suffered back-to-back losses of 31-17 and 38-10 against foes in the Sun Belt conference. Besides that, the game is on the home turf of the 4-3 Golden Panthers, who, after being dominated by Troy, losing six straight, finally broke through last season with a 52-35 win on Trojan turf.

As if there's any more reason to snatch up the points, the Trojans are a miserable 1-5 AYS this season, a true sucker bet team if ever there was one.

Prediction: Golden Panthers 28 Trojans 17

Wednesday, October 26

8:00 pm Connecticut at Pittsburgh (-10, 41 1/2) - Games every night this week means a Big East clash in Pittsburgh where the Panthers host the Huskies in a battle of 3-4 squads. Both teams are suffering from coaching disruptions with new head coaches at both schools finding out how difficult life in the FBS can be.

This game could - and should - be a heck of a lot closer than the line is indicating. UConn holds a 4-3 edge in head-to-head meetings, and is 5-2 ATS this season, while the Panthers are only 2-5 ATS.

Neither team has break-out offenses, but Connecticut has an edge on defense, especially against the run (89.0 ypg), which is Pitt's strength (158 ypg). If the Huskies can get some stops on the ground, Pitt's passing attack may not be good enough to cut it, spelling UPSET.

Prediction: Huskies 24 Panthers 21

Thursday, October 27

8:00 pm Virginia at Miami (-14, 48) - Jacory Harris and his Miami teammates have bounced back from a couple of tough losses to Kansas State (28-24) and Virginia Tech (38-35) to record consecutive impressive wins at UNC and, last week, defeated Georgia Tech, 24-7, though it should be noted that it was the Cavaliers who sent the Yellow Jackets to their first loss of the season, a 24-21 upset two weeks ago.

Virginia surprisingly holds advantages over Miami in some key metrics, including total offense, yards allowed and turnover differential. At 4-3, the same record as the Hurricanes, the Cavaliers are seeking six wins and a bowl game, so this game is very important to them and its unlikely that Miami can simply line up and blow them away.

Virginia won last year's meeting at home, 24-19, but the Hurricanes hammered them they year before, 52-17. As unpredictable as the ACC always is, a 14-point line is too tempting to pass up because Miami isn't that good, nor are the Cavaliers that bad.

Prediction: Hurricanes 27 Cavaliers 21

8:00 pm Rice at Houston (-27 1/2, 70 1/2) - 7-0 Houston continues to ride the red-hot arm of Case Keenum, who has set out to break a number of NCAA passing records in what amounts to his 6th year of eligibility. The Cougars are well on their way to making a case for inclusion in a BCS game, and they'll need this win to pad their resume.

The Cougars are coming off a 63-28 dismantling of Marshall last week in which Keenum completed 24-of-28 passes for 376 yards and a career-high six TDs. Rice lost for the fifth time in seven outings, a somewhat typical 38-20 loss to Tulsa.

What makes this game intriguing is the enormous spread. Rice hasn't lost by 28 points to any team this season, though the Cougars have three victories in their last four games by more than this week's line, against Georgia State (56-0), East Carolina (56-3) and last week's win over Marshall.

The Owls know what's coming, and should have enough defense to slow down Keenum and Co., plus Houston is not known for its defense, giving up 23.4 points per outing.

Prediction: Cougars 45 Owls 28

Friday, October 28

8:00 pm BYU at TCU (-13, 56) - Friday is the sole province of the Mountain West conference, with TCU looking for a little positive exposure, having already lost two games this season while racking up five wins.

The issue for the Horned Frogs is that they usually hammer weaker teams, like they did to New Mexico last week, 69-0, but have struggled against good, but not great, teams. SMU popped them 40-33 on October 1, and of course, their opening weekend loss to Baylor set a different tone for this squad.

BYU comes in with a 6-2 record and an opportunity for respect themselves. An overachieving group, the Cougars, an independent, doesn't generally light up the scoreboard, though their defense has kept them in most games. TCU scores at an average clip of 43.6 ppg, and they've beaten the Cougars the last three years by a combined score of 101-17. The BYU seniors will be up to prove that they can contend with some of the best programs in the country, but will fall just short.

Prediction: Horned Frogs 35 Cougars 27

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Saturday, October 29

12:00 pm Michigan State at Nebraska (-4, 51) - Michigan State knocked off a heavily-favored Wisconsin team last week and branded themselves as one of the best defensive units in the country, setting up this game as a key one to winning the Big 10 and advancing to a BCS bowl game in January. Both teams come into the game with 6-1 records, though Michigan State's only loss was out of conference, a 31-13 loss at Notre Dame. The Spartans have won four straight since then.

Nebraska is unbeaten at home, but Michigan State should handle the Cornhuskers the same way the Badgers did when they pounded them 48-17, three weeks ago. Nebraska wants to run the ball almost exclusively, but the Spartans will force them to throw, because their pass defense is top-notch, allowing a mere 88.9 yards per game, seventh-best in the nation. A win here and Michigan State can lay claim to the Big Ten title, because their remaining games are against Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana and Northwestern, four teams with a combined record of 9-20 and only two conference wins, both by Iowa.

Prediction: Spartans 31 Cornhuskers 24

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12:00 pm Purdue at Michigan (-14, 52 1/2) - The Boilermakers stunned Illinois last week, 21-14, but they face a much different and more dangerous foe this time around. 6-1 Michigan's only loss of the season was two weeks ago at Michigan State, 28-14, and the wolverines have had an extra week off to think about it.

Michigan QB Denard Robinson is listed as probable, but word has it that he will definitely start against Purdue and he should be the major difference-maker in this game.

Prediction: Wolverines 38 Boilermakers 17

12:00 pm Syracuse at Louisville (-3, 44 1/2) - This match-up features a couple of teams with 1-1 Big East records, though it appears that the 5-2 Orange have an edge over the offensively-limited Cardinals.

Syracuse is coming off a huge, 49-23, walloping of West Virginia, while the Louisville defense held up against Rutgers, winning at home, 16-14. The Orange offense has stepped it up lately and even though Louisville's defense yields only 17.1 points per contest, the Syracuse players have jelled into a solid team with eyes on a Big East title and a BCS bowl game.

SU QB Ryan Nassib has a fleet of talented receivers, plus the capable running of Antwon Bailey, averaging 94 yards per game rushing this season.

Prediction: Orange 24 Cardinals 14

12:00 pm Missouri at Texas A&M (-11 1/2, 61 1/2) - Missouri has only one win in the Big 12 - 52-17 over Iowa State and has lost all three of its road games this season. The rough schedule has taken its toll on the Mizzou, and having to play at A&M does not bode well for them.

The 5-2 Aggies have won three straight after back-to-back close losses to Oklahoma State (30-29) and Arkansas (42-38) and have gotten back on track. The only worries Ryan Tannehill and the A&M offense have is not getting over-confident against the Tigers or looking ahead to the next two week's games, road trips to Oklahoma and Kansas State.

With that rough schedule ahead, the Aggies should be using this game to get everything in working order with a big time win.

Prediction: Aggies 40 Tigers 23

All times Eastern - Click here for late games

Copyright 2011, 2012, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.


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