Oregon is USC’s title game, and other Week 9 college football picks

Oct 16, 2010; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley (7) conducts teh band after the game against the California Golden Bears at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated California 48-14. Photo via Newscom

With the prospect of a bowl game or a Pac-10 championship taken away from it before the season even began, USC’s football program has had to look elsewhere for motivation.

After a lackluster showing in early-season matchups against Hawaii, Virginia and Minnesota, and a loss at home to Washington, many wondered if the Trojans really even cared. A last-second loss at Stanford and a blowout of California, however, has shown that not only do the Trojans care, but they’re still a pretty darn good football team.

There was attrition at the school this offseason when the NCAA instituted a two-year bowl ban and a reduction in scholarships, but it’s still USC. It’s still the same team that has been bringing in top five recruiting classes year after year, and putting more five stars on the bench than many teams have seeing the field.

So now nobody’s thinking of the Trojans, as they cannot be a part of the title discussion themselves. They can severely alter the landscape today, though, and I’d imagine they’ll be real excited to try and take advantage of that opportunity.

No. 5 Michigan State at No. 18 Iowa, 3:30 p.m.: I can’t help but think Iowa is overrated. It lost at Arizona early in the year, and its supposedly stout defense had all sorts of problems with Tate Forcier and then gave up 31 to Wisconsin a week later. Now the Hawkeyes will have to deal with their toughest opponent yet in the Spartans, who are coming off a squeaker against Northwestern. It was the type of game Michigan State fans are used to seeing go the other way, so you’ll have to excuse them for being overly happy with it. But can Sparty pull out another one in Kinnick? Does Mark Dantonio have any more trick plays up his sleeve? I think the answers are yes and yes, but for whatever reason, I just don’t see it happening today. Pick: Iowa 27-24.

No. 6 Missouri at No. 14 Nebraska, 3:30 p.m.: It turns out, Missouri was even better than I thought it was. The win over Oklahoma is a huge step for Gary Pinkel and his program. The difference between a program capable of winning a big game and one capable of winning a national title, however, is bouncing back and winning another big game the next week. I’m not sure if Missouri is equipped to do that. Heck, I’m not sure many teams are equipped to get up for No. 1 at home one week then travel to Lincoln the next. Pick: Nebraska 24-20.

No. 1 Auburn at Mississippi, 6 p.m.: A look at Auburn’s schedule would suggest that it will be undefeated heading into the Iron Bowl on Thanksgiving weekend. This one, along with home dates with Chattanooga and Georgia precede the Tigers’ matchup with Alabama. But if you’ve been watching any ESPN this week, you’re aware of Houston Nutt’s ability to spring an upset over a highly-ranked team. He did it a few times at Arkansas, and will be looking to add another one to his belt today with Ole Miss. The problem is, I just don’t see Mississippi have the playmakers on the field to pull this off. And it certainly doesn’t have the playmakers on defense to stop Cam Newton. Pick: Auburn 34-24.

No. 25 Baylor at Texas, 7 p.m.: I read somewhere that to motivate his team this week, Mack Brown took a $20 bill, crumpled it up, spit on it and stomped on it. He then asked his team if the bill had changed at all. That science lesson was supposed to show the team that it’s still Texas, no matter the beating it has taken on the field or in the press. It’s an interesting analogy that Brown made, considering a $20 bill doesn’t have 25 new pieces to it every year. But, hey, maybe science is different in Texas. As for this week, he’s probably going to be proven to look like a genius. The Longhorns should be able to shut down Robert Griffin and Baylor. Pick: Texas 31-21.

No. 2 Oregon at USC, 8 p.m.: First of all, I and the rest of the Midwest would like to thank ABC/ESPN for giving us Ohio State at Minnesota on ABC and Michigan at Penn State on ESPN instead of arguably the game of the week. We really enjoy watching three crap-tastic Big Ten teams rather than a Pac-10 matchup that will go a long way toward deciding who the national champion is. So, thanks. As for the game we won’t be able to watch, logic would tell us that USC, although talented, doesn’t have the defense to hold Oregon under 60. I’d agree, if Oregon was more of a passing attack. USC still has good athletes on that side of the ball, and most of them are up front. I’m not saying they’re going to shut down Oregon, but I think this will be as tough a defensive matchup as Oregon has faced. Offensively, the Trojans can score with anyone. Matt Barkley is somehow flying under the radar this year, despite throwing for nearly 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns already. Like I said in the headline, this is USC’s title game, and as much as I despise the way Lane Kiffin works, I think he’ll have his kids ready to go in this one. Pick: USC 35-34.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Related Posts