Athlon reveals its upset picks for Week 9.
There's no shortage of possible upset picks for Week 9. UCLA is nearly a touchdown underdog against Arizona State, which is a bit surprising considering how both teams have played this year. NC State has beat North Carolina five times in a row but is an underdog this Saturday. Check out Athlon's upset picks for this Saturday:
College Football's Week 9 Upset Picks
David Fox (@DavidFox615): Kentucky (+13.5) over Missouri
Let me preface this by saying Kentucky is just dreadful. But the Wildcats have played South Carolina close and challenged Georgia last week in a 29-24 loss. Both opponents were caught looking ahead, something that shouldn’t afflict Missouri even with a road game against Florida next week. Missouri’s not in contention for anything but a minor bowl. But minus starting quarterback James Franklin, Missouri is vulnerable. The Tigers have scored multiple offensive touchdowns in a game just once since Sept. 8, and that came against UCF. Sooner or later, Kentucky’s going to complete a game and pull a shocking upset. Might as well be this week.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall): UCLA (+6.5) at Arizona State
The top-rated defense in the Pac-12 had its rude awakening last weekend on national TV when Oregon rushed for over 400 yards in the blowout. UCLA comes to town after a week off to rest and one of the most balanced offenses in the nation. This game carries major import in the Pac-12 South and could dictate bowl game pecking orders. Brett Hundley and Johnathan Franklin bring a similar set of skills to the field that Marcus Mariota and Kenjon Barner, so the pressure now falls to the Sun Devils to bounce back. Todd Graham's team has played a weak schedule and they were totally exposed against the Ducks. Look for more of the same this weekend.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): NC State (+7.5) at North Carolina
Considering NC State’s recent success in this rivalry, I am surprised to see the Wolfpack as a touchdown underdog against North Carolina. NC State has won the last five matchups in this series, including a 13-0 shutout last season. With the Tar Heels banned from postseason play, there’s no question this game has extra meaning for North Carolina. However, the Tar Heels rank 11th in ACC games in pass defense and have allowed at least 30 points in two out of their last three conference games. North Carolina has two of the ACC’s top playmakers in quarterback Bryn Renner and running back Giovani Bernard, but the Wolfpack rank 35th nationally against the run and have not allowed more than 18 points in their last two conference games. NC State quarterback Mike Glennon should be able to take advantage of North Carolina’s secondary, while its defense should be able slow Bernard just enough to win. Wolfpack coach Tom O’Brien seems to have the Tar Heels’ number and that success will continue in 2012.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): UCLA (+6.5) at Arizona State
I’m surprised the spread is so high between these seemingly evenly matched teams. UCLA is 5–2 and has only played one bad game, a 43–17 loss at California. The Bruins’ other loss was by seven points at home to undefeated Oregon State, and they have a nice win over Nebraska on their résumé. Outside of last week’s 43–21 loss at home to Oregon, Arizona State has played very well defensively under first-year coach Todd Graham. The Sun Devils have given up 24 points or fewer in their six games an rank first in the Pac-12 in total defense (298.6 ppg). UCLA, however, is the most balanced offensive team ASU has played — and that includes Oregon. Quarterback Brett Hundley and tailback Johnathan Franklin form one of the top QB-RB tandems in the league. UCLA 27, Arizona State 24
Mark Ross: Navy (+4) over East Carolina
Navy and East Carolina each come into this game carrying modest winning streaks. Both teams are also similar in terms of where they rank nationally in a number of categories. The biggest differences appear to be with offensive distribution and defensive strengths. The Midshipmen are 13th in the nation in rushing at 236.7 yards per game, while the Pirates are averaging less than 118 yards on the ground (103rd nationally). Part of the reason for this is because ECU is a pass-oriented offense, one that is averaging 265 yards through the air. Navy's patented triple-option attack is a run first, second and third type of offense as evidenced by its No. 117 ranking out of 120 FBS schools when it comes to passing. On the defensive side, Navy's strength, at least on paper, is pass defense. The Mids are giving up only 197 passing yards per game, which is 26th in the nation. Now whether that's more a function of a rush defense that allows more than 172 yards per contest or not remains to be seen, but it appears that ECU's offensive strength and Navy's defensive strength match up. The same could be said for the Pirates on defense as they are 32nd in the nation in rush defense (123.1 ypg), but they haven't really played a run-centric team like Navy yet. I think both teams will be able to move the ball, but in the end, I like Navy's running game to wear down and outlast ECU. Besides, even though this battle will take place on land instead of water, when it comes to the U.S. Navy versus a bunch of pirates, whose side are you going to take, really?
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): TCU (+7.5) at Oklahoma State
The Cowboys have one of the top offenses in the country, but OSU lost starting quarterback J.W. Walsh for the rest of the season to a knee injury suffered in last week’s victory over Iowa State. Both freshman Wes Lunt and junior Clint Chelf could see time at signal caller this week, but the change may force the Cowboys to rely more on Joseph Randle and the running attack. While Randle is one of the best backs in college football, TCU’s run defense is ranked No. 7 nationally. The Horned Frogs are also tied for ninth in the country is takeaways (20), and they will look to harass either OSU quarterback into turning the ball over. The TCU offense has found a replacement for quarterback Casey Pachall in redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin, who has passed for 863 yards and nine touchdowns over the last three games. This one projects as another Big 12 shootout, and the difference should be which defense can force the other’s inexperienced quarterback into mistakes. The atmosphere in Stillwater will be difficult for the Horned Frogs, but I’ll take Gary Patterson’s crew to spring a big-time upset.
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