Upset Bait: N.C. State is charging rent in Chapel Hill, and more love for Week 9 underdogs
The Eye on College Football crew scans the weekly lines for a straight-up shocker or two -- for entertainment only, of course.
TOM FORNELLI: TCU (+7.5) over Oklahoma State.
I took TCU to upset Texas Tech last week, and I'm taking the Horned Frogs again for much the same reasons this week in Stillwater. Sure, TCU lost to Texas Tech, but it was a triple-overtime affair that could have gone either way. This week the Frogs hit the road, so it won't be easy, but this is an Oklahoma State team that just lost its starting quarterback, J.W. Walsh. Which means it'll either be true freshman Wes Lunt making the start – who didn't look amazing before going down with an injury in the Cowboys' – or junior Clint Chelf, who has thrown just 38 passes in the last three seasons.
So with the inexperience at quarterback in an offense that is rather dependent on its quarterback – no knock on running back Joseph Randle, who is awesome, but OSU is a passing team – the Cowboys are ripe for an upset, especially with a trip to Kansas State up next.
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Last Week: Missed on TCU (+2) over Texas Tech. Season: 4-for-8.
CHRIS HUSTON: UCLA (+6.5) over Arizona State.
UCLA's offensive coordinator, Noel Mazzone, spent the last two years calling plays at Arizona State, and his familiarity with his old team should help the Bruin offense fire on all cylinders against a reeling Sun Devil defense. Bruin quarterback Brett Hundley, an Arizona native, will have a productive homecoming, while the UCLA defense will put the clamps on ASU sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly, who started strong but had the wheels come off a bit last week in an ugly 43-21 loss to Oregon. The Bruins win in a shootout in the desert.
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Last Week: Missed on Arizona State (+8) over Oregon. Season: 4-for-8.
CHIP PATTERSON: Temple (+6.5) over Pittsburgh.
Noon kickoffs at Heinz Field never make for much a "home field" advantage for Pitt. In fact, sometimes the NFL stadium atmosphere feels a little odd. It's just the kind of early-slate Big East game that results in an unexpected upset. I like Temple to come in fired up for the in-state battle, with an extra step in confidence from their 10-0 start last week against undefeated Rutgers.
If Temple tailback Montel Harris maintains his pace from the last three weeks (he's averaging 118.7 yards per game in Big East play), the Owls should be able to limit touched by Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri, who is quietly on pace for the best season of his career. But the transition to first-year coach Paul Chryst hasn't stopped Sunseri from winding up on the ground as often as he has in years past. If Temple can prevent third down conversions by getting after Sunseri on the pass rush, then compliment that with a solid rushing attack, I like the Owls' chances to muck the game up and win it late. Bonus points for all if we get some exuberant Steve Addazio sideline celebrations.
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Last Week: Missed on Maryland (+3) over N.C. State. Season: 4-for-8.
JERRY HINNEN: Texas Tech (+7) over Kansas State.
No one is doubting Bill Snyder's ability as the resident Merlin of college football coaches, but Tommy Tuberville has some magic of his own when it comes to coaching against top-five teams: After the blowout win over West Virginia two weeks ago, he's now 6-2 all-time dating back to his SEC days at Ole Miss and Auburn. It's also not like Tuberville's team is facing some dramatic talent deficit in this game. Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege is arguably a Heisman candidate in his own right, the Red Raiders are allowing fewer yard and points per game defensively and two of the three common opponents faced by both teams – Iowa State and West Virginia – lost in similar fashion to both. (Don't ask us about Oklahoma.)
On top of that, for all Snyder's wizardry, the past three years the Wildcats have performed much better both as underdogs (12-3 against-the-spread vs. 6-9 as a favorite) and on the road (10-3 ATS vs. 8-9 in Manhattan) than they have as favorites or at home. This year's Red Raiders are the kind of team, with the kind of coach, that can make the Wildcats pay for any kind of off-day.
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Last Week: Missed on Texas A&M (+3.5) over LSU. Season: 2-for-8.
MATT HINTON: N.C. State (+7.5) over North Carolina.
The ACC has always been a topsy-turvy league from week to week, and now that perennial frontrunner Virginia Tech is struggling just to keep its head above .500 and perennial doormat Duke is almost certainly headed for a bowl game, there's only one constant left: N.C. State still owns North Carolina. Since Tom O'Brien arrived as head coach in 2007, the Wolfpack have taken five in a row over their rivals from Chapel Hill, the last four of which N.C. State has entered as the underdog. Last year's 13-0 blanking in Chapel Hill was the first time either side had been shut out in the series since 1970. The last two years, the Tar Heels as a team have been held to minus-4 yards rushing.
This year, the Wolfpack also have the benefit of being the better team: Since their opening night loss to Tennessee, the Pack are 6-1 with arguably the biggest upset of the season under their belt against Florida State, and still control their destiny in the ACC's Atlantic Division. On the other side, the Tar Heels are coming in off a deflating loss at Duke and have no championship to play for due to NCAA sanctions. All streaks must end, but there's no compelling reason to think this one is going to on this Saturday.
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Last Week: Missed on Northwestern (+6.5) over Nebraska. Season: 1-for-8.
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