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College Football SimMatchup
Each Monday morning, we will preview every college football DI FBS game of the upcoming week. All of our college football content, including our most recent power rankings and links to the pre-season preview are located here.
The inputs to the 10,000 simulations of these games are based on a rigorous analysis of each team that considers strength-of-schedule-adjusted team and player ratings and then makes modifications for injuries and depth at each position. To see other picks like our Upset and Locks of the Week, as well as our season-to-date performance, click here.
Game of the Week: #4 USC 24 @ # 8 Oregon 21
Before the season started, this game looked like a blowout victory for USC. It looked even worse when Oregon was overmatched in Week 1 at Boise State. Now, as hot as any team in the country, the Ducks appear poised to make this a game.
As we geared up during the preseason, this week appeared to belong to the Big East. And while that conference still has plenty of intriguing games on the schedule, this week's West Virginia-South Florida matchup has lost some of its luster with the Bulls' recent decline.
Alternatively, the USC-Oregon matchup, once considered a virtual lock as a Trojan victory 95% of the time has gone from an also-ran game to this week's Game of the Week.
At 5.54 yards per play, the Ducks' offense certainly isn't earth-shattering, but Oregon is still recovering from its season-opening loss to Boise State. The Ducks have won six games in a row since then and have scored more than 30 points in five of those contests. Most people remember that Week 1 game for LaGarrette Blount's post-game punch. Oregon's then-starting running back remains suspended, but its rushing attack hasn't suffered with freshman running back LaMichael James and rushing quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. The Ducks are 14th in the nation in total rushing offense at more than 210 yards per game, though partly due to the stumble out of the blocks, they're still averaging fewer than five yards per carry. Against the tenth toughest schedule this season, Oregon's defense ranks ninth in the country giving up just 4.1 yards per play.
USC's stumble came two weeks later than Oregon's with a 16-13 loss at Washington in the third week of the season. The Trojans have rebounded with four straight victories in which they've averaged more than 33 points per game. Saturday's game in Eugene, however, will be their stiffest test since the setback in Seattle. USC will rely on one of the most prolific offenses in the country. It ranks third in the nation, picking up 6.96 yards per play. At 242 yards per game, the Trojans are just 40th in the country in passing offense, yet, behind the arm of freshman signal-caller Matt Barkley (who didn't play in the Trojans' loss) they are one of just nine teams in the nation that average more than nine yards per passing attempt. Playing against the 12th ranked FBS schedule to date, USC also has the 11th-ranked defense and is giving up 4.3 yards per play. Only eight teams have given up fewer total touchdowns than the Trojans.
A 24-point rout for the Trojans in a game that was even considered to be amongst the week's best is now the week's top game, but USC still prevails. The visiting Trojans win 64.5% of the time over 10,000 simulations, but by three touchdowns fewer than we thought they might at the beginning of the season. USC holds off Oregon 24-21 in a battle of top ten teams from our most recent power rankings.
Other Notable Games in Week 9
Texas will put its national title hopes on the line at Oklahoma State. The Longhorns will face by far their toughest test of the final five weeks (six weeks if you include the Big 12 Championship against an obviously inferior North Division winner) when the go to Stillwater to take on the Cowboys. Texas remains unbeaten 63.3% of the time, edging Oklahoma State by a field goal, 31-28. In a battle of Big 12 teams trying to remain relevant, Texas Tech tops Kansas 57.0% of the time, 27-25.
In what once looked like it might be this week's best game, West Virginia hands South Florida its third consecutive loss 81.3% of the time. The Mountaineers win on the road by a score of 30-20. Elsewhere in the Big East, Connecticut tries to remain in the conference race, beating Rutgers 58.2% of the time and by less than a touchdown. And, no matter who plays at quarterback, Cincinnati stays unbeaten 95% of the time at Syracuse.
In the week's most intriguing out-of-conference matchup, Central Michigan, 7-1 on the season, will try to jump into the top 25 with a statement game against a team from a BCS conference. Dan LeFevour and the Chippewas go on the road to beat Boston College 59.0% of the time and by just a single point, 22-21.
In the SEC, our most recent top-ranked Florida remains unbeaten against Georgia 83.7% of the time and by two touchdowns and, once considered serious contenders for the conference title, Ole Miss and Auburn will fight to remain relevant with the Rebels winning 77.7% of the time on the road.
To see other picks like our Upset of the Week and Lock of the Week, as well as our season-to-date performance, click here.
College Football Week 9
|Coastal Carolina Chanticleers||5.0||4|
|@ Clemson Tigers||95.0||44|
|North Carolina State Wolfpack||19.1||18|
|@ Florida State Seminoles||80.9||32|
|North Carolina Tar Heels||37.1||15|
|@ Virginia Tech Hokies||62.9||22|
|Central Michigan Chippewas||59.0||22|
|@ Boston College Eagles||41.0||21|
|Duke Blue Devils||62.9||18|
|@ Virginia Cavaliers||37.1||16|
|Miami (FL) Hurricanes||83.7||28|
|@ Wake Forest Demon Deacons||16.3||18|
|Arkansas State Red Wolves||41.8||19|
|@ Louisville Cardinals||58.2||23|
|Rutgers Scarlet Knights||41.8||19|
|@ Connecticut Huskies||58.2||23|
|West Virginia Mountaineers||81.3||30|
|@ South Florida Bulls||18.7||20|
|@ Syracuse Orange||5.0||9|
|New Mexico State Aggies||5.0||7|
|@ Ohio State Buckeyes||95.0||34|
|@ Iowa Hawkeyes||91.6||32|
|@ Wisconsin Badgers||66.9||26|
|Michigan State Spartans||81.7||24|
|@ Minnesota Golden Gophers||18.3||14|
|@ Illinois Fighting Illini||15.9||17|
|Penn State Nittany Lions||90.0||29|
|@ Northwestern Wildcats||10.0||14|
|@ Northern Illinois Huskies||80.5||29|
|Western Michigan Broncos||62.5||20|
|@ Kent State Golden Flashes||37.5||17|
|@ Ball State Cardinals||18.3||13|
|@ Miami (OH) RedHawks||17.5||16|
|@ Oregon State Beavers||84.9||28|
|@ Oregon Ducks||35.5||21|
|California Golden Bears||80.9||24|
|@ Arizona State Sun Devils||19.1||15|
|Washington State Cougars||8.0||17|
|@ Notre Dame Fighting Irish||92.0||37|
|Tulane Green Wave||5.0||7|
|@ LSU Tigers||95.0||35|
|Eastern Michigan Eagles||5.0||8|
|@ Arkansas Razorbacks||95.0||41|
|@ Florida Gators||83.7||33|
|Mississippi State Bulldogs||39.4||15|
|@ Kentucky Wildcats||60.6||22|
|South Carolina Gamecocks||45.4||17|
|@ Tennessee Volunteers||54.6||21|
|@ Auburn Tigers||22.3||20|
|Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||94.4||36|
|@ Vanderbilt Commodores||5.6||14|
|San Jose State Spartans||5.0||9|
|@ Boise State Broncos||95.0||43|
|@ Nevada Wolf Pack||88.8||41|
|Utah State Aggies||13.1||22|
|@ Fresno State Bulldogs||86.9||40|
|Louisiana Tech Bulldogs||26.3||21|
|@ Idaho Vandals||73.7||32|
|@ Navy Midshipmen||64.1||25|
|Kansas State Wildcats||28.3||17|
|@ Oklahoma Sooners||71.7||26|
|@ Texas Tech Red Raiders||57.0||27|
|Iowa State Cyclones||45.0||23|
|@ Texas A&M Aggies||55.0||27|
|@ Oklahoma State Cowboys||36.7||28|
|@ Colorado Buffaloes||19.9||19|
|@ Baylor Bears||18.7||14|
|Southern Miss Golden Eagles||15.1||23|
|@ Houston Cougars||84.9||41|
|Southern Methodist Mustangs||32.7||20|
|@ Tulsa Golden Hurricane||67.3||27|
|@ UTEP Miners||62.2||31|
|Marshall Thundering Herd||41.0||13|
|@ UCF Knights||59.0||19|
|East Carolina Pirates||76.9||23|
|@ Memphis Tigers||23.1||15|
|@ TCU Horned Frogs||95.0||45|
|@ Utah Utes||86.5||28|
|New Mexico Lobos||33.5||12|
|@ San Diego State Aztecs||66.5||19|
|Air Force Falcons||83.7||25|
|@ Colorado State Rams||16.3||14|
|Western Kentucky Hilltoppers||23.1||17|
|@ North Texas Mean Green||76.9||29|
|Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders||31.5||17|
|@ Florida Atlantic Owls||68.5||26|
|@ Troy Trojans||56.6||25|
|Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns||94.8||29|
|@ Florida International Golden Panthers||5.2||11|
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Eric Schmoldt is a writer and Paul Bessire is the Product Manager of Content and Quantitative Analysis for WhatIfSports.com, a division of FOX Sports Interactive specializing in NCAA Matchup analysis and college football sim games. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, Paul and Eric can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com. Thanks!