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October 25, 2013

Week Nine Preview

After going on the road and knocking off top ten Louisville, UCF controls their own destiny to win the inaugural American Athletic Conference championship and the BCS bid that comes with it.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, UConn comes to Orlando as the league's only winless team at 0-6.

Coach George O'Leary has stressed to his team this week to be "H and H," which is his lingo for "humble and hungry," and players say there's no way they look past the Huskies especially after seeing how close they came to losing at Memphis earlier this month.

Elsewhere in the American, Houston's visit to Rutgers could have big implications at the top of the standings. The Cougars are undefeated at 2-0 and the Scarlet Knights can't afford another loss if they hope to be in the championship hunt by the time the UCF game rolls around on Nov. 21.

Louisville coach Charlie Strong looks to rally his troops as they pay a visit to the Sunshine State to play a team in front of them in the standings, USF, who somehow are 2-0 in the league despite not scoring an offensive touchdown in either win.

Here's a look at every game involving the American, future league members East Carolina, Tulane, Tulsa and Navy, plus UCF's non-conference opponents (Akron, FIU, Penn State, South Carolina).

Yahoo! College Football Scoreboard

Lines are for entertainment purposes only, picks are head-to-head.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26
UConn (0-6, 0-2 AAC) at No. 21 UCF (5-1, 2-0 AAC)
12 noon, American Game of the Week (CW18 in Orlando)
THE BUZZ: The American conference title now goes through UCF after the Knights went on the road last week knocked off preseason favorite Louisville. It's the first home conference game for newly-ranked UCF, whose last game at home was nearly a month ago on Sept. 28. UConn has obviously struggled, but particularly on offense as they're averaging just 16.3 points per game this season which is 115th nationally and they've also given up a staggering 31 sacks.
THE LINE: UCF by 23.5
THE PICK: UCF
No. 18 Louisville (6-1, 2-1 AAC) at USF (2-4, 2-0 AAC)
12 noon, ESPN2
THE BUZZ: Inexplicably still ranked above UCF despite the head-to-head loss and incredibly weak schedule, Louisville travels to the Sunshine State for their 11th all-time matchup against USF wit the series tied 5-5. The Bulls somehow won their first two league games despite not scoring an offensive touchdown in either. Not surprisingly, they rank dead-last in the American in both scoring offense (16.2 ppg) and total offense (258.5 yards). Louisville had allowed five touchdowns all season before allowing five to UCF last week.
THE LINE: Louisville by 20.5
THE PICK: Louisville
Houston (5-1, 2-0 AAC) at Rutgers (4-2, 1-1 AAC)
12 noon, ESPNews
THE BUZZ: Houston's undefeated season was ended in a 47-46 loss to BYU last week, a game that saw six lead changes with BYU coming out on top in the final minutes. Still, UH is ahead of schedule having already matched last year's win total all with a true freshman QB, John O'Korn. And they're certainly in the mix for the league title with an undefeated conference mark, just like UCF and USF. Rutgers had a bye last week after losing to Louisville 24-10 on Oct. 10. Scarlet Knights RB Paul James is still out with a leg injury.
THE LINE: Rutgers by 6.5
THE PICK: Houston
Ball State (7-1, 4-0 MAC) at Akron (2-6, 1-3 MAC)
12 noon, ESPN3
THE BUZZ: They did it! Akron won their first FBS game since 2010 and first road game since 2008 with their 24-17 victory at Miami-Ohio last week. The challenge is much tougher this week against Ball State, who crushed Virginia earlier this season. Somehow, the Cardinals dropped a 34-27 decision at North Texas in week three otherwise they'd be undefeated.
THE LINE: Ball State by 9
THE PICK: Ball State
Pittsburgh (4-2, 2-2 ACC) at Navy (3-3)
1 p.m., CBS Sports Network
THE BUZZ: Navy is coming off a 45-44 double-overtime loss at Toledo after their kicker missed an extra point. "That's kicking. That's just how it is," Navy kicker Nick Sloan said. "You make one, one second then you miss one the next second." Pittsburgh barely beat FCS foes the past two weeks with a 21-17 win vs. Liberty and then getting past Old Dominion 35-24. The Norfolk, Va.-based ODU Monarchs join FBS and C-USA next season though.
THE LINE: Pittsburgh by 5
THE PICK: Pittsburgh
Temple (1-6, 0-3 AAC) at SMU (2-4, 1-1 AAC)
3 p.m., ESPN3
THE BUZZ: Temple and SMU have met twice before with each game ending in a tie (6-6 in 1942, 7-7 in 1946). The Owls did get in the win column last week with a 33-14 victory against Army. They are now starting a freshman at QB, P.J. Walker, who has thrown for 598 yards and five touchdowns and three interceptions. Last week, SMU got out to a 31-3 halftime lead and then held on to beat Memphis, 34-29. The Mustangs like to pass as QB Garrett Gilbert ranks second nationally in completions per game (34.7).
THE LINE: SMU by 14
THE PICK: SMU
Tulsa (2-4, 1-1 C-USA) at Tulane (5-2, 3-0 C-USA)
3:30 p.m., No TV
THE BUZZ: New Orleans is going crazy for Tulane football as the Green Wave are just one win away from bowl eligibility after knocking off East Carolina two weeks ago in overtime, 36-33. It would be a major accomplishment for second-year Tulane coach Curtis Johnson as the Wave haven't played in a bowl game since 2002. Tulsa is coming off a 34-20 win at UTEP.
THE LINE: Tulsa by 3
THE PICK: Tulane
Louisiana Tech (2-5, 1-2 C-USA) at FIU (1-5, 1-1 C-USA)
6 p.m., No TV
THE BUZZ: Though it's probably because they started playing C-USA bottom feeders, FIU hasn't looked as inept the past two games. The did beat woeful Southern Miss 24-23 earlier this month, then lost a close 27-24 game to UAB. They could have a shot against Louisiana Tech, a program where not much has gone right dating back to December of last year. Their AD turned down a bowl game thinking they could get something better (they didn't) and their head coach left (Sonny Dykes went to Cal). In comes Skip Holtz, who had just been fired from USF, and he's hardly had an optimal start. At least they beat UTEP.
THE LINE: La Tech by 5.5
THE PICK: FIU
No. 20 South Carolina (5-2, 3-2 SEC) at No. 5 Missouri (7-0, 3-0 SEC)
8 p.m., ABC
THE BUZZ: The SEC East goes through Columbia - Missouri that is. The Tigers are in a great situation having already knocked off Georgia and Florida and would get even closer to that division title with a win against South Carolina. Both starting quarterbacks, James Franklin for Missouri and Connor Shaw for South Carolina, are out with injuries. So is Missouri's backup QB, Corbin Berkstresser, so they'll start their third-string guy, Maty Mauk, who did start in last week's win over Florida.
THE LINE: Missouri by 3
THE PICK: South Carolina
Penn State (4-2, 1-1 B1G) at No. 4 Ohio State (7-0, 3-0 B1G)
8 p.m., ABC
THE BUZZ: Two weeks after their four-overtime win against Michigan, Penn State tries to become the first team to hand Urban Meyer his first loss as head coach at Ohio State. The Buckeyes, who have won 19 consecutive games, pulled out a closer-than-expected 34-24 win against Iowa last week. Obviously, a Penn State win would by extension make UCF's 34-31 victory in Happy Valley on Sept. 14 look that much more impressive.
THE LINE: Ohio State by 15
THE PICK: Ohio State


Bye week: East Carolina (5-2, 3-1 C-USA).



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