Week 8 was quite the Top 25 bloodletting, with nine ranked teams losing games. Week 9 doesn’t hold that kind of sick-drama promise, but there’s always hope for the unexpected.
Time to tear open a fresh Six-Pack. Guzzle up:
1. NO. 25 NEBRASKA AT MINNESOTA
The facts: 11 a.m., ESPN.
The records: Nebraska 5-1, 2-0 Big Ten; Minnesota 5-2, 1-2.
The story line: Oddly, considering Nebraska’s still-recent move to the Big Ten, the Huskers have a giant winning streak in this series — 16 games. Many of those contests, of course, belong to an extended era in which the Big Red calling card was hellacious defense. We’re long past the point where we could count on great defense from the Huskers, though, which is why every league game invites potential danger for Bo Pelini’s crew. The Gophers expect to face quarterback Taylor Martinez, who has missed the last three games with a turf toe injury. If the Huskers sling some D, it won’t matter who’s under center.
The line: Nebraska by 10½.
Greenberg’s pick: Nebraska, 41-20.
2. NO. 10 TEXAS TECH AT NO. 17 OKLAHOMA
The facts: 2:30 p.m., Fox-32.
The records: Texas Tech 7-0, 4-0 Big 12; Oklahoma 6-1, 3-1.
The story line: In 2008, Texas Tech was 10-0 and ranked No. 2 in the country before suffering a 65-21 beating at Oklahoma. Neither the stakes nor the pressure seems to be as high for the Red Raiders now as they were then. Kliff Kingsbury’s first season as a head coach has gone better than expected and been a high-intensity blast for all involved. If true freshman quarterback Davis Webb and the Red Raiders go down, they’ll still feel good about themselves.
The line: Oklahoma by 6½.
Greenberg’s pick: Oklahoma, 34-17.
3. NO. 12 UCLA AT NO. 2 OREGON
The facts: 6 p.m., ESPN.
The records: UCLA 5-1, 2-1 Pac-12; Oregon 7-0, 4-0.
The story line: The Bruins are going from one extreme physical challenge to another. Last week, their banged-up offensive line couldn’t block Stanford’s huge, tough defensive front. This week, UCLA’s own pretty darned good defense must contend with the fastest set of offensive skill players in the country. Ducks home run hitter De’Anthony Thomas is expected to play after missing the last three games with an ankle injury. At No. 3 in the BCS standings, Oregon will run up the score if it can.
The line: Oregon by 23.
Greenberg’s pick: Oregon, 56-31.
4. NO. 20 SOUTH CAROLINA AT NO. 5 MISSOURI
The facts: 6:30 p.m., ESPN2.
The records: South Carolina 5-2, 3-2 SEC; Missouri 7-0, 3-0.
The story line: Know what Mizzou has never done under 13th-year coach Gary Pinkel? Get off to a 4-0 start in conference play or begin a season 8-0 overall. Matter of fact, those things haven’t happened at the school since 1968 and 1960, respectively. But the Tigers have arrived in a big way, beating every opponent this season by at least 15 points — seven dustups, seven bust-ups. Maybe Jadeveon Clowney and the Gamecocks will squash this Tigers uprising, but don’t bet on it. By the way, Clowney? The superstar defensive end has two sacks on the season. Mizzou’s Michael Sam, meanwhile, has three different three-sack games. Yes, you read that right.
The line: Missouri by 2½.
Greenberg’s pick: Missouri, 27-20.
5. PENN STATE AT NO. 4 OHIO STATE
The facts: 7 p.m., Ch. 7.
The records: Penn State 4-2, 1-1 Big Ten; Ohio State 7-0, 3-0.
The story line: The Nittany Lions have lost three of their last five games against the Buckeyes, but both of their wins came in Columbus. That — and the fact Penn State had a bye week for extra preparation — represents the hope for an upset in this one. Ohio State is hard to pin down, isn’t it? A nation’s-best 19-game winning streak, with lots of (relatively) unimpressive performances in the mix. This game should offer a chance for quarterback Braxton Miller to shine in prime time, and for Urban Meyer’s defense to feast on PSU’s true freshman quarterback, Christian Hackenberg. OSU has to lose a Big Ten game eventually, but this probably isn’t the time for that.
The line: Ohio State by 14½.
Greenberg’s pick: Ohio State, 35-21.
6. NO. 8 STANFORD AT OREGON STATE
The facts: 9:30 p.m., ESPN.
The records: Stanford 6-1, 4-1 Pac-12; Oregon State 6-1, 4-0.
The story line: Despite all the talk about the offenses at Oregon, Baylor, Texas A&M and elsewhere, it’s Oregon State that boasts the nation’s most prolific passing attack (442.1 yards per game). Yet quarterback Sean Mannion, who is college football’s leading passer, and Brandin Cooks, its leading receiver, are little-known outside of Pac-12 country. That’ll change if the Beavers — who’ve improved enormously since somehow losing their season opener to Eastern Washington — knock off the highest-ranked one-loss team in the country.
The line: Stanford by 3½.
Greenberg’s pick: Oregon State, 31-24.
LAST WEEK, STRAIGHT UP:3-3.
LAST WEEK, AGAINST THE SPREAD:3-3.
SEASON, STRAIGHT UP:28-14.
SEASON, AGAINST THE SPREAD:21-19-2.