Non-AQ picks, Week 9

Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson

This week’s picks might be the most diverse of the season. Every conference is represented, which is a tribute to some really good games out there this week.

I went 6-4 last week (not as many upsets as I expected) and now I’m 58-24 on the season.

As I said last week, the picks get much harder in the second half of the season because that’s when conference upsets start to occur. I don’t have many upsets on the slate this week, but Navy fans will be happy to know that I picked against the Mids yet again. Just trying to keep the streak going.

Houston 41, Southern Miss 35: This game was circled on the Conference USA calendar when the schedule came out as a battle between the top teams in their respective divisions. While that hasn’t quite worked out, this is still a big game for both squads. Southern Miss is eager to prove that it can play with the best in the country while Houston is just trying to stay in the race for C-USA West.

Tulsa 38, SMU 14: This game might have been closer had SMU quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell not gotten hurt against Houston last week. He’s questionable for this weekend, which isn’t good because last week the offense stalled with the backup quarterbacks in play. Both of these teams are coming off big losses and both need a win to stay in the race for C-USA West.

UTEP 33, UAB 30: After UTEP’s big upset over Houston a few weeks ago, it went out and laid an egg the next week against Memphis. History could repeat itself against a good UAB team, but I think the Miners have learned their lesson and are ready to start winning consistently. With two big West wins already, that side of the conference is UTEP’s for the taking.

Boston College 30, Central Michigan 28: Central is playing so well right now that it was hard not to pick them in this game. However, Boston College has been playing better of late and will be motivated to win this game at home. I don’t think the Chippewas will lie down. They’ll fight just like they did against Michigan State and strange things could happen if the turnovers fall their way.

Temple 24, Navy 21: Both schools asked me not to pick them this week. No lie. Both schools have won when I picked against them, and so my poor picking somehow brings these teams good karma. Unfortunately, Temple drew the short straw this week. Temple has a stellar defense and during its five-game winning streak have not allowed more than 24 points. I don’t think Navy can win this game without backup quarterback Kriss Proctor attempting a pass.

Florida Atlantic 37, Middle Tennessee 24: Beating up on winless Western Kentucky might have restored some of Middle Tennessee’s confidence, but this week’s game against Florida Atlantic is going to be a different animal. After losing four straight to start the season, the Owls have won their last two and are as much in the hunt for the Sun Belt title as anyone.

TCU 34, UNLV 3: Coach Gary Patterson reminded all media after last week's win that he’s seen the highs and lows of the TCU program, and he’s hoping his team can avoid the latter against UNLV this week. The Rebels beat New Mexico last week, but have struggled mightily in conference play. Those struggles will continue this week against one of the nation’s top defenses and a team motivated by a BCS bowl berth.

Idaho 44, Louisiana Tech 20: The focus of Idaho’s loss to Nevada was on the 70 points the Vandals allowed to one of the nation’s top offenses, not on the 45 points they scored. It’s important to note that while Idaho’s defense might leave a little something to be desired, its offense can play with most teams in the country. And Louisiana Tech isn’t nearly as dynamic as Nevada.

Troy 28, Louisiana-Monroe 27: This game is the highlight of the Sun Belt weekend. Both teams are undefeated and the winner of this contest will have a leg up in the race for the New Orleans Bowl. ULM defeated Troy by a point at home last season, so I think the Trojans return the favor at Movie Gallery Stadium this week. Troy quarterback Levi Brown has been racking up the passing yards and he could wreak havoc on ULM’s defense.

Utah 28, Wyoming 17: Wyoming has had two weeks to prepare for this game, but I don’t think the Cowboys yet have the talent to stick the Utes. Utah has had some close games so far this season and might have trouble with the Cowboys' spread offense. Still, with this game being at home and a blackout game, the Utes are going to have a lot of momentum on their side.