Coming off a week in which not a single top-25 matchup was played, we’re back to having some big time matchups to fill up our Saturday. It’s the last weekend of football before the first College Football Playoff Rankings, and in a year where more ranked teams have fallen than ever before, you can be
Coming off a week in which not a single top-25 matchup was played, we’re back to having some big time matchups to fill up our Saturday.
It’s the last weekend of football before the first College Football Playoff Rankings, and in a year where more ranked teams have fallen than ever before, you can be assured that more surprises are on the horizon.
Let’s dive into the week nine slate of the college football season.
No. 8 Michigan State vs No. 6 Michigan — 12:00 p.m. ET, FOX
There’s nothing like an in-state rivalry to kick off a college football Saturday.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has his team 7-0, but they haven’t beaten a top-25 team so far this season, making Saturday’s matchup against the undefeated Spartans in East Lansing their toughest test of the year.
“It’s an elimination mindset,” Harbaugh said.
The Michigan defense is second in the country in points allowed per game (14.3), but they face a major test in trying to stop Michigan State running back and Heisman contender Kenneth Walker III. Walker ranks second in the country in rushing yards with 997.
“It’s definitely important to keep Kenneth Walker contained this game,” fifth-year Michigan linebacker Josh Ross said Monday. “That’s a guy that can make big plays, and can make you pay if you’re not in the right spots on defense. Definitely, it’s going to be a goal for us to contain them, and stop him and neutralize him for sure. That’ll be a big piece for us.”
The Wolverines have their own dangerous running attack, ranked fifth in the country in yards per game (253.3).
“I told the players when you have rivalry games like this, ultimately your legacy and your reputation, a lot of it is formed by how you play and coach in these games,” Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker said. “That’s the reality of the situation. And, that’s a good thing because not everyone has these opportunities to coach and play in these games.”
No. 4 Oklahoma vs Texas Tech — 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Is Oklahoma actually worthy of their ranking? Based on their past few games, it’s hard to say they are.
The Sooners needed a second half comeback to beat a bad Kansas team in week eight, allowing Alabama to leapfrog them in the standings. But freshman quarterback Caleb Williams has given the Sooners’ offense life, and a visit from Texas Tech should only help his confidence.
“It wasn’t super smooth but, to be understood, in the Texas game,” head coach Lincoln Riley said about Williams. “It’s gotten better here each week.”
Oklahoma has won nine straight against TTU, and the Red Raiders are reeling. Head coach Matt Wells was fired following last week’s 25-24 loss to Kansas State in which Texas Tech blew a 14-point lead.
Florida vs No. 1 Georgia — 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
“The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” in Jacksonville, Florida, is one to mark down on the calendar. Just don’t get your hopes up for a dramatic game.
Both teams are coming off their bye weeks, but are in very different positions. Georgia beat a very good Kentucky team in week seven while Florida lost to unranked LSU, causing some to question Dan Mullen’s job security.
Stetson Bennett has started the last three games for Georgia while JT Daniels recovers from an injury, and the offense hasn’t looked any worse for wear. Bennett is expected to start in front of Daniels on Saturday.
It’s a revenge game for Georgia, coming off of a 44-28 loss to Florida in last year’s rivalry game.
“I don’t try and use those extrinsic things, I just, I have never had great experiences with that,” Smart said. “I don’t want the players emotional the whole time
“That’s what the fan wants, but I want them thinking about what they have to do to win this game and last year’s game has nothing to do with this year’s game,” he added.
Georgia’s defense is as fierce as they come, allowing the fewest yards and points per game in the country.
No. 5 Ohio State vs No. 20 Penn State — 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
This would have been a top-10 matchup if not for Penn State’s nine-overtime loss against Illinois in week eight. The Nittany Lions have now lost two straight, and the rumors swirling around head coach James Franklin and the openings at LSU and USC are only getting louder.
For Ohio State, they enter the Saturday night showdown winners of five straight, and quarterback C.J. Stroud has been impressive since the Buckeyes lost to Oregon at home in week two. He has the Ohio State offense running on all cylinders, with the Buckeyes touting the top-ranked offense in the nation. Penn State’s defense is sixth in the nation in points allowed per game (14.7), so something has to give. Penn State hasn’t faced an offense like the one at Ohio State, which has gone over 50 points in four straight games.
“This game will be a little bit different; it’s gonna be electric, it’s gonna be at home, we’re playing against a really tough, physical defense that’s one of the better defenses in the country,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said Tuesday. “In a matchup game, you gotta learn to play a little field-position football and those types of things and being smart and all the things that have gotten (Stroud) to this point. But at the same time, he’s got to go do what he’s done the last couple weeks, and that’s go out there and play with confidence, prepare at a high level and lead his team.”
Other games to watch:
No. 16 Baylor vs Texas — 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
No. 17 Pittsburgh vs Miami — 12:00 p.m. ET, ACC Network
No. 18 Auburn vs No. 10 Ole Miss — 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
No. 7 Oregon vs Colorado — 3:30 p.m. ET, FOX
No. 21 San Diego State vs Fresno State — 10:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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