For the most part, the 2019 season has been without the major upset. At least inside the top 10 of the country. All that changed on Saturday when Wisconsin was victimized by the trap game. The Badgers were upset on the road against Illinois ahead of this weekends clash against Ohio State. Could Week Nine college football watch guide have another upset in store?
Even with the upset, we have plenty of intrigue in three ranked versus ranked matchups. Can the Buckeyes continue the trend of being one of the most complete teams in the country and put a stranglehold on the Big 10? Will Michigan bounce back in a must-win scenario or can Notre Dame stay in the thick of the College Football Playoff discussion? We’ll try to answer those questions and more in the week nine college football watch guide.
Note: All game times are in central standard time
Week Nine College Football Watch Guide
This was supposed to be a top 10 matchup and the best game of the year in the Big 10. The latter may still be the case, but the shocking Illinois upset over Wisconsin made the former lose some of its luster. Having said that, a loss here for the Badgers make it very difficult to get to the conference championship game. Meanwhile, Ohio State has been on fire all year. The Buckeyes certainly look the part of a CFP participant, but this still remains as their stiffest challenge on the season.
Oklahoma rolls into Manhattan looking quite different. The defense has been the difference this year as the Sooner rank 28th in total defense and in the top 20 in tackles for loss, sacks, and third-down conversion defense. Offensively, Jalen Hurts had his best game of the year last week and now leads our Heisman poll. Comparatively, Kansas State is off to a 5-2 start to the season with impressive wins over Mississippi State and last week against TCU. Can the Wildcats put up a fight and make this a tight game as they did two years ago?
Any time we preview the ACC coastal division, it almost feels a sacrificial lamb being sent in for the slaughter against Clemson. Nevertheless, roles are reversed here as the Hurricanes face Pittsburgh. Miami is not having the season they would have liked in Manny Diaz’s first season as head coach. They are 1-3 in the conference and are in a spoiler role. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is tied for first place with Virginia in the division and a win here could put them in the driver’s seat.
LSU has their final test before traveling to Alabama in a few weeks. Joe Burrow has been impressive and seems to get better and better each week. He’ll have to be better as Auburn provides the best defensive team that Burrow will have faced this season. Conversely, for Auburn, Bo Nix must improve dramatically from his performance against Florida. The freshman was 11-27 with three interceptions against the Gators. For Auburn to have a chance for an upset, he must be better.
On paper, this could appear to be a trap game for Penn State. A trip here to East Lansing in between hosting Michigan and traveling to Minnesota could be tricky. The Nittany Lions dominated early, then held on a 28-21 victory last week against Michigan. Lions fans may be able to rest on the fact that Michigan State has struggled against ranked teams this year. In losses to Ohio State and Wisconsin, the Spartans lost by a combined score of 72-10.
There could be trouble looming in Stillwater. After hopes of challenging for the Big 12 championship, the Cowboys could find themselves 1-4 in conference play after this one. Turnovers on offense and bad defense have continued to be the theme for Oklahoma State. However, if Spencer Sanders can protect the football they have a shot at the upset. Meanwhile, Iowa State is in the thick of the Big 12 race at 3-1. In fact, they are three points away from being undefeated on the season. Brock Purdy has quietly become one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12 and Iowa State will need him to continue to play well.
Texas survived the Red River Showdown hangover, barely. After escaping a catastrophic upset to Kansas, the Longhorns hit the road. They have the toughest road schedule in the conference remaining with trips to Iowa State and Baylor looming. On the other side, TCU has relied on its defense while the offense has struggled. The Horned Frogs are ranked 11th in total defense and will need them if they want to force the upset. Max Duggan has yet to throw an interception this season but is only completing 56% of his passes.
Both teams are about as angry as you would expect coming into this game. The Gamecocks were part of one of the worst officiated SEC football games in quite some time. Meanwhile, Tennessee missed a couple of golden opportunities last week against Alabama. Believe it or not, Tennessee still has an outside shot at a bowl game with UAB, Kentucky, Missouri, and Vanderbilt remaining. Meanwhile, South Carolina has Appalachian State, Texas A&M, and Clemson to finish out the season. This one is a must-win for both teams.
UCF finds itself in unfamiliar territory. They’ve dropped two regular-season games and they are effectively two games out of first place behind Cincinnati. The 1-2 punch of Dillon Gabriel and Gabriel Davis is still one of the most impressive in the American conference. Temple ran into the SMU buzzsaw last week but is still in the thick of the race in the conference. Anthony Russo is having a solid season for the Owls. Temple defeated Memphis at home, can they bite another conference power?
How can the worst team in the conference traveling on the road to play the best team in the conference be worth watching? Well, Tua Tagovailoa is that reason. His most recent high ankle sprain injury will no doubt be a large part of the discussion. Of course, with Hurts in Norman, Alabama is not as set at the backup quarterback position. Mac Jones was fairly inconsistent last week in going 6 for 11 for 72 yards. Tide fans will be anxious to see how he plays in case Tagovailoa is not able to make it back for LSU in a couple of weeks.
Despite Jim Harbaugh’s best efforts, the Wolverines just aren’t a good offensive team. They come into this game against Notre Dame ranked 80th in total offense on the season. They’ll have to be much better to come up with this win. The term “must-win” gets thrown out a lot. But, not many teams need a big win more than Michigan. A loss here will certainly send them outside of the top 25 and headed towards a 4-5 loss season. The Fighting Irish are laying low just looking for upsets to get back in the playoff discussion. Win this game and they just might as they won’t face a ranked opponent for the rest of the year.
Our PAC 12 after dark matchup should definitely keep your attention. It’s difficult to envision a scenario in which the total for this game stays below 70. Oregon showed some toughness last week after coming back from a double-digit deficit last week to beat Washington. The Ducks will need to keep that mentality strong with road trips to USC and Arizona State later on. Meanwhile, the Cougars are having a disappointing season thus far as they are only 4-3 on the season. After calling them fat, lazy, and soft Mike Leach’s club could change all that with an upset this weekend.