Most Meaningful Matchups - Week 9
You get through weeks like Week 8 (which ended up okay but still) to have a time like Week 9 in college football. We have got a phenomenal slate of games including three top 20 matchups and other games that will impact the conference and national title pictures, plus some fun non conference matchups. Without further ado, let’s break it down>>>>>
10. Virginia @ #25 BYU - 10:15 PM on ESPN2: Bronco Mendenhall brings his Cavaliers into Provo to face the team he coached for over a decade. Virginia is explosive on offense but - unusual for a Bronco-coached team - leaky ok defense. BYU is 5-2 and having a solid year but Cougar fans would love nothing more than to send Virginia and Bronco home with a loss. Should be a high scoring fun game in one of the most beautiful settings in all of college football.
9. Texas @ #16 Baylor - Noon on ABC: Texas has had it rough this year but is dangerous and probably (technically) more talented than Baylor but the Bears have their sights set on a top 2 finish that’s still in play in Big 12 plus a big showdown with Oklahoma the following week. It matters for the Bears to beat the Longhorns any time and this would be a big program win for them.
8. #12 Kentucky @ Mississippi State - 7:00 PM on SEC Network: Kentucky tries to recover from a beating against Georgia and continue what happen been a great season but they have to get through pesky and competitive MSU. Leach has the Air Raid rolling and this will be a tough road game for the Wildcats.
7. Fresno State @ #21 San Diego State - 10:30 PM on CBS Sports Network: This is a battle for first place in Mountain West and, if San Diego State wins, they’ll be in strong contention for a NY6 Bowl berth, especially if Cincinnati makes playoff.
6. #19 SMU @ Houston - 7:00 PM on ESPN2: I’m calling this the best G5 game of the weekend although it’s basically a tie with the previous one. The winner becomes the top challenger to Cincy for the AAC Championship and, SMU could make a run at NY6 if they win and go on to beat the Bearcats. Houston has also had a great year with Holgorsen turning it around.
5. #9 Iowa @ Wisconsin- Noon on ESPN: Has Wisconsin gotten its groove back? We will see. A workmanlike domination of Purdue last week, while Iowa was off, sets the stage for a big game to determine if Iowa can stay on top of the Big 10 West and on outskirts of Playoff contention.
4. #20 Penn State @ #5 Ohio State - 7:30 PM on ABC: matchup lost a lot of luster with the Lions loss to Illinois but it’s still a top 20 game. Ohio State is surging however and although Penn State has the talent to make this a game I’m doubting that they will.
3. #1 Georgia vs. Florida - 3:30 PM on CBS (Jacksonville, FL): While Florida hasn’t exactly held up their end this year, the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party is always meaningful. This may be the first actually good offense that Georgia has faced - but their defense is more than up for the task and the flip side Gator defense is pretty mediocre this year.
2. #10 Ole Miss @ #18 Auburn - 7:00 PM on ESPN: If Ole Miss wins they will continue to stay very relevant in the national title and SEC West picture - would need an Alabama loss to send the lm to Atlanta. If Auburn wins they seize the clear #2 spot in SEC West and would actually be tied for first with the Tide. Should be a high scoring affair although Ole Miss defense is improving. May be the most fun game if the day.
1. #6 Michigan @ #9 Michigan State - Noon on FOX: No one saw this coming - not two undefeated schools and certainly not a nationally meaningful matchup this late in the season but the winner becomes the team poked to as most likely contender against Ohio State in the final weeks of the B1G season. I would not expect a shootout but both teams have playmakers in the running game and on defense. Special teams may tell the tale here as they famously did in 2015 matchup.
North Carolina @ #11 Notre Dame - 7:30 PM on NBC: At the start of the year it seemed like this would be a top 15 type matchup but UNC has struggled overall. They are still a dangerous team and the Irish, while winning, are playing a lot of close games. This should be a good one.
UCLA @ Utah - 10:00 PM on ESPN: This could end up deciding the PAC12 South (for whatever that’s worth) when it’s all said and done.
Texas Tech @ #4 Oklahoma - 3:30 PM on ABC: The Sooners struggled at Kansas of all teams last week. Tech just fired their coach but are 5-3 and infinitely better than Jayhawks. Can they catch OU looking ahead to Baylor?
There you have it - a great week of games. As always, feel free to tell me why I’m wrong or talk in general by following me on Twitter at @readycfb and look out for Saturday commentary