College Football Week 9 Preview
Important matchups in the Big Ten and Big 12 highlight the college football schedule in Week 9. Here's a preview of this week's most interesting games:
Saturday, October 28
Who Will Win the Mason Rudolph–Will Grier Shootout?
(11) Oklahoma State at (22) West Virginia | Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, W.V.; 12 p.m. (ET) on ABC
Two of college football's best quarterbacks will battle on Saturday when No. 11 Oklahoma State (6–1, 3–1 Big 12) travels to No. 22 West Virginia (5–2, 3–1) in a crucial Big 12 clash. OSU quarterback Mason Rudolph leads the nation with 2,650 yards passing, while WVU QB Will Grier is tops in the country with 26 touchdown passes. Both stellar quarterbacks have a deep receiving corps, featuring Oklahoma State's James Washington and West Virginia's David Sills — both of whom rank in the top 10 in the nation in receiving yards.
Defensively, both the Cowboys (225.3 yards per game) and the Mountaineers (261.3 yards per game) give up plenty of yards through the air, too. Expect this game to get into the 40s.
Ohio State Wants Revenge on Penn State
(2) Penn State at (6) Ohio State | Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio; 3:30 p.m. (ET) on Fox
This Saturday's game between No. 2 Penn State (7–0, 4–0 Big Ten) and No. 6 Ohio State (6–1, 4–0) feels like an elimination game for the College Football Playoff. That wasn't the case in 2016, when the Nittany Lions returned a blocked field goal for a late touchdown to upset the Buckeyes in Happy Valley, but Ohio State still made it to the playoff (and PSU won the Big Ten).
Still, the Buckeyes have been seething for a year over the fluke loss and their crowd will be geared up to welcome Heisman Trophy frontrunner Saquon Barkley to the Horseshoe. If the Ohio State defense can't contain Barkley and the Nittany Lions offense, Penn State will have passed its two toughest tests of the season and can start thinking national title. If OSU wins, they are back in the title hunt, too.
Expect Georgia to Keep Rolling to the SEC Title Game
(3) Georgia at Florida | EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.; 3:30 p.m. (ET) on CBS
With the continued excellence of Alabama and the re-emergence of Penn State and Miami as unbeaten national powers, third-ranked Georgia (7–0, 4–0 SEC) has not gotten a whole lot of press for its stellar season. That could soon change. The Bulldogs will face another stiff test this Saturday when they take on Florida (3–3, 3–2), a team that is a few plays away from being either undefeated or winless.
The Gators will need to find a way to stop the Georgia running attack of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, and grind away at the Bulldogs defense. Neither is especially likely, which means Georgia should march on to the SEC East crown and a possible date with 'Bama in the SEC Championship Game. The November 11 game at Auburn seems like the last big roadblock after Saturday.
Can Iowa State Stop TCU?
(4) TCU at (25) Iowa State | Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, Iowa; 3:30 p.m. on ABC
Poor 25th-ranked Iowa State (5–2, 3–1 Big 12). The Cyclones finally get ranked in the AP's Top 25 for the first time since 2005, just in time to face their second Top 5 opponent this season: No. 4 TCU (7–0, 4–0). That's almost unfair.
The Horned Frogs have won the last four meetings between the schools. All TCU quarterback Kenny Hill does is win, stuff the stat sheet and avoid turnovers. He's 12th in the nation in passer rating and 35th in total offense. Iowa State needs to shut down Hill and chip away at the Frogs stingy defense that allows just 14.9 points and 291 yards per game. That means emergent ISU quarterback Kyle Kempt must succeed where Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph and West Virginia's Will Grier failed.
Can Notre Dame Keep Winning?
(14) N.C. State at (9) Notre Dame | Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, Ind.; 3:30 p.m. (ET) on NBC
Did you hear that creaking last weekend? That was the sound of millions of fair-weather Fighting Irish fans getting back on the bandwagon for No. 9 Notre Dame (6–1) after they blew out an overrated USC team in South Bend. Jokes aside, few programs have as broad a fan base as the Irish, and those fans haven't had much reason to cheer since Notre Dame was crushed by Alabama in the BCS title game in January 2013. If the Irish can keep winning, they can create havoc in the college football playoff picture.
Before any of that, Notre Dame must beat No. 14 N.C. State (6–1), a largely untested team who beat the Irish in 2016. Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley has had great success in moving the ball, something he must do to keep N.D.'s offense, led by running back Josh Adams, off the field. N.C. State quarterback hunter Bradley Chubb has proven to be among college football's most disruptive forces this season. He'll need to have a big game if the Wolfpack are to pull the upset.