College football schedule Week 9
It is a bit of an understatement to say that Week 9 lacks pizzazz in the college football world. There are only two games featuring a pair of Top 25 teams. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have the chance for division, conference, and playoff-altering upsets, but it does appear to be one of those weeks when the seas look pretty calm. Maybe we get a rogue storm that pops up and creates some rough waters. It’s college football, so we probably will.
There are definitely some ranked teams in compromising situational spots and also some unranked teams that are either up against it or may get a little bit of favor. Let’s dive in and look at some games for Week 9.
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(Games sorted by Kickoff Time; odds as of October 23, 5:50 p.m. PT)
Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET
This has the chance to be a simply outstanding football game on Thursday night. Known as “Modern Day Hate” in the Peach State, these two teams do not like each other and this game has a lot of importance in the East Division. Georgia State has not yet played James Madison. That will come on November 4, but if the Panthers want any hopes of going to the Sun Belt Championship Game, they need to pull the mini upset here. But, Georgia Southern has lost three in a row, so they’ve got triple revenge on the brain in a battle of stellar QBs with Darren Grainger of Georgia State and Davis Brin of Georgia Southern.
Saturday, Noon ET
The pressure mounts with each passing week for Oklahoma, as the Sooners sure seem to control their destiny when it comes to the College Football Playoff. The Big 12 isn’t a very good conference, but the CFP Committee could never bypass an undefeated major conference champ. (At least I don’t think so)
Oklahoma has beaten Kansas 18 straight times, but the Sooners had a really close call last week in a big favorite role at home against UCF. It doesn’t seem like Jalon Daniels will be back for this one for the Jayhawks, but this is a Super Bowl of sorts for them in Lawrence.
Saturday, Noon ET
“Humbled” doesn’t even begin to cover it for Penn State coming out of last week’s game against Ohio State. At one point, the Nittany Lions were 0-for-15 on third down. While the lookahead spot to the Michigan game in Happy Valley comes next week against Maryland, I think this is an interesting spot for two reasons. The first is that Penn State may let out a ton of frustration on a really awful Indiana team. The second is that Penn State may come out really flat against a far lesser opponent with an early kickoff and a less-than-enthusiastic Beaver Stadium crowd.
After losing to Ohio State last year, Penn State went to Bloomington and beat Indiana 45-14 on the road. The crazy thing is that a similar score won’t even cover the number this week.
Saturday, Noon ET
Houston had a legitimate chance to beat Texas last week. A terrible third-down spot that led to a failed fourth-down attempt extinguished the upset bid. That was an opportunity to beat an in-state rival that is now also a conference rival. I do wonder how much Houston has left in the tank this week against Kansas State. The Cougs still need to win three of their remaining five games to go bowling, but I can’t help but feel like there’s a hangover for them in this one and it could be ugly early.
Saturday, 3 p.m. ET
There weren’t many eyes on the North Texas/Tulane game last week, but the Mean Green really gave it their all in that matchup. North Texas erased a 28-7 deficit with three touchdowns in the span of nine minutes in the second half, only to fall short in a 35-28 loss. North Texas had a 4th-and-1 at the 50 on the final drive, but failed to convert and Tulane kneeled out the game. Now the Mean Green are back in Denton against a Memphis team that hammered UAB last week in Birmingham. That was a tough loss for UNT and one that may carry over into this week’s matchup.
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
We can finally stop wondering if Cameron Rising will play, as head coach Kyle Whittingham said that he is officially done for the season. That may be why this line shot up to -7 and stopped there after opening lower on Sunday. This is a huge road test for Oregon against a very stout Utah defense. The Utes kicked a game-winning field goal to knock off USC last week, while Oregon toyed with Washington State a bit, but still secured a double-digit win. There is a lot on the line for both teams here.
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Minnesota scored a really emotional win over Iowa last week, as a punt return touchdown was called back on a really, really questionable “illegal fair catch” signal. It was a big moment for a Minnesota team that hasn’t had many of them and possibly a building block for the rest of the season. Meanwhile, Michigan State got embarrassed by Michigan 49-0. At this point, the Spartans have absolutely nothing to play for in games like this. They could win four of five and make a bowl game, but they play at Ohio State and also play Penn State, so it is extremely unlikely and the players are well aware of that. I think Minnesota, who is a pretty bad team in my opinion, has the chance to roll here.
Saturday, 4 p.m. ET
USC’s College Football Playoff dreams are dashed. Caleb Williams’s quest for another Heisman Trophy is over. This USC team doesn’t really have much to play for the rest of the way and Williams has plenty of incentive to stay out of harm’s way as much as possible. Amazingly, these two teams have actually split the last four meetings. Cal only lost 41-35 last season when USC was a much better team than this season’s version. I think Cal is live this week and USC may come in not fully ready to play.
Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
This has been a very one-sided rivalry. Tennessee won every game from 1985 to 2010. Kentucky won in 2011 and then promptly lost five more times before winning in 2017. Kentucky's only win in the last five tries came in 2020 during the COVID season. Last year’s game was a 44-6 rout in Knoxville. The Wildcats haven’t fared well against Tennessee or Florida, so you know that these rivalry games mean a lot to them on an annual basis. We’ll see if they can defend Kroger Field here with a UT team that is down a lot from last season.
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
James Madison is back in the Top 25. The last time the Dukes were in the Top 25, they immediately lost to Georgia Southern to fall right out. That should keep JMU plenty focused and motivated for this matchup. This is a really big number, though, and Old Dominion is quietly playing well. Ricky Rahne’s team just beat App State last week and has losses by six and three points outside of an ugly effort in a Virginia Tech revenge spot to open the season. I think JMU looks the part and may be the best Group of Five team in the nation, but this is not an ideal spot for them.
Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Mountain West After Dark action takes us to Pac-12 country where Fresno State hosts UNLV. In terms of situational spots, this is a really bad one for UNLV. The Rebels came off of the rivalry game against Nevada to sneak past Colorado State on a game-winning field goal in a 25-23 win. The victory made UNLV bowl-eligible for the first time since 2013. Fresno State is off of a bye. This is probably the best situational spot of the week for those looking for that type of angle.
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