This Weekend in College Football: Week 9

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.


  • Texas @ Kansas State (ESPN): It’s pretty clear at this point in the season that Texas just is not a good football team, near-upsets of Oklahoma notwithstanding. In fact, at 3-4 I don’t actually have them going to a bowl, I just don’t currently see three more wins on their schedule. If they want to have a chance, upsetting K-State would be a good, but unlikely, start.
  • Rutgers @ Nebraska (ESPN2): With the rise of 14-team conferences, an issue that I think is really starting to become a problem is intra-conference scheduling. Right now the difference in the Big Ten west is that Nebraska had to play Michigan State and Minnesota will not. (See also: Duke in the ACC, which dodges both Clemson and Florida State.) Either way, Rutgers should not present a significant hurdle for the Huskers.
  • Minnesota @ Illinois (ESPNU): Speaking of Minnesota, this week they get the hapless Illini.
  • Memphis @ Southern Methodist (ESPNEWS): Memphis.
  • Maryland @ Wisconsin (BTN): Wisconsin has only played two conference games so far, which makes it difficult for me to figure out exactly how good they are. The defense appears stingy, but they gave up 24 to LSU and 28 to Illinois. Maryland, meanwhile, isn’t much easier to judge. They’ve beaten Indiana and Iowa, but got shellacked by Ohio State. So Maryland is probably safely in the mid-tier of Big Ten teams, but this game will probably show if Wisconsin can roll with Nebraska, Ohio State, and Michigan State or not. Tentatively going with the Badgers.
  • Alabama-Birmingham @ Arkansas (SEC): Don’t look, but the Blazers are 4-3. Probably won’t help them much against the Razorbacks, though.

12:30: North Carolina @ Virginia (ACC): Who’s going to win the ACC Coastal? Well, Duke, probably, but nonetheless the question isn’t quite academic yet. UVA is 4-3 but only sports an okay offense. UNC is 3-4, but they sport one of the best offenses in the country paired with one of the worst defenses. I like the Tar Heels, by a little.

1:00: San Jose State @ Navy (CBSS): San Jose State isn’t completely awful this year and this edition of Navy probably isn’t going to shock anyone, but I still like the Midshipmen.

2:00: California-Los Angeles @ Colorado (Pac12): So much for national title darkhorse UCLA, eh? Either way, they’ll get bowl eligible against the Buffs.


  • Mississippi State @ Kentucky (CBS): Not a problem for the Bulldogs unless they’re caught looking ahead to their opponent two weeks from now.
  • Texas Tech @ Texas Christian (FOX): Based on the way they’re playing this year, this one does not look to be setting up well for the Red Raiders at all.
  • Michigan @ Michigan State (ABC): Michigan already has problems scoring points, so this is really the last thing they need to see right now. I don’t see a lot of hope for the Wolverines.
  • West Virginia @ Oklahoma State (ESPN): Two teams, opposite directions. West Virginia is 3-1 in conference, 5-2 overall, coming off a potentially season-defining upset of the fourth-ranked team in the country. (And they didn’t just beat Baylor, they controlled the game.) Oklahoma State is 3-1 in conference, 5-2 overall, and just got absolutely pasted by TCU. It’s hard not to pick WVU in this scenario.
  • Oregon State @ Stanford (ESPN2): Stanford University is one of the top research universities on the planet. 59 people associated with Stanford are Nobel Laureates. Stanford raises more money than any other school, and Stanford graduates founded several of the largest companies in the world. So, surely with those resources, they could figure out a way to score some touchdowns. Fortunately for the Cardinal this week, Oregon State doesn’t really score a whole lot either, so they should be able to eke out a victory.
  • Georgia Tech @ Pittsburgh (ESPNU): So last week, before the game, I saw some sobering stats about our defense on a pace (i.e., per-play) basis. Basically, since the offense tends to hold the ball and limit opponent’s possessions, it makes the per-game stats for the defense look better than they actually are. For instance, Miami had seven non-garbage time possessions. Baylor usually has that many possessions in a half. Well, after giving up 48 last week they aren’t fooling anyone anymore.
    On a per-game scoring basis, Pitt has the 14th ranked defense in the country. But the counter to that is they haven’t exactly been playing Oregon, Baylor, and Mississippi State. The best offense they’ve faced this season is Virginia’s at 74th nationally, and they haven’t faced anyone who runs the option. But with the tire fire that is the Georgia Tech defense right now, we can probably make anyone look good, so it will probably be up to the offense again to get ahead and stay ahead.
  • Florida Atlantic @ Marshall (FS1): I feel bad for the Thundering Herd, but while I’m pretty confident they’re going to go undefeated they just don’t play anyone. Seriously, not even, like, Vanderbilt or Colorado or someone.
  • Boston College @ Wake Forest (ACC/RSN): In three ACC games, Wake Forest has scored 20 points. Ouch.


  • Nevada-Las Vegas @ Utah State (ESPNEWS): I feel for the Aggies, but after a tough, low-scoring loss to Colorado State last week the schedule softens up considerably is before they face Boise State in what will probably be a pivotal Mountain West matchup.
  • Vanderbilt @ Missouri (SEC): Vandy picked up their second win of the season last week, beating Charleston Southern 21-20. In short: what the hell happened in Nashville? I just feel like this can’t be explained by a coach leaving.

5:00: Temple @ Central Florida (CBSS): I hope you don’t like points, because neither of these teams are especially inclined to score and generally inclined to play defense. I’ve got UCF winning like 10-7.

6:00: Arizona @ Washington State (Pac12): I actually kinda think Wazzou will ruin someone’s Pac-12 season in the same way I think Arkansas is going to ruin someone’s in the SEC, though obviously via completely different methods of attack. But until such a time, it’s pretty hard to actually pick them to win, you know?

7:00: Syracuse @ Clemson (ESPNU): I feel pretty good about Clemson’s chances in this one.

7:15: Mississippi @ Louisiana State (ESPN): On traditional stats, these two teams look pretty similar, but man the advanced metrics love Ole Miss the same way a tailgater in the Grove loves bourbon. Nonetheless, it’s the first of many potential pitfalls in the knife-fight SEC West, but looking at the numbers, it’s pretty hard to pick against them at this point.


  • Alabama @ Tennessee (ESPN2): The Third Saturday in October is on the fourth Saturday this year, but those are just the breaks in this modern era of conference scheduling. Neither date would make much difference in the likely outcome, though.
  • South Carolina @ Auburn (SEC): I just hope that after he retires, sportswriters continue to to go to Steve Spurrier for snarky quips about his rivals. He had this to say about Auburn, AL earlier this week: “The loveliest village on the plains is what they used to call it.” Seriously, one of those Stanford guys should also figure out the Futurama head-in-a-jar technology while they’re at it.
    Anyway, while Spurrier will almost certainly win the battle of snarky quips, his team’s odds of winning the football contest are pretty slim.

8:00: Ohio State @ Pennsylvania State (ABC): That Ohio State loss to Virginia Tech back in September is starting look pretty weird now, right? That’s the thing with September losses, though. Either way, Penn State is reeling after consecutive losses to Northwestern and Michigan, and the fact that this your ABC primetime game says more about the quality of the last this week more than anything else.

10:00: Southern California @ Utah (FS1): I think this going to be my standard boilerplate for USC this rest of the season: on paper they should win this game, it’s just a matter of their starters holding up because the Trojans have basically no depth.

10:45: Arizona State @ Washington (ESPN): This should be a fun, late-night contest for you folks out East, but I think in the end Sun Devils will win.