College Football Week 9 preview
Memphis @ 7 Cincinnati
A rematch of two great games last year, including the American Conference Championship game. Memphis proved to be the better team in both matchups last season, but Cincinnati has been the better team so far this year. Both teams have offenses that can put up points, but Memphis has had to deal with a major change. Star WR Damontae Coxie recently left the team to concentrate on the 2021 NFL Draft. That means a lot more will be expected from Calvin Austin III, who is having a great season. Cincinnati has a great defense and will likely need to go undefeated to have any chance of making the College Football Playoff. While Memphis still poses a threat, that task just got a little easier without Coxie.
3 Ohio State @ 18 Penn State
The Buckeyes rolled over Nebraska, while Penn State lost a heart-breaker against Indiana. Suddenly, a team that was thought to be a possible playoff contender could be looking at an 0-2 start. While Indiana didn't overwhelm the Nittany Lions in terms of offensive yardage, they did cause Pen State to make some critical mistakes. James Franklin's squad will have to clean that up to have any chance of salvaging a 1-1 start because Ohio State will surely take advantage.
24 Oklahoma @ Texas Tech
Oklahoma jumps back into the top 25 after consecutive victories over Texas and TCU. The Sooners have the offense to keep up with most teams in the country, but getting complementary play from their defense will be the biggest determinant for their season. The defense had a solid showing last week against TCU-- holding the Horned Frogs to just 14 point s and 75 yards on the ground on 3.0 yards per carry. For Texas Tech, this is a game to get back to .500 on the season and pull off an upset that would likely end the Sooners chances of earning another Big 12 title.
LSU @ Auburn
Here we have two SEC powers who have struggled to open the 2020 season. Both teams started the season in the top ten and have dropped all the way out of the national rankings. This game gives both teams a chance to feel a little better about themselves. An Auburn win puts them at 4-2, which would be a blessing given the way they've been playing. An LSU win puts them above .500 at 3-2 and earns back a little bit of the respect that may have been lost from a couple bad losses.
16 Kansas State @ West Virginia
The Wildcats survived their first game without QB Skylar Thompson last week, annihilating Kansas 55-14. But it was just Kansas. West Virginia presents an entirely different challenge as a competent team looking to put itself back in the conference title race. The Mountaineers don't have a great offense, but their defense is one of the best in the Big 12 and will be a great test for promising freshman QB Will Howard. The Wildcats have rebounded nicely from a season-opening loss to Arkansas State-- winning four in a row-- and find themselves on top of the conference standings. A loss could put Oklahoma State in first place and bring others back into the hunt.
Michigan State @ 13 Michigan
I don't expect this to be a game, but I'd be remiss if I didn't include one of the Big Ten's biggest rivalries. The Spartans have won six of the last ten matchups in this series, but the tide seems to have turned. MSU got embarrassed in its opener against Rutgers and turned the ball over seven times. Mel Tucker needs to get much better out of his players going forward, and their effort in a rivalry game will be an important sign of what they're capable of going forward. Meanwhile, Michigan has a Big Ten title on their minds after completely dismantling a good Minnesota team. Expect a better showing from the Spartans from an effort standpoint, but the Wolverines will be way too much in the end.