College football is entering the midseason. Storylines are forming and teams are making their pushes for the postseason. Here are five things to watch for in college football week 9.
1. Auburn’s Defensive Line Play
Auburn’s defensive line has been hyped up as one of the best units in college football. For the most part, the defensive line has lived up to the hype. Defensive tackle Derrick Brown has led the way with four tackles for loss and three sacks. With him, Big Kat Bryant, Marlon Davidson and Nick Coe all getting after the quarterback, they are tough for any offense to handle.
The Auburn defensive line will have to play out of their minds this week to help stop the high-scoring LSU offense. Joe Burrow is on fire right now with 2,484 passing yards, 29 touchdowns and just three interceptions on 79.4 percent completion. For Auburn to win, the defensive line will have to make game-changing plays, which they are fully capable of doing.
2. J.K. Dobbins vs. Jonathan Taylor
The matchup between Ohio State and Wisconsin lost some of its luster when the Badgers were upset by Illinois. This game will still feature a great matchup of running backs going up against each other. J.K. Dobbins hasn’t gotten as much publicity as Jonathan Taylor, but has already amassed 947 rushing yards in just seven games this season. If he keeps running the ball like that, he will get more recognition soon.
Taylor has received a lot of praise over his illustrious career. He has over 5,000 career rushing yards. This season, Taylor has 957 rushing yards and19 total touchdowns. His Heisman campaign took a huge hit with the loss to the Illini, but he will continue to climb up the record books as the season progresses. Both backs are locks to be selected in the first half of the 2020 NFL Draft and this game will be a great chance to showcase their talents.
3. Two Historic Teams Matching Up
This weekend, historic rivals Notre Dame and Michigan will face off. These two programs don’t meet every season anymore due to some questionable decisions by Fighting Irish AD Jack Swarbrick. Notre Dame comes into this game ranked in the top 10 for Division I football wins. They have just one loss this season and will be looking to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive.
Michigan has struggled this season and already has two losses with some big games still on the schedule. They could have some serious issues if they drop this game to Notre Dame. The winningest program in college football history will want to win this game to prevent a landslide late in the season. If they can get their offense figured out, they have a chance to defeat Notre Dame and get back on track.
4. A Defensive Mathchup in the Pac-12
The Pac-12 has two teams meeting up in Cal and Utah who have great defenses. Utah has one loss this season and are the favorites to represent the Pac-12 South in the conference championship game. They have NFL players in their secondary and allow just 11.7 points per game. The Utes can grind out wins with the best of them.
Cal started the season off hot, but has started to falter after losing Chase Garbers to an injury. Their defense has kept them competitive, but they are now 4-3 on the season. If Utah isn’t able to run away with this game because of their style of play, Cal might be able to steal a win and shake up the Pac-12 Championship picture.
5. Can the Undefeated Teams Stay Unbeaten?
Alabama and Clemson should have no trouble staying undefeated. LSU’s matchup with Auburn will be tough, but if they play up to their potential, should be able to win. It would be a massive upset if one week Wisconsin loses to Illinois and then beat Ohio State the next week. Oklahoma will likely take care of business against Kansas State. Penn State’s defense will shut down Michigan State and stay undefeated.
Some of the teams that are undefeated, but aren’t getting a lot of publicity may be able keep their records unblemished as well. SMU plays Houston, who is just 3-4 on the season. Appalachian State plays South Alabama, a team with just one win this year. Minnesota stays at home to take on Maryland, whose season has spiraled after a good start. Baylor is off this week. With all of that, the unprecedented amount of undefeated teams may make another week further into the season.