College football is entering week 9. There are always things to watch every week of the season. Here are 5 things to watch in college football week 9.
1. Ohio State’s Big Game
Ohio State has certainly looked like one of the best teams in the country over the last few weeks. They haven’t had an opportunity to play a good team though since their loss to Oregon. That will change this week when the Buckeyes take on Penn State. The Nittany Lions are coming off a loss to Illinois, but have a strong defense that allows 14.7 points per game.
C.J. Stroud has stepped up at quarterback for the Buckeyes in recent games. On the season he has 1,965 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and three interceptions on 67.6 percent completion. He has helped Ohio State have a very efficient offense and the defense is also coming along, allowing just over 12 points per game over their last three contests. This game can help prove that Ohio State can beat solid teams, which is something they have yet to do this season.
2. Battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy
Michigan vs. Michigan State will have more implications than usual, as both teams are undefeated. The Wolverines have won games behind their good defense that allows 14.3 points per game. They also have been able to run the ball effectively at 253.3 yards per game with Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins. If they get shut down in this game, it will be on Cade McNamara to continue to play efficient football at quarterback.
The Spartans are having a resurgence under Mel Tucker. They too have had success running the ball, as their running back Kenneth Walker has rushed for 997 yards already this season. Quarterback Payton Thorne has also been a pleasant surprise, as he has passed for 1,701 and 15 touchdowns this season. Michigan State’s defense allows 18.9 points per game, making them a tough unit as well. In what should be a defensive showdown, watch for Michigan’s defenders Aidan Hutchison and Daxton Hill to make plays.
3. Ole Miss Test to Stay in CFP Race
After losing to Alabama, Ole Miss moved down in the polls. That is still their only loss of the season though, which means they are in play to make a run for the CFP. They have since moved back up to 10 in the polls and they look like a team that could win out. The Rebels will be tested in that regard this weekend.
Ole Miss will travel to Auburn to take on the Tigers, who have had an up and down season. Matt Corral will need to have a big day, as Ole Miss is still getting over injuries. That will be hard to do with Auburn’s talented secondary. The Tigers have allowed just 19.7 points per game, but if anyone is up for the challenge, it is Corral who is now one of the Heisman favorites. A win means Ole Miss is firmly back in the CFP race, although they will need some help to reach their goals.
Texas looked like they were poised to compete in the Big 12, but then they lost two straight games to the teams in the conference from the state of Oklahoma. Now, after a bye week, the Longhorns are getting ready for Baylor in another tough conference game. Against a defense that allows just 18.7 points per game, running back Bijan Robinson will need to have some big plays to bust things open for the Longhorns. A win will help them stay alive in the Big 12 Championship race.
Baylor is a surprise team this season. Head coach Dave Aranda is in his second season, but has already turned around the fortunes of the team. After going 2-7 in his first season, he has posted a 6-1 record this season. Gerry Bohanon is one of the better players in the country that no one is talking about. He has 1,568 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and one interception on 65.9 percent completion. Bohanon has added 134 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns, helping Baylor’s offense run and pass the ball well. His play might just help Baylor to keep their nice season going.
5. North Carolina vs. Notre Dame
North Carolina has not lived up to the preseason hype this season. They are 4-3 now and have a tough road game against Notre Dame in week 8. A win would help salvage a season where the team has been extremely inconsistent. For them to win, they’ll need Sam Howell to be at his best at quarterback. The projected first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft hasn’t been the major problem, but he has struggled on the road and against ranked teams. If he can play to his potential, North Carolina could pull off the upset.
Despite losing to Cincinnati, Notre Dame has played solid football. They won’t pass many eye tests, but in a year where they had to replace so much, the Fighting Irish have found ways to win and are 6-1. Brian Kelly has played musical chairs with his quarterbacks, but more importantly than that, the offense has featured running back Kyren Williams a lot. He has 501 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the season. They’ll need him and the defense to step up to slow down Howell. That may be tough to do if Kyle Hamilton can’t play, as he left the game against USC with a knee injury. A win in this game will really help the chances that Notre Dame makes a New Year’s Six Bowl Game.
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