College football is back. While not all teams are back, a lot of teams are preparing for week 9. Here are five things to watch for in college football week 9.
1. Ohio State’s First Big Test
One of the marquee games of the upcoming college football weekend features Ohio State and Penn State. The Buckeyes won their first game of the season easily, defeating Nebraska 52-17. Justin Fields had a fantastic debut with only one incompletion and 276 passing yards. The defense will have to limit big plays, which is something they struggled with in their first game.
Penn State is coming off an upset loss to Indiana in overtime. They’ll have to limit turnovers, as quarterback Sean Clifford did throw two interceptions against the Hoosiers. The Nittany Lions will have to utilize Pat Freiermuth more as well, as he is a matchup nightmare. While the defense got pressure, they did not stop Indiana much at all. James Franklin has to get his team to play more disciplined if they are to have a shot to beat Ohio State.
2. Wisconsin’s Quarterback Situation
Last week, Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz had a fantastic debut for the Badgers. He went 20 of 21 passing for 248 yards and five touchdowns against Illinois. It was a great start to his career, but since that point, Mertz has tested positive for COVID-19.
Mertz was projected to be the Badgers’ backup quarterback this season to veteran Jack Coan. Coan has been out with a foot injury. If Mertz has another positive test, he will miss three weeks. With both quarterbacks unable to play, the ball will likely be handed over to Chase Wolf. Wolf will likely get the ball this weekend against Nebraska.
3. Kentucky’s O-Line vs. Georgia’s Defense
Kentucky has had a rough start to the season and sit at 2-3 because of inconsistent play. One thing that the Wildcats do have is a talented offensive line. They have several future pros, including tackle Landon Young and center Drake Jackson. This helps fuel their effective running game.
The Bulldogs likely won’t have too many problems beating the Wildcats this weekend. Their only loss on the season is to Alabama and they have a very talented defense. They will have a war in the trenches though going up against Kentucky.
4. Another Big Test for Cincinnati
Cincinnati proved that they were for real with their blowout win over SMU in week 8. They are now the favorites to win the AAC, but they have a few more big matchups this season. This week, the Bearcats play Memphis, who is routinely near the top of the AAC standings.
The Bearcats feature a great defense that limited SMU’s passing attack. That same defense will have to come up big again, as they prepare for the Tigers, who average 548 yards per game. If the Bearcats win, there will still be a few tough games to get through, but they should see their standing in the rankings stay the same.
5. Kansas State’s Road Trip
After losing their season-opener to Arkansas State, Kansas State has reeled off four straight wins and are ranked. They have wins over Oklahoma, Texas Tech, TCU and Kansas. The Wildcats have recently lost quarterback Skylar Thompson for the season with an injury, but they still haven’t lost since their opener.
This week, the Wildcats travel to West Virginia for a long road trip. The Mountaineers are 3-2 on the season and should provide a good game for the Wildcats considering that Kansas State will have to travel and play without their starting quarterback. A win keeps them tied atop the Big 12 with Oklahoma State, assuming the Cowboys win against Texas.
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