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College football ’18: Week 9 Previews


Each week, The Game Haus will offer previews of every college football game featuring teams in The Associated Press Top 25. We’ll also give an expanded look at three Top 25 matchups especially worth watching.

Here we go with those Top 25 previews for Week 9 (all times Eastern):

Key Games

No. 9 Florida (6-1) vs. No. 7 Georgia (6-1), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

Scouting the Gators: Their three-game winning streak inside the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” ended last season, and it was ugly. However, Florida has won five in a row, and is confident it is a much better team this year.

Scouting the Bulldogs: This now becomes a defining point in the season for Kirby Smart’s boys. They were pounded at LSU in their last game two weeks ago, and all eyes will be on Jacksonville to see if the Bulldogs are able to rebound.

Winner: Georgia

No. 18 Iowa (6-1) at No. 17 Penn State (5-2), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

Scouting the Hawkeyes: The Big Ten West race is pretty crowded, and Iowa is right in the mix. The Hawkeyes blanked Maryland last week, and now have a little payback in mind for this one.

Scouting the Nittany Lions: They made it four in a row in the series, with a dramatic touchdown as time ran out last year at Iowa City. Penn State avoided a third straight defeat last week at Indiana, but it wasn’t easy. This one expects to be tougher, even though it’s played at Beaver Stadium.

Winner: Iowa

No. 14 Washington State (6-1) at No. 24 Stanford (5-2), 7 p.m., Saturday
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Scouting the Cougars: Joining Washington, Stanford and perhaps still Oregon in the race for the Pac-12 North title, Mike Leach’s team gets another chance to prove its worth. Washington State rolled past the Ducks at home, and will try for a third consecutive win over Stanford.

Scouting the Cardinal: Back in the Top 25, it’s still tough to read this team. Bryce Love has been plagued by injuries, and inconsistency is evident on both sides of the ball. Perhaps playing this game at home will be the x-factor.

Winner: Stanford

The Rest

Baylor (4-3) at No. 13 West Virginia (5-1), 7 p.m., Thursday,

The Skinny: Baylor is no slouch, but the Mountaineers have had almost two weeks to regroup from being roughed up at Iowa State. A defense that’s allowed an average of 28.7 points in the last three games — after yielding 37 total in the first three — must improve.

Winner: West Virginia

No. 25 Appalachian State (5-1) at Georgia Southern (6-1), 7:30 p.m., Thursday
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The Skinny: The “other” Mountaineers are ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in program history. They’ve won five straight since losing to Penn State in overtime, and are paced by a defense that’s allowed 49 points during the winning streak. Georgia Southern, however, looks for a fifth consecutive win in this matchup of front-runners in the Sun Belt East.

Winner: Appalachian State

No. 23 Utah (5-2) at UCLA (2-5), 10:30 p.m., Friday

The Skinny: Utah’s offense has come alive, averaging 41 points while winning three in a row over Stanford, Arizona and USC. The Bruins, however, suddenly can’t lose as they try for a third consecutive victory following wins over Cal and Arizona.

Winner: Utah

No. 2 Clemson (7-0) at Florida State (4-3), Noon, Saturday

The Skinny: The Tigers have won three straight over the Seminoles, whose focus now is trying to extend their 36-year bowl streak. Clemson continues to pile up the points while its defense held Wake Forest and N.C. State to 10 total in the last two games.

Winner: Clemson

No. 20 Wisconsin (5-2) at Northwestern (4-3), Noon, Saturday

The Skinny: It’s Northwestern, not Wisconsin, which leads the Big Ten West, but just by one-half game. It’s a four-team race at the moment, and the Badgers will try to help their division standing against a Wildcats team that’s looking for a fourth consecutive win.

Winner: Wisconsin

No. 21 South Florida (7-0) at Houston (6-1), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Now the road gets tougher for the Bulls, who, following this contest, still have to face Cincinnati, Temple and undefeated UCF over their final four games. South Florida might catch a break if Houston’s star defensive lineman Ed Oliver can’t play because of a bruised knee.

Winner: Houston

Kansas State (3-4) at No. 8 Oklahoma (6-1), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: The Sooners defense was better in a 52-27 win at TCU last week, but there is still work to be done. Kansas State, meanwhile, has scored 65 points while splitting its last two games at Baylor (loss) and versus Oklahoma State (win).

Winner: Oklahoma

No. 12 Kentucky (6-1) at Missouri (4-3), 4 p.m., Saturday
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The Skinny: Kentucky will try for a fourth consecutive victory over Missouri, which has lost 10 in a row against a Top 25 opponent since winning at then-No. 13 South Carolina in September 2014. The Wildcats are allowing 12.9 points per game, but should still receive a hefty challenge from the potent Tigers offense.

Winner: Kentucky

No. 15 Washington (6-2) at California (4-3), 6:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: The Huskies should be happy to hit the East Bay while trying to earn a fifth straight victory at Cal. Washington has totaled 97 points while winning the last two at Berkeley, where the Golden Bears will try to avoid a third consecutive defeat.

Winner: Washington

No. 16 Texas A&M (5-2) at Mississippi State (4-3), 7 p.m., Saturday,
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The Skinny: It’s probably no surprise that Jimbo Fisher has the Aggies playing well and looking for a fourth straight victory. However, playing in front of the cow bells won’t be easy, as Texas A&M has dropped its last two against the Bulldogs overall and at Starkville.

Winner: Mississippi State

No. 22 North Carolina State (5-1) at Syracuse (5-2), 7 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: After being roughed up by Clemson last week, the Wolfpack don’t get a break. Syracuse nearly won at Clemson, and has averaged 45.8 points while going 4-0 at home this season. N.C. State has won four straight in the series with the Orange.

Winner: Syracuse

No. 3 Notre Dame (7-0) vs. Navy (2-5), 8 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Fresh off their open week, the Irish head to San Diego for a neutral site matchup with the struggling Midshipmen. Notre Dame has won nine of the last 11 against Navy when meeting at a neutral site, but both losses have come over the last four.

Winner: Notre Dame

No. 6 Texas (6-1) at Oklahoma State (4-3), 8 p.m., Saturday
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The Skinny: The Longhorns staff is doing all it can to have quarterback Sam Ehlinger ready for this contest. If he’s not, Shane Buechele is a capable fill-in. Texas has lost three straight and six of eight against the Cowboys, who, however, are trying to avoid their first three-game home skid since October 2005.

Winner: Texas

No. 19 Oregon (5-2) at Arizona (3-5), 10:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Washington State made the Ducks look bad last week. Arizona has not done that to anybody this season, and is coming off consecutive losses to Utah and UCLA. Oregon gets the chance to prove that loss to the surging Cougars won’t ruin its season.

Winner: Arizona

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