By Chris Carlson
The last two weeks the SEC owned the floor on the national stage but in Week 9 the Pac-12, ACC, and Big Ten take center stage. All of the 7 FBS unbeaten teams face road tests ranging from real deal to heavily favor. The schedule is by no means jammed-packed across the board in Week 9. Let us not forget that Penn State was a 19-point underdog to the undefeated Buckeyes before their 4th quarter comeback. Another reminder, the first College Football Playoff rankings come out this Tuesday.
#4 Washington vs. #17 Utah: The Huskies are 7-0 for the first time since 1992 and have played consistently great all year long beyond a near stumble versus Arizona in overtime, but should face some real adversity on a road trip to Rice-Eccles Stadium. The Utes running back Joe Williams healed up nicely post retirement from early this year and will need to produce to keep pace with UW. Normally, Utah’s strong suit is defense but this year they’ve struggled against the pass, considering the opponents QB probably not a good thing. Washington QB Jake Browning is a stud, so expect him and his squad to take full advantage of this marquee matchup that the east coast won’t have to stay up late for.
The Pick: Washington 30 Utah 20
#7 Nebraska at #11 Wisconsin: The Cornhuskers embark on a two-game gauntlet in back to back weeks, facing OSU and Wisconsin. But this one means the most for positioning in the Big Ten West with the Badgers already dropping two games versus Michigan & Ohio State. Nebraska is unbeaten yet relatively untested thus far without a signature victory to speak of. The Badgers running game is getting back to its old ways which takes pressure off their young quarterback and stellar defense. Wisconsin linebacker and leading tackler, Jake Cichy being out the remaining of the season will help out QB Tommy Armstrong Jr. and Co. Camp Randall in Madison, WI, is the reason why this scribe won’t pick Nebraska in this matchup.
The Pick: Wisconsin 23 Nebraska 16
Under The Radar
#3 Clemson vs. #12 Florida State: Two early losses from Florida State, one being a butt-whipping dished out by Louisville, placed this ACC rivalry matchup under the radar to an extent. Both teams should be fully rested coming off bye-weeks, so once they shake off some early rust it should be a hell of a game. The Seminoles played better in the last month but still have large holes on defense. Clemson’s offense is inconsistent forming a habit of playing to the level of its competition. FSU keeps this contest close at home but Clemson pulls away on the strength on QB Deshaun Watson and his all-purpose stat stuffing.
The Pick: Clemson 27 Florida State 23
#10 West Virginia at Oklahoma State: West Virginia had their most complete performance of the season against TCU in Week 8. The Mountaineers defense has finally caught back up to their potent offense. Too bad we can’t say the same thing about the Cowboys a secondary that resembles a turnstile allowing wide receivers to roam free. However, Oklahoma State’s offense will keep them in this Big-12 showdown. A key turnover in the second half could swing this game from a walk over for West Virginia into tight game deep in the fourth quarter.
The Pick: West Virginia 38 Oklahoma State 31
Hardcore Barn Burner
Miami vs. Norte Dame: No, it’s not the 1980’s and yes, both teams are in landslide mode, but it’s likely to be a very competitive rivalry matchup.
(Honorable Mention: Minnesota vs. Illinois: Neither team is particular good but both tend to play bad enough in spots to engage in highly competitive games when matched similarly.)
Saturday Upset Special
Texas will give unbeaten #8 Baylor its first ‘L’. The Longhorns have knocked on the door versus quality opposition all year long, this week they kick the door down and win one for head coach Charlie Strong.
Against The Spread
Coming off a huge upset, #24 Penn State is on hung over alert traveling to face a scrappy Purdue club that Las Vegas set as a 14-point home dog. The Nittany Lions win but the Boilermakers will cover.
Quick Hits Recap
-LSU running back Leonard Fournette buckled an Ole Miss defender on his way to 260 rushing yards on just 16 carries in a much-needed victory.
-Washington Huskies quarterback Jake Browning continues to impress, this time in a blowout victory over Oregon State inching him closer to Louisville’s QB Lamar Jackson.
-Safety/Return Specialist Alabama Jackson is done for the year time will tell if that important of a piece affects the Tide
-Speaking of Alabama, a defensive touchdown last week against Texas A&M makes it 11 non-offensive TD’s on the year.
Written by Chris Carlson Host of The College Ball Show Podcast at blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio Download on iTunes under Rope A Dope Radio. Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio.