Week 9 Preview

As we approach the spookiest time of the year, I wouldn’t rule out any thrillers this weekend. The top teams may be put through quite a few scares, but getting through unscathed is all that matters. I’ll say it now. This week is so deep, that I had a very tough time narrowing this down to eight games. Let’s hope that’s a good sign.

Games of Note:

#17 Michigan @ Michigan State

-Scott: In the battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy, the Wolverines travel west to East Lansing to try to remain in the hunt for the Big Ten. Sparty will be trying to play spoiler, as they did last year. However, both programs are performing much better than the 2020 versions of themselves. Michigan has won two straight cross-divisional games and State is coming off a loss and a bye. I think both teams will be up for the game, but there’s something about MSU in this spot. Mel Tucker has some solid wins this year, and a home victory here makes a bowl a very realistic possibility. I think Harbaugh falls to 3-4 against another rival. Michigan State 24, Michigan 21

-Gavin: Michigan 28, Michigan State 27

#16 Georgia vs. #9 Florida

-Scott: In the 99th edition of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, we have another ranked matchup between the Dawgs and the Gators. While Georgia was the team with higher expectations headed into 2021, Florida was the one that looked like a legit playoff contender. This was mainly due to UGA’s season opening defeat to the hands of Clemson and an October 9th loss at Auburn. But then Florida, ranked #4 at the time, was tripped up in OT in Baton Rouge. Thus, we have a combined three losses between the two rivals, but this game is still massive. This game most likely will decide the SEC East, and if I’m being honest, I think there’s still a route for both to reach that goal. I’ve liked Georgia’s ability to control less-talented teams all season long. No knock against Dan Mullen’s team, but the Dawgs have a pretty sizable talent advantage. Give me the Dawgs to enact some revenge from last year. Georgia 28, Florida 17

-Gavin: Georgia 35, Florida 24

Purdue @ Nebraska

-Scott: While there are no national title contenders in the Big Ten West, there’s plenty of wins available for a team to jump up and potentially reach the New Year’s Six. The top 6 teams in the division are within a game of each other. Purdue, by virtue of a tiebreaker, is currently in first, but the Huskers can overtake them with a home win. Purdue emerged Lincoln with a win last visit, and they have a real chance at winning this division. Considering Purdue has already beaten the two teams everyone thought would challenge for the division (Iowa and Wisconsin), they should have the Huskers’ attention. Nebraska has looked better against Illinois and Minnesota than Purdue has, and I think the Boilers’ look might be running out. Nebraska 36, Purdue 23

-Gavin: Nebraska 28, Purdue 21

#10 Texas @ Baylor

-Scott: In an ancient, one-sided rivalry, Texas is back in Top 10 and makes the 100 mile trip north to Waco. Baylor is enjoying a nice Year 2 under Dave Aranda, and have pulled off two impressive home wins over West Virginia and BYU, led by the country’s 3rd ranked defense. Texas’s defense is no slouch either, giving up just 18.9 points per game. Unfortunately for Baylor, they’re 0-2 against ranked teams. On the flip side, they’ve fought pretty hard in those losses. Texas looks as good as they have in a long time, and this game is massive for Big XII title implications. Despite a raucous home crowd, I think Texas gets the dub here. Texas 31, Baylor 21

-Gavin: Texas 35, Baylor 17

#22 Ole Miss @ #8 Auburn

-Scott: We have another ranked matchup this Week 9, this time in the SEC.  Ole Miss reenters the rankings after a drubbing of a ranked LSU squad in Oxford.  Bryan Harsin has been extremely impressive thus far in his debut season on the Plains.  The Tigers are 6-1 and have massive wins over LSU and Georgia.  The Rebels have an electric offense headed by Matt Corral, but Auburn’s defense doesn’t mess around.  The Tigers are just giving up 14 points per game thus far.  Ole Miss has been very inconsistent the last month, and they’re due for a loss.  That and the fact the Rebs have only won in Jordan-Hare three times since 1990 leads me to take Auburn. Auburn 35, Ole Miss 27

-Gavin: Auburn 31, Ole Miss 24

#6 North Carolina @ #19 Notre Dame

-Scott: It’s put up or shut up time for UNC.  The Heels are 7-0, and if they want to make a statement to the committee, this is the time.  Notre Dame is by far the best team UNC will have played, and there’s nothing close to that level of quality opponent the rest of the way.  Regardless, Sam Howell’s Heisman case relies on this road tilt quite a bit too.  While ND has lost two already, they’re still a great team with a lot to play for still.  They’re coming off a thrashing of rival USC to snap their two-game skid.  The Tar Heels have 1 win in 20 tries against the Irish, but this is a good of a chance as they’ve had.  They’ve both played tough tilts against VA Tech, so that leads me to believe these teams are pretty comparable.  Give me the home team in a bit of a shootout. Notre Dame 46, North Carolina 42

-Gavin: Notre Dame 38, North Carolina 35

#14 Penn State @ #1 Ohio State

-Scott: This game is always one of the most-looked forward to games every year it seems.  Before OSU beat the Lions pretty handily the last two meetings, there were 3 straight instant classics.  Ohio State is surprising no one by running through the first seven tests on their schedule.  They did have a bit of a spooky situation last weekend at the Hoosiers, but ultimately won by 11, the closest margin this season.  Penn State has picked up a lot of steam after the season-opening loss to Wisconsin.  If they can pull off the upset Saturday night in the Shoe, all will be forgiven, and PSU is suddenly in the driver’s seat in the Big Ten East.  If anyone can contain CJ Stroud and the Buckeye attack, it’s probably a Penn State defense that is coming off two shutouts in a row.  I don’t have enough faith, though.  Make it eight straight for the Bucks. Ohio State 44, Penn State 23

-Gavin: Ohio State 45, Penn State 28

#21 Louisville @ NC State

-Scott: Another team besides Penn State who’s undefeated since Week 1 is Louisville. The Cards have shaken off that loss to Ole Miss, to get to 6-1, and potentially be a threat to Clemson. They have the Tigers next week, in a potential de facto ACC Atlantic Championship game. However, they’ll have to get past the Wolfpack first, a team that seriously posed a threat to Clemson a month ago. NC State is no slouch, and they should be hungry, coming off a deadening loss to Miami last weekend. I think the total points scored will be pretty indicative of who comes out on top. If it’s relatively low-scoring, an upset is in play. But if a track meet breaks out, I’d bet the #4 offense in the country in Louisville. I think Dave Doeren’s squad spoils the showdown next week and gets the Wolfpack to bowl eligibility with a month to go. NC State 34, Louisville 33

-Gavin: NC State 38, Louisville 27

Upset Picks:

-Scott: #5 Cincinnati @ Tulane

Well, Gavin went with Tulane in his upset pick last week and it worked out. So I’m riding his coattails in Week 9. I fully know I’m swinging for the fences here. With all of the craziness we’ve seen in our simulation, I have a hard time thinking Cincy can run the table. While Cincy’s defense is elite, and Tulane’s is sputtering, the Green Wave can score. It’s hard for anyone to put up points on the Bearcats, but I have a good feeling they’ll do just enough. Tulane 35, Cincinnati 31

-Gavin: SMU @ Houston

SMU 32, Houston 24

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