A record 50 ranked teams have lost this season. In week 8, the latest victims were Coastal Carolina, Penn State, and Oklahoma State. The beauty of college football is that unseen upsets can happen at any moment. Week 9 brings the guarantee of more upsets. Let’s look at some games that could yield upsets and some high-profile matchups that will shake up the rankings.
With Penn State’s loss last weekend to Illinois this game loses some of its magnitude, but the stakes are still very high. The Nittany Lions (5-2) look to avoid their third straight loss when they travel to Columbus to face a Buckeye team (6-1) that has been on fire since losing to Oregon two months ago. Sean Clifford and the Nittany Lions have struggled to score recently even against subpar defenses like Illinois. They will face a confident Ohio State defense that has played much better as of late. The Buckeyes’ weakness has been the run so running back Noah Cain as well as Sean Clifford could find success on the ground. Clifford also needs to get the ball into his talented wide receiver Jahan Dotson if they want to pull off the upset.
CJ Stroud leads the top-ranked offense in the country. The Buckeyes average 560 yards and nearly 50 points per game this season. Stroud will target star wide receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson early and often. Running back TreVeyon Henderson is also having a very good year averaging 8.8 yards per carry. This is the best defense Ohio State has faced all season, so it will be interesting to see how Stroud reacts.
Ohio States playmakers will overwhelm Penn State. The Nittany Lions might give them a scare, but ultimately the Buckeyes will prevail
Prediction: Buckeyes 38, Nittany Lions 24
Heisman candidate Matt Corral and the Rebels (6-1) travel to Auburn to take on the Tigers (5-2). Both teams have one loss in SEC play and need a win this weekend in order to have a chance at winning the SEC West. Matt Corral leads the Rebels in both passing and rushing. He has 24 total touchdowns on the year. Auburn has a talented defense that will look to slow down Corral. Their defense is led by Roger McCreary, the 44th ranked NFL prospect according to CBSSports.com. He will look to disrupt a fast-paced Rebel offense.
Auburn’s season has been dictated by Bo Nix’s play. In their two losses, he has failed to throw a touchdown and has struggled with accuracy. During wins, he has excelled. In their upset win at Arkansas, he had only five incompletions and three touchdowns (one running). Ole Miss doesn’t possess a good defense, so Nix should be able to thrive. Look for him to find his favorite targets Demetris Robinson and Shedrick Jackson.
There should be lots of points in this game. Auburn’s defense should be able to get enough stops to guide them to victory
Prediction: Tigers 34, Rebels 33
The Bulldogs (6-2) travel south to play the Aztecs (7-0) with first place in the Mountain West West division on the line. Bulldogs quarterback Jake Haener is having the best season of his career and seems to play his best during big games. He almost beat Oregon in Eugene and threw a touchdown pass with 14 seconds left to beat UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Haener ranks third in the FBS with 2,582 passing yards, and sixth with 22 touchdown passes. He will need to be sharp against a stingy Aztec defense that only gives up 15.7 points per game. Haener will look to get the ball into the hands of wide receiver Jalen Cropper, who has 10 touchdowns on the year, as well as running back Ronnie Rivers who is a threat on the ground and through the air.
For the Aztecs, you will see a lot of running back Greg Bell. Saying they love to run the ball would be an understatement. The Aztecs average only 21 pass attempts per game. Greg Bell is the lead guy in the backfield but you will also see Jordan Byrd, Chance Bell, and Kaegun Williams at times. Fresno State is middle of the pack against the run, so that matchup will be key to watch throughout the game.
The Aztecs haven’t seen a quarterback like Haener this season. His passing prowess and knack for upsets will lead the Bulldogs to the win on the road.
Prediction: Bulldogs 27, Aztecs 24
Game of the Week: #6 Michigan Wolverines at #8 Michigan State Spartans
John Harbaugh is 2-12 against top 10 opponents at Michigan. He will look to reverse bad fortunes on the road when the Wolverines (7-0) travel to East Lansing to face the Spartans (7-0). The Spartans are coming off a bye and will have a rested Kenneth Walker III against a tough Wolverine defense. Walker III is second in the nation with 997 rush yards and is averaging 142 yards per game on the ground. Aidan Hutchinson anchors a top 10 Wolverine defense that is giving up 14.3 points per game.
The Wolverines are also a run-first team. Running backs Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum lead the fifth-best rushing attack in the country. They average 253 yards per game. When Michigan does pass, they will face a heavy pass rush from a Spartans defense averaging nearly four sacks per game. Jacub Pietrowski leads the team with 5.5 sacks. The Spartans defense as a whole is mediocre so the Wolverines will need to stay ahead of the chains to avoid obvious passing situations.
Whichever team is able to establish the run better will win this game. I like Harbaugh and the Wolverines to overwhelm the Spartan defense and stay undefeated.
Prediction: Wolverines 28, Spartans 20