With the nation’s top two teams, LSU and Alabama resting this weekend before their Nov. 5 prime-time game, the college football schedule has given us nearly a dozen good match-ups to watch.
Here are my Top Five College Football Games to Watch – Week 9:
Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins
1. Michigan State at Nebraska (Noon, ESPN) - By now, everyone has seen both of these teams play…and if you missed last weekend’s MSU-Wisconsin game, you missed seeing the two best Big Ten teams play…but you’ll probably get another chance when they meet for the Big Ten championship in Indianapolis in December. This weekend, the Spartans travel to Nebraska where they’ll be treated to something they have never seen in the Big Ten before. Courtesy in a visiting stadium. The Husker faithful are known to be very kind to their opponents, and even applaud them at times. Don’t let this fool you…MSU QB Kirk Cousins will need another outstanding effort to beat Big Red. After seeing MSU play this season, their defense is outstanding and their offense certainly can score. It just took a while last weekend against the Badgers…but when they got cranking…they did so quickly! In any event, I think Sparty has more talent than the Huskers and I like them getting 4 points in Lincoln. It’s a close one…but MICHIGAN STATE +4 WINS.
Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin, center left, talks with Georgia head coach Mark Richt
2. Georgia vs. Florida in Jacksonville (3:30 p.m., CBS) - Georgia is in a very good position to win the SEC East. They still have to play Florida, Auburn and Kentucky – and are capable of winning all three. Their East rival, South Carolina, has already beaten them, so they do own the tiebreaker…however, USC’s opponents are Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida. The key game is Arkansas…it’s the one game I think they can lose. But, I digress. Georgia is on a roll, and have faced good teams (Boise, South Carolina) already…and lost to both. They have, however, won five in a row since then. The Gators have lost three SEC games in a row to Alabama, LSU and Auburn…a real murderers row. Florida is expecting QB John Brantley to play in this one, but Georgia’s top wide receiver, Malcom Mitchell is doubtful. Georgia doesn’t win games by large margins…but they are becoming a solid team. “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” is ALWAYS unpredictable. Should Brantley play and Mitchell not, I like FLORIDA +3 in a close one.
It was just one of those nights for Oklahoma QB Landry Jones last Saturday as his Sooners were defeated by 28-point underdog Texas Tech.
3. Oklahoma at Kansas (3:30 p.m., ESPN) - OU was in the top three last week until they suffered the nearly-annual LOSS TO A DOUBLE-DIGIT UNDERDOG. Texas Tech waited out the weather delay and came away with the biggest dog win of the season. Kansas, on the other hand, is horrible. I’m surprised OU is only a 13.5 point favorite here. I think OU quarterback Landry Jones has a huge game and OU crushes KU. Nothing more to add…OKLAHOMA -13.5 is the play.
Wisconsin running back Montee Ball (28) is stopped by Michigan State cornerback Johnny Adams (5) during the game last weekend
4. Wisconsin at Ohio State (8:00 p.m., ESPN) - You started your day watching Michigan State play at Nebraska…now you have two 8:00 p.m. games to watch…and both are in my top 5. Can the Badgers bounce back from the heartbreaking last-second loss to Michigan State last week and win in Columbus? Absolutely. The Badgers are 7 point favorites, and if OSU was as good as they had been last year, this would be a tough one. But, Wisconsin, led by QB Russell Wilson and RB Montee Ball and WR Nick Toon, are ranked 8th in total offense in the nation, and first in the Big Ten. Ohio State has no offense. They are 100th in the nation and 11th in the Big Ten (sounds strange, but someone has to be 11th in every Big Ten category…). Their defense is decent – 17th in the nation and 5th in the Big Ten. After a very good comeback last week, after blowing a 14-point lead, WISCONSIN -7 wins in the Horseshoe.
Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck (12) celebrates with Stanford linebacker Chase Thomas (44) following the tenth consecutive win by 25 points of more by the Cardinal last week
5. Stanford at USC (8:00 p.m., ABC) - Here’s your second good game to watch at 8:00 p.m. (or the reason DVR’s and split-screens were invented). Last week was the first time many of you saw Stanford play. Believe me, they are good. They unleashed a running attack that many observers said was as good as any in the country. Their front seven moved…no, crushed…No. 25 Washington’s defense, opening holes that you and I could run through.
The No. 6 Cardinal rushed for a school-record 446 yards on 44 carries, riding a strong offensive line to shred the then-No. 25 Huskies’ run defense, which had only allowed an average of 97 yards per game rushing coming into Saturday’s contest, a fact that made the Cardinal players beam at their own efforts.
“We were very aware of it when we broke [the school rushing record]. What a testament to the O-line, to the coach, the tight ends, to the fullbacks and wide receivers,” said redshirt junior quarterback Andrew Luck. “It was a total team effort on the ground today, but first of all, to the backs making it happen with unbelievable plays. They’re special athletes, and it’s fun to have four of them, four really good ones.”
And defensively, Stanford is pretty good also. They are 18th in the nation, first in the Pac 12. Linebacker Chase Thomas is the key. Thomas and his teammates play like a Southeastern Conference powerhouse. Just ask Washington, the victim of a 65-21 blowout last weekend in which Thomas had six tackles, 21/2 tackles for a loss and one quarterback hit. This season, Thomas leads the Pac-12 Conference in tackles for a loss (10), is second in sacks with 51/2 for minus 52 yards and is tied for third with three forced fumbles. He also has 31 tackles to rank third among Stanford defenders.
USC quarterback Matt Barkley throws a pass in the first half against Notre Dame last week.
It won’t be that easy in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC showed they can be a tough team last week by easily beating Notre Dame on the road (even though the Irish once again made it easier for an opponent by fumbling the ball away at critical times). Stanford’s defense will be tested by the Trojans’ throw-and-catch team of QB Matt Barkley to receiver Robert Woods.
If you don’t think Stanford is one of the best teams in the country, should they win this one, you will. It is possible they will end up undefeated, playing for the national championship. They have a couple of roadblocks standing in their way, however, starting with Saturday night’s game and a Nov. 12 game at home against pre-season Pac 12 North favorite Oregon.
Stanford has won ten conseutive games by 25 or more points. I do not expect that to happen Saturday night…if it does, they should leapfrog over Boise State and maybe even Oklahoma State in the BCS rankings.
I’m taking STANFORD -7.5 to win this one.
I’ll be back Monday with a look at What We Learned About College Football – Week 9 Review!