Weekly College Football Games Menu - Week Nine
As the second half of the college football season kicks off, our daily menu will take a closer look at playoff potential. The Playoff Selection Committee will release their first set of rankings on October 28th, after the conclusion of the Week Nine games. While the AP and Coaches polls have been tracking teams since preseason, only the chosen group of ordained football elders have a say in who makes the four team playoff, and so these new rankings are the only ones that actually matter. Let’s take a look at how some of these teams will hope to impress heading into the first true week of rankings.
The Oregon Ducks may have lost a game already this season, but they are by no means out of the playoff picture. With only three undefeated teams from major conferences remaining and two of them facing off later in the season, at least two teams with a loss on their record are guaranteed a chance to hoist the new Playoff Trophy. The Ducks are hoping a win on the road against Cal’s explosive offense will show the Playoff Committee their defense is up to championship caliber.
While BYU’s playoff hopes have all but ended not only with the loss of their starting quarterback, but also two consecutive losses on the season, the Cougars hope to rebound on Thursday night at Boise State. The Broncos were able to hold off Fresno last Thursday in their annual rivalry game and should prove a solid test in what may be the toughest matchup remaining on either team’s schedule.
Kansas State made a statement in Week Eight with their one point victory over Oklahoma, and must avoid a potential trap game as they host Texas before facing the meat of their Big 12 schedule. The Longhorns have been unable to beat out a ranked team yet this season, but sleeping on them would be a potential playoff pitfall as the Wildcats must run the table from here on out.
A week after knocking off the Ducks, Arizona fell 28-26 to USC. They’ve had a bye week to recover and are no doubt focused on the fact that going undefeated the remainder of the season should still allow them to make the playoff. In Week Nine they hit the road to face a dangerous Washington State offense, ranked number one in the country in passing offense and averaging 490 yards per game. Add in the nearly 600 yards of total offense for the Wildcats per game and this could be a high scoring affair.
While Alabama was perhaps the most successful team of the BCS period, they have not looked overly impressive in the new playoff era, losing to Ole Miss and barely pulling it out against Arkansas on the road. They bounced back with complete domination over a Texas A&M team in a three game tailspin at home, but must hit the road again to take on Tennessee in Week Nine. If they are looking to impress the committee, they better stay to form against the Volunteers, as anything less than the dominance they showed over the Aggies would be a let down.
One of the surprises of the Pac-12 this season has been Utah, who has recorded wins over UCLA, Michigan and Oregon State, all on the road. A one point loss to Washington State is the only blemish on their record, but they must now face a USC team that has been hot since they upset Arizona 28-26. While the Trojans are focused more on a conference championship than a national one after already suffering two losses, they would still be a major victory for the Utes, who continue to fight for respect despite their impressive record.
The state of Michigan is at war this week as rivals Michigan State and Michigan face each other in their annual matchup. Michigan State has been the pride of the Big 10 this season, with their only loss coming on the road in a close fought contest against Oregon. Their performance in conference, however, hasn’t been overly impressive, as they allowed both Nebraska and Purdue to stay in the game until the fourth quarter. While the Wolverines are having yet another slow season, they bounced back for a win over Penn State in Week Seven and had a bye in Week Eight to prepare for the cross-state rival Spartans. While Michigan owns this rivalry historically, 53-31, the Spartans have won five of the last six, the sole loss in 2012 by a score of 10-12.
Game of the Week
The Week Nine Game of the Week pits third ranked Ole Miss against unranked LSU. While many believe Ole Miss to be highly over ranked in the AP and Coaches polls, all that really matters is what the chosen football gurus of the Playoff Committee think. The Rebels will therefore attempt to wow them prior to the first week of rankings with a road trip to LSU. The Tigers have been hurting in conference play thus far, losing to both Mississippi State and Auburn, but were able to squeak out a victory over Florida in the swamp and Kentucky at home. Both of these defenses have been stellar, so this game is likely to come down to a few key plays.
Pillow Fight of the Week
The Pillow Fight of the Week pairs two teams from the West Division of the Mountain West as Nevada travels to Hawaii. While Nevada has been close to several wins this season, including against BYU in Week Eight, they continue to struggle in all phases of the game and just haven’t gotten over the hump. Hawaii’s offense has had even greater problems than the Wolfpack, but the six hour plus plane fight for opponents means home field advantage gives a major boost to the Warriors. Hawaii picked up both their victories at home this season and played well against Oregon State, losing by only eight. They hope to do well enough at home in Week Nine to pull ahead in the Mountain West race.