This Saturday, two of the only six remaining undefeated members of the latest AP Top Ten will square off against a ranked opponent. Of the other four such programs, only one, (1) Alabama, won’t face a foe with a winning record (the Tide host 2-5 Arkansas).
It makes Week 9, especially with the release of the first CFP rankings due out in just two short weeks, another key lap in the race to a national championship.
Things kick off on Thursday night with a single contest between (16) SMU and Houston at 7:30pm EST on ESPN. The only other pre-weekend action comes Friday night, USC at Colorado at 9pm EST on ESPN2.
On Saturday, the blockbuster ranked vs. ranked matchups are spread out, giving you a three-course meal to digest at your leisure. The appetizer is (13) Wisconsin at (3) Ohio State at Noon EST on FOX. That pairs well with (5) Oklahoma at Kansas State at the same time on ABC. The sleeper early is (21) App State (home to the No. 8 rusher in the FBS, junior Darrynton Evans) at South Alabama (home to the No. 109 rushing D) on ESPNU.
The main course will be served promptly at 3:30pm EST when (9) Auburn visits (2) LSU on CBS. Set your remote to (6) Penn State at Michigan State (ABC) and (15) Texas at TCU (FOX) as alternatives.
Dessert, served under the lights, comes at 7:30pm when (8) Notre Dame calls on (19) Michigan on ABC. Other options in the same time slot include Boston College at (4) Clemson (ACC Network) and (24) Arizona State at UCLA (Pac-12 Network). Also keep an eye on Arkansas at (1) Alabama, which airs 30 minutes earlier – at 7pm EST – over on ESPN.
If you’re up late, the fourth meal comes at either 10pm EST – Cal at (12) Utah on FS1 or 10:30pm EST – Washington State at (11) Oregon on ESPN.
RANKED vs. RANKED (3)
- (13) Wisconsin at (3) Ohio State – Saturday, Noon EST, FOX
- (9) Auburn at (2) LSU – Saturday, 3:30pm EST, CBS
- (8) Notre Dame at (19) Michigan – Saturday, 7:30pm EST, ABC
OFF THIS WEEK (20)
- American: (18) Cincinnati
- ACC: Georgia Tech, NC State, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
- Big 12: (14) Baylor, West Virginia
- C-USA: UAB, UTSA
- Independents: BYU
- Mountain West: (22) Boise State
- Pac-12: Oregon State, Washington
- SEC: (7) Florida, (10) Georgia, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt
- Sun Belt: Coastal Carolina, Louisiana, ULM
FIRST-EVER MEETINGS (2)
- Liberty at Rutgers
- North Texas at Charlotte
7: New Mexico has won 7-straight over Hawaii (last loss in 1991)
7: (5) Oklahoma has won 7-straight AT Kansas State (last loss there in 1996)
8: (4) Clemson has won 8-straight over Boston College (last loss in 2010)
9: (2) LSU has won 9-straight home games over (9) Auburn (last loss there in 1999)
9: Toledo has won 9-straight home games over Eastern Michigan (last loss there in 1999)
11: (1) Alabama has won 11-straight over Arkansas (last loss in 2006)
12: Texas Tech has won 12-straight over Kansas (last loss in 2001)
- Colorado has NEVER beaten USC (0-13)
- East Carolina has NEVER beaten South Florida at home (0-4)
- Kansas has NEVER beaten Texas Tech at home (0-10)
- Syracuse has NEVER won AT Florida State (0-5)
- Texas State has NEVER won AT Arkansas State (0-3)
- Virginia has NEVER won AT Louisville (0-3)
(16) SMU at Houston (Thursday, 7:30pm EST, ESPN)
SMU is 7-0 for the first time since 1982, powered by an offense that’s currently ranked No. 5 in scoring, No. 30 in rushing and No. 12 in passing. It’s a strength that may look like a superpower on Thursday night against a Houston D ranked No. 93 in scoring, No. 80 vs. the run and No. 124 vs. the pass. Only six teams in the FBS have allowed more passing yards than have the Cougars this season. Players to watch include junior SMU QB Shane Buechele (#7), No. 7 in the nation in passing yards per game (303.1), junior WR Reggie Roberson, Jr. (#8), No. 5 in receiving yards per game (113.6) and senior RB Xavier Jones (#5), No. 4 in rushing TDs (12).
(13) Wisconsin at (3) Ohio State (Saturday, Noon EST, FOX)
Don’t let Wisconsin’s shocking upset loss to Illinois last Saturday steer you away from this potentially epic battle. Tune in to see the Badgers No. 1 ranked rush defense (that’s a national ranking) take on an Ohio State ground game ranked No. 3 in the FBS. Where the Bucks have been averaging 287.14 rushing yards per game, Wisconsin has allowed only 58.43 ground yards per game. On the flip side, it’s Ohio State’s No. 9 ranked rush defense vs. the Badgers’ No. 17 ranked rushing attack. Keep an eye on Ohio State junior RB J.K. Dobbins (#2), No. 4 in the FBS in yards per game (135.29) and junior DE Chase Young (#2), tied for No. 1 in the nation in sacks (9.5) and No. 8 in tackles for a loss (10.5). For Wisconsin, it’s junior RB Jonathan Taylor (#23), No. 3 in the FBS in yards per game (136.71) and senior LBs Chris Orr (#54), tied for No. 4 in the nation in sacks (8) and Zack Baun (#56), tied for No. 7 in both sacks (6.5) and tackles for a loss (11).
San Jose State at Army (Saturday, Noon EST, CBSSN)
San Jose State (ranked No. 124 in the nation in rush defense) might prove the ideal candidate for option-centric Army (currently No. 9 in the nation in rushing yards per game) to snap its three-game losing streak. SJSU took on a similar opponent in Air Force earlier this season and gave up a season-high 382 rushing yards and five rushing TDs in a 41-21 loss. The Black Knights’ leading rushers are senior RB Connor Slomka (#25) and senior QB Kelvin Hopkins, Jr. (#8) with 93 and 91 touches respectively.
Hawaii at New Mexico (Saturday, 4pm EST, Spectrum PPV/MWN)
The biggest statistical mismatch in Week 9, Hawaii comes into this one ranked No. 3 in the nation in passing offense while New Mexico is No. 130 – or dead last – in pass defense. The Rainbow Warriors’ 359 yards per game rank between LSU (385.7) and Alabama (347) while the Lobos are one of only six FBS programs who are giving up 300-plus yards through the air this season. Of their seven appearances thus far, they’ve allowed 400-plus on four occasions. Watch out for Hawaii junior QB Cole McDonald (#13), No. 3 in the FBS in yards per game (326.3) and senior WR Cedric Byrd II (#6), tied for the second most TDs in the nation (9).
HARDWARE UP FOR GRABS
The Cannon – Illinois at Purdue – series started in 1890 – tied at 44-44-6 but Purdue has won three-straight.
One of the three FBS rivalry cannons, the tale of the Big Ten edition of the Cannon stretches back over 100 years ago, to 1905. That’s when Purdue students brought the scaled-down firearm to Illinois with hopes of firing it off after a win. Illini fans found the weapon, hidden near their stadium, and captured it. It was retained by one of the students involved in its confiscation until 1943, when he offered it up to be used as a traveling trophy. The Boilermakers have recaptured the Cannon 36 times vs. Illinois’ 29. The 1956 and 1959 games ended in ties.
The Land Grant Trophy – (6) Penn State at Michigan State – series started in 1914 – Michigan State leads 17-15-1 and has won five of the last six.
The Land Grant dates to 1993, when Penn State joined the Big Ten and renewed its series with Michigan State, who it hadn’t played since 1966. The name honors the fact that both schools (founded just 10 days apart in 1855) were “pioneer land-grant schools in the nation.” The trophy features landmarks from each campus as well as the team’s mascots. Penn State has won 14 Land Grants vs. Michigan State’s nine.
The O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy – Boston College at (4) Clemson – series started in 1940 – Clemson leads 17-9-2 and has won ten of the last 11.
The O’Rourke-McFadden dates to 2008 and honors the two All-American quarterbacks who played in the first-ever clash between the two schools in the 1940 Cotton Bowl. Clemson’s “Banks” McFadden led his Tigers to a 6-3 win over Boston College’s “Chuckin’” Charlie O’Rourke. The loss was the last-ever in O’Rourke’s collegiate career, the next season he led BC to an 11-0 record and a national championship, the only in school history. The Eagles have only won the trophy once, in 2010.
The Victory Bell – Duke at North Carolina – series started in 1888 – North Carolina leads 59-41-4 but Duke has won the last three.
One of eight bells awarded in FBS rivalries, the Victory Bell has been a part of the North Carolina-Duke series since 1948, established by a cheerleader from each school to “foster friendly relations and eliminate vandalism between the two neighboring schools.” The Tar Heels have rung the Bell 45 times vs. the Blue Devils’ 25.
In 2016, the cart which holds the Bell was permanently painted to honor both schools. This negated the long-standing tradition of the winning team painting the cart their unique shade of blue. The change was made, presumably, to maintain those “friendly relations.” In 2014, when the Tar Heels took the cart back from the Devils after a 45-20 win in Durham, UNC players not only painted the cart Carolina blue, they slathered it all over the visitor’s locker room at Wallace Wade as well as Duke’s practice field.
When Miami Fla. takes the field at Pitt this Saturday it will mark the first time it’s played an away game in 42 days. That’s right – the Hurricanes haven’t ventured from their home field since a Sept. 7th roadie at North Carolina.
The run started with a Week 3 visit from FCS Bethune-Cookman (a 63-0 shutout) followed by a Week 4 home game vs. Central Michigan (a 17-12 win). Miami took Week 5 off and then hosted both ACC programs from Virginia in Weeks 6 and 7 – losing to the Hokies 42-35 on Oct. 5 and downing the No. 20 Cavaliers 17-9 on Friday, Oct. 11. Last Saturday they hosted Georgia Tech (a 28-21 loss).
They’ll hit the road again in Week 10 but will stay in-state by visiting Florida State. After that, they’re back at home in Week 11 with a visit from Louisville followed by another off week. That leaves the final two games of the season – an “away” game on Saturday, Nov. 23 vs. Florida International at Marlins Park in Miami and a true road game in the finale at Duke on Nov. 30.
Given that Miami kicked off its season vs. (7) Florida in Orlando, by the time the season ends it will have played nine of its 12 regular-season games (or 75%) in the state of Florida. The only “other” states the Hurricanes will have visited in 2019 are North Carolina (twice) and Pennsylvania (once).