With 36 teams taking a bye week – a full 27 percent of the field – Week 9 of the 2022 college football schedule offers up the fewest total number of games this season. Combined with the just three ranked vs. ranked matchups on offer (down from the six we enjoyed in Week 7 and the five we saw last week), it might seem to lack the firepower of its predecessors.
But assuming that, and taking the week off, would be a critical error.
Week 9 is the final set of games before the first College Football Playoff rankings are released next Tuesday, Nov. 1. It makes this weekend the last opportunity for programs to bedazzle the committee before it takes its first vote establishing each contender’s poll position.
Though the first eight weeks certainly mattered, the championship conversation begins now.
According to our friends in Vegas, the Top Ten teams most at risk of losing their seat at the big kids table are No. 9 (a 1.5-point underdog this week), No. 10 (only a 3.5-point favorite), and No. 7 (only a 7.5-point favorite).
The remainder of the top echelon who are participating (No. 5 and No. 6 are off this week) are all favored by 12-plus points.
Here’s Week 9’s edition of your mental checklist:
(1). For the first time since Week 5, there is no college football action on Wednesday night.
(2). Thursday night serves up three games with a ranked team participating in each of the two time slots. Tune in to both ESPN and ESPN2 at 7:30pm ET and then flip over to FS1 at 10pm ET.
(3). Friday night offers two matchups both airing at 8pm ET on ESPN2 and CBSSN respectively.
(4). The three ranked vs. ranked matchups are spread evenly across Saturday – No. 2 visits No. 13 at Noon ET on FOX, No. 9 is at No. 22 at 3:30pm ET also on FOX, and No. 19 is at No. 3 at 7pm ET on ESPN.
(5). If you’re looking for one timeslot to commit to, Primetime offers the best lineup from top to bottom. Don’t sleep on (10) USC at Arizona at 7pm ET on the Pac-12 channel, Michigan State at (4) Michigan at 7:30pm ET on ABC and (15) Ole Miss at Texas A&M at the same time on the SEC Network.
Thursday, Oct. 27
7:30pm ET – ESPN – Virginia Tech at (24) NC State
7:30pm ET – ESPN2 – Louisiana at Southern Miss
Southern Miss is home to senior DL Dominic Quewon (#7), with seven sacks he’s tied for the third-most in the country. Quewon has scored at least one sack in six of his seven appearances this year.
10pm ET – FS1 – (14) Utah at Washington State
This late-night pairing features Utah sophomore CB Clark Phillips III (#1) – tied for the most interceptions in the FBS with five – taking on Washington State sophomore QB Cameron Ward (#1) who has thrown eight picks thus far, tying him for the fourth-most in the nation.
Friday, Oct. 28
8pm ET – ESPN2 – East Carolina at BYU
Tune in to this one to watch the No. 9 passer in college football – ECU senior QB Holton Ahlers (#12) – take on a BYU defense that gave up an average of 176 passing yards to its first five opponents only to cough up 292 to its last three, all losses. And keep in mind that the Cougars’ downfall didn’t come against the Murder’s Row of passing – Notre Dame (No. 101 in passing yards per game), Arkansas (No. 61), and Liberty (No. 82). East Carolina is currently ranked No. 16 nationally in pass offense, averaging 309 yards per game.
8pm ET – CBSSN – Louisiana Tech at Florida International
Saturday, Oct. 29
Noon ET – FOX – (2) Ohio State at (13) Penn State
Penn State’s defense is currently ranked No. 20 in the FBS in scoring – allowing 18.9 points per game – making its matchup with Ohio State’s offense – ranked No. 2 in scoring, averaging 49.6 – look like a battle of epic proportions. But a deeper dive into the numbers raises concerns. Where the Nittany Lions held five of its seven opponents to 12 points per game, it allowed 36 to the other two. It’s no coincidence that the “other” guys were Purdue (ranked No. 43 in the FBS in scoring) and (4) Michigan (ranked No. 6), also the two best offenses they’ve faced this year. Penn State edged the Boilermakers 35-31 – its’ nearest miss of the season – and got hammered 41-17 by the Wolverines, its sole loss. Cue up Ohio State’s prolific offense – a balanced No. 21 nationally in rushing offense and No. 15 in passing – and this one could get out of hand.
Noon ET – ESPN – (7) TCU at West Virginia
The common denominator in West Virginia’s four losses is offensive rushing yards. Where the Mountaineers rushed for an average of 250 yards in their three wins, that number plummeted to 119 in the defeats. TCU is holding opponents to an average of 138 rushing yards per game, and while that earns it a middle-of-the-road No. 58 rank nationally, the Horned Frogs have yet to allow an opponent more than 190 ground yards this season. If WVU can eclipse the 200 rushing-yard plateau and avoid turnovers, it could take down the only undefeated team remaining in the Big 12.
Noon ET – ABC – Notre Dame at (16) Syracuse
Noon ET – SEC Network – Arkansas at Auburn
Tune in to this one to see the SEC’s second-best rushing attack take on the league’s most generous rush D. In one corner it’s an Arkansas ground game ranked a lofty No. 9 in the FBS in rushing yards per game and in the other it’s a Tiger D ranked a dismal No. 119 vs. the run. Keep an eye on Razorback sophomore RB Raheim Sanders (#5), the No. 8 back in the country.
Noon ET – FS1 – Oklahoma at Iowa State
Noon ET – ESPNU – Toledo at Eastern Michigan
3:30pm ET – FOX – (9) Oklahoma State at (22) Kansas State
After holding its first five opponents to an average of 119 rushing yards per game, Oklahoma State’s defense allowed 224 in its loss at (7) TCU (No. 12 in the FBS in rushing offense, averaging 227) and 204 in its win vs. Texas (the No. 42 group, averaging 183). This week it’s a K-State ground attack ranked No. 11 in the nation/No. 1 in the Big 12, averaging 232 yards per game. It’s the next big test for a Cowboys’ D in its second appearance without starting DT senior Brendon Evers, who after an injury has opted to skip the remainder of the season to prepare for the NFL draft.
3:30pm ET – CBS – Florida vs. (1) Georgia – at Jacksonville, Fla.
The common thread in Florida’s three losses this season is an inability to successfully run the ball. The Gators are averaging 213 rushing yards per game – earning them a No. 16 mark nationally – and have lost each time they failed to exceed that number. They rushed for 136 in the defeat at (19) Kentucky, 141 at (3) Tennessee, and 210 vs. (18) LSU. It’s no coincidence that the Volunteers (No. 8 vs. the run) and the Wildcats (No. 20 vs. the run) are also the two best defenses Florida has faced thus far. Enter stage left Georgia, No. 4 in the nation vs. the run, giving up only 83 rushing yards per game, and the struggle could continue to be real.
3:30pm ET – ABC – (17) Illinois at Nebraska
After a bye last week, 6-1 Illinois is off to Lincoln to try and secure its seventh win, something it hasn’t done since 2011 when it finished 7-6 in Ron Zook’s final season at the helm. Among the key matchups are Illini junior RB Chase Brown (#2) – the No. 2 rusher in America – taking on a Nebraska D ranked No. 119 nationally/dead last in the Big Ten vs. the run. Flip the script and it’s Nebraska’s respectable offense – scoring 29.7 points per game (No. 66 in the FBS) – vs. an Illinois defense ranked No. 1 – in the world – in scoring. Guys…the Illini are allowing 8.9 points per game. Disclaimer: Illinois hasn’t played a ranked opponent yet this season and has only played two teams that currently have winning records (Wyoming and Minnesota).
3:30pm ET – ESPN – (20) Cincinnati at UCF
This is a great matchup between UCF’s elite rushing attack – ranked No. 6 in the FBS – and Cincinnati’s quality defense, ranked No. 27 vs. the run. From a bigger picture, it’s the No. 6 ranked offense in yards per game squaring off with the No. 17 ranked total defense. It’s also a glimpse into the new Big 12. Keep an eye on Bearcat senior LB Ivan Pace Jr. (#0), No. 1 in the FBS in sacks (eight) and tackles for a loss (15.5).
3:30pm ET – FS1 – (8) Oregon at Cal
As 17.5-point underdogs, 3-4 Cal doesn’t look like much of a threat to a 6-1 Oregon club that’s fresh from pounding (12) UCLA. But did you know that the Golden Bears’ defense is quietly ranked No. 4 in the Pac-12 in scoring (No. 43 nationally) and No. 3 vs. the run (No. 25)? Where the Ducks are averaging 42.4 points per game, Cal is limiting opponents to 22.6. But wait! There’s more! Cal is the third best defense Oregon has faced this season.
3:30pm ET – ACC Network – (10) Wake Forest at Louisville
3:30pm ET – ESPN+ – SMU at Tulsa
Where SMU is ranked a not-so-shocking No. 8 in the FBS/No. 1 in the AAC in passing yards per game, Tulsa’s defense is quietly ranked No. 7 in the country/No. 1 in the conference against the pass. And where the Mustangs’ resume includes a 372 passing-yard performance vs. a (7) TCU D allowing 260, the Golden Hurricanes held an Ole Miss air attack averaging 238 to a mere 154. Which unit is more elite? Bonus coverage: SMU is one of only 15 defenses giving up 200-plus rushing yards per game and Tulsa senior RB Deneric Prince (#8) is fresh off blasting Temple for 231 yards.
3:30pm ET – Stadium – North Texas at Western Kentucky
This week’s official Yardage Alert! – it’s WKU’s aerial extravaganza – averaging 317 yards per game (No. 11 in the FBS) – taking on a North Texas D ranked No. 123 vs. the pass. Only eight teams in the entire nation have been more generous. Where the Hilltoppers have eclipsed the 400 passing-yard mark twice this season, the Mean Green have given up 400-plus on two occasions. #DreamDate
4pm ET – SEC Network – Missouri at (25) South Carolina
7pm ET – ESPN – (19) Kentucky at (3) Tennessee
After hanging up 385 passing yards on an (6) Alabama defense giving up, on average, 202 (No. 34 in the nation), this week Tennessee’s air raid offense (currently No. 2 in the FBS in passing yards per game) draws Kentucky, ranked No. 14 nationally vs. the pass. Before this the Wildcat D has only faced one offense ranked in the top half of the FBS in passing – Mississippi State, which currently sits at No. 10. How did it go? The Kentuckians limited a Bulldog attack averaging 322 yards to only 203. This is way more than a battle between the “other” programs from the SEC East.
7pm ET – Pac-12 Network – (10) USC at Arizona
USC’s defense had allowed an average of 199 yards passing to its first six opponents only to get blown up at Utah for 424 air yards. For a Ute offense averaging 280 yards per game (No. 31 in the FBS) it wasn’t only a season-high performance, it was the first time it had eclipsed the 400-yard plateau since Oct. 23, 2010, when it hung up 427 yards on Colorado State in a 59-6 rout. This week the Trojans visit Arizona which at 3-4 may not look like much of a threat. But did you know that the Wildcats are ranked No. 5 – in America – in passing offense? Averaging 334 yards per game, they’re ranked ahead of SMU (No. 8) and Mississippi State (No. 10). Keep an eye on Arizona sophomore QB Jayden de Laura (#7), a transfer from Washington State and the No. 4 passer in the FBS.
7pm ET – NFL Network – Coastal Carolina at Marshall
7pm ET – CBSSN – UAB at Florida Atlantic
This one features the No. 1 back in the country – UAB junior RB DeWayne McBride (#22) – taking on a FAU defense ranked No. 96 nationally vs. the run. McBride is averaging 163 yards per game and rushed for 175-plus in three of his six appearances this season.
7:30pm ET – ABC – Michigan State at (4) Michigan
On paper Michigan State looks like an unlikely candidate to upset a Michigan team that has, with only a few exceptions, looked invincible. One ray of hope for Spartans’ fans is a rush D that’s performed reasonably well against the best two ground attacks it’s faced – containing a Minnesota rushing offense averaging 219 yards per game (No. 15 in the FBS) to 240 and an (2) Ohio State unit averaging 205 (No. 21) to 237. The Wolverines’ offense is somewhat imbalanced, ranked a lofty No. 7 in rushing vs. a No. 73 rank in passing. What may eventually catch up with Michigan is its own D – while its ranked No. 3 in the nation in scoring, it’s yet to be severely tested. The best offense the Wolverines have played is Maryland – ranked No. 35 in scoring – giving up 27 points to the Terps in a 34-27 win, also the most points allowed and the smallest margin of victory this season. Five of the other six opponents Michigan has played are ranked at No. 96 or worse in scoring offense with four of these ranked at No. 120 or lower.
7:30pm ET – SEC Network – (15) Ole Miss at Texas A&M
Although Texas A&M’s defense has earned good marks in scoring (No. 25 in the FBS/No. 4 in the SEC) and against the pass (No. 12/No. 2), it has struggled vs. the run, currently ranked No. 102 overall and No. 12 in the SEC. It sets up for a potential mismatch against a high-scoring Ole Miss offense that’s been more successful on the ground than through the air. The Rebels are ranked No. 16 in the FBS in scoring, No. 3 in rushing, and No. 69 in passing. Only one opponent has held them to fewer than 140 rushing yards, (18) LSU who allowed a mere 117 ground yards in a lopsided 45-20 decision. Ole Miss’s ability to run the ball, and the Aggies ability to shut it down, may decide which one of these clubs gets a much-needed rebound win.
7:30pm ET – ESPN2 – Baylor at Texas Tech
8pm ET – ACC Network – Pitt at (21) North Carolina
Is it just me or is 6-1 North Carolina the most under-the-radar member of the latest Top 25? While the Tar Heels only misstep was a respectable 45-32 loss to 4-3 Notre Dame in Week 5, the only wins over teams above .500 were the 63-61 victory vs. 4-3 Appalachian State and the 38-35 decision over 5-3 Duke. And while UNC has torn it up through the air – No. 9 in the FBS/No. 1 in the ACC in passing offense – it’s struggled, epically, defensively – No. 113 in the FBS/dead last in the ACC in scoring D. It’s the same unit that is fresh from coughing up a season-high 297 rushing yards and four touchdowns in its win over the Blue Devils last Saturday. And the same guys who will face the No. 4 back in college football this week, Pitt junior RB Israel Abanikanda (#2), who is tied with (4) Michigan’s Blake Corum and Air Force’s Brad Roberts for the most rushing TDs in the country (13).
10:30pm ET – ESPN – Stanford at (12) UCLA
After opening the season with a big win over FCS Colgate, Stanford dropped four-straight (all to Pac-12 opponents, two of which are currently in the Top Ten) before rebounding with back-to-back wins at Notre Dame and vs. Arizona State. The two victories coincided with the Cardinal defenses’ best performances vs. the run – holding an Irish attack averaging 178 to 150 and a Sun Devil unit averaging 135 to 128. This week it’s UCLA, the No. 19 ranked rushing offense in the FBS headlined by the No. 7 back in the country in senior RB Zach Charbonnet (#24). The only other elite ground game Stanford has faced this season was Oregon, averaging 245 yards per game (No. 5 in the FBS). How did it go? Well, the Ducks rushed for a season-high 351 yards in a 45-27 romp.
10:30pm ET – FS1– San Diego State at Fresno State
OFF THIS WEEK (36)
- American: Memphis, (23) Tulane
- ACC: (5) Clemson, Duke
- Big Ten: Indiana, Maryland, Purdue, Wisconsin
- Big 12: Kansas, Texas
- C-USA: UTSA
- Independents: Army, Liberty
- MAC: Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Kent State, Northern Illinois, Ohio, Western Michigan
- Mountain West: Air Force, New Mexico, UNLV, Utah State
- Pac-12: Oregon State, Washington
- SEC: (6) Alabama, (18) LSU, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt
- Sun Belt: Georgia Southern, James Madison, Texas State, Troy, ULM
FIRST-EVER MEETINGS (1)
- Coastal Carolina at Marshall
9: Southern Miss has won 9-straight over Louisiana (last loss in 1993)
9: (10) USC has won 9-straight over Arizona (last loss in 2012)
11: Texas Tech has won 11-straight home games over Baylor (last loss there in 1990)
- Colorado State has NEVER beaten Boise State (0-11)
- FIU has NEVER beaten Louisiana Tech (0-4)
- Georgia State has NEVER beaten Old Dominion (0-3)
- Pitt has NEVER won AT (21) North Carolina (0-6)
- Rutgers has NEVER beaten Minnesota (0-2)
- UConn has NEVER beaten Boston College (0-12-2)
HARDWARE UP FOR GRABS
THE OIL CAN – San Diego State at Fresno State – Saturday, 10:30pm ET, FS1 – series started in 1923 – San Diego State leads 30-26-4 but Fresno State has won three of the last four.
One of two FBS “can” trophies (the other being the Milk Can, which Fresno State battles Boise State for) the “Battle for the Old Oil Can” debuted in 2011 after a contest aimed at naming the rivalry and establishing a traveling trophy. The repurposed antique celebrates “the discovery of an old oil can from Fresno (circa 1935) that was supposedly recovered during a San Diego State campus building project.” The Bulldogs have had the can in their garage six times vs. the Aztecs’ four.
THE OKEFENOKEE OAR – Florida vs. (1) Georgia (at Jacksonville, Fla.) – Saturday, 3:30pm ET, CBS – series started in 1915 – Georgia leads 53-44-2 and has won four of the last five.
Established in 2009 by both schools’ student governments, the prize awarded to the victor of the “War for the Oar” and/or the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” is the Okefenokee Oar, a 10-foot long oar carved from a 1,000-year old cypress tree from the Okefenokee Swamp. Covering nearly 700-square miles, the swamp straddles the Florida-Georgia state line. The Bulldogs have paddled home with the Oar seven times vs. the Gators’ six.
THE PANIOLO TROPHY – Wyoming at Hawaii – Saturday, 11:59pm ET, Spectrum PPV – series started in 1978 – Wyoming leads 15-11 but the two have split the last six.
“Paniolo” is the Hawaiian word for cowboy, The Paniolo Trophy originated in 1979 when both schools were WAC members. It was awarded consecutively until 1997 when Wyoming left for the Mountain West. After that, the original trophy went missing and was replaced in 2013 when the schools reunited after Hawaii joined the MWC. The current version of the prize features Hawaiian cowboy Ikua Purdy roping a bull. Purdy, who won the steer-roping competition at the Frontier Days Rodeo in 1908, became the first Hawaiian to be inducted into the National Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1999.
THE PAUL BUNYAN – GOVERNOR OF MICHIGAN TROPHY – Michigan State at (4) Michigan – Saturday, 7:30pm ET, ABC – series started in 1898 – Michigan leads 71-38-5 but Michigan State has won two-straight.
First presented in 1953, the Paul Bunyan was donated by then Michigan governor Gerhard Mennen Williams to commemorate Michigan State’s inaugural season in the Big Ten. The trophy is a whopping nine-feet tall, featuring Bunyan standing with one foot on each side of the state, each school’s flag claiming its half. The Wolverines have earned 38 Bunyan’s vs. the Spartans’ 29. The 1958 and 1963 games both ended in ties.
Week 9 marks James Madison’s first bye as an FBS program. To celebrate JMU’s inaugural big-league break, here’s a list of institutions that also field a college football team and are named to honor a former U.S. President.
NCAA Division I – FBS
James Madison University Dukes – Sun Belt – Harrisonburg, Virginia
Washington State University Cougars – Pac-12 – Pullman, Washington
University of Louisiana Monroe Warhawks – Sun Belt – Monroe, Louisiana
University of Washington Huskies – Pac- 12 – Seattle, Washington
NCAA Division II
Lincoln University Blue Tigers – MIAA – Jefferson City, Missouri
Lincoln University Lions – CIAA – Oxford, Pennsylvania
Franklin Pierce University Ravens – Northeast 10 – Rindge, New Hampshire
Truman State University Bulldogs – Great Lakes Valley – Kirksville, Missouri
NCAA Division III
Washington & Jefferson College Presidents – PAC – Washington, Pennsylvania
Washington and Lee University Generals – ODAC – Lexington, Virginia
Washington University in St. Louis Bears – CCIW – St. Louis, Missouri
NJCAA Division I
Monroe College Mustangs – Northeast – New York City, New York
Roosevelt University Lakers – Chicago, Illinois – moving to NCAA Division II in 2023
Historical data courtesy of Sports Reference-College Football. Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com. Odds courtesy of Oddshark.com.
Uconn has a better record than BC this year…..
IF U.Conn can beat Boston C. by even 1 Point it will be 1 Step in the Direction they haven’t been going in since the slicing up of the Big East by B1G, Atlantic Coast & b12 in 2013.
Look @ their past Record on this very Website. Looking @ their last Years in the Big East, they were winning 3 Games, 4 Games, 5 Games a Season. When they were relegated to Obscurity in the American their winning dropped to 3 Games, 2 Games, 0 Games. Their Program hasn’t done better in the last 2 Seasons as Independent. Wuhan China Virus 2020 Cancelled, 2021 1 Win.
BC Eagles have their Trust Five Conference Prestige, Contracts with guaranteed $$$$$ in Sponsorship & broadcast coverage $$$$$$$, accumulated Facilities, Access to /Associated Brand with Clemson U., U. Notre Dame, contiguous State geographic & cultural Connection between MA, NY, PA & 2 out of 3 of the most prestigious Football Schools in FL. They have rebounded much faster than U. Conn has in their short Term, Medium Term, competitive football Trajectory.
No need for the history lesson I’m from CT and was season ticket holder for years.
Most people that follow the program are already happy they are just winning games. Already at 3 wins and still have Umass. If they get 4 wins this year it would be a very successful season.
Saturday Night 09:17 P.M. Pacific Time.
I’m very Happy 4 U & U. Connecticut Huskies Fans. 13 – 3 Win over BC Eagles.
Sparks of Hope in 2022.
You won’t have 2 endure the Sports Media Industrial Complex ROT repetition of “UConn has never beaten BC. 0-12-2”
The Streak is over.
2022 1 – 0 VS BC. Bragging rights for 2022 – 2023.
Do You play each other in 2023?
Do you get to bask in this Win 4 multiple Years?
They play again next year so we’ll see.
It should be a game that is on the schedule every year.
Always enjoy reading this column every week, Thanks.
Paul Bunyan Trophy isn’t 9 feet though: maybe that’s Paul Bunyan’s Axe?