2018 NCAAF Week 9 Weekend Preview

October 27, 2018
By K. Becks

Another long week has me finishing up this post on Saturday morning. When will it end?

Oh, right – about 35 years from now.

Last weekend I picked with my head instead of my heart and it ended up biting me in the ass. Ryan taking Washington State in the primetime matchup resulted in the guests re-taking the lead in the head-to-head pick ‘em game. The overall standings now look like this:

K. Becks – 26-14

Guests – 27-13

This week my buddy Phil will look to keep the good times going for the guests. Phil should really write his own blog – the dude is knee deep in sports just about daily and already has himself a pretty decent social media following.

The point is, this week is a tough matchup.

Before we get to the games, here are my Three Thoughts from last weekend.

  1. It’s time for Urban Meyer to loosen the reigns. The Ohio State offense, quite frankly, was a lot better when Urban wasn’t around at the beginning of the season. Ryan Day has all the makings of a future head coach and Urban risks driving him away early with stunts like the one he pulled last weekend, clearly taking control of the offense against Ohio State and paying for it dearly. Let Day do his job – he’s pretty decent at it and understands how to utilize Haskins effectively.
  2. The Pac-12 isn’t that bad, but has completely cannibalized itself to the point that no one will care about any games starting after 10 PM ET for the rest of the season. But ignore this point when inevitably I write about Pac-12 games anyway.
  3. I’ve changed my mind about the SEC being positioned to get two teams into the CFP. That’s incorrect. The real positioning is assuring that four power conferences are in position to capitalize if Notre Dame or Clemson stumbles.

Now let’s take a look at the Saturday slate.

5 Games to Watch This Weekend

#9 Florida vs. #7 Georgia [game in Jacksonville, FL] (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Despite the amount of history that this rivalry contains, its importance on a national scale has been somewhat diluted in recent years. The last time both teams were ranked heading into this matchup was 2012, and it’s been 10 years since both were ranked in the Top 10. But “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail” is a real heavy hitter in 2018 as both teams are still well within the thick of the SEC East race and CFP conversation.

Neither of these two teams will want to divulge much from the running game if its working, meaning that clock management and third down conversion rate will be paramount in deciding it. The Bulldogs are converting on third down at a slightly higher rate this season (45.6 percent compared to Florida’s 41.3) and I trust Jake Fromm more than Felipe Franks to put together a big boy drive when needed. It’ll be worth watching for all four quarters, but the Saban disciple gets the best of the Meyer disciple by a slim margin.

My Pick: 21-17 Georgia

Phil’s Take: Florida’s offense has been bipolar this season. They dropped a 47 burger on Tennessee, then put up 13 in a 13-6 win over Mississippi State. Georgia got blown out by the Fighting Orgerons and have had 2 weeks to prepare.

Georgia 38 Florida 21

#18 Iowa at #17 Penn State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

These two teams may be linemates in the current AP Poll, but it’s clear to anyone following the Big Ten that their seasons are on very different trajectories currently. The Hawkeyes haven’t been challenged since losing a competitive battle to Wisconsin at the end of September, while Penn State has looked quite vulnerable since the Ohio State collapse, completely taking itself out of the Playoff conversation. Iowa’s future seems brighter as well – a win on Saturday afternoon puts Kirk Ferentz’s team is very good position in the Big Ten West, with current leader Northwestern still on the schedule.

Iowa’s defense could be the best in the Big Ten, but at this point it’s difficult to tell considering the competition that the Hawkeyes have faced. Despite Penn State’s poor showing two weeks ago in Happy Valley, the offense should bounce back and provide Iowa with a chance to prove itself. Points will come at a premium in this one and it will look like a classic Big Ten battle (a la three yards and a cloud of dust), a style that Ferentz squads typically excel at. The Hawkeyes have something to play for – Penn State has been playing like it doesn’t.

My Pick: 21-20 Iowa

Phil’s Take: Kirk Ferentz made some kinda deal with the devil. His Hawkeyes are solid, with a balanced offense. Penn State has Michigan next week.

If Iowa was 3-3, they’d have a better chance. No underdog tale here.

Penn St 27 Iowa 20

#12 Kentucky at Missouri (Saturday, 4 PM ET)

The Wildcats have been in this position once already this season and the results were very nearly positive. For the second time this month, Kentucky will go on the road to face an unranked team that is favored to win. Last time this happened, against Texas A&M on October 6, it took overtime for the Aggies to hand Kentucky its first loss of the season. This time around, the stakes are even higher for the Wildcats – a victory ensures that they will stay tied for the SEC East lead with the winner of this weekend’s Florida/Georgia game. After Saturday, Kentucky only has two SEC matchups remaining. A date in the SEC title game is more than a pipe dream now.

Stopping Drew Lock will be priority number one for the Kentucky defense, but it has stepped up and delivered in all previous challenges. The Wildcats haven’t allowed an opponent to throw for more than 230 yards this season and Missouri is 0-3 this season in games which it hasn’t thrown for at least 350 yards. Benny Snell, Jr. will get his yards and the Kentucky offense will finish the job on the road.

My Pick: 31-23 Kentucky

Phil’s Take: Missouri also has an offense that can fly. Kentucky’s Benny Snell has been nothing short of amazing this season. Seriously, who saw Kentucky being relevant? O/U set at 54.5.

Mizzou 28 Kentucky 24

#14 Washington State at #24 Stanford (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

I have to hand it to The Pirate – I doubted him on home soil last weekend and the Cougars made me pay in the pick ‘em game. But Washington State must follow up its impressive performance against Oregon with another strong showing against David Shaw’s Cardinal. While Stanford hasn’t been quite the beacon of consistency that we have seen in the past, this is just the type of game Shaw and his bunch can use to pop back into the national conversation, if only for a day or so.

The Cougars absolutely obliterated Oregon’s porous pass defense last weekend, not surprising to anyone except me, apparently. You can fool me once, Pac-12, but I’m a quick learner. Stanford is just as bad at stopping the pass as Oregon and we already saw what the Ducks were able to do to the Cardinal earlier this season. Not only will Washington State put up a bunch of points – they’ll also hold Stanford to under 30.

My Pick: 45-27 Washington State

Phil’s Take: I’m here for Mike Leach v. David Shaw. One could write your dissertation and the other could write a children’s novel about pirates.

Stanford -3, eh?

Stanford 31 Wazzou 28

#6 Texas at Oklahoma State (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

The Longhorns are right where they want to be with just one weekend to play before the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season, knocking on the door of the Top 5 after suffering an early season setback to Maryland. Texas has a difficult matchup this weekend in Stillwater, however, that could see things going South in a hurry. The pressure is on and Tom Herman will find out what his team is truly made of in primetime on Saturday night.

Strengths will collide when Justice Hill and the Oklahoma State running game try to find room against a Texas front that has been tough this season. Hill’s impact has waned in the previous two games, but expect a bounce back this week despite Texas’s ability to bottle up good backs. The Longhorns will need to score a lot of points to survive this one, but the Cowboys have solid film from their in-state brethren that will come in handy here.

My Pick: 42-38 Oklahoma State

Phil’s Take: Everyone wants to believe in Texas. They’re back, baby!

This is the Big 12. Anything is possible. Ehlinger is coming off a shoulder injury and OK State has had a disappointing enough season by “The Man” Mike Gundy’s standards.

Oklahoma St 45 Texas 38

5 Games to Flip To

#2 Clemson at Florida State (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

As bad as the Seminoles have looked at times this year, could they be the team that trips up Clemson on its ACC slate? The baby steps have been small but clear for Florida State, so ATC thinks it’s possible.

Phil’s Take: Florida State is obviously having a dismal season by their standards. Clemson just throttled an undefeated NC State team last week. Trevor Lawrence has phenomenal hair.

Clemson 43 Florida State 21

#21 South Florida at Houston (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The best game outside of the Power 5 this weekend takes place in Houston, where South Florida will look to keep its slim New Year’s Six bowl hopes alive by stifling the nation’s third ranked offensive attack.

Phil’s Take: Charlie Strong is playing chess while these other clowns play checkers.

USF 52 Houston 44

#16 Texas A&M at Mississippi State (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

Do-it-all quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has been all over the board against the SEC West this season, but will need to air it out to have success against the Aggies, which surprisingly boast the conference’s best run defense.

Phil’s Take: Jimbo Fisher is eventually gonna do great things for this program. I find it wild Mississippi State is favored here. Prepare for the defense, Trayveon.

Texas A&M 19 Mississippi St 10

#22 North Carolina State at Syracuse (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

Expect the Wolfpack to rebound offensively against the Orange after a poor showing against Clemson last week, creating an exciting matchup that will produce a lot of points at the Carrier Dome.

Phil’s Take: NC State is gonna be madder than Brian Kelly at his players, administration, assistants, wife, dog, children, car, anything other than himself after a loss.

NC State 42 Syracuse 24

Hawaii at Fresno State (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET)

Two of the better teams in the Mountain West could keep you from having to watch Pac-12 mediocrity. Or you could drown it all out at a Halloween party, instead. The choice is yours.

In the past, I’ve asked readers to let me know if they’d like to be guests on Around The Corn to make weekly college football picks. And while that invite still stands (email kbecks@aroundthecorn.com or message me on Facebook or Twitter if interested), the truth is that I’m basically asking friends and family on a weekly basis. Writing is a passion of mine, as is commenting on sports. But sharing those two passions with others are what has always made this worthwhile. So tell me what you think of the site and let me know what could be done better, or what would make you come back without prompting. I’d really appreciate it.

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