Are you excited for Saturday’s great slate of games in college football? Get geared up for the thrilling upcoming action with these predictions for the Top 10 games in Week 9! Be sure to ‘like’ Gridiron Grit on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @GridironGrit to keep up with the latest coverage on college football, the NFL and more!
Michigan State (4-4) at Wisconsin (6-2) – 3:30 p.m. ET
The Spartans have lost three of their last four games to Ohio State (17-16), Iowa (19-16) and Michigan (12-10). The Badgers have won three straight games against Illinois (31-14), Purdue (38-14) and Minnesota (38-13).
Michigan State has not won at Wisconsin since 2001, but a victory this week could help salvage the season for the Spartans. In order to make this happen, the Spartans must make the Badgers try to beat them through the air and slow down Montee Ball. In addition, on offense, the Spartans have to continue to improve in the aerial attack on offense and put the ball in the end zone rather than through the uprights. Mission accomplished in a bare-knuckles brawl in the Big Ten. Prediction: Michigan State 20, Wisconsin 17
No. 12 Ohio State (8-0) at Penn State (5-2) – 5:30 p.m. ET
Sure, neither of these programs possess postseason eligibility. But that may make this marquee matchup increasingly intriguing and intense. This could be the biggest hurdle for the Buckeyes on the way to a potential 12-0 season (although that could easily be Nebraska or Michigan), while Penn State might treat this game as its bowl game.
Look for QB Matt McGloin and company to exploit Ohio State’s lackluster defense, but it won’t be enough in the end to eclipse the Big Ten’s top-ranked team and its explosiveness on offense. Prediction: Ohio State 24, Penn State 21
No. 18 Michigan (5-2) at No. 21 Nebraska (5-2) – 8:00 p.m. ET
This would be hands down the Game of the Week outside of the Top 25 matchups if I were using the BCS standings.
Taylor Martinez and Denard Robinson both can do big things through the air and on the ground, but this game looks to come down to winning the sumo wrestling match in the trenches. Expect a tough test for both of these teams, as the winner here will most likely win the Big Ten Legends division and move onto the conference championship at the end of the season.
In the biggest toss-up of Saturday’s great slate of games, I’ll go with the Wolverines to extend their 4-2 series lead over the ‘Huskers in thrilling fashion. Prediction: Michigan 34, Nebraska 28
No. 16 Texas Tech (6-1) at No. 4 Kansas State (7-0) – 3:30 p.m. ET
Texas Tech has been one of Kansas State’s biggest thorns since the formation of the Big 12, leading the series 5-4 entering Saturday’s showdown. The Red Raiders have improved incredibly on defense from last season, as they lead the Big 12 in total defense in 2012. Analogous to Kansas State, Texas Tech has held five of its first seven opponents to less than 20 points.
While the Wildcats have played better on that side of the ball overall, the total amount of points put up by each of these teams on offense are also comparable—the Wildcats have scored more than 50 points in four games, while the Red Raiders have rolled up over 40 points five times this season.
Look for K-State head coach Bill Snyder, Heisman front-runner Collin Klein and the Big 12 leaders to stay perfect here, but third-year Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville and star senior signal-caller Seth Doege (who passed for a whopping seven scores in last weekend’s thrilling 56-53 win over TCU, which moved his passing TD total to 28 on the season) put up a strong fight for a while in a wild Big 12 battle. Prediction: Kansas State 48, Texas Tech 34
TCU (5-2) at Oklahoma State (4-2) – 3:30 p.m. ET
If you’re in the mood for a high-scoring shootout and a Big 12 battle for four quarters, you’re in luck. TCU is coming off a devastating defeat in triple OT vs. TTU and OKST took the Cyclones of Iowa State for a spin last weekend’s 31-10 win.
The Cowboys lead the series over the Horned Frogs, 11-9-2, but just seven of these meetings have been held since 1950. This marquee matchup is the first for Oklahoma State against TCU, a newcomer to the Big 12, since 1993.
TCU continues to put up points without the services of Casey Pachall, though the team is having trouble closing out contests with consistency. The Cowboys also lost their starting signal-caller in J.D. Walsh (knee) and are turning to either Wes Lunt (likely to start if ready to go; leg) or Clint Chelf. Prediction: TCU 33, Oklahoma State 30
No. 5 Notre Dame (7-0) at No. 8 Oklahoma (5-1) – 8:00 p.m. ET
Since when do the Sooners lose two games at home in a single season? OK, that’s not true, but Boomer Sooner does tend to play better with home-field advantage at hand. The team lost its first contest since last December on Sept. 22 against Kansas State at home, but has since rolled the Red Raiders (41-20) on the road, as well as the Longhorns (63-21) and Jayhawks (52-7) at home.
Notre Dame leads the series between these two teams, 8-1. In addition to the Fighting Irish coming up with the win (34-30) in South Bend in the last get-together, they also ended the Sooners’ 47-game winning streak in the mid-late 1950′s.
Moreover, over a span of 71 contests from 1951 to 1958, Oklahoma only lost three times and each of those three defeats came at the hands of the Fighting Irish. Which of these Top 10 programs will stake their claim and continue the path towards a potential BCS national title?
Notre Dame has the dominant defense it takes to make it to the big stage, as Purdue is the only opponent that has scored more than twice against the Irish this season. Nonetheless, the Wildcats’ 24 points was also the most scored on the Sooners this season. Expect a close contest here, but the Sooners are the slightly superior program and come away with the hard-fought win. Prediction: Oklahoma 17, Notre Dame 13
No. 2 Florida (7-0) at No. 15 Georgia (6-1) – 3:30 p.m. ET
The Gators became first team of the century to have under 200 yards of total offense and score more than 40 points in last week’s 44-11 win over the Gamecocks. Florida faces its third Top 10 team (according to AP rankings) of the season, but this is the first on the road and the Bulldogs are ready to bounce back from their road woes over the past three weeks with an upset at Athens. Look for a close contest, but no cigar for Aaron Murray and company. Prediction: Florida 20, Georgia 14
No. 17 Mississippi State (7-0) at No. 1 Alabama (7-0) – 8:30 p.m. ET
The Bulldogs better bring their big boy pants for this SEC West battle, because the top-ranked Tide has outscored Michigan, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee by 129 points combined. Meanwhile, Mississippi State has outscored its opponents by a combined score of 146-101 against the likes of Tennessee, Troy, South Alabama, Kentucky, Auburn, Middle Tennessee and Jackson State.
It’s no surprise that this team is ranked so high in the BCS standings (No. 11) with its unblemished record through the first seven weeks of the season, but the Bulldogs haven’t faced a team anywhere near the level of Alabama, indicated by the points spread for this game (24 points). ’Bama has beaten the Bulldogs by an average of 23 points in the past four get-togethers and has won eight of the past ten contests between these two teams.
The last three QBs MSU has faced have been held to season-worst performances in passing yardswere held to season-worst performances in passing yards, but stopping the Tide’s ground game and forcing QB AJ McCaron to make mistakes or play a poor game is highly unlikely, especially since he’s at home and has yet to toss an interception this season. Look for the Bulldogs to battle tough for a little while, but the Tide starts to roll in the second half. Prediction: Alabama 38, Mississippi State 17
No. 9 Oregon State (6-0) at Washington (3-4) – 10:15 p.m. ET
There are a couple of concerns for the Beavers here. Oregon State’s game of musical chairs at the quarterback position and how it will affect the rhythm on offense, as well as the Huskies having the home-field advantage coming off a dreadful display against Arizona.
Look for Washington to put together a better showing than recent weeks, but its offensive line is less stable than this random abandoned beaver dam. Prediction: Oregon State 31, Washington 20
No. 14 USC (6-1) at Arizona (4-3) – 3:30 p.m. ET
Get your popcorn ready for this Pac-12 battle in the desert. USC has its sights set on returning the national title discussion as well as next week’s all-important test against the top-ranked team in the conference, Oregon. Smells like a trap game!
The Trojans lead the series against the Wildcats, 28-7, but like last year’s 48-41 win by USC, Matt Barkley and company could have their hands full again against Arizona in a high-scoring thriller. The Trojans are second in the nation in forced turnovers (22) this season with 14 interceptions. This turnover-happy defense coupled with a lethal Barkley-Lee Woods combination helps the team keep its national title aspirations alive, as the Trojans claw and scratch away with a thrilling victory late in the fourth quarter over the Wildcats. Prediction: USC 45, Arizona 38