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Wayne Staats | NCAA.com | October 25, 2019

College football Week 9 preview: Top games, what to watch, rankings

5 college football games to watch in week 9

We'll get some clear answers about contenders and pretenders during Week 9 of the college football season. Below, find a preview of the top games, what to watch for and the Top 25 rankings.

There are three games between ranked teams ‚ÄĒ and they're big ones. No. 3 Ohio State plays No. 13 Wisconsin, No. 9 Auburn is at No. 2 LSU and No. 8 Notre Dame plays at rival No. 19 Michigan.

College football Week 9 preview: Top games

No. 13 Wisconsin at No. 3 Ohio State | 12 p.m. | FOX

This was looking like a bigger deal a week ago, but then Wisconsin somehow lost to Illinois on the last play of the game. It was the first time the Badgers trailed all season. Even if Wisconsin got out of Illinois with a win, this game would have been a ridiculous challenge. The Buckeyes have destroyed foes every week and have yet to really show any weakness. Expect QB Justin Fields' Heisman buzz to grow.

No. 5 Oklahoma at Kansas State | 12 p.m. | ABC

Former K-State coach Bill Snyder beat OU twice in three years from 2012 through 2014, but the Sooners have won the last four in the series ‚ÄĒ and three have been by at least 21 points. Maybe first-year coach Chris Kleiman can pull some Manhattan magic for the Wildcats at home, but OU QB Jalen Hurts is probably set for another huge game.

FCS No. 1 North Dakota State at FCS No. 3 South Dakota State | 3 p.m. | ESPN+

ESPN's College GameDay is going to Brookings, S.D. for the first time ever for the huge Dakota Marker Game. The top-ranked Bison have won seven of the last eight FCS national titles and 28 games in a row. But the Jackrabbits are the last team to beat them, defeating NDSU 33-21 in Brookings in 2017.

NDSU-SDSU: Preview, how to watch the top-3 FCS game

No. 9 Auburn at No. 2 LSU | 3:30 p.m. | CBS

LSU has rallied from down double figures in both 2017 and 2018, but the Tigers are perhaps expected to get out with a slightly easier win this time. But as usual, it might come down to Auburn QB Bo Nix. Will he be like how he's looked in Auburn's last two wins (511 total passing yards, 5 TDs, 0 INT) or how we was in the Tigers' loss at Florida (145 passing yards, 1 TD, 3 INT)? Chances are LSU QB Joe Burrow will get his yards and scores.

No. 6 Penn State at Michigan State | 3:30 p.m. | ABC

Penn State escaped in each of the last two weeks, with both wins came against ranked teams. The Nittany Lions might have another close one this Saturday, as the Spartans have upset top-10 Penn State teams in each of the last two seasons. However, Michigan State has lost two in a row, falling to Ohio State and Wisconsin by a combined 72-10.

Navy at Tulane | 3:30 p.m. | CBSSN

This could very well be a division race elimination game. SMU is undefeated in the AAC West at 3-0, with Navy (3-1) and Tulane (2-1) bunched with Memphis (2-1). Since both the Midshipmen and the Green Wave have lost to Memphis, they'll need to win this to help remain in the race. Navy's 5-1 start is notable, as it finished 3-10 last season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL RANKINGS: AP Poll Top 25 | Coaches Poll

Arkansas at No. 1 Alabama | 7 p.m. | ESPN

No, Arkansas probably won't pull off the biggest shocker since...ever? But Tide QB Tua Tagovailoa will be out with an ankle injury, meaning Mac Jones will make his first career start. Alabama won't need him to throw for 300 yards to beat 2-5 Arkansas, but a strong game would raise confidence if Tua can't play in the much-hyped LSU game on Nov. 9.

UCF at Temple | 7 p.m. | ESPN2

Both the Knights and Owls are 2-1 in the AAC East, one game behind ranked Cincinnati (3-0). The Bearcats already beat UCF this season, so Temple could use this to set up a winner-takes-division meeting with Cincinnati on Nov. 23. But that's a long way off. The AAC has proven to be home of a number of tough teams, as Cincinnati, Memphis, SMU, Temple and UCF have all been ranked in either the AP or Coaches (or both) this season.

No. 8 Notre Dame at No. 19 Michigan | 7:30 p.m. | ABC

Notre Dame used a 24-17 win in Week 1 to jumpstart what became a 12-0 regular season and a spot in the College Football Playoff. The Irish come in at 5-1 with a loss to Georgia, but they could have an outside chance to return to the CFP semifinals if they win out and go 11-1. As for Michigan, the Wolverines hope to stop the bleeding and avoid losing for the third time this season with Michigan State and Ohio State still ahead on the schedule.

UNDEFEATED WATCH: Here are the remaining undefeated FBS teams

Utah State at Air Force | 10:15 p.m. | ESPN2

Boise State is no longer undefeated overall after losing to BYU, but the Broncos are still the MWC Mountain favorite at 3-0 in league play. Air Force lost to the Broncos on the Blue Turf this season, while Utah State gets Boise State at home on Nov. 23. The Aggies stopped a three-game slide in this series a year ago.

College football preview: What to watch

1. Is Wisconsin out of the College Football Playoff chase?

We're still in October, so there's no reason to say any 1-loss team from the Big Ten is done. But the 24-23 loss to Illinois is going to stick out like Ohio State's brutal losses in 2017 (55-24 at Iowa) and 2018 (49-20 at Purdue) and could be enough to keep the Badgers out.

However, a 12-1 Wisconsin team with wins against Ohio State, Michigan, Minnesota and the Big Ten East champion would look mighty good on the resume. In that situation, Wisconsin could be in good shape...as long as there aren't undefeated champions in the ACC, Big 12 and the SEC. Then the Badgers would be fighting it out with other 1-loss teams ‚ÄĒ and it's probable that¬†none of those teams will have a loss that looks like the one to Illinois.

2. What's the possible Group of Five hierarchy for the New Year's Six spot

Though we're not at the point of getting the College Football Playoff rankings just yet (the first is Nov. 5) , Boise State had the highest AP ranking at No. 14...and then lost at BYU in Week 8.

That opened the door for SMU to take the pole position. The No. 16 Mustangs might have a tough time to stay there for the rest of the season, though. That's no slight to Shane Buechele, Xavier Jones and Co., as it's more about the schedule. SMU still plays at Houston, at Memphis, at Navy and vs. Tulane ‚ÄĒ and then would have the AAC title game.

The interesting team to watch in all this is the Sun Belt's Appalachian State. The No. 21 Mountaineers would have a case if they remain perfect, as that would mean wins against North Carolina and South Carolina. If we're left with a one-loss AAC champion, one-loss Boise State and undefeated Appalachian State, the Mountaineers might get the spot.

College football rankings for Week 9: AP Poll, Coaches Poll

Here's how the Top 25 polls look this week:

RANK ASSOCIATED PRESS Coaches Poll
1.
Alabama (24)

Alabama (44)
2.


LSU (16)


Clemson (10)
3.
Ohio State (13)

LSU (3)
4.


Clemson (9)


Ohio State (8)
5.
Oklahoma

Oklahoma
6.


Penn State


Penn State
7.
Florida

Notre Dame
8.
Notre Dame

Florida
9.
Auburn

Georgia
10.
Georgia

Auburn
11.
Oregon

Oregon
12.
Utah

Utah
13.
Wisconsin

Wisconsin
14.
Baylor


Baylor

15.
Texas

Texas
16.
SMU

Minnesota
17.
Minnesota

SMU
18.
Cincinnati

Cincinnati
19.
Michigan

Iowa
20.
Iowa

Michigan
21.
Appalachian State

Boise State
22.


Boise State


Appalachian State
23.
Iowa State

Wake Forest
24.



Arizona State


Arizona State
25.
Wake Forest

Memphis

Week 9 college football schedule

All times Eastern. All schedules and networks subject to change.

Click here for a live scoreboard.

Thursday, Oct. 24

No. 16 SMU at Houston | 7:30 p.m. | ESPN

Friday, Oct. 25

Southern California at Colorado | 9 p.m. | ESPN2

Saturday, Oct. 26

No. 13 Wisconsin at No. 3 Ohio State | 12 p.m. | FOX
Mississippi State at Texas A&M | 12 p.m. | SEC Network
No. 5 Oklahoma at Kansas State | 12 p.m. | ABC
Miami at Pitt | 12 p.m. | ESPN
Illinois at Purdue | 12 p.m. | Big Ten Network
San Jose State at Army | 12 p.m. | CBSSN
Bowling Green at Western Michigan | 12 p.m. | ESPN3
Liberty at Rutgers | 12 p.m. | Big Ten Network
No. 20 Iowa at Northwestern | 12 p.m. | ESPN2
No. 21 Appalachian State at South Alabama | 12 p.m. | ESPNU
Southern Miss at Rice | 1 p.m. | ESPN+
Ohio at Ball State | 2 p.m. | ESPN+
Nevada at Wyoming | 2 p.m. | AT&T Sportsnet
Western Kentucky at Marshall | 2:30 p.m. | Facebook
New Mexico State at Georgia Southern | 3 p.m. | ESPN3
No. 6 Penn State at Michigan State | 3:30 p.m. | ABC
No. 9 Auburn at No. 2 LSU | 3:30 p.m. | CBS
Syracuse at Florida State | 3:30 p.m. | ESPN2
Maryland at No. 17 Minnesota | 3:30 p.m. | ESPN
Oklahoma State at No. 23 Iowa State | 3:30 p.m. | FS1
Tulane at Navy | 3:30 p.m. | CBSSN
Eastern Michigan at Toledo | 3:30 p.m. | ESPN+
Arizona at Stanford | 3:30 p.m. | Pac-12 Networks
Indiana at Nebraska | 3:30 p.m. | Big Ten Network
Miami (OH) at Kent State | 3:30 p.m. | ESPN+
Akron at Northern Illinois | 3:30 p.m. | ESPN3
Central Michigan at Buffalo | 3:30 p.m. | ESPN+
No. 15 Texas at TCU | 3:30 p.m. | FOX
Virginia at Louisville | 3:30 p.m. | ACC Network
North Texas at Charlotte | 3:30 p.m. | ESPN+
UConn at UMass | 3:30 p.m. | FloSports
Florida International at Middle Tennessee | 3:30 p.m. | NFL Network
Florida Atlantic at Old Dominion | 3:30 p.m. | ESPN+
South Florida at East Carolina | 3:45 p.m. | ESPNU
South Carolina at Tennessee | 4 p.m. | SEC Network
Duke at North Carolina | 4 p.m. | ACC Network Extra
Hawai'i at New Mexico | 4 p.m. | Spectrum Sports
Arkansas at No. 1 Alabama | 7 p.m. | ESPN
UCF at Temple | 7 p.m. | ESPN2
Texas Tech at Kansas | 7 p.m. | FS1
Texas State at Arkansas State | 7 p.m. | ESPN+
Memphis at Tulsa | 7 p.m. | CBSSN
Troy at Georgia State | 7 p.m. | ESPN+
No. 8 Notre Dame at No. 19 Michigan | 7:30 p.m. | ABC
Boston College at No. 4 Clemson | 7:30 p.m. | ACC Network
Colorado State at Fresno State | 7:30 p.m. | ESPNU
No. 24 Arizona State at UCLA | 7:30 p.m. | Pac-12 Networks
Missouri at Kentucky | 7:30 p.m. | SEC Network
Louisiana Tech at UTEP | 8 p.m. | ESPN3
California at No. 12 Utah | 10 p.m. | FS1
Utah State at Air Force | 10:15 p.m. | ESPN2
Washington State at No. 11 Oregon | 10:30 p.m. | ESPN
San Diego State at UNLV | 10:30 p.m. | CBSSN

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