football-fbs flag

Wayne Staats | NCAA.com | October 30, 2020

The college football fan's guide to Week 9 games

5 FBS games to watch in Week 9

It's the final weekend in October, which could give fans more Big Ten surprises and national upsets in the conference and national title races. Big games include No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 18 Penn State and Texas playing at No. 6 Oklahoma State. In the ACC, No. 1 Clemson will be without QB Trevor Lawrence, who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Here's a look at what you need to know for this week.

Week 9 preview: Top games to watch

Memphis at No. 7 Cincinnati | 12 p.m. Saturday | ESPN

OK, Cincinnati. Now do it again.

The Bearcats don't get a breather after routing then-No. 16 SMU, as potent Memphis comes for a visit. It's the second of three consecutive tougher-than-you-think games: Houston is next week.

Memphis' 548.8 yards per game will be a challenge for any defense, even for one as strong as Cincinnati's. In the Tigers' five-game series winning streak, Memphis has scored 41, 53, 34, 34 and 29 points. If the Bearcats are serious about making a New Year's Six game — or something even bigger — it's time to end the slide.

Michigan State at No. 13 Michigan | 12 p.m. Saturday | FOX

Is Joe Milton the missing piece for Michigan to take that next step? Through one game, the Wolverines certainly looked different offensively. But this is a rivalry game, in a series that's known for some truly bizarre finishes, including the punt fiasco in 2015.

After MSU won seven of eight in the series from 2008 through 2015, the Wolverines hope this marks a confirmation of a switch. Michigan has won two in a row and three of four.

No. 17 Indiana at Rutgers | 3:30 p.m. Saturday | Big Ten Network

Yes, really.

Off its first win vs. a top-10 team since 1987, Indiana finds itself No. 17 in the AP Poll. As for Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights picked up their first conference win since November 2017 in last week's 38-27 victory at Michigan State. Both the Hoosiers and Scarlet Knights relied on turnovers to win — MSU's seven turnovers is nothing if not eye-popping.

Indiana should see offensive improvement this week after struggling at times against Penn State. Plus QB Michael Penix Jr. has already shown big-moment potential. Against Penn State, Penix scored the late fourth-quarter touchdown, had the overtime passing touchdown and a pair of two-point conversions.

Texas at No. 6 Oklahoma State | 4 p.m. Saturday | FOX

The Cowboys are the Big 12's best candidate for the College Football Playoff. Not only are they the conference's last undefeated team overall at 4-0, but they and Kansas State are the only ones with fewer than two losses.

For most of Mike Gundy's tenure, Oklahoma State has leaned on its offense to win high-scoring games. This year, the Cowboys are allowing only 303.0 yards and 12.0 points per game. Texas QB Sam Ehlinger will be a good test for the Oklahoma State defense, but it's the Cowboys' quarterback inconsistency that is also worth monitoring.

No. 3 Ohio State at No. 18 Penn State | 7:30 p.m. Saturday | ABC

It's only one game, but Ohio State has looked the way many thought it would, while Penn State has...not.

Ohio State QB Justin Fields had only one incompletion in the opener against the Huskers and now gets a primetime game at a ranked team to stand out again. Along with Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Alabama's Mac Jones, Fields is one of the Heisman favorites.

Can Penn State figure out a way to pull the upset? The Nittany Lions did have almost 300 more yards than Indiana, but PSU had turnover issues, 10 penalties and now has limited running back depth. The games have been close four years in a row, but this could be different.

Big Week 9 questions

Is Michigan officially a Big Ten contender?

Michigan is Michigan, so it's not too surprising when the Wolverines start the season ranked. But it's another question about whether Michigan will be competing for titles.

The Wolverines last beat the Buckeyes in 2011 — and recent defeats haven't been pretty (62-39 in 2018 and 56-27 in 2019). It's important to not overreact after only one game, but the 49-24 romp at then-No. 21 Minnesota does seem to raise the stakes a bit.

The most notable result focused on QB Joe Milton. Coach Jim Harbaugh has a quarterback who can threaten defenses on the ground, as Milton passed for 225 yards and rushed for 52 yards. That helped the Wolverines show offensive balance: 225 passing yards and 256 rushing yards. This week's game against rival Michigan State may not be too daunting after MSU lost to Rutgers, but know Milton should have another good game.

It's early, and Michigan has a ton of ground to make up to be competitive against Ohio State. But the Wolverines are taking steps.

Does Cincinnati have the offense to make a CFP push?

Though UCF put together undefeated regular seasons in both 2017 and 2018, the Knights never seriously challenged for a top-4 CFP ranking and a Playoff bid. UCF never got higher than No. 8.

We don't get the first CFP rankings this season until Nov. 24, so there's a few weeks of waiting. But the AAC could see a team get closer than No. 8 this year. That's thanks to Cincinnati.

That Bearcats defense is again tough, holding dangerous SMU to only 290 yards and 13 points in a 29-point win. But does Cincinnati have the offense it needs to make a run and make history as a CFP participant? The schedule isn't easy, with games ahead vs. Memphis (this Saturday), Houston (Nov. 7), UCF (Nov. 21) and Tulsa (Dec. 5) and then a possible AAC title game. But that also gives Cincinnati a few games to build a decent resume and hope other CFP hopefuls fall in bunches.

The concern going forward is the passing attack. Desmond Ridder is deadly on the run, as proven by his 179 rushing yards against SMU. But the Bearcats average only 195 passing yards per game and 7.3 yards per attempt. Cincinnati hasn't needed a big passing game yet, but if the Bearcats fall behind, can they come through late?

College football rankings: Top 25 for Week 9

RANK ASSOCIATED PRESS COACHES POLL
1.
Clemson (52)

Clemson (52)
2.


Alabama (10)


Alabama (8)
3.
Ohio State

Ohio State
4.


Notre Dame


Notre Dame
5.
Georgia

Georgia
6.


Oklahoma State


Oklahoma State
7.
Cincinnati

Cincinnati
8.
Texas A&M

Texas A&M
9.
Wisconsin

Florida
10.
Florida

BYU
11.
BYU

Wisconsin
12.
Miami

Miami
13.
Michigan

North Carolina
14.
Oregon


Michigan

15.
North Carolina

Oregon
16.
Kansas State

Kansas State
17.
Indiana

Penn State
18.
Penn State

Marshall
19.
Marshall

Indiana
20.
Coastal Carolina

USC
21.
USC

Coastal Carolina
22.


SMU


Iowa State
23.
Iowa State

SMU
24.


Oklahoma


Oklahoma
25.
Boise State

Army

Top 10 single-game rushing yard leaders in college football history

Oklahoma's Samaje Perine holds the FBS record for single-game rushing yards with 427 set against Kansas in 2014. Here's the rest of the top-10 list.
READ MORE

The college football fan's guide to Week 14 games

We're onto December and into Week 14 of the college football season. Here's what you need to know for this week.
READ MORE

College football scores: Top 25 rankings, results for Week 14

Here are Top 25 rankings for Week 14 of the 2020 college football season. Find the rankings, schedule and scores here.
READ MORE

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from NCAA.com and our partners