College football Week 9 – A top-10 Michigan-Michigan State showdown, Penn State-Ohio State and more

This week’s slate of video games would be the ultimate alternative groups must make an impression on the Faculty Soccer Playoff committee earlier than the primary set of rankings come out.

Numerous groups are nonetheless within the hunt for these high 4 spots, however no sport this weekend has greater penalties than the Michigan-Michigan State sport. With the Wolverines ranked No. 6 and the Spartans at No. 8, it is solely the fifth time these two groups will play with each groups ranked within the AP high 10 and the primary since 1964.

The sport itself is sufficiently big for each applications, however including in potential playoff implications magnifies the that means of the consequence.

“It is a kind of, it is elimination mindset, playoff mindset at this level,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh stated. “You win this sport, it will assist your possibilities.”

That is solely the sixth Massive Ten convention sport within the ballot period the place each groups are 7-0, and the gamers and coaches aren’t pretending that that is simply one other sport. It has that means for the rivalry, so far as who will get to take dwelling the Paul Bunyan trophy and bragging rights, however it additionally may very well be a catapult into uncommon air.

Michigan has by no means been to the Massive Ten championship sport beneath Jim Harbaugh and has by no means been to the playoff. The gamers know they should up the depth, focus and preparation with out straying from what has gotten them up to now within the first place.

“Once you change the way you put together in the course of the season, that is an issue,” Michigan linebacker Josh Ross stated. “We have been getting ready the correct manner each week, and this week it positively is greater stakes and we’re going in opposition to an in-state rival, however simply assault it the identical manner. Elevate it for positive, however on the finish of the day, it is about us having a fantastic week of preparation and attacking it the correct manner like we now have been doing each single week this season.”

Ross grew up in Michigan and has been a part of this rivalry his complete life, so he understands what’s at stake.

For Mel Tucker and the Spartans, they revamped their roster with transfers this previous offseason and shall be enjoying with new faces and first-time individuals on this rivalry.

Tucker does not imagine that hinders the brand new gamers and it will not affect the ultimate final result — partly as a result of he gave his crew a historical past lesson on the rivalry, but in addition as a result of it is organically ingrained into the gamers all year long.

“In any such rivalry, I imagine so, as a result of it is in your face and it is not simply at this time, it is each single day because the day I have been right here, Feb. 12, 2020,” Tucker stated. “There hasn’t been a day that is passed by that somebody hasn’t talked about to me one thing about this sport.”

Tucker stated he believes that execution prevails in video games like these, and each groups hope their preparation and execution will get them via this week and into the highest 4 of those first playoff rankings. — Tom VanHaaren

No. 1 Georgia vs. Florida (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS): Georgia coach Kirby Sensible is not saying whether or not JT Daniels or Stetson Bennett will begin at quarterback for the No. 1 Bulldogs in Saturday’s sport in opposition to Florida.

And, if anybody was questioning whether or not the Gators would attempt to go with out a passer in opposition to the top-ranked protection within the FBS, coach Dan Mullen at the very least confirmed on Wednesday that somebody will certainly play beneath middle. He simply would not say who.

“We’ll play a quarterback on Saturday,” Mullen stated.

Neither coach is prepared to disclose a lot as their groups put together to satisfy for his or her annual rivalry sport at TIAA Financial institution Subject in Jacksonville, Florida. The Bulldogs will attempt to avenge final yr’s 44-28 loss to the Gators, whereas Florida will try and spoil Georgia’s bid for an ideal common season and a CFP spot.

Bennett, who began final season’s sport in opposition to the Gators and injured his proper shoulder, has guided the Bulldogs to a few straight victories in opposition to ranked opponents. Daniels hasn’t performed because the first quarter of a 62-0 victory at Vanderbilt on Sept. 25 due to a lat harm.

Sensible stated Daniels, a former USC switch, who began three of the primary 4 video games, has been throwing extra in follow. Sensible is not displaying his hand greater than that.

Likewise, Mullen is not saying a lot about his quarterbacks. Emory Jones has began each sport this season, however freshman Anthony Richardson guided the Gators to 4 straight touchdowns within the second half of a 49-42 loss at LSU on Oct. 16.

Sensible is not positive his crew’s defensive plan modifications a lot with both quarterback.

“They do not maintain again,” Sensible stated. “They could really feel like there’s variations I am not conscious of, however while you have a look at the quarterback reels, there’s performs inside every sport that each quarterbacks run. They do not not run quarterback draw, dropback move, zone learn or velocity possibility with one man or the opposite. There’s most packages they each carry. He might restrict one man’s packages against the opposite, however the way in which the video games are known as, they’ve very related performs.

“They’re bodily completely different of their construct, each super athletes, and each powerful guys to defend by way of 53 yards of sideline, and an additional hat within the run sport makes it powerful.” — Mark Schlabach

Texas Tech at No. 4 Oklahoma (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN App): Texas Tech fired its head coach, Matt Wells, this week after dropping a 14-point second-half result in Kansas State, one other disappointing convention loss. So longtime Tech and TCU assistant Sonny Cumbie will get his first likelihood at working his personal present within the interim — starting with a visit to Norman to face No. 4 Oklahoma this week.

However if you happen to did not know higher, the Sooners seemed like they have been going via their very own turmoil this week.

“We really feel like there are a selection of older, veteran guys on this crew proper now that have to be at their finest and this crew wants them to be higher,” OU coach Lincoln Riley advised reporters on Tuesday. “And we have made that adamantly clear.”

The distinction, in fact is that the Pink Raiders are 7-16 in convention video games of their previous three seasons, whereas the Sooners are 20-3 in that very same span, together with 5-0 this yr en path to an 8-0 total report and 16 straight total wins. However after trailing Kansas at halftime, because the Sooners did final week, a complete new degree of scrutiny is inevitable.

OU has gained six straight Massive 12 titles however is on the defensive about its lackluster performances. Within the eyes of the playoff choice committee, it must battle the similarities to the 2014 Florida State crew, which obtained in largely as a result of it was undefeated regardless of profitable seven video games by lower than one rating. The Seminoles have been then blown out by Oregon 59-20 in a semifinal playoff sport.

The excellent news is the Sooners can count on the return of Jalen Redmond, the defensive lineman who led the crew in sacks and tackles for loss in 2019 earlier than redshirting final season, after struggling a knee harm in opposition to Nebraska. Any and all reinforcements are essential — the Sooners are additionally lacking key items at nook and security — as they’ve struggled mightily on protection because the second half of the Texas sport.

Riley is aware of Tech shall be fired as much as play for Cumbie. The 2 Pink Raiders alumni have been members of the identical QB room as college students earlier than they each grew to become Tech assistants. However he says getting a crew’s finest shot is only a truth of life for the Sooners, and he is nonetheless assured their finest soccer is to come back.

“I have been round right here lengthy sufficient that if you happen to hold profitable, issues are inclined to work themselves out,” Riley stated. “We’ve got eight wins. We’ve got the longest profitable streak within the nation. The sky is just not falling. Do not write us off but.” — Dave Wilson

Colorado at No. 7 Oregon (3:30 p.m. ET, Fox): Relying on the way you have a look at it, No. 7 Oregon’s sport in opposition to 2-5 Colorado on Saturday is a chance or a entice. After dropping to Stanford, the Geese (6-1) have been strolling a tightrope the previous two weeks with shut wins in opposition to Cal and UCLA. That is their actuality: A second loss, and you’ll overlook in regards to the playoff; a continued streak of tight wins in opposition to inferior opponents, and you can begin introducing doubt into their playoff case. Struggling to beat the Buffs at dwelling will surely try this.

In fact, so far as Mario Cristobal & Co. are involved, all they must do is hold profitable, and there is one thing to be stated for a crew that may proceed to grind out wins. Cristobal praised his crew’s resiliency in his information convention Monday earlier than taking the blame for the interception Anthony Brown threw late within the fourth quarter of the UCLA sport that nearly value Oregon the sport.

“We would wish to have that playcall again,” Cristobal stated. “The throw wasn’t what we wished, both. Not a superb play, and never the decision we wished.”

The Geese escaped that mistake, however it was a reminder that the margins are slimmer than ever, particularly for groups vying for playoff spots. Beating the Buffs handily would go a great distance towards making a constructive impression on the committee, and it could seemingly set them as much as be in charge of their playoff future the remainder of the way in which. What Oregon could also be missing in fashion factors these days (outdoors of Kayvon Thibodeaux, in fact) it nonetheless has in its early-season win in Columbus over Ohio State. It is probably the greatest wins of the season, however what number of shut calls can the Geese afford earlier than the luster begins to put on off? — Paolo Uggetti



Todd McShay explains why he’s rating Malik Willis, Matt Corral and Kenny Pickett as the highest quarterbacks on his draft board.

Duke at No. 13 Wake Forest (4 p.m. ET, ACC Community): As the one undefeated crew left within the ACC, No. 13 Wake Forest (7-0) has to get used to a brand new actuality headed into its ultimate 5 video games: enjoying as a favourite to make it into the ACC championship sport from the Atlantic Division.

“We’re not very stunned on the success, however the one factor we’re adjusting to is we are the goal of everybody we will play for the remainder of the yr,” quarterback Sam Hartman advised ESPN.com this week. “We’re getting all people’s finest sport. We’re not little previous Wake Forest that everyone does not take as significantly as they need to.”

Wake Forest enters its sport in opposition to in-state rival Duke as a double-digit favourite, coming off a formidable offensive show in opposition to Military, by which Hartman threw for 5 touchdowns and 458 yards within the 70-56 victory.

It stands to purpose that if Wake Forest wins Saturday, one of many extra intriguing questions headed into the rankings reveal shall be the place the choice committee locations an undefeated ACC crew not named Clemson. For his or her half, Hartman stated no person on his crew even knew the primary committee rankings have been popping out Tuesday.

That is smart, contemplating Wake Forest has been ranked solely as soon as within the CFP choice committee rankings, at No. 19 in 2019. This definitely is a novel state of affairs however one which Wake Forest gamers believed might occur earlier than the season even started.

Hartman described a unique aura across the crew throughout offseason exercises, and “a sense round this crew that there was one thing particular brewing.”

Receiver Jaquarii Roberson added, “We need to hold pushing and hit our highest peak. We need to hold going. We do not need to accept something. I do know our guys are going to maintain getting higher day by day. It is very thrilling. It truly is.” — Andrea Adelson

No. 20 Penn State at No. 5 Ohio State (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN App): Ohio State’s rickety begin on protection led to a playcaller change from Kerry Coombs to Matt Barnes, however the duty for the product, and getting issues mounted, fell on your complete defensive workers.

“It isn’t OK to lose right here at Ohio State,” Barnes advised ESPN. “All of us had to have a look at ourselves and actually make some arduous choices and have some powerful conversations about how we transfer ahead. Everyone concerned has taken possession and actually tried to place egos apart.”

The Buckeyes have made strides because the first three video games, the place Minnesota and Oregon eclipsed 200 speeding yards and Tulsa racked up 428 passing yards. Within the 4 video games since, Ohio State allowed 44 whole factors and 259.5 yards per sport, albeit in opposition to inferior competitors.

Barnes thinks coaches should at all times consider scheme, how the scheme is being applied and personnel, particularly when issues aren’t going effectively. The workers shortly concluded that the gamers aren’t the issue — “We’ve got, at Ohio State, the most effective gamers,” Barnes stated — and as a substitute centered on schematic tweaks that gamers might course of and execute. Ohio State has maintained a wholesome rotation of defenders, particularly at linebacker and within the secondary.

“In some areas, we have turn out to be less complicated, however at the very least have created the looks of multiplicity,” stated Barnes, who had been working with Ohio State’s secondary earlier than the playcalling swap. “Not simply sitting in the identical image.”

Saturday’s sport pits Ohio State’s power on protection — stopping the run — in opposition to Penn State’s weak spot on offense. PSU ranks a centesimal nationally in speeding (118.9 yards per sport) and generated solely 62 rush yards in final week’s nine-overtime loss to Illinois.

Coach James Franklin expects beginning quarterback Sean Clifford to be at full power Saturday, however PSU should discover some working room in opposition to an Ohio State protection that has held 4 groups to 76 rush yards or fewer.

“We have to be extra bodily up entrance,” Franklin stated. “We have to create extra push and play to the echo the whistle and create area. Then, our working backs have gotten to be decisive and get downhill. And we have got to maintain folks trustworthy with our perimeter throwing video games so folks cannot overload the field.” — Adam Rittenberg

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