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Games to Watch - Week 9
Editor's Note: Christian Alexander is the second-best college football handicapper on He's hitting 62% (+1,217) this season and just went 5-1 in Week 8. Stop losing and start winning in Week 9 now!
Saturday's Winners - Season Package
Saturday - Florida vs. Georgia from Jacksonville (CBS, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Matchup Skinny
Florida at Georgia
The "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" has bigger implications than just who can leave Jacksonville with the biggest hangover; turns out they play a football game that day too, and a pretty big one at that. Florida has done most of the partying of late winning 18 of the last 22 meetings, although Georgia won 24-20 last year. With South Carolina dropping back-to-back games, including a 44-11 loss to Florida in The Swamp on Saturday, the SEC East race comes down to this game. In fact, the Gators can actually clinch an SEC East title by defeating Georgia on Saturday. Florida however has much bigger aspirations than just winning the SEC East at this point. The key to this game will be if the Dawgs' balanced offense can move the ball on Matt Elam and the Gators defense. Georgia was completely shut down earlier this year when they faced a talented South Carolina defense, especially the ground attack of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Georgia QB Aaron Murray will likely have to carry the offense this week if they are to have any success moving the ball on the stout Gators defense. Meanwhile the Florida offense has been non-existent at times this year, including last week against South Carolina where the Gators ran it 18 times for 13 yards and completed just six passes for 16 yards in the first half but still lead 21-6 due to scoring three touchdowns following South Carolina turnovers. In fact the Gators may have put up 44 points but they were outgained by the Gamecocks 191 to 183 yards in the game. In other words, the alcohol outside the stadium will flow much faster than the offense's inside the stadium this week. Florida opened as a favorite and this should be a typical SEC slugfest with the winner taking over the pole position in the SEC East and bragging rights for the next year.
Saturday - Texas Tech at Kansas State (FOX, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Matchup Skinny
Texas Tech at Kansas State
Nick Saban may be the most renowned coach in the country, and rightfully so, but Bill Synder should at least be in the same breath. What he has done for the Kansas State program is nothing short of a college football miracle. (You try recruiting talented high school football players to Manhattan, Kansas) Last year the Wildcats were beating teams in close games with more of a smoke and mirrors approach; this year Kansas State boasts one of the most complete teams in the country ranking 10th in points for and 14th in points against while simply dominating teams on both sides of the ball. Meanwhile QB Collin Klein has put himself squarely at the front of the line in the race for the Heisman Trophy after a seven touchdown performance against West Virginia. This weekend they host a very scrappy and resilient Texas Tech team coming in off a thrilling triple-overtime road win over TCU. Red Raider QB Seth Doege also had a career-best seven touchdowns (all passing) against TCU and he will need another big game this week if the Red Raiders are going to pull off back to back Big 12 road wins where they come in as an 8-point road underdog.
Saturday - Notre Dame at Oklahoma (ABC, 8:00 p.m. ET)
Matchup Skinny
Notre Dame at Oklahoma
On Nov. 16, 1957, Notre Dame went to Oklahoma and won 7-0, snapping the Sooners’ 47-game winning streak. So obviously this is a huge revenge game for the Sooners. In fact Notre Dame has dominated the all-time series 8-1, including an undefeated 4-0 record in Norman. However the Sooners are an amazing 79-4 in Norman since Bob Stoops took over in 1999. If Notre Dame’s dream season is to continue they will have to do something they haven’t had to do all season, beat a quality opponent on the road (sorry, but Michigan St doesn’t qualify). The biggest matchup in this game will be Oklahoma’s fast improving passing attack against a virtually untested Notre Dame secondary. While the ND front seven led by All-Everything linebacker Manti Te’o is unquestionably the strength of the Irish this year, their biggest weakness appears to be their secondary. However thanks to a schedule front loaded against teams with virtually non-existent passing games, the Irish have been able to rely heavily on their front seven to stop the run and build a perfect record through seven games. Oklahoma QB Landry Jones meanwhile has improved almost every week this year as he learns to adjust to life without WR Ryan Broyles. On the flip side, Everett Golson has already been named the starting QB for the Irish in this game and he will need to be more than just a game manager if the Irish want to keep their National Championship hopes alive. Despite being undefeated and higher ranked the Irish find themselves an early double-digit underdog this week in Norman. The message there being pretty loud and clear, however a win this week in Norman would prove the Irish are the real deal.
Saturday - Mississippi State at Alabama (ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET)
Matchup Skinny
Mississippi State at Alabama
This just in….Alabama is really good. Most would argue that they are clearly the best team in college football from top to bottom. However there are those that will point to their schedule thus far as one reason they have looked so good. Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle. I think there are teams this year just as talented as Alabama and I also think the schedule argument is irrelevant because they are beating bad teams…very badly. The Tide is about to hit a three-week stretch that will make or break their season starting this weekend when they host the Bulldogs, before traveling to Baton Rouge and then hosting Texas A&M. Mississippi State will certainly be the biggest challenge Alabama has faced yet this season and they have a defense that statistically ranks in the top 10 nationally, however Mississippi State also haven't faced anyone thus far that would be considered much of a challenge. With that said, Dan Mullen has revived a Mississippi State program that was the doormat of the SEC for over a decade and this game will certainly be the litmus test to see how far they have really come and just how real their 7-0 start is. As a 24-point road underdog pulling off the upset over 'Bama is a little farfetched, but a close game in Tuscaloosa against the number one team in the country would go a long way for the Bulldogs confidence not only the remainder of this year but possibly heading into next season as well.
Other Games to Watch
Matchup Skinny
Cincinnati at Louisville
Cincinnati at Louisville (Friday) - This game had the potential to be a rare top 25 matchup of undefeated Big East teams on Friday night ESPN primetime…and then Cincinnati remembered they play in the Big East and promptly lost to Toledo over the weekend. This is still a big game as far as the Big East goes (for whatever that's worth) as Louisville looks to remain undefeated and keep their BCS dreams alive. However, the Bearcats have won four straight in the series, including 25-16 last year.
Ohio State at Penn State
Ohio State at Penn State - This game is being dubbed the "Battle of the Banned." For that reason alone it makes the list. This game will also decide the Big 10 coach of the year award between Bill O'Brien and Urban Meyer. After an 0-2 start and the potential for a completely disastrous season in Happy Valley, O'Brien and the Nittany Lions have reeled off 5 straight. Meanwhile Meyer and the Buckeyes are coming off an embarrassing near loss at home to Purdue but did improve to 8-0. Early word is that Ohio St QB Braxton Miller is doubtful even though he was cleared from the hospital with no reported injuries. Personally I think he will start this weekend and have another big game for the Buckeyes. Unfortunately for Meyer, Miller doesn't play defense as well. Look for a shootout in State College in a rare interesting match-up in the Big 10.
Oregon State at Washington
Oregon State at Washington - Oregon State continues their winning ways and in the process continues to give In-N-Out Burger more free advertising than Wonder Bread got in Talladega Nights. They aren't the flashiest team in the Pac-12 but the Beavers have unexpectedly opened 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the Pac-12 after going 3-9 last season. The Beavers defense has played great all year and backup QB Cody Vaz has filled in very well in two games for Sean Mannion. Washington on the other hand has had a very up-and-down season thus far, however they boast one of the best home field advantages in the country and look to put an end to the Beavers dream season Saturday night in CenturyLink Field.

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