Critical matchups that will decide biggest games in Week 9 in college football
Critical matchups that will decide biggest games in Week 9 in college football:-When two teams are evenly matched, there’s a small margin for error between winning and losing. The implications can be significant, however. Position in the race for the College Football Playoff or conference honors can hinge on the outcome.
Here’s a look at five of this week’s biggest showdowns and what will be the decisive factor in determining a winner (all times Eastern):
Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett vs. Penn State defensive backs
TIME/TV: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Fox
The Buckeyes have got their offense rolling in five consecutive wins after their loss to Oklahoma. The surge, however, came against the defenses of Army, UNLV, Rutgers, Maryland and Nebraska. The Nittany Lions will be the first real evaluation of Barrett and being forced to throw in passing situations against a quality defense. The opportunities will be there for the senior as Penn State should crowd the line of scrimmage to defend the run. The Lions knows it can rely on cornerback Grant Haley and the rest of the secondary to play tight coverage and force Barrett to make difficult throws. If Barrett can’t connect with his targets, its hard to see the Ohio State offense moving the ball solely on the ground. The lack of consistent offense will force the Buckeyes defense to try and slow down Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley for 60 minutes. Not an enviable situation.
N.C. State defensive line vs. Notre Dame offensive line
TIME/TV: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., NBC
This might be one of the best positional matchups of the season. The Wolfpack have four seniors on an outstanding defensive front, led by Bradley Chubb. They’re sixth in the nation in run defense. On the opposite side will be the Irish offensive line that boasts two potential first-round picks, Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson that have keyed a rushing attack averaging 318 yards after impressively bludgeoning Southern California last week. So it’s the proverbial irresistible force meeting the immovable object. With Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush still not a polished passer, it will be his running ability along with running back Josh Adams that will be asked to do much of the damage. If Chubb and the rest of the front can do its job to stop them, then the advantage swings to N.C. State, which has an offense good enough to pull out an upset in South Bend.
West Virginia defensive backs vs Oklahoma State wide receivers
TIME/TV: Saturday, noon, ABC
Last week’s narrow win at Texas by the Cowboys might have raised a few eyebrows around the country, but not because it was a close game. The biggest surprise was one of nation’s top offenses managed just 13 points after averaging almost 49 points in its first six games. The game may have given a blueprint to the rest of the Big 12 with the Longhorns playing five and six defensive backs to stop explosive plays by receivers James Washington and Marcell Ateman and committing limited numbers to stop the run. Not everybody, however, has a good enough secondary to run that scheme. Can the Mountaineers provide the blanket coverage necessary to frustrate Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph by taking away the big plays that has become the staple of the offense? If so, there’s a great chance of West Virginia slowing down the Cowboys. With their own talented quarterback Will Grier, the Mountaineers should be able to put up enough points on the Oklahoma State defense and pull an upset.
Texas A&M defense vs. Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald
TIME/TV: Saturday, 7:15 p.m., ESPN
After its meltdown in Week 1 against UCLA, it’s surprising to see Texas A&M back in the Top 25. But the Aggies have rebounded with just one loss in six games – a better-than-expected performance against Alabama. Now they host the Bulldogs, who have been a dominant home team, but struggled to score in blowout losses at Georgia and Auburn. Fitzgerald is their biggest weapon and will attract the attention of the Aggies both when he runs and throws. A&M will want to force him to do the latter as it leads the SEC in sacks with 28. The pass rush, however, will be going against a Mississippi State offensive line which has allowed just three sacks all season. If the multi-dimensional Fitzgerald can run and throw then expect the Bulldogs to have the upper hand. It’s asking a lot for Texas A&M freshman quarterback Kellen Mond to match his counterpart against a Mississippi State defense that is one of the best in the conference.
Iowa State RB David Montgomery vs. TCU front seven
TIME/TV: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2
The rise of the Cyclones has been behind their offense, and the installation of Kyle Kempt at quarterback after their loss to Texas has only made the unit more efficient. The arrival of the stingy Horned Frogs will serve as a litmus test to see if Iowa State is closer to the team that struggled against the Longhorns or has been outstanding in three subsequent wins with Kempt at the helm. The answer will come from the effectiveness of Montgomery. The sophomore is the team’s ground game with 642 of its 850 rushing yards and eight of its 11 touchdowns. He be facing the No. 3 rushing defense with linebacker Travin Howard leading the way. The only measurement of success for Montgomery should not be a prolific yardage total. He, however, does have to be enough of a threat to take some pressure off Kempt and control the clock. Otherwise, the game will more resemble the loss to Texas than the wins at Oklahoma and Texas Tech.