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College Football Picks: Predicting Every Game in Week 9

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The Week 9 edition of picking every game on the college football schedule is highlighted by a huge showdown in the Big Ten East (Ohio State hosts Penn State), a surprisingly important game in the Big 12 (TCU visits Iowa State) and the NC State-Notre Dame game in South Bend. Here is every game on the Week 9 slate:

College Football Uniforms: TCU

Thursday, Oct. 26

Eastern Michigan at Northern Illinois

Eastern Michigan has lost five straight games, each by seven points or fewer and the last four by four points or fewer. Northern Illinois is 5–2, with a three-point loss to Boston College and a six-point loss at San Diego State. This is a good team. Northern Illinois 34, Eastern Michigan 24

Toledo at Ball State

Ball State has lost its three MAC games by a combined score of 142–9. That does not seem ideal. Toledo 55, Ball State 3

South Alabama at Georgia State

Georgia State is a surprising 2–1 in the Sun Belt, with wins on the road at Coastal Carolina and ULM. South Alabama is also 2–1, highlighted by a 19–8 win at Troy. The Jaguars are the better team. South Alabama 30, Georgia State 20

Stanford at Oregon State

Stanford stubbed its toe with early season losses to USC and San Diego State but has since won four straight. The Cardinal might be the best team in the Pac-12. Oregon State is the worst team in the Pac-12. Stanford 38, Oregon State 13

Friday, Oct. 27

Florida State at Boston College

Few teams have been more impressive over the last two weeks than Boston College, which recorded wins at Louisville and Virginia. The Eagles compiled more than 500 yards of offense in each game after failing to hit the 500-yard mark in any ACC game since the 2012 opener against Miami. Boston College 27, Florida State 23

Tulane at Memphis

Memphis has seized control of the AAC West with wins over Navy and Houston in the past two weeks. Tulane made USF sweat on Saturday with a late comeback but fell to 1–2 in the league. This won’t be easy, but Memphis should improve to 4–1 in the league. Memphis 30, Tulane 23

Tulsa at SMU

SMU remained in the AAC West race by escaping Cincinnati with a 31–28 win in overtime. The Mustangs’ schedule, however, is brutal the rest of the way (after this home date with Tulsa): UCF, at Navy, at Memphis. SMU 38, Tulsa 24

Saturday, Oct. 28

Buffalo at Akron

Akron is 3–1 in the MAC and closes its season with four straight games against MAC East foes, including three at home. Buffalo opened league play with a win at Kent State but has since lost three straight (two by three points or fewer). Akron 31, Buffalo 27

Arkansas at Ole Miss

Ole Miss’ season took another difficult turn when sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson went down with a season-ending knee injury against LSU. That is a huge blow to what was a potent passing attack. Arkansas dropped to 0–4 with a 52–20 loss at home to Auburn. The average margin of defeat in the Hogs’ five games against Power 5 opponents is 23.6 points. Ole Miss 24, Arkansas 20

Miami (Fla.) at North Carolina

The nightmare continues at North Carolina. The Tar Heels dropped to an unthinkable 0–5 in the ACC with a 59–7 loss at Virginia Tech. Carolina has had fewer than 275 yards of total offense in four straight games. Miami 30, North Carolina 10

Oklahoma State at West Virginia

Oklahoma State scored only 13 points — its fewest in nearly three years — but remained in the Big 12 title hunt by defeating Texas in overtime. One week after rallying from 18 points down to beat Texas Tech, West Virginia nearly lost a 25-point lead in the fourth quarter in a 38–36 win at Baylor. West Virginia 37, Oklahoma State 35

Rutgers at Michigan

Rutgers has won two straight Big Ten games for the first time since joining the league in 2014. Michigan has lost two of its last three games, with the one win coming in overtime over Indiana. Are the Wolverines ripe for the upset? Nope. Michigan 44, Rutgers 13

Texas at Baylor

Baylor’s quest for its first win of the 2017 season continues into late October. The Bears should be able to win at Kansas on Nov. 5 but could be staring at a 1–11 season. That’s a stunning fall for a program that won 32 games from 2013-15. Texas 24, Baylor 17

Wisconsin at Illinois

Illinois is 0–4 in the Big Ten and hasn’t played a team that would rank among the top six in the league. Wisconsin, too, has played a soft schedule — but the Badgers have on all of their games. UW is two games up in the Big Ten West and has already defeated the two teams with two losses (Northwestern and Nebraska). Wisconsin 41, Illinois 10

Louisville at Wake Forest

These two teams seem to be too good to be a combined 3–6 in the ACC. Louisville showed some nice resolve last week, snapping a two-game losing streak with a 31–28 win at Florida State. The Cards have a decent chance to win their final three league games and end the season with a respectable 5–3 mark. Louisville 28, Wake Forest 24

Virginia at Pittsburgh

These two teams snapped streaks on Saturday. Virginia had won four straight before dropping a 41–10 decision at home to surging Boston College. Pittsburgh had lost two straight and five of six before topping Duke 24–17 in Durham. Virginia 23, Pittsburgh 20

California at Colorado

There’s no shame in losing at Washington State — as Colorado did on Saturday night. There is, however, shame in getting shut out — as Colorado did. The Buffaloes managed only 174 yards of offense and averaged 2.35 yards per play — their fewest in a game since 2013. California 28, Colorado 20

FIU at Marshall

Marshall continues to dominate in Conference USA action. The Thundering Herd rolled past Middle Tennessee 38–10 in Murfreesboro on Friday night to improve to 3–0 in the league. They have allowed a total of 16 points in those three games. FIU is doing some nice things under first-year coach Butch Davis, but the Panthers are no match for Marshall. Marshall 30, FIU 13

Air Force at Colorado State

Colorado State is 4–0 in the Mountain West and has played only one home game in league play. The Rams close with three of four in Fort Collins beginning with this visit from Air Force. Four of Air Force’s last five games have been decided by four points or fewer. Colorado State 34, Air Force 30

Kansas State at Kansas

It’s been a disaster at Kansas in recent weeks. The Jayhawks have lost to Iowa State and TCU by a combined score of 88–0 and managed only 21 yards of offense in the loss to TCU. Kansas State should be able to snap its three-game losing streak without breaking a sweat. Kansas State 41, Kansas 7

San Jose State at BYU

After last week’s 33–17 loss at East Carolina, BYU has scored a total of nine offensive touchdowns in seven games. The Cougars are bad — but the boys in Vegas believe San Jose State is much worse. BYU is a 14-point favorite. BYU 14, San Jose State 10

Appalachian State at Massachusetts

UMass broke into the win column with an emphatic 55–20 win over Georgia Southern (and Georgia Southern then fired its coach the next day). Two straight for the Minutemen? No. Appalachian State 30, UMass 17

Georgia Southern at Troy

The Tyson Summers era ended after Saturday’s 35-point loss to previously winless UMass. The Eagles went 5–13 overall and 4–6 in the Sun Belt in Summers’ year-and-a-half at the school — and were clearly headed in the wrong direction. Troy 38, Georgia Southern 13

Indiana at Maryland

Indiana is 0–4 in the Big Ten, but the Hoosiers have played four of the five best teams in the league so far (they play the other really good team, Wisconsin, in two weeks). To reach bowl eligibility, they need to win three of four against Maryland, Illinois, Rutgers and Purdue (and all but the Rutgers game are on the road). Indiana 30, Maryland 24

Louisiana Tech at Rice

Louisiana Tech, 19–5 in Conference USA from 2014-16, is 1–2 in the league after losing consecutive games to UAB and Southern Miss. The Bulldogs should have no trouble getting back to .500 with Rice on the schedule next, but the remaining slate is not easy — North Texas, FAU and UTSA are among the final four games. Louisiana Tech 38, Rice 12

Michigan State at Northwestern

Michigan State is 4–0 in the Big Ten, with each of the four wins coming by eight points or fewer (and the final margin in the Indiana game only ballooned to eight after the Hoosiers let Michigan State score in the final minutes). The guess here is that the Spartans’ magic runs out in Evanston. Northwestern 21, Michigan State 20

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NC State at Notre Dame

In two weeks, NC State hosts Clemson in the biggest home game for the program in decades. So what’s the tune-up? A trip to Notre Dame to face one of the nation’s top defenses. NC State has scored 27 points or more in every game this season. Notre Dame has not allowed more than 20 in any game. This should be very interesting. Notre Dame 20, NC State 17

Penn State at Ohio State

Two of the four remaining 4–0 Big Ten teams meet on Saturday in Columbus in one of the biggest games of the college football season. We think Ohio State has made dramatic improvements on offense after its loss at home to Oklahoma, but the Buckeyes have been posting gaudy numbers against the likes of UNLV, Rutgers, Maryland and Nebraska. Penn State, which leads the nation in scoring defense (9.6 ppg) will provide a huge test. Ohio State 24, Penn State 20

TCU at Iowa State

Iowa State is emerging as one of the top stories in college football this season. The Cyclones improved to 5–2 overall and 3–1 in the Big 12 with a surprisingly easy 31–13 win at Texas Tech on Saturday. This week, undefeated TCU visits Ames in perhaps the biggest home game in school history. The Horned Frogs have played only one game decided by single digits — a 31–24 win over West Virginia on Oct. 7. TCU 33, Iowa State 24

UCLA at Washington

The good news: UCLA limited Oregon to 246 rushing yards on Saturday in a 31–14 win over the Ducks. The bad news: The Bruins “passed” East Carolina and now rank last in the nation in rushing defense, allowing 303.4 yards per game. Washington 30, UCLA 20

Georgia vs. Florida (Jacksonville)

Conventional wisdom suggests that Georgia, undefeated and ranked No. 3 in the nation, should win this game with relative ease. But history suggests something strange might happen. Florida has won three straight and six of nine in the series. Georgia 28, Florida 17

Houston at South Florida

Houston is 5–5 in its last 10 AAC games — not too impressive for a program that fashions itself as the league’s flagship program. That record likely will be 5–6 after this weekend’s trip to Tampa. USF 34, Houston 17

Vanderbilt at South Carolina

Vanderbilt allowed a total of 13 points in its first three games but has given up an average of 49.3 points in its five SEC games. Only Kansas has allowed a higher average in league play nationally. South Carolina 30, Vanderbilt 27

FAU at Western Kentucky

In last week’s 69–31 win over North Texas, Florida Atlantic became the 14th team since the year 2000 to record more than 800 yards of offense in a single game. After a sluggish start, Lane Kiffin has the Owls rolling. FAU 38, Western Kentucky 28

Austin Peay at UCF

This was a late add to the UCF schedule after the Knights lost two games due to Hurricane Irma. Austin Peay will not pose many problems for UCF, but it is worth noting that the Governors are 5–3 overall after winning a total of one game from 2014-16. UCF 48, Austin Peay 14

ULM at Idaho

It was a rough trip to the Show Me State for Idaho over the weekend. After jumping out to a 7–0 lead, the Vandals watched as Missouri raced to a 51–14 lead at the half en route to a 68–21 final. Idaho must win four of its final five to become bowl eligible in its final season in the FBS ranks. ULM 30, Idaho 28

Utah at Oregon

Utah finally played a Pac-12 game that was decided by more than seven points — and it didn’t go well. The Utes dropped to 4–3 overall and 1–3 in the league with a disheartening 30–10 loss at home to Arizona State. Oregon, too, has lost three straight games — each by at least 17 points. Utah 20, Oregon 17

Texas State at Coastal Carolina

These two teams are a combined 0–7 in the Sun Belt, the worst of the 10 FBS conferences. Texas State has not defeated an FBS opponent since Week 1 of the 2016 season. Coastal Carolina 24, Texas State 10

Minnesota at Iowa

Both of these teams are 1–3 in league games as they cross the midway point of the Big Ten season. Wisconsin, at 4–0, is out of reach in the West Division, but either of these teams could challenge for second place with a strong finish. Iowa 17, Minnesota 14

Missouri at Connecticut

There will be books written about the last time these two teams met — a 9–6 win by Missouri in a game that featured only 503 yards of total offense. Missouri was even ranked at the time, No. 22. Missouri 41, UConn 14

Old Dominion at North Texas

North Texas is 3–1 in league play despite giving up 43 points and 69 points in two of its four games. The Mean Green were torched for more than 800 yards in last week’s loss to FAU. The remaining C-USA slate is manageable; a West Division title is still within reach. North Texas 30, Old Dominion 17

UAB at Southern Miss

Southern Miss has won three straight — including key league road wins over UTSA and Louisiana Tech — to remain in the hunt for the C-USA West Division title. UAB has played four-straight games decided by three points or fewer, with two wins and two losses. Southern Miss 34, UAB 32

Mississippi State at Texas A&M

It’s remarkable that none of Mississippi State’s seven games has been decided by fewer than 25 points. Last weekend, the Bulldogs improved to 5–2 with a 45–7 win over Kentucky. Texas A&M is also 5–2, with a one-point loss at UCLA and a respectable eight-point defeat to Alabama. The Aggies could be set up for a big finish. Texas A&M 30, Mississippi State 17

Duke at Virginia Tech

Duke averaged 40.5 points in its first four games — wins over NC Central, Northwestern, Baylor and North Carolina — but failed to top 21 points in losses to Miami, Virginia, Florida State and, most recently, Pittsburgh. The Blue Devils are trending in the wrong direction. Virginia Tech 31, Duke 17

Nebraska at Purdue

Purdue has scored 10 points or fewer in three of its last four games after scoring 28, 44 and 35 in its first three (two of which came against Power 5 teams). Struggling against Michigan and Wisconsin is acceptable; scoring only 12 points in a loss at Rutgers? Not good. Nebraska is back in action for the first time since its 56–14 loss to Ohio State. Both teams are desperate. Purdue 30, Nebraska 20

New Mexico at Wyoming

Josh Allen’s struggles continue; in six games against FBS opponents, the Wyoming quarterback is completing only 53.1 percent of his passes, averaging 5.6 yards per attempt and has thrown as many interceptions (six) as touchdowns (six). Despite those issues, he is still considered a future first-round NFL Draft pick. Wyoming 23, New Mexico 20

Tennessee at Kentucky

Tennessee has lost only one time in this series since 1985 (10–7 in 2011) yet finds itself as a 5.5-point underdog in Lexington against a Kentucky team that lost by 38 points to Mississippi State last week. The Vols have scored only three touchdowns in their four SEC games; only Ball State has scored fewer nationally in league play. Tennessee 17, Kentucky 14

Arkansas State at New Mexico State

Arkansas State is 3–0 in the league — tied with App State atop the Sun Belt standings — but has to play three of its final five on the road, starting with this tricky visit to Las Cruces. The Aggies lead the league in passing offense, averaging 358.9 yards per game. New Mexico State 34, Arkansas State 33

Georgia Tech at Clemson

Clemson is back in action for the first time since its shocking loss at Syracuse on Oct. 13. With only one loss and wins over Auburn, Louisville and Virginia Tech, the Tigers remain very much alive in the race for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Georgia Tech has lost two games, each by one point (to Tennessee and Miami). Clemson 31, Georgia Tech 27


UTEP remains one of three winless teams nationally — and the Miners will be a big underdog in each of their remaining five games. UTSA is 4–2, with the two losses (Southern Miss and North Texas) by a combined five points. UTSA 41, UTEP 10

Texas Tech at Oklahoma

After posting some nice non-conference wins (Arizona State, at Houston) and playing well in close losses to Oklahoma State and West Virginia, Texas Tech laid an egg last week, falling at home to Iowa State 31–13. That’s the type of game the Red Raiders simply need to win to take a step forward as a program. Oklahoma 38, Texas Tech 27

Washington State at Arizona

The emergence of Khalil Tate as one of the elite offensive players is one of the most surprising developments of the season. In the last three games, the Wildcats’ quarterback has completed 31-of-41 passes for 468 yards (11.4 yards per attempt) while rushing for 694 yards on a 15.0-yard average. Washington State is fresh off a rare shutout (28–0 over Colorado) but will have its hands full with Tate & Co. Arizona 34, Washington State 30

Boise State at Utah State

Boise State has bounced back from the 19-point loss at home to Virginia by winning three straight. The Broncos’ season will come down to two games — at Colorado State on Nov. 11 and at upstart Fresno State on Nov. 25. Boise State 34, Utah State 20

UNLV at Fresno State

Fresno State’s unlikely ascension to the top of the West Division of the Mountain West continues. The Bulldogs won at San Diego State 27–3 on Saturday and are now two games up on the Aztecs in the standings (and they own the tiebreaker). Jeff Tedford has done a remarkable job at his alma mater. Fresno State 41, UNLV 10

USC at Arizona State

Arizona State improved to 3–1 in the Pac-12 with another outstanding defensive effort. The Sun Devils won at Utah 30–10 and have now allowed a total of 17 points in their last two games — the school’s best two-game stretch since allowing a total of nine points against Washington State and UCLA in November 2008. Can they keep it up against a wounded — both physically and emotionally — USC team? The guess here is yes. Arizona State 24, USC 17

San Diego State at Hawaii

San Diego State was 6–0 at one point highlighted by wins at Arizona State and vs. Stanford. Now, the Aztecs are 6–2 after losing home games to Boise State and Fresno State by a combined score of 58–17. Their hopes of reaching the MW title game are all but gone. San Diego State 34, Hawaii 20