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Week 9 Football: What to Watch

A look at games that might pique your interest

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Virginia Tech Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

The last few weeks of the college football season have definitely spoiled us, and now it’s time to come back down to earth... at least for one week.

The good news? With NC State playing on Thursday night, this is the weekend to go do whatever your significant other wants to do. The Saturday games aren’t great, and you can earn some brownie points by sacrificing your College Football Saturday in favor of the honey-do list.

Apple picking with some basic stock-level family photos thrown in? Go get it done.

Alright, so kicking off the week is our very own Wolfpack. This game is... well, it’s probably going to be rather boring. Both teams strengths lie on the defensive side of the ball and both teams feature some of the least explosive offenses in the country. Expect a relatively fast game (you know, for a Thursday night ESPN game with all the commercials) without a ton of scoring.

Also going on Thursday is a Sun Belt game that you will almost certainly not see a single play of (Louisiana vs Southern Miss) and a late-night PAC12 game that you absolutely should watch after the State game (Utah vs Wazzu).

On Friday night, East Carolina travels to take on BYU in a game where BYU is a 3-point favorite, but both SP+ and Sagarin project the Pirates to win (please be right, advanced metrics).

The other Friday night game is a matchup of two of the worst teams in FBS (LaTech vs FIU). Do not watch this game. Side note, LaTech is kinda getting what they deserve after dumping Skip Holtz, who led the team to 9+ wins in four of the previous eight seasons and was 6-1 in bowl games.

Saturday kicks off pretty strong with Ohio State vs Penn State. The Nittany Lions at least have home field advantage as they try and keep their Big Ten Championship hopes alive by capturing the program’s biggest win since beating the Buckeyes in 2016. This will be Ohio State’s first real test of the year as their schedule has been a UNC level of soft so far.

TCU should keep their undefeated season going facing off against a WVU team that is probably the worst in a loaded Big XII, but that game’s in Morgantown and that’s never an easy place to play. It’ll also be interesting as the Mountaineers have a brutal finishing kick to the season that may end with Neal Brown being kicked out of the door. Tony Gibson will 100% be in the mix for that job if/when it comes open.

Syracuse will need to bounce back quickly from the loss to Clemson last week. They get an opportunity for a name win (only in name) against Notre Dame.

Speaking of Notre Dame, if they’re considered quasi members of the ACC because they play four games versus ACC teams every year, then what does that make UConn? The Huskies face off with their third (and final) ACC opponent of the year this Saturday. Did UConn get an ACC season mini-pass or something? Did they at least get a group discount?

Like the Wolfpack, Florida State will get to try their hand against a Coastal division team this week. Georgia Tech has looked much better under interim coach Brent Key than they did under Geoff Collins. Even so, FSU is a 24-point favorite.

And speaking of the Coastal division, Miami and Virginia play on ESPN3. If a tree falls in the forest...

And and speaking of the Coastal division, according to the Sagarin Conference Rankings, the ACC Coastal division is the 10th toughest conference/division in college football this year, just below the AAC. The ACC Atlantic division is 5th, just below the SEC East.

OK State vs K-State may well be the game of the week. The game will basically be a matchup of strength-on-strength with the Cowboys offense going against the Wildcats defense. This really is going to be a good game. Chris Klieman is a great coach.

The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party is this weekend in the city best known for Philip Don Estridge, Pat Boone, and Limp Bizkit.

Louisville has won their last two games but now starts a finishing five-game kick that includes four games against currently ranked teams, and their other game is against a James Madison squad that has overachieved this year (but looked like a first-year FBS team the last two weeks). Could this be the stretch that finished off Scott Satterfield?

Cincy-UCF may very well have been host to ESPN’s College Gameday this week had UCF not got shellacked by ECU last week. UCF still has games against both teams ahead of them in the AAC (Cincy and... Tulaaaane?!), so this is a big game.

Tennessee’s big orange offensive machine gets Kentucky this week. The Wildcats will be the second-best defense the Vols have faced. They put up 52 points on the best defense they faced (Alabama), so....

You gotta laugh at the Michigan State administration for that absurdly large and unwarranted contract extension they gave Mel Tucker. The guy’s never lost to Michigan, though. If you’re gonna win one game, that’s the best one to win.

I think I need to apologize to everyone. I kept hyping up Baylor, but maybe there’s just not actually that good. Texas Tech’s offense, meanwhile, has been great minus one game this year (who was that against, again?).

Pitt-UNC is your Coastal Division game of the year. Yes. That is correct. This is why ending divisions is not only good, but necessary. Go Panthers!

Late night Saturday there’s a couple bad games, but at least it’s football.

Rankings for SP+ Ratings and Sagarin Ratings listed, respectively, ahead of each team’s name.


88/100 Virginia Tech @ 41/36 NC State - 7:30pm - ESPN

61/65 Louisiana @ 75/97 Southern Miss - 7:30pm - ESPN2

10/8 Utah @ 47/43 Washington State - 10:00pm - FS1


60/58 East Carolina @ 76/67 BYU - 8:00pm - ESPN2

119/131 Louisiana Tech @ 126/181 Florida International - 8:00pm - CBSSN


1/1 Ohio State @ 14/14 Penn State - 12:00pm - FOX

15/13 TCU @ 63/56 West Virginia - 12:00pm - ESPN

46/22 Notre Dame @ 40/33 Syracuse - 12:00pm - ABC

94/106 Boston College @ 125/145 UConn - 12:00pm - FOX

89/92 Georgia Tech @ 38/35 Florida State - 12:00pm - ACCN

59/73 Miami @ 81/84 Virginia - 12:30pm - ESPN3

12/9 Oklahoma State @ 20/19 Kansas State - 3:30pm - FOX

31/39 Florida vs 3/3 Georgia - 3:30pm - CBS

27/15 Wake Forest @ 55/37 Louisville - 3:30pm - ACCN

21/34 Cincinnati @ 36/32 UCF - 3:30pm - ESPN

13/27 Kentucky @ 5/5 Tennessee - 7:00pm - ESPN

52/48 Michigan State @ 4/4 Michigan - 7:30pm - ABC

22/18 Baylor @ 42/29 Texas Tech - 7:30pm - ESPN2

49/59 Pittsburgh @ 44/45 North Carolina - 7:30pm - ACCN

73/50 Stanford @ 11/26 UCLA - 10:30pm - ESPN

103/98 San Diego State @ 83/77 Fresno State - 10:30pm - FS1