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College Football Picks: Week 9 Predictions for Every Game – Bleacher Report

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College football teams across the nation have turned their focus to bowl eligibility, with only a handful of teams building the necessary resume to compete for a spot in the College Football Playoffs. Aside from Georgia, Ohio State and possibly Tennessee, there’s a national fight for the last available slot in the CFP.
It looks like only a pair of teams have the background to earn the final spot in the playoffs: the Michigan Wolverines and the Clemson Tigers. The emphasis for the remaining games this season, for those not CFP eligible, is going to be fighting for a conference title and building momentum within the program, whether that be winning a bowl game or simply ending the season above .500.
This week’s FBS slate isn’t too exciting, aside from ranked matchups featuring Ohio State and Penn State, and Oklahoma State at Kansas State. Victories in the final stretch of the season come from talent and depth, so it’s rare to see unranked stunners this late into the year. Each team that’s challenging for a bowl game appearance needs to keep its foot on the gas as the season heads into Week 9.

Missouri at No. 25 South Carolina, 4 p.m. ET
Gamecock fans must have been holding their breaths early in the season when South Carolina began with a 1-2 record. After brutal losses to Georgia and Arkansas, the Gamecocks took the training wheels off, snagging back-to-back SEC victories against Texas A&M and Kentucky.
The excitement around the program is reaching its way back to campus, and that will continue against a poor Missouri team. The Tigers grabbed their first win in four games last weekend, but it came against Vanderbilt.
South Carolina is still finding their identity, and a third straight SEC win will certainly help.
Prediction: South Carolina 27, Missouri 17
Virginia Tech at No. 24 NC State, 7:30 p.m. ET
It seems like all Virginia Tech has every year is “Enter Sandman.” The Hokies are 2-5 on the season in the midst of a four-game losing streak. They have the benefit of playing NC State’s backup quarterback Jack Chambers, but the bad part is VT will be on the road at Carter-Finley Stadium.
The hostile crowd, along with an outstanding defense, will put the Wolfpack over the Hokies. It may be closer than advertised, but Virginia Tech will have trouble getting through NC State’s defense all night. The Wolfpack will win their first game with Chambers as the full-time starter.
Prediction: NC State 24, Virginia Tech 13
No. 23 Tulane, Idle
No. 9 Oklahoma State at No. 22 Kansas State, 3:30 p.m. ET
See No. 9 Oklahoma State for prediction
Pittsburgh at No. 21 North Carolina, 8 p.m. ET
The defending ACC champions Pittsburgh Panthers have definitely had an underwhelming season. Pitt lost a great deal of talent after an incredible run in 2021. They looked to restock in the offseason with the addition of quarterback Kedon Slovis while already having significant contributors in the trenches, but it hasn’t been enough.
North Carolina continues to gain the confidence needed to win conference games like this behind promising signal-caller Drake Maye. UNC has an undefeated 3-0 conference record, which happens to be its most recent games of the season. This has the ability to be a shootout, and if it is, Maye and the Tar Heels will come out on top.
Prediction: North Carolina 32, Pittsburgh 26

No. 20 Cincinnati at UCF, 3:30 p.m. ET
The Knights’ toughest matchup of the season is right around the corner. Somehow, they are favorited by multiple websites against the No. 21 team in the country.
UCF’s schedule has been extremely weak; it hasn’t faced a polished team like Cincinnati just yet. The Bearcats don’t show anything that pops out on the stat sheet, except for a six-game win streak. They’ve played multiple lower-level teams as well, but Cincinnati just has the dice rolling its way, winning various games by fewer than five points.
If the Bearcats can stack the box and stop UCF’s running capability, Cincinnati will secure another win and move up the national rankings.
Prediction: Cincinnati 27, UCF 23
No. 19 Kentucky at No. 3 Tennessee, 7:00 p.m. ET
See No. 3 Tennessee for prediction
No. 18 LSU, Idle
No. 17 Illinois at Nebraska, 3:30 p.m. ET
Illinois might be the biggest surprise team of the 2022 season. It ended the 2021 campaign with a 5-7 record, but it is looking at a much improved 6-1 record at the moment. Running back Chase Brown has carried much of the load for the Fighting Illini, recording over 100 yards in each game he’s played this season.
Most football fans are familiar with Nebraska’s ongoing struggles. The Cornhuskers gained slight momentum by beating Indiana and Rutgers in back-to-back weeks, but their most recent match was a loss to Purdue. Home-field advantage will help Nebraska immensely, but it seems like it doesn’t have the arsenal to defeat Illinois. The Fighting Illini’s success on the defensive end will help keep this game close, but a team that allows just 8.9 points per game won’t let an opportunity against Nebraska pass it by.
Prediction: Illinois 28, Nebraska 18
Notre Dame at No. 16 Syracuse, 12 p.m. ET
The Orange are in the midst of one of their best seasons in program history, standing at 6-1 on the year and 3-1 in the conference. Syracuse started the season on a six-game win streak, which may have looked to be down to a weak schedule, but last week’s battle against Clemson showed the Orange can compete with anyone.
They’ll face an average Fighting Irish squad at home with hunger to get back in the win column during the final stretch of the season. That hunger will lead to a win for Syracuse behind star running back Sean Tucker.
Prediction: Syracuse 36, Notre Dame 24

No. 15 Ole Miss at Texas A&M, 7:30 p.m. ET
Head coach Jimbo Fisher is responsible for leading one of the most disappointing teams in the 2022 season. The Aggies are 3-4 on the year with a 1-3 conference record. They’re hosting the run-heavy Rebels, who are desperate for a win after a three-game skid.
Ole Miss, on the other hand, has had a successful year, averaging 38.3 points and 252.1 rushing yards. No opponent has been able to find the key to lock up the Rebels, but a helpful component can be Texas A&M’s 12th man. The crowd and hunger for victory should drive the Aggies to their first win in over a month.
Prediction: Texas A&M 31, Ole Miss 27
No. 14 Utah at Washington State, 10 p.m. ET
The Utes have had some bumps on the road during the 2022 season, with losses to Florida and UCLA, but they continue to be a true threat to the Pac-12 title. Utah knocked off USC last weekend to give the Trojans their first taste of defeat.
Washington State moves through the success of former FCS quarterback Cameron Ward, but connection issues with his offensive line and receivers have caused a two-game losing streak. Ward and the Cougars have the ability to produce against most teams in the conference, but Utah is another experienced program with full trust in its schemes and personnel.
Prediction: Utah 32, Washington State 21
No. 2 Ohio State at No. 13 Penn State, 12 p.m. ET
See No. 2 Ohio State for prediction
Stanford at No. 12 UCLA, 10:30 p.m. ET
It looks like UCLA reached its final destination in Eugene last weekend, losing its first game of the season and coming to an immediate halt. The Bruins don’t have much of an exciting resume, but a game against the Cardinals at home is almost a surefire chance to get back to victory Saturday. UCLA is another team that constantly makes trips to the red zone with a high conversion rate. Stanford is back on its feet after starting the season 1-4, but it doesn’t have the talent or consistency to take down the Bruins on the road.
Prediction: UCLA 36, Stanford 26

No. 10 Wake Forest at Louisville, 3:30 p.m. ET
This game is predicted to be a close matchup—possibly a coin toss according to ESPN. That shouldn’t be the case given Wake Forest’s efficient offense against a weak secondary.
Louisville will be playing at home in this matchup, but that’s not enough to knock off the No. 10 team in the country. Quarterback Malik Cunningham should have a worthy performance, but the Cardinals defense is the biggest issue in this scenario, which will push the Demon Deacons over Louisville.
Prediction: Wake Forest 34, Louisville 23
No. 10 USC at Arizona, 7 p.m. ET
The Trojans tested their luck against a seasoned Utah team on the road and came out with their first loss of the season in Week 8. Quarterback Caleb Williams and the offense were electric yet again, and that won’t stop anytime soon. Williams recorded five touchdowns and 381 yards against the best team they’ve played so far.
The Wildcats are an average team with a fine duo of quarterback Jayden de Laura and wide receiver Jacob Cowing. Arizona can put points on the board, but a low-grade defense going against one of the best offenses in the country isn’t going to end well for the Wildcats.
Prediction: USC 40, Arizona 21
No. 9 Oklahoma State at No. 22 Kansas State, 3:30 p.m. ET
It’s time to give Oklahoma State a brighter spotlight. The Cowboys have quality wins against Texas and Baylor, and they field a phenomenal dual-threat offense with quarterback Spencer Sanders. OSU’s ranking is definitely fair, but it seems like the Cowboys haven’t garnered any media attention.
They’ll be playing a Wildcats squad that loves pounding their offense through the run, so the game will lie on the more consistent weapons. Kansas State will be close to taking down the Cowboys at home, but Oklahoma State’s talent and experience will put it on top, even if the Wildcats have a healthy quarterback room.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 36, Kansas State 27
No. 8 Oregon at California, 3:30 p.m. ET
Despite this game being in Berkeley, the Ducks look nearly unstoppable on a six-game win streak. They’re the No. 1 team in the Pac-12 for a reason—Oregon’s offense is averaging 42.4 points with over 500 yards per game.
California is on the opposite side of that streak, losing its last three games to conference opponents. The Bears started the season 3-1 and everything quickly hit a downward spiral. They don’t have the defense to compete with a team like Oregon, giving the Ducks the edge in the road matchup.
Prediction: Oregon 48, California 20
No. 7 TCU at West Virginia, 12 p.m. ET
The Horned Frogs are playing with their heads on fire, riding a seven-game win streak as one of the few undefeated teams in college football. After warming up with three mediocre opponents to begin the season, TCU has taken down four straight ranked teams. It will be heading to Morgantown, a place that lives through college football year by year.
The Mountaineers are still the underdogs in this matchup. They have the ability to put the ball in the end zone, but WVU’s defense is abysmal, giving up 33.7 points per game this season. The environment might give TCU trouble, but it’s not enough to break the streak.
Prediction: TCU 35, West Virginia 23
No. 6 Alabama, Idle

No. 5 Clemson, Idle
Michigan State at No. 4 Michigan, 7:30 p.m. ET
One of the best in-state rivalries in college football is set to kickoff on Saturday night in Ann Arbor. The undefeated Wolverines will host the 3-4 Spartans on prime time. Michigan is levels ahead of MSU talentwise, but a rivalry like this always calls for a close game.
The Wolverines are heavy favorites, with a high-scoring offense led by incredible run-play ability through Blake Corum. Michigan State has struggled to put points on the board, and that won’t sit well against a team that’s averaged over 40 points on the season. The nerves may kick in for both teams, though, so the Wolverines shouldn’t run up the score.
Prediction: Michigan 32, Michigan State 24
No. 19 Kentucky at No. 3 Tennessee, 7 p.m. ET
Following a bye week, the Wildcats will head to Knoxville, Tennessee, to face arguably the hottest team in the nation. Similar to Georgia’s matchup, the Volunteers have their eyes set on the College Football Playoff, and they can’t afford to stumble on any home opportunities.
Kentucky has been impressive at times this season, but a streaky offense won’t get it past Tennessee. Even if the Volunteers got the best version of the Wildcats, Tennessee is too talented to lose these types of games. The Volunteers offense is on a tier of its own, and that won’t change anytime soon.
Prediction: Tennessee 45, Kentucky 21
No. 2 Ohio State at No. 13 Penn State, 12 p.m. ET
C.J. Stroud, one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, will compete against a talented defense starring safety Ji’Ayir Brown and linebacker Abdul Carter. The Big Ten bout is the game of the week, with both teams fighting for the No. 1 spot in the conference.
Penn State looked convincing as Big Ten competitors early in the season, but reality hit when it visited the Michigan Wolverines two weeks ago. The Nittany Lions have a talented roster, but it won’t be enough to stop an explosive Buckeyes offense, even at Beaver Stadium.
Prediction: Ohio State 37, Penn State 28
Florida at No. 1 Georgia, 3:30 p.m. ET
Quarterback Stetson Bennett and the Bulldogs are the No. 1 team in the country for many a reason. They’re not the dominant force that the college football world witnessed last season, but they’re headed for another trip to the CFP if they keep up the pace.
Georgia can’t afford to drop its first game of the season against a poor Florida team that’s struggled all season. The Bulldogs will secure another win in Athens without a scratch. The only way the Gators can leave the state of Georgia with a victory is quarterback Anthony Richardson having the game of his career, which is unlikely.
Prediction: Georgia 44, Florida 23

Arkansas at Auburn, 12 p.m. ET
This has to be one of the hardest games to predict since both teams have failed to impress anyone this season. Arkansas has a couple decent wins against Cincinnati and BYU, but Auburn’s best win comes against Missouri in overtime.
Jordan-Hare Stadium plays a huge role in this matchup, and it’s the Tigers’ biggest asset. Both squads are 1-3 in the last four games, with Auburn’s last win coming over a month ago.
The talent from the Razorbacks’ side is superior to the Tigers’, so Arkansas gets the edge in the SEC contest. Arkansas can finally gain some much-needed momentum after it secures two straight wins.
Prediction: Arkansas 34, Auburn 25
Rutgers at Minnesota, 2:30 ET
This is an important game for both parties to stay over .500 and keep their names in bowl contention. The Scarlet Knights don’t have much to lose, facing a Gophers team that’s lost three straight games. Rutgers is on the road, but Minnesota is vulnerable, dealing with recent injuries and offensive mishaps.
The Gophers won’t let Rutgers go back home with a win, but if the same Minnesota team from recent weeks show up, it may be too close for comfort. Minnesota should ultimately win this matchup since it is starving in the Big Ten cafeteria, but it won’t be a pretty win unless the Gophers defense has a dominant showing.
Prediction: Minnesota 25, Rutgers 21
Baylor at Texas Tech, 7:30 ET
It depends what type of Red Raiders team shows up this weekend, since Texas Tech has been pretty unpredictable. It’s 4-3 on the season, but two of those wins came in overtime.
Baylor has to be disappointed with its season after winning the Big 12 title less than a year ago. The Bears are better than their record shows; they’re 4-3, with two of three losses being single-digit defeats. Both teams have been head-to-head against multiple ranked opponents, with a definite losing record in those games.
Baylor seems to be a step ahead of the Red Raiders, but Texas Tech’s offense has the ability to catch fire. The Red Raiders will air it out against the Bears, forcing another loss for Baylor.
Prediction: Texas Tech 37, Baylor 28

Thursday
Louisiana at Southern Miss, 7:30 p.m. ET: Louisiana 27, Southern Miss 20
Friday
East Carolina at BYU, 8:00 p.m. ET: BYU 26, East Carolina 16
Louisiana Tech at Florida International, 8:00 p.m. ET: Louisiana Tech 40, Florida International 17
Saturday
Colorado State at Boise State, 7:00 p.m. ET: Boise State 31, Colorado State 18
San Diego State at Fresno State, 10:30 p.m. ET: Fresno State 27, San Diego State 21
South Florida at Houston, 12:00 p.m. ET: Houston 42, South Florida 26
SMU at Tulsa, 3:30 p.m. ET: Tulsa 24, SMU 21
Oklahoma at Iowa State, 12:00 p.m. ET: Iowa State 23, Oklahoma 21
Boston College at UConn, 12:00 p.m. ET: Boston College 32, UConn 17
Georgia Tech at Florida State, 12:00 p.m. ET: Florida State 36, Georgia Tech 16
Toledo at Eastern Michigan, 12:00 p.m. ET: Toledo 33, Eastern Michigan 19
Miami (OH) at Akron, 12:00 p.m. ET: Miami (OH) 30, Akron 21
Miami at Virginia, 12:30 p.m. ET: Miami 28, Virginia 24
Charlotte at Rice, 2:00 p.m. ET: Rice 32, Charlotte 22
Old Dominion at Georgia Southern, 3:00 p.m. ET: Georgia State 36, Old Dominion 27
Northwestern at Iowa, 3:30 p.m. ET: Iowa 26, Northwestern 14
New Mexico State at UMass, 3:30 p.m. ET: UMass 21, New Mexico State 9
Temple at Navy, 3:30 p.m. ET: Navy 28, Temple 17
Robert Morris at Appalachian State, 3:30 p.m. ET: Appalachian State 41, Robert Morris 10
North Texas at Western Kentucky, 3:30 p.m. ET: Western Kentucky 35, North Texas 23
Southern Alabama at Arkansas State, 4:00 p.m. ET: South Alabama 32, Arkansas State 21
Coastal Carolina at Marshall, 7:00 p.m. ET: Coastal Carolina 27, Marshall 23
UAB at Florida Atlantic, 7:00 p.m. ET: UAB 27, Florida Atlantic 18
Arizona State at Colorado, 7:30 p.m. ET: Arizona State 28, Colorado 14
Middle Tennessee at UTEP, 9:00 p.m. ET: Middle Tennessee 25, UTEP 18
Nevada at San Jose State, 10:30 p.m. ET: San Jose State 31, Nevada 13
Wyoming at Hawai’i, 11:59 p.m. ET: Wyoming 27, Hawai’i 26
The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.
The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.

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