Tigers Tussle – Week 9 Preview

Big SEC West match-up one of just a couple marquee games this week in the FBS. However, don’t sleep on the #1 vs. #3 match-up in the FCS on Saturday. Photos courtesy of Brandon Marcello & Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.

Taking a look at the slate of games this week in college football, there are few that really catch the eye. While yes there are huge match-ups both in the Big 10 and SEC, outside of that there really doesn’t appear that many great games. Or so you would think. I actually think there are a number of games this week that are ones to keep an eye on that don’t include Top 25 ranked teams.

For instance, the game tonight might not be the most appetizing match-up on paper, but USC at Colorado might just be one of the games of the weekend. The Buffs have struggled the past few weeks, but get a chance at home tonight to knock USC off their top spot in the PAC-12 South. USC has a huge game next weekend when they host Oregon. Could the Trojans be looking ahead? Can the Buffs catch them sleeping and get a big conference win at home? We’ll will find out a lot more about this USC team tonight. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Colorado did in fact pull the upset here.

Sticking with underrated games this weekend, there is a highly important game in the American Conference between two West Division teams. Navy gets set to host Tulane on Saturday afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in what feels like a must win game for both teams. Both enter this game only one game back of SMU in the American West race. Both teams also still have a shot at SMU later on this season, so a loss here really hurts any chances of a division title. If the LSU/Auburn games gets out of hand or becomes dull at any point, turn the TV over to CBSSN and check out this one. I think Navy is the best of the military academies this year and is slightly better, especially on defense, in this game. I’ll take the Midshipmen at home.

In the FCS, College Gameday will be traveling to Brookings, SD for the first time ever in preparation for the #1 vs. #3 match-up between North Dakota State and South Dakota State. These two Missouri Valley Conference foes hate each other. The Bison have won 7 of the last 8 FCS National Championships including the last two, but it’s been the Jackrabbits that have won two of the last three regular season match-ups against the Bison. Saturday afternoon, we will watch as two of the best defenses in the FCS collide against two of the best offenses. Both the Bison and Jackrabbits like to run the football, but have excellent quarterbacks that have no problem throwing it downfield either. Both teams are Championship caliber programs that will more than likely meet again in the playoffs, but for now, Saturday’s game is all that matters and both teams would love nothing more than a win against their bitter rival.

While all of these games will be great games to watch, there are a number of several big games in the FBS that are getting all the attention, and rightfully so.

Wisconsin, coming off a road loss to Illinois, heads to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes. The Badgers come in limping, but I feel they will also be coming in a little angry, which is not what the Buckeyes wanted. The Wisconsin defense is very good and will be the toughest test to date for this Ohio State offense. Luckily, the Buckeyes are at home, a place where they don’t lose very often.

An old rivalry is revisited Saturday night in Ann Arbor when Notre Dame and Michigan square off. The Irish have had no real troubles this season outside of the loss at Georgia where I actually thought they out played the Dawgs. Michigan still can’t seem to win a big game against a Top 10 team with losses to Wisconsin and Penn State. The difference here is that Michigan lost those games on the road, while they do get the advantage of getting Notre Dame at home. The rivalry was restored last year after the two teams took a couple years away from each other. The Irish have won the last two in the series, but have not won in “The Big House” since 2005. They’ll have to do something they haven’t done in 14 years if they want to keep any shot at the playoff alive.

And lastly, there’s LSU and Auburn. A huge Top 10 SEC West showdown. Auburn has been very good defensively this year, but have really struggled to stay consistent on offense, example the Florida game a couple of weeks ago. While the defense has been elite, they aren’t going to see the same LSU team they are used to. This new look LSU offense is explosive, putting up over 50 points and 540 yards per game. LSU has already passed a couple of tests against Texas and Florida and have the major advantage of being at home in Baton Rouge. The last time that Auburn went into “Death Valley” and beat LSU was back in 1999. I mentioned Notre Dame needing to do something special on the road, Auburn really needs to do something special to win in Baton Rouge for the first time in 20 years.

Plenty of great games to watch this weekend. Here are my picks for some of this weekend’s action.

South Carolina (-4.5) @ Tennessee – 4:00 – SEC Network

Both teams come into this game after heart-breaking losses against Top 10 teams a week ago. Had Tennessee had better communication down at the goal line they had a good shot to knock off Alabama on the road. South Carolina had the lead for most of the game against Florida, but a late game turnover and sloppy conditions saw their lead fall away into an 11 point loss. Now the Gamecocks head to Knoxville on Saturday. South Carolina really needs a win here if they want to make a bowl game, while Tennessee would love nothing more than to spoil the Gamecock’s season. If Brian Maurer was healthy for the Vols, I think Tennessee would be able to win. But because he’s not going to be ready to go, I’m taking South Carolina in a close one.

South Carolina – 28, Tennessee – 24

Boston College @ #4 Clemson (-34) – 7:30 – ACCN

It’s homecoming for the Tigers this week and they host ACC rival Boston College. The Tigers have won the last eight in the series and ten of the last eleven. The Eagles haven’t beaten the Tigers since 2010 and haven’t won in Clemson since Matt Ryan beat the Tigers on a deep pass at the end of regulation in 2007. The Eagles no longer have their starting quarterback due to injury, but they have two running backs that have no problems running through and over people. Unfortunately for them, they are going against a Clemson defense that is very stout against the run. The Boston College defense has been exposed a number of times this year and will have a lot of trouble stopping Clemson on Saturday night. Clemson wins and wins big over BC.

Clemson – 52, Boston College – 14

#8 Notre Dame @ #19 Michigan (-1) – 7:30 – ABC

Notre Dame and Michigan. A classic rivalry that has once again been re-booted. The Irish have been playing lights out on defense this year and looked very impressive in a road loss at Georgia. Michigan has had a couple of tough losses to Big 10 opposition, but may have gained a little confidence after nearly completing a comeback against Penn State last week. The Wolverines will need to bring their “A” game, even though they are the early favorite in this game. As I said earlier, it’s been a long time since the Irish have won in Ann Arbor, but I think they are able to get it done this Saturday night in convincing fashion.

Notre Dame – 31, Michigan – 20

#13 Wisconsin @ #3 Ohio State (-14.5) – Noon – FOX

The Buckeyes will have their first real test of 2019 when they face Wisconsin. The Badgers were stunned last week when Illinois kicked a last second, game winning field goal. That might have been a good thing if you are Wisconsin fan because now you have a team that will be playing angry. Ohio State is very good, but we really get to see how good they are on Saturday. I think the Buckeyes win, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they have to do it on a game winning drive at the end of regulation, or even in overtime. Ohio State wins a very close one at home.

Ohio State – 28, Wisconsin – 21

#9 Auburn @ #2 LSU (-10.5) – 3:30 – CBS

This should be a fantastic football game. The match-up to watch, in my opinion, is the LSU offense against the Auburn defense. We have all been enamored with LSU’s offense so far this season, and rightly so, but they are going to be going up against the toughest defense they’ve faced to date. Has been able to shut down high powered offenses like Oregon and Texas A&M, so you know they have the tools to try to stop LSU. The question for me, is can Bo Nix and the Auburn offense find a rhythm? They have been inconsistent on that side of the ball all year. They will need a big game from Nix if Auburn wants to knock off LSU on the road. That’s a big ask for a true freshman.

LSU – 31, Auburn, 17

As for the big match-up this week in the FCS:

#1 North Dakota State @ #3 South Dakota State – 3:00

A smell an upset brewing. I think the combination of College Gameday and this game being in Brookings sets up perfectly for the Jackrabbits. South Dakota State has had some success against the Bison in their regular season match-ups of recent. Both offenses are really explosive and can put up points and both defenses are probably the best in all of FCS football. That being said, I think the Jackrabbits somehow find to way to pull out a close win at home.

SDSU – 27, NDSU – 24

And my SoCon picks for Week 9:

Mercer @ The Citadel – 2:00

I’m interested to see how The Citadel comes out against Mercer after man handling Furman a week ago. Will there be any hang over or over confidence? I think that is the dynamic to watch. Mercer finally got back in the win column last week by beating VMI, but they lost starting QB Robert Riddle. However, that may not hurt the Bears as backup Kaelan Riley is very good and brings a dual-threat aspect to the Mercer offense. The Citadel shouldn’t overlook this Mercer team. I think The Citadel wins, but it is a lot closer than people are predicting.

The Citadel – 35, Mercer – 31

Chattanooga @ Wofford – 1:30

This biggest game of the day in the SoCon will be taking place out in Spartanburg. Chattanooga enters on top of the conference and the only remaining unbeaten team in conference play. Wofford, though, is right behind with only one conference loss this season. We know the Terriers can run the ball, and they’ve shown to be very capable of throwing it as well, but the Terriers defense doesn’t get nearly enough love. Their challenge this week is stop a Chattanooga offense that is starting to build an identity around their powerful run game. While a loss for Wofford doesn’t necessarily knock them out of the conference title race, it sure doesn’t help either. Chattanooga may also be looking ahead to a meeting with Furman next week. I’m going to take the Terriers to knock off the Mocs at home.

Wofford – 30, Chattanooga – 24

Some really good games around the FBS and FCS this weekend. I would love to know you’re thoughts about some of this week’s match-ups as well as your thoughts on my picks. Go over to Facebook and Twitter and like us. The Week 9 Preview show is now up on our podcast page or over on Soundcloud. SoCon John and I had a really interesting conversation about which conference is the best right now.

NFL

Several tasty match-ups in the NFL this week as well. The Carolina Panthers, coming off a bye, heads to the west coast to take on the 49ers. San Francisco has been surprisingly good this year and sit atop the NFC West through seven weeks. Carolina has played themselves back into contention having won four in a row since dropping the first two to start the year. The Panthers have a more consistent identity on offense with Kyle Allen at quarterback and the Panthers defense continues to improve from week to week. However, while I would love to see a Panthers win on Sunday, I think San Fran is just too good and gets a close win over Carolina.

New England just added another weapon in Mohamed Sanu to their offense and will look to remain unbeaten when the host the Browns. Cleveland, for all of the hype in the pre-season, has been wildly overrated and very unimpressive, especially on offense.

The match-up between Green Bay and Kansas City took a bit of a hit when Patrick Maholmes got hurt last week. Even with him out, this is still a very interesting match-up to watch on Sunday night. Any game involving Aaron Rodgers is going to be good one. Packers should get a win, but I still expect KC to compete and make it a close game.

Upstate High School

Due to some weather issues in the Upstate of South Carolina projected for tonight, a number of schools went ahead and moved their games to last night. Greenville and D.W. Daniel both had blowout wins as both teams ended up shutting out their opponents (Berea and Pickens respectively). Wren also had a big win over BHP 55-28.

My Travelers Rest Devildogs got another big win last night by beating Blue Ridge for the second time this season 35-28 at home. Travelers Rest looks to cap off the regular season with a win over rival Berea next week and finish the regular season at 8-2. Devildogs looking good as they hope to make a playoff run.

Plenty of good games tonight here in the Palmetto State. Here are a few to keep an eye on.

Boiling Springs (4-4) @ Gaffney (5-3)

Liberty (3-5) @ Pendleton (5-3)

Southside (4-3) @ Chapman (8-0)

T.L. Hanna (6-1) @ Laurens (6-1)

Easley (3-5) @ Woodmont (5-3)

Hillcrest (4-4) @ Byrnes (7-1)

Dorman (8-0) @ Mauldin (5-3)

Walhalla (6-2) @ Palmetto (4-4)

Newberry (5-3) @ Union County (5-3)

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