Whoa Nellie, are there a lot of excellent match-ups to get excited about in week nine! This week will play a big role in separating the contenders from the pretenders. Without any further ado:
Game of the Week
(5) Notre Dame at (8)Oklahoma 8 p.m. ABC
Isn't it a little strange to be watching Notre Dame undefeated and playing relevant games on a weekly basis again? Like him or not, give Brian Kelly credit for breathing life into a program that all of his predecessors since Lou Holtz failed to do. Notre Dame's defense has been outstanding so far, but face a stiff challenge this week as the Oklahoma offense has plenty of weapons. Notre Dame has struggled against two very good teams at home the past two weeks. Now they must travel to take on the best team they've played all season.
Oklahoma- 24 Notre Dame- 16
(2)Florida vs. (10)Georgia 3:30 p.m. CBS
A few weeks back, it looked like Georgia would be the heavy favorite in this game. But then both teams season's took an unexpected turn. In their past three games, Georgia has two close wins against Tennessee and Kentucky sandwiched between getting stomped by South Carolina (who then lost to Florida by 33 points). At this rate, this will be the last time the UGA sniff the top 10 this season.
Prediction: Florida- 27 Georgia- 13
(11)Mississippi State at (1)Alabama 8:30 p.m. ESPN
As Dan mentioned earlier in the week, Alabama is somehow recognized as the hands-down best team in the nation, yet are still having a very quiet season. It's gotten to the point that everyone just quit paying attention to the Tide, expecting them to stomp their opponents each week. Is it possible the players are adopting this ho-hum attitude as well? It's very doubtful with Nick Saban at the helm. Mississippi State has had a fantastic start to the season, but none of its opponents have even sniffed the Top 25. The Bulldogs should be able to put up a fight, but a win in Tuscaloosa at night may be too much to ask.
Prediction: Alabama- 28 Mississippi State- 14
(14)Texas Tech at (3)Kansas State 3:30 p.m. FOX
What Bill Snyder has done in Manhattan this year is nothing short of incredible. It's not surprising, considering that we all knew Snyder was an excellent coach. However, Snyder built Kansas State from the ground up into a national contender in the '90s. After his retirement, Kansas State found themselves back in the Big 12 basement on a regular basis. Snyder un-retires, and what do you know? Kansas State is right back in the national title hunt again. The work Tommy Tubberville has done to rebuild Texas Tech should not be overlooked, either. The Red Raiders have only lost one game to Oklahoma. This time around, they may possess the wherewithal to knock off a top-ranked conference foe.
Kansas State- 38 Texas Teck- 28
Keep An Eye On
(9)USC at Arizona 3:30 p.m. ABC/ESPN2
USC has a habit of allowing teams to hang close, while Arizona is capable of lighting up the scoreboard against just about anyone. It could make for a very interesting afternoon in the desert.
Prediction: USC-38 Arizona- 34
Duke at (12)Florida State 3:30 p.m. ESPNU
Duke has surprised everyone outside of Durham by becoming bowl-eligible after a 6-2 start. If the Blue Devils can pull off the upset over the mighty Seminoles, Duke head coach David Cutliffe may jump to the top of the list of National Coach of the Year candidates.
Prediction: Florida State- 35 Duke- 20
Kent State at (15)Rutgers 3:30 p.m.
I know not many of you give two hoots about this game, but there is a very good chance my alma mater goes bowling for the first time since Jack Lambert played at for the Golden Flashes. An upset over a ranked opponent would be huge boost to the program, whose own student body and community has been indifferent at best for the past few decades.
Prediction: Kent State- 63 Rutgers- 14