We are well into the swing of the season now with games coming thick and fast, with week 9 being no different at all. With the Thursday night games having whetted our appetites last night, Jake and Lee have 7 games for you to sink your teeth into right here, starting tonight with a game from the American conference…
Navy Midshipmen (1-6) vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (3-4) – Skelly Field at H. A. Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Saturday 30th October 12.30am (UK)
Tulsa 11 point favourites at the time of writing
Despite the battle of the negative records in the AAC, there is plenty to like about the game in Tulsa. The Midshipmen are struggling for form, but can gain positives from their narrow loss to #2 Cincinnati last time out, whilst Tulsa will be looking for their third win on the bounce after victories against Memphis and South Florida.
The stat that really makes this game intriguing is Navy’s 6-2 series lead over the Hurricane, including a 4-0 record in Tulsa. Despite Tulsa coming in favourites for this game, there is certainly an element of optimism in the Navy camp based on recent record alone.
Despite the youthfulness of Navy’s offensive line, they can rely on Isaac Ruoss and James Harris II to build upon their 211 rushing yards a game, whilst Tai Lavatai can exploit the running game, as well as being consistent with his throwing. They certainly have the running game to attack Tulsa, and cause them problems, but the reliance on their offensive line to allow Lavatai to make plays will be key.
Tulsa will need to find a way to control the ball due to Navy’s reliance on the running game. If they can manage the clock and have the ball as often as possible then they can stifle Navy’s offense and find a way to pick up points. Navy currently ranks 2nd in AAC for rushing yards allowed, and 3rd overall for total yards in the AAC. This will make them a tough proposition to break down, but the offense will be led by Davis Brin, and if he can make plays happen and get his receivers the ball things may look better for Tulsa as the game goes on. They will also need Shamari Brooks, Anthony Watkins and Deneric Prince to continue their fine form on the ground to attack the solid defense of Navy.
Tulsa are expected to turn Navy over with plenty of points to spare, but this one could be a lot closer than first expected.
Texas Longhorns (4-3) vs. #16 Baylor Bears (6-1) – McLane Stadium, Waco, Texas
Saturday 30th October 5pm (UK)
Baylor 3 point favourites at the time of writing
It may not be the big rivalry in Texas, but the Big XII clash between these two certainly has excitement written all over it. The reeling Longhorns will be desperate to stop the rot after two tough home losses to two Oklahoma teams, whilst the surprising Bears will look to pick up where they left off last time out.
With 61.5 being the over/under total in this game, there must be plenty of offense expected from these two teams.
Texas will look to talisman Bijan Robinson, who has been incredible this season so far. He has 10 rushing touchdowns in 7 games and averaging 6.3 yards a carry. If there was going to be a running back that will break down Baylor’s tough defense then there must be optimism from the Longhorns that it will be Robinson.
From the aerial side of things, Casey Thompson will find it tough against a defense that is only allowing 6.8 yards a pass, the fewest in the Big-12. He will need to try and play the short passes consistently and often, as well as throwing in the occasional play-action to try and catch Baylor off-guard.
Baylor has the solid and impressive Gerry Bohanon at quarterback, a player who has been intercepted just once this season. He has thrown for 12 touchdowns and averaged 9 yards a pass, the third best in the Big XII. If he runs into any trouble, then he has the explosive Abram Smith and Trestan Ebner to exploit the running game. Averaging 6.1 yards a carry, the highest in the conference, Smith is also joint on rushing touchdowns with Robinson.
The Longhorns’ defense has been leaky to say the least in the last 4 games, allowing 37 points a game, including 55 to Oklahoma. They will need to be as good as they can to overcome Baylor, and the bye week may have allowed them to come up with a plan to ruin Baylor’s season. This game should be a Baylor win, but don’t be surprised to see Texas cause an upset in Waco.
Texas Tech Red Raiders (5-3) vs. #4 Oklahoma Sooners (8-0) – Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium, Norman, Oklahoma
Saturday 30th October – 8.30pm (UK)
Oklahoma 19.5 point favourites at the time of writing
Oklahoma are sitting atop of the Big XII with a perfect record of 8-0, however we all know this doesn’t tell the full story of the Sooners’ season, not at all.
Oklahoma has been in a couple of scraps, they’ve had their noses bloodied, they’ve had spotty quarterback play, to the point where their presumptive top-5 draft selection doesn’t look like he’s even going to be in the NFL next year. So you can see this one of two ways; they’re either very fortunate to be in this position, or they’re a gritty team who finds a way.
They answer, as is so often the case with these binary choices, is actually somewhere in between the two.
It is undeniable that Caleb Williams’ introduction to the team has lit a fire under the offense – To the point where he’s quite literally ripping the ball off his team mates to make a play and ensure that Oklahoma comes away with the win.
Did anybody actually establish whether that was legal or not, by the way?
Although, it’s also undeniable that the Sooners’ defense isn’t having a great year.
I am a fan of Alex Grinch, their Defensive Coordinator, but they’re looking disjointed and giving up far too many points.
So what will we see on Saturday evening?
Well, Texas Tech is a team who can trade blows. These guys have been in a number of high scorers this year and have been on the giving and receiving end of these kinds of results – So if you want to see explosive offenses and a whole heap of points getting scored, this one is the game for you!
The under/over is set at 66.5, which I think is pretty low considering the games that these two teams have been involved in.
There will be a good amount of offensive talent on show on both sides here; my guy Erik Ezukanma (above) could be on for a good game. The Texas Tech star has actually scored more rushing TDs than receiving TDs this season (2 vs. 1), which is odd for a 6’3 wide receiver but I’d back him to cause Oklahoma’s DBs a few problems.
That said, I could say the same for Marvin Mims and Jadon Haselwood for the Sooners.
Get some snacks in and get comfy because there’s going to be points here!
#10 Ole Miss Rebels (6-1) vs. #18 Auburn Tigers (5-2) – Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Alabama
Sunday 31st October – 12am (UK)
Ole Miss 3 point favourites at the time of writing
In the SEC this week we are being treated to a clash between a pair of teams who are enjoying decent seasons in the West division of the conference.
Way back before the season began I actually backed Auburn to have a bit of an iffy year, although I have to say I do think they’re maybe a game better off than I expected, but I do expect them to be dealt three more losses in conference play the rest of the way, starting with this game against the Mississippi Rebels.
I do think that this will be an intriguing game with the strengths of each team facing off against each other; the offense of Mississippi vs. The defense of the Tigers.
I like a good number of Auburn defenders, in particular the starting corner duo, Roger McCreary and Nehemiah Pritchett.
The will be doing well to suppress the arm and passing attack of Matt Corral, who will surely be looking to wrestle back some of the attention from others now that he’s not still flavour of the month when it comes to draftable quarterbacks.
Linebacker Zakoby McClain will also have to be on point too, as Ole Miss has a pretty balanced offense who can also move the ball on the ground as well as via the pass. McClain is having a good year so far – He’s a player who is anchoring the front seven for Auburn and is a player who can do it all, and if he has a great game he gives Auburn a real shot at keeping the score low and giving the Tigers a chance.
The fact that the defense needs to keep the score low is actually pretty imperative for this Tigers team.
The offense just isn’t prolific. It never has been with Bo Nix at the controls. Which for me, makes this game a difficult one to win.
Ole Miss put up points too easily with Corral and I just feel like they will overpower Auburn, if not at first then eventually they’ll grind them down and in my book, Auburn either needs to play outstanding defense or hope for an off day. That 3 point handicap shouldn’t take too much to overcome.
#20 Penn State Nittany Lions (5-2) vs. #5 Ohio State Buckeyes (6-1) – Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
Sunday 31st October 12.30am (UK)
Ohio State 18.5 point favourites at the time of writing
This game should be close if you see the records on paper but take a deeper look and you see a Penn State side who have lost their last two games and really struggle to get it going on offense. Then you look at Ohio State, and you see a side who narrowly lost to Oregon, before going on an explosive run in their last 5 games, scoring less than 50 points in just one of those games.
C.J Stroud and the Ohio State offense are playing unbelievably in the last 5 games. They have the nation’s best receiving trio in Garrett Wilson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Chris Olave, whilst possessing one of the standout quarterbacks in 2021. Their running game has also been electric, with TreVyeon Henderson averaging 8.8 yards a carry and having 22 rushing touchdowns, whilst Miyan Williams is averaging 7.7 yards a carry. So how do you stop this offense? Especially when your defense allowed 356 rushing yards last time out. You just can’t, you just hope the secondary holds the receivers to minimal yardage, and the rushing defense steps up. If all else fails….
Penn State’s offense relies heavily on Sean Clifford being 100% and producing the performances that sees him have 1,647 yards this season. However, with him struggling to be 100% for the game at the weekend, then there could be holes in the Penn State offense. If he can pick up his performances and go back to the Clifford that started this season, then the Buckeyes may find it hard to control him.
The Buckeyes’ defense has been steadily improving, and results have matched this. But as seen by the loss to Oregon, they have some holes in certain areas. Even Tulsa and Minnesota were very much in the game up until the 4th quarter. If Penn State can exploit the lack of a real game breaking pass rusher, then they may push this game a bit closer than expected.
However, Ohio State is strong in most departments and will look to control the ball for a length of time. If this is to be the case then the Nittany Lions have zero to minimal chance to be brutally honest. This game could be tight, or this game could be heavily controlled by the Buckeyes. My initial thought is the latter, and with the options they have in offense, then they can quite easily dispatch Penn State quite heavily.
UCLA Bruins (5-3) vs. Utah Utes (4-3) – Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah
Sunday 31st October – 2am (UK)
Utah 4.5 point favourites at the time of writing
And for the night owls amongst us, the Pac-12 is offering up a treat with another really interesting match up within a division, but unlike the SEC match up, this one will have a huge bearing on who takes the Pac-12 South title.
Both Utah and UCLA lost last week and handed Arizona State a place in our winners column last week, despite not taking the field.
UCLA has zero ranked opponents left to play and really has a soft schedule for the remainder of the season (although, when does that matter in the Pac-12?). Utah, on the other hand, has this game against UCLA, a chippy Stanford side and Oregon to face, so they can afford no more slip-ups, especially when you consider that Arizona State is a game in front. However Utah do own the tie-breaking courtesy of their win of the Sun Devils earlier this year, which could be massive!
When we look at the odds, Utah being favoured by 4.5 says a lot. We usually allow a 3 point sway just for being at home, so really the bookies think this is pretty much a push, and as even as they come, which I would tend to agree to.
Both of these teams have their flaws, but they’re also pretty decent teams as well. They are both liable to drop a game where they shouldn’t, BYU and San Diego State are testament of that for Utah, and for UCLA you could point towards losses against
Although nice wins against LSU for UCLA and the aforementioned victory over the division leaders for Utah, shows that these teams can overcome big tests too.
So where will this one be won and lost?
For me, Utah is always a sum greater than their parts, whereas UCLA has some of the more individually talented players who can be game winners on their days, such as Zach Charbonnet and the talented offensive linemen that they have.
So with that in mind I feel that this comes down to the guy who is going to be the best player on the field, who is in fact a defensive stalwart for the Utes – Linebacker Devin Lloyd.
Can Lloyd lead the unit to smother and suffocate the Bruins offense?
If he can, then I think Utah keeps the score low enough and the Utes win the game.
Whilst Cam rising isn’t a super-explosive QB at this point, he beat out veteran competition to win the job, and they do have the trio of tight end talent to work with (as pointed out by our guy Keith in his scouting notes for week 7).
I’ll back the Utes here to take it in a close on – However, expect this game to have the usual thrills and spills that litter every Pac-12 game!
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