Noah Gardner gives his Week 9 picks in college football. Follow him on Twitter at @pointguardner.
#5 Georgia at Kentucky – 11 a.m. SEC Network
College football has been hard to figure in out 2020. Kentucky rattled off two-straight wins against Mississippi State and Tennessee, but then proceeded to fall to Missouri last week. Just when you think the Wildcats are building momentum, Kentucky succumbed to the up-and-down nature of the season. One thing has been consistent about Kentucky: a subpar offense. Only averaging 308 yards per game, the Georgia defense is going to have a day feasting on the Wildcat offense.
Michigan State at #13 Michigan – 11 a.m. FOX
Polar opposites in the first week of Big Ten play, these two rivals are in different places going into the second game of conference play. Michigan State lost to Rutgers 38-27, while Michigan walloped a ranked Minnesota squad 49-24. This game isn’t as much about who will win as it is about if Michigan continues to look like a Big Ten championship contender.
#17 Indiana at Rutgers – 2:30 p.m. Big Ten Network
Despite neither of these offenses surpassing 300 yards last week, they still found a way to score in the high 30s in order to pull upsets against mainstays in the Big Ten. At the moment, it’s an overreaction to say these two teams are good. Indiana has shown improvement in the program more recently than Rutgers, and a win over Penn State is much more impressive than Michigan State. Indiana appears to be the more legitimate team at this stage.
LSU at Auburn – 2:30 p.m. CBS
Before the season began, I expected LSU to experience their current troubles, but Auburn’s struggles have came as a surprise. Looking at the two teams on paper, Auburn appears to be the more talented and experienced team. Nonetheless, both teams enter the game with an inconsistent resume. For the last three seasons, Auburn has had this game circled, and they’ve lost each matchup in gut-wrenching fashion. This is the confidence-building win Auburn needs to get over the hump in 2020.
Texas at #6 Oklahoma State – 3 p.m. FOX
Oklahoma State has been running for its life from the mediocre cesspool that is the Big 12 conference. Last week, the Cowboys barely squeaked by Iowa State, and they won’t be so fortunate this week. Oklahoma State’s offense is centered around the explosive Chuba Hubbard. While he is an effective rusher, the Cowboy offense hasn’t taken off to match his production, only averaging 28.5 points per game. Expect Sam Ehlinger and the Longhorns to outpace Oklahoma State in a close one. Once the dust settles, Kansas State will be the only team undefeated in Big 12 play, for now…
Mississippi State at #2 Alabama – 6 p.m. ESPN
This doesn’t have to be too detailed. One of these teams has scored 30 points over the last three games and the other has scored 152. Good luck, Mississippi State.
#3 Ohio State at #18 Penn State – 6:30 p.m. ABC
Pick: Ohio State
Statistically, Penn State’s loss to Indiana is not as bad as it seems. The Nittany Lions only gave up 211 yards in the loss. Chalk it up to mental mistakes and an opportunistic Indiana squad. Don’t write off Penn State just yet. This game should be closer than the experts predict. Penn State put up 250 rushing yards last week, and Ohio State allowed 210 rushing yards to Nebraska. Penn State should be able to equalize this game with the rushing attack if they can limit turnovers in the passing game, unlike last week’s two interceptions. Ohio State still has too many weapons and the better quarterback to lose this game.
Arkansas at #8 Texas A&M – 6:30 p.m. SEC Network
Would you believe me if I told you Kellen Mond and Feleipe Franks have almost the exact same stat line? It’s surprising because Mond had so much hype surrounding him and the Aggie offense, while Franks had largely been forgotten about in this league. Now, it’s Arkansas with a chance to leap into the top three of the SEC West, and Texas A&M can be written off as a contender in the SEC. Arkansas has produced 13 takeaways through four games, which is most in the SEC. Texas A&M is the most accident-prone team in the SEC, and Arkansas will take advantage of it.
Missouri at #10 Florida – 6:30 p.m. SEC Network Alternate
This is the first game Florida has played in three weeks when the Gators lost to Texas A&M. The big question for Florida is how do they respond to the off period. Mistakes will be made, but points will be scored. Kyle Trask and the Florida offense is too high-powered for Missouri to keep up. How will the Gator defense handle the upstart Missouri quarterback Connor Bazelak? All eyes are on Florida to see if they are good enough to surpass Georgia in the East.