College Football Week 9 Picks: Breaking Down Marquee Saturday Matchups

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIOctober 22, 2012

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 20:  AJ McCarron #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after tossing a touchdown reception against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on October 20, 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

College football has plenty to offer in Week 9, with three of the nation's elite teams encountering tough tests against ranked teams at home. Will these crucial battles have any affect on the next poll, or will all these hosts escape the week unscathed?

Here is a breakdown of the marquee matchups in Saturday's action to figure out the answer to that titillating two-part question.


No. 12 Mississippi State vs. No. 1 Alabama

Roll Tide.

This team is so big that it's almost unfair. A.J. McCarron is playing remarkably efficient at quarterback, and the two-headed monster of Eddie Lacey and freshman T.J. Yeldon keeps piling on the yards to form a devastatingly balanced offense.

Oh, and Nick Saban's defense also yields the fewest points per game in the nation (8.1). Even the offensive talent of Tennessee QB Tyler Bray and dynamic receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson could only muster 13 points at home in Week 8.

McCarron hasn't thrown an interception yet this season, but Dan Mullen's Bulldogs are themselves in the Top 10 in scoring defense.

Junior signal-caller Tyler Russell takes care of the ball almost as well as McCarron, as he's only thrown one pick on the season. In other words, these are two very well-disciplined, hard nosed football teams. It should be yet another low-scoring, ground-and-pound slugfest in the SEC.

The Bulldogs have all the ingredients to pull off the upset, but Bama will get out of this one due to a deeper backfield and a slightly better defense.

Prediction: Alabama 20, Mississippi State 13


No. 11 Georgia vs. No. 2 Florida

Daisy-chaining games together is typically irresponsible. But considering that the Gators just beat South Carolina 44-11 and the Bulldogs lost to the Gamecocks by a score of 35-7, this may be a nightmare ordeal for Georgia in the Swamp.

That being said, QB Aaron Murray just set the school record with his 75th career touchdown pass in a four-score performance at Kentucky. He must prove that he can get it done against an elite defense though, which Will Muschamp has already built at Florida in just his second season at the helm.

Speaking of head coaches, Mark Richt is likely going to be on the hot seat if the Bulldogs can't finish the season strong. This game could potentially lock up his job security if Georgia can somehow sneak by on the road.

Linebacker Jarvis Jones should wreak havoc on dual-threat QB Jeff Driskel, no matter what he does. If the All-American can play, that is. After missing the Kentucky game, the USA TODAY injury report lists Jones as day-to-day with a sprained ankle.

It won't be enough for Georgia even if James can go, though. The Gator defense is just too good, and they have an SEC East title on their minds for the right to face Alabama (in all likelihood) in the conference championship game.

Prediction: Florida 24, Georgia 10


No. 17 Texas Tech vs. No. 4 Kansas State

Red Raiders quarterback Seth Doege may have launched himself into Heisman contention with back-to-back phenomenal performances against West Virginia and in a triple-overtime thriller at TCU.

Collin Klein will be in his second consecutive battle head-to-head with another Heisman hopeful. But this time he will be the favorite after badly out-dueling Mountaineers QB Geno Smith in Morgantown.

The combination of Klein and John Hubert in the Kansas State backfield will likely be too much for the Texas Tech defense to overcome. Speaking of defenses, the Wildcats are definitely the toughest unit Doege and Co. will have faced all season.

Texas Tech runs a similar spread passing attack to West Virginia, which was totally stifled by the Wildcats this past Saturday. But Klein won't find it as easy against a tougher Red Raider defense.

This should be a tight one, but the home team will come out on top in the end and strengthen Klein's Heisman bid, even though Doege will throw for more yards.

Prediction: Kansas State 31, Texas Tech 27