Week 9 brings a slate of great games for college football fans. From the Ohio Bobcats to the Alabama Crimson Tide, undefeated teams across the nation will be taking the field to preserve their perfect seasons.
From a wide-open Heisman race to a wide-open national championship race, nothing is more uncertain than the 2012 college football postseason. With a lot more upsets coming in Week 9, don't expect too much clarification on anything besides the BCS national championship.
Here are 50 bold predictions for college football's Week 9. Enjoy!
Thursday night holds the Clemson at Wake Forest game. While there is little doubt as to who will win (see 52-0 Florida State win over Wake), there are some interesting proposition bets associated with that game.
Sadly, the one bet I was looking for isn't there. (First team to score is the one receiving the opening kickoff.) There are some others that are pretty nifty, though.
1) Will either team score in the first 5.5 minutes? The answer is yes.
2) Clemson total points over/under 35.5. Over.
3) Wake Forest total points over/under 23.5. Under.
4) Team to score first. Since "the one that receives the opening kickoff" isn't an option, Clemson.
5) First score of the game will be a touchdown/any other score. You've got to go with any other score. (There's a 50/50 chance that Clemson will win the toss and a 50/50 chance that Clemson scores a touchdown. There's a much better chance that Wake would score a field goal if it got the ball first. Numbers say take the "any other" by a 25-percent margin.)
6) Longest touchdown of the game over/under 57.5 yards. Over. (Tajh Boyd + Sammy Watkins + Andre Ellington all multiplied by 60 minutes. Somebody's going the distance, possibly even on a kick return.)
The prop bet isn't available for this yet, but I'll go ahead and take a stab at it from a logical standpoint.
The nation's most prolific scoring offense takes on the nation's 103rd-best scoring defense. If Louisiana Tech is an option, that's the best possible bet.
Granted, you'd probably win like $100.50 on a $100 bet, but it's not even a contest. Everyone else faces a better defense or has a worse offense.
I just called for LA Tech to score 70 for the second straight week, but I wouldn't be surprised if it tagged New Mexico State for 80. Regardless of how many points the Bulldogs actually score, you can bet that nobody will score more.
Cincinnati and Louisville face off in one of the biggest matches of the year for the Big East title. Cincinnati's only loss came at the hands of the Toledo Rockets.
Luckily for Cincy, that doesn't affect its ability to get into a BCS bowl. All the Bearcats have to do is win the Big East to get the conference's one AQ berth.
That's much easier on paper than it is in real life, though, and the Bearcats still have to make it through Louisville, Syracuse, Temple, Rutgers, South Florida and Connecticut before the Big East title is theirs.
Louisville's best win so far is over North Carolina by five points. Munchie Legaux alters the destiny of Louisville with a win in Week 9.
To make up for the fact that no BCS Top Five team lost last week, the upset muse has her way with the Week 9 schedule.
Tyler Bray has a career day, and the Tennessee defense comes out and plays an entire game like it played in the second half against Mississippi State in Week 7.
The offense on Tennessee's roster is loaded with talent, as is the defense. Mississippi State's Tyler Russell made more than a few NFL-quality throws against the Vols, and there is no defense against the perfect throw. However, Tennessee came back in the second half to reel off five straight defensive stops. The offense dropped the ball in scoring on three of those five stops.
While all that was true, the Tennessee defense has had some major fundamental issues throughout this season. The Vols will finally put together a complete game against South Carolina. A win like this would put the Vols in bowl conversations, which would be a pleasant surprise to the fanbase.
Missouri and Kentucky have struggled so far this year. Missouri has struggled far more than the Wildcats, though. Missouri was expected by many to finish somewhere around the middle of the SEC East, but the unplanned loss to Vanderbilt really put a damper on things for the Tigers.
Florida's surge to the top of the SEC East was also highly unexpected. Missouri will be facing a Kentucky team that's starting a freshman quarterback as James Franklin likely sits on the sideline for yet another game.
Kentucky has shown a lot of fight over the last few weeks and only lost to powerhouse Georgia by five points.
That should scare the Missouri Tigers, who have had two weeks to prepare for this game. Missouri is more than capable of winning this game, but the loss of Franklin will give Kentucky the edge in the brawl.
Kentucky walks away with a hard-fought win that almost completely dashes Missouri's hopes for a postseason appearance.
Indiana is only a few points away from already being bowl-eligible. After taking four heartbreaking losses by a combined 10 points, Indiana finally closes a game out and gets its third win of the season off the Illinois Fighting Illini.
Indiana needs a good win and has been close all season long. A bowl game is not out of the question next year, but closing games must be learned this year in order to make that happen.
The Texas defense is one of the bigger disappointments in college football this year. Luckily, the Longhorns take on the Kansas Jayhawks for another win in Week 9.
While it will be another victory for Texas, defeating the Jayhawks will do nothing to advance the Longhorns on the BCS list.
Northwestern has a possible nine-win season on its hands, with potential wins over Iowa, Michigan State and Illinois in the hopper.
The Michigan Wolverines are far from unbeatable, but they've only lost to current Top Five teams at the moment, so we'll call that a probable loss for the Wildcats. If you look closely at the Nebraska game, though, that Michigan game looks pretty winnable for the Wildcats.
If Northwestern can take Iowa down to earn its seventh win, this could be one of the better Northwestern seasons in recent memory. The 'Cats had nine wins back in 2008, but followed it with a tough bowl loss to the Missouri Tigers.
Northwestern could end the year with 10 wins if it wins whatever bowl it has earned. It all starts with the seventh win, which should come in Week 9.
Pittsburgh is favored by almost a touchdown in this match. While the Panthers upset then-No. 13 Virginia Tech, they have not done very much since then. Wins over Gardner-Webb and Buffalo hardly fall into the "signature" category.
On the other side of the football, Temple has logged wins over South Florida and Connecticut. While those weren't pretty games, they were wins nonetheless. It's understandable that Pitt's defense and offense are slightly better than Temple's, but Pitt is more than capable of completely dropping a game.
Temple upsets Pitt in its own backyard.
Arkansas took some tough losses at the hands of Louisiana-Monroe, Alabama, Rutgers and Texas A&M. After that, the Razorbacks have only allowed seven points apiece to Auburn and Kentucky.
It seems that the Hogs are back on track, at least as much as they can be. Arkansas will net its fourth win against Ole Miss, and the margin of victory will lead people to believe that the 'Backs are capable of taking down at least two more teams.
With Tulsa, South Carolina, Mississippi State and LSU left on the schedule, it's not that difficult to imagine Arkansas taking down two or even three of those opponents. If this Ole Miss game is a blowout, Arkansas will enter the postseason discussion. Just not for a major bowl.
Five-win NC State takes on North Carolina in Chapel Hill this weekend with a shot at bowl eligibility. All the Wolfpack needs to do is win. If NC State wins, that will mean UNC has given bowl eligibility to two ACC teams from North Carolina in the past two weeks.
Basketball season may be just around the corner, but this one would still hurt a bit. Especially considering the Tar Heels just lost to Duke on the football field. You're just not supposed to do that.
Brad Bates spoke on the matter of Frank Spaziani's job near the beginning of October. While the athletic director made it clear that he would not be firing Spaziani midseason, that evaluation conversation looming at the end of the year is looking shorter and shorter.
With a loss to Maryland, the Boston College Eagles will be a shocking 0-7 against FBS opponents in 2012. At 0-7 in Week 9, the only way he could save his job would be with a win over Notre Dame.
If the loss to Maryland is bad enough, Bates may be willing to go ahead and fire him. After all, having "no intention" of firing someone midseason isn't the same thing as being unwilling to do so.
Oregon has a cupcake game this week against the Colorado Buffaloes, and there is no doubt that the Ducks will win handily.
Some may call for the Ducks to keep their starters in for the full 60 minutes in order to make the defense look better. That would be a bad move.
When you make it to a major bowl (or national championship game), depth is a major factor. Texas found that out when Colt McCoy went down in 2009's battle against Alabama.
The Ducks will continue to win the way they always have, and will trust that things will work out. Later on, we will discuss why that is a great move for Oregon.
Will Sutton (Arizona State) has 8.5 sacks on the season. The leader, Damontre Moore (Texas A&M), has 9.5 sacks.
This will be a battle worth watching. Texas A&M faces the Auburn Tigers this Saturday, and Arizona State faces the UCLA Bruins.
The Auburn Tigers have allowed 24 sacks through eight games, or 3.0 sacks per game, in 2012. UCLA has allowed 21, which comes out to 2.625 sacks per game.
Though the SEC tends to have better defense, which would give Moore the edge, I believe that Sutton will take advantage of UCLA's offensive line and get two more sacks on the day than Moore does against Auburn.
With that performance, Sutton will take the season lead in the sacks department.
Middle Tennessee State is a good team this year, and no disrespect is meant by this slide. Georgia Tech has logged many questionable losses this year, and the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders took down the Yellow Jackets by three touchdowns.
Nothing against anyone in the BYU vs. Georgia Tech game, but it's a little curious that Georgia Tech is favored. Even with home field, the Jackets should lose to the eighth-ranked scoring defense in the nation. They should lose by a lot.
Jeff Driskel and the Florida Gators take on the Georgia Bulldogs in Jacksonville. While Georgia is a wounded dog and ready to win a real football game, Florida's passing attack will have been preparing to play the game of its life in Week 9.
Florida has a running game, and Georgia has a defense...sometimes. Georgia's defense steps up big in this game and forces Florida to beat it through the air. Jeff Driskel says "OK," and proceeds to toss three touchdown passes in the victory over the Bulldogs.
Since there is only one conference game left for the Gators after Georgia, a win here would clinch the SEC East Division for Florida. Even a loss to Missouri would do nothing to stop the Gators from going to Atlanta. Miami might be another story, but Atlanta would be secured.
Jarvis Jones's 21-yard interception return against Missouri.
Jarvis Jones will snag an interception off of Florida's Jeff Driskel and run it back to the house. Driskel is maturing quickly and developing a decision-making capability that many NCAA quarterbacks should envy.
While Driskel makes great decisions with the football, it's only a matter of time before something unusual happens and a great defender can capitalize on one little mistake.
Jarvis Jones is that defender. No matter how many passes Driskel throws away from Jones, at least one will pass through his "zone of terror." Jones will be more than happy to put six on the Georgia side of the board.
Texas Tech will continue its defensive fireworks display in Week 9, much to the chagrin of the Kansas State Wildcats.
Kansas State has had a great run and is just as likely to win this game as lose it. However, Texas Tech got a lot of game tape to learn from last week against TCU.
After Tuberville makes his defensive adjustments, he will bring a defense that's capable of stopping a West Virginia-style offense and a TCU-style offense.
Kansas State's Collin Klein will be hard-pressed to find a way to score on this defense. Kansas State will score on this defense, but it will not be enough to win.
Texas Tech upsets Kansas State and the Big 12 picture gets a little fuzzier. Since Oklahoma will be the only major player in the Big 12 yet to play a game, all eyes will be on the Sooners' battle with Notre Dame.
You're welcome, Oklahoma.
As mentioned already, the Texas Tech Red Raiders will upset the Kansas State Wildcats and mess up the whole Big 12 picture for everyone except the Oklahoma Sooners.
Texas Tech will pick off a pass from Collin Klein and turn it into a touchdown, taking an early 14-point lead. Later, as Klein is attempting to force things a bit to regain the lead, Tech will pull in another one.
Late in the game, Klein will make a bad decision and throw into traffic for the third pick, effectively sealing the game for the Red Raiders.
Purdue and Minnesota enter Saturday's match on three-game losing streaks. Purdue almost took down Ohio State last week, but fell short in overtime against the Buckeyes.
Purdue takes advantage of the anger leftover from last week to snap its losing streak at the expense of the Golden Gophers.
Arizona is capable of scoring and doing it quickly. As the Wildcats will be finding the end zone, it will be up to Matt Barkley to outgun Arizona like Geno Smith did with Baylor.
If Matt Barkley doesn't put the Trojans on his back and carry them to a win here, things could get worse than simply not winning the Heisman. His shot at being the top draft pick could suffer.
Expect Barkley to play with the confidence that only a 50-6 win can provide a quarterback and light the Wildcats up for around 50 points as well. His name will return to the top five on the Heisman watch list after this performance.
After taking down the Penn State Nittany Lions in Week 1, Ohio has continued to tear through its schedule unbeaten.
Penn State has become one of the best teams in the Big Ten over the past few weeks, and it remains undefeated in conference play entering Week 9. Ohio has not really benefited from the Lions' success, though, and is just barely inside the BCS Top 25 at No. 24.
Ohio will get its eighth straight win of the season, but the Bobcats will remain inexplicably below Boise State in the standings.
Boise State is in the midst of enjoying a bias that comes from the recent past. People seem to think that if Boise was a great team over the past few years, it must be great again.
Boise lost to its only "power" opponent in Week 1: Michigan State. Michigan State's only victory over a ranked team is that Week 1 four-point win over preseason-No. 24 Boise State.
On the other hand, the Ohio Bobcats sit below Boise after beating Penn State in Week 1. Penn State is currently undefeated in the Big Ten and would be second in line to represent the Leaders Division if not for its sanctions.
Boise State will blast Wyoming, whose defense is currently 101st in the nation, and move up in the rankings. All this will happen despite the fact that Boise State has proved nothing in 2012.
We love to watch the little guy get into a BCS bowl, but Boise State isn't the best little guy on the market in 2012.
Michigan State is going to need to shut down the Wisconsin Badgers' rushing attack to win this game. That isn't going to happen.
Montee Ball is going to break the 1,000-yard mark on his first carry of the game, and it will only get worse for the Spartans after that. (He's currently at 982 yards on the season.)
With the game in-hand and Ball at 200-plus yards on the day, he will likely be benched to ensure that he stays healthy for the remainder of the season.
T. Boone Pickens was all for adding TCU to the Big 12 after Texas A&M jetted to join the SEC. Now that 5-2 TCU faces off against 5-2 Oklahoma State, he may be second-guessing his original idea.
TCU has repeatedly scored on many of the teams it has faced, and Oklahoma State will be no exception. After defeating Baylor 49-21, things look grim for the Cowboys in Week 9.
Long-term, TCU will be a valuable asset to the Big 12, but Pickens may have lost his Cowboys a game in 2012 with that choice.
Ohio State and Penn State are locked in a conference battle for bragging rights. Regardless of who represents the Leaders Division in the Big Ten title game, these two teams are currently battling for the top spot as far as reality is concerned.
Penn State has been playing some seriously solid football over the past few weeks, and Ohio State has been playing far below its potential. If that continues this week, it's finally going to bite the Buckeyes.
As a positive affirmation to my claim, I offer you this: Vegas has the game as a toss-up. Neither team is a favorite. Even the guys who make a living off this stuff know that it totally depends on which Ohio State shows up.
Johnny Manziel scored six touchdowns against Louisiana Tech in a two-point victory on Oct. 13. Manziel faces an Auburn team that has been disappointing, to say the least.
Manziel will hand Auburn something it hasn't seen yet this year, and he will hand it to them hard. Manziel is already doing better than expected in the SEC, and the Aggies will get their sixth win against the Auburn Tigers.
Manziel will toss, run and otherwise have his way with the Auburn defense to set a new personal best at seven touchdowns. (Four through the air and three on the ground.)
Under new head coach Jim McElwain, the Rams saw a Week 1 defeat of the Colorado Buffaloes. Since then, wins have been more than just a little elusive.
There is still hope for a better season than last year's 3-9 performance, but it takes time to build a program from that level to one of success.
Colorado State will take down Hawaii in Week 9 for its second win and preserve the possibility of a four- or five-win season.
Jordan Rodgers and the Vanderbilt Commodores take on the Massachusetts Minutemen in Week 9 and are looking for that all-important spark that will allow them to take their three wins to at least six over the next five games.
Vanderbilt has Massachusetts, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Wake Forest left to play for the year, so winning three of those is quite possible. The Commodores will use UMass to build momentum to the tune of 300 yards through the air.
The Commodores' leading rusher of all time will add to Vanderbilt's momentum in the win over Massachusetts.
As Jordan Rodgers throws for 300 yards, Zac Stacy will further establish his football dominance by rushing for more than 150 yards before being benched in favor of a backup who needs more experience.
If you have some time on Saturday, be sure to check out Stacy's prowess. He's a lot of fun to watch.
Oklahoma started the season at No. 4 in the AP Poll, and the Sooners fell all the way to No. 16 after losing to Kansas State. The good news for Oklahoma is:
1) Kansas State is at No. 3, so that loss doesn't look nearly as bad as it did when it happened.
2) Oklahoma has been steadily progressing throughout 2012 and looks a lot better than it did.
Oklahoma can do itself a big favor by destroying the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and the Sooners can all cross their fingers as Texas Tech is one of the biggest threats to Kansas State's perfect season.
In the meantime, the Sooners can take control of their potential Fiesta Bowl bid by knocking down the Irish. There are some other things that need to happen for the Sooners to make it there, but beating the Irish should let them jump over LSU as the greatest one-loss team in the nation.
Everett Golson has been Notre Dame's starter for the majority of the games in this 2012 season. Notre Dame's previous starting quarterback was Tommy Rees, but he was purposefully left out of the picture following an offseason arrest that earned him a suspension from the season opener.
The only problem with that was the fact that, when push came to shove, Rees came in to save the day, repeatedly. That has gotten the Irish off to a great start in the win-loss column, but it's also kept Golson out of the game in key moments that would certainly have helped him in the Oklahoma game this weekend.
Everett Golson will not score against Oklahoma, not after the Sooners have gotten their stuff together. Tommy Rees will have to play for the Irish to have a chance. Rees will be brought in too late to save the game, and that will be the end of the Irish's run for the BCS title game.
Of course, they will still probably make it to a BCS bowl, which is still a great season for them.
Michigan has lost two games this year, and both were to current BCS Top Five teams. While the Wolverines have been written off by many as overrated, they are out to prove that losses to No. 1 and No. 5 don't prove that they aren't still deserving of the No. 8 spot that they held coming into the season.
Nebraska is favored by a scant 2.5 points in this contest, and that's just home-field advantage. Michigan will find its identity and dominate the 'Huskers by seven points or better. This is especially true since the 'Huskers will probably be missing Rex Burkhead for the game.
As a result, Michigan's reputation as the class of the Eligible Big Ten will be restored.
In order for the San Diego State Aztecs to move their scoring offense to 40 points per game, they will need to tag UNLV for 56 points.
Luckily for the Aztecs, the Rebels currently possess the nation's 107th-ranked scoring defense. The Aztecs should be able to top the half-century mark with little issue, especially with the nation's 23rd-best offense.
Louisiana Tech has become the nation's top-scoring offense, and the Bulldogs have consistently put up huge numbers.
Just to prove that last week's 70-point performance wasn't a one-time thing, the Bulldogs put up another 70 against New Mexico State. The motivation for these back-to-back performances came against Texas A&M, when the Bulldogs put up 57 points and lost anyway.
Ever since then, these guys have been playing with serious anger issues. Those aggressions tend to land in the end zone.
Colby Cameron currently holds the Louisiana Tech record for consecutive passes thrown without an interception. In fact, he and Geno Smith were in a battle for that particular streak until Geno's ended at 273, setting the NCAA record in the process.
Minutes later, Cameron simply kept throwing the ball accurately to take over the NCAA record himself. The only quarterback in the country that could possibly break the record that Cameron is setting is A.J. McCarron, who is currently 36 passes back from the Bulldogs' signal-caller.
As previously mentioned, McCarron faces one of the best defensive-back tandems in the country this weekend, so Cameron's record should be safe.
Cameron will complete at least 25 passes against the New Mexico State to push his total to 300 or better.
Mississippi State fields some of the best defenders in the nation. Some of those guys are going to be playing in the NFL sooner or later.
A.J. McCarron's head for the game is second to none, and he will complete 11 more passes before finally having his streak of passes without an interception come to an end.
That streak will come to an end off an uncharacteristic tipped ball that lands in the hands of either Johnthan Banks or Darius Slay. Both defensive backs are tied for fourth place in the nation with four interceptions apiece.
Quarterbacks tend to throw away from Banks, but his counterpart's penchant for the pick has instilled fear in the opposition. When you ask a quarterback who he's going to throw to, Slay or Banks, his response is likely to be something along the lines of: "I hope I throw it to my receiver."
McCarron has had a great run without a pick, and it's already at 239 passes, which is 49 better than Brodie Croyle's previous Alabama record of 190.
At 250 passes, McCarron's streak will stand for quite a while in the Alabama books.
As Alabama faces Tyler Russell and the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the Tide will take advantage of the fact that Mississippi State hasn't played anyone nearly this good yet.
Tyler Russell is a great quarterback, and he will be a household name in the future. However, he will be slightly overconfident coming into this game, especially after the Tennessee game two weeks ago.
He made some seriously great throws in that game against a defense that was constantly within arm's reach of his completions. The problem with that is that it's given him a false sense of security. He believes he's capable of making those throws against any given SEC defense.
For the most part, he would be right in thinking that. Against Alabama, he would be wrong. He will be wrong three times against 'Bama, and the secondary will make him pay.
Three different defenders will bring down interceptions against the Bulldogs in this game.
Sean Mannion should be back this weekend against Washington, but it will take him a little while to warm back up. As he is warming up, Washington's Keith Price will take some shots at the Oregon State defense that the Beavers will have trouble answering.
After taking some early hits from Washington, Oregon State finds itself trailing early in the fourth quarter. The Beavers' defense stands up and makes some great stops, and Oregon State ends a fourth-quarter drive in the end zone for the win.
Oregon has spent the last two weeks clawing to stay at No. 2. That has not happened. Florida and Kansas State edged the Ducks out of their spots over that time period.
Oregon will win its game this week, but will not gain any advantage over the top two teams.
There are three scenarios that are most likely to happen around the Ducks:
1) Florida and Kansas State both win, and the Ducks stay at fourth.
2) Florida and Kansas State both lose, and the Ducks move up to second.
3) One of those two teams loses, and the Ducks move up to third.
The only way Oregon slips down another spot is if Notre Dame takes down Oklahoma in Norman. If that happens, then nobody is safe. In fact, even Florida might get jumped at that point.
The odds of Oklahoma losing a second home game in the same season are ridiculously low, though. Ducks fans, you should be fine.
When Idaho canned its head coach following a huge loss to Louisiana Tech, the seal was broken. If your season is already lost, and there's really hope for no improvement, you are on the hot seat.
Here are six coaches who could be terminated as early as Week 9, if the loss is bad enough. Some of these coaches can live to fight another year if they'll at least show some marked improvement, but it doesn't look good. (Since Frank Spaziani has already been named as the worst, his name doesn't appear here.)
1) Gene Chizik (Auburn)
2) Derek Dooley (Tennessee) (Not if he upsets South Carolina, of course.)
3) Joker Phillips (Kentucky)
4) Charlie Weis (Kansas)
5) Rich Ellerson (Army) (He's really killing that "Army Strong" mantra, isn't he?)
These coaches need to show some sort of improvement, though Chizik's job may be beyond salvation at this point. While winning a national championship buys you some time, it also emphasizes your failure if you don't come close ever again.
If these coaches don't get it together in Week 9, it's prime time for putting them on notice and finding a replacement. (Especially if the transitions are going to take place in December again like last year.)