Week 9 of the college football season kicks off Thursday night with plenty of action and top games happening this weekend. There are plenty of quality conference matchups on top, and that always makes for quality football.
In the end, that's what we're looking for. Unless you have an allegiance to one of the teams, you want to see a good, hard-fought game that holds your attention for every play of the game.
Nobody likes blowouts unless, again, you have a team allegiance, or possibly if you have some money on the game.
With that in mind, here are some matchups that I think will be closely contested this weekend.
Ohio State at Penn State
The Ohio State Buckeyes will travel to Beaver Stadium to take on Penn State Nittany Lions for a Big Ten showdown.
The Buckeyes enter the game an undefeated 8-0, including a 4-0 record in the conference. Penn State is 5-2 overall and 3-0 in the conference.
Both teams are undefeated in the conference and will be looking to make a statement as it concerns which team is better during this game.
With an already weak passing game, Ohio State could be without starting quarterback Braxton Miller. Miller went down in the third quarter of last week's game against Purdue, but Miller says he is fine and able to play.
Luckily, the Buckeyes are one of the best rushing teams in the nation. Carlos Hyde has carried most of the load for Ohio State's great rushing game, but quarterback Braxton Miller has also been heavily involved.
For Penn State, its strength comes in a strong defense and a complementing offense. The Nittany Lions are not a bad offensive team; quarterback Matt McGloin has made the most of his senior year, but it's the stiff defense that stands out for the Nittany Lions.
With the heavy focus on running, the Buckeyes, who get a majority of their points this way, will not be able to run away (pun intended, sorry) against Penn State. Penn State's run defense, the best in the conference and near top 20 in the nation, will keep OSU in check.
Prediction: Ohio State 35, Penn State 31
No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 8 Oklahoma
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish meet the Oklahoma Sooners in an all-important Top 10 matchup. Both teams have something to prove in this game.
For Oklahoma, though it does have a loss, it has still been one of the dominant teams in the country. The Sooners will look to continue that dominance and help their BCS chances by defeating a higher-ranked team in Notre Dame.
For Notre Dame, the Irish sit fifth overall, but they must prove worthy of that spot. Their undefeated record should speak for itself, but, even in their seven wins, the team has underwhelmed offensively.
A win against a the Sooners would surely boost the Irish's standing in the conversation of best teams in the country.
These two teams, as they look coming into the game, are great complements to each other. Oklahoma is clicking on all cylinders offensively, and Notre Dame has the second-best defense in the country.
Hearing those two statements together usually does not bode well because one team always seems to disappoint, but I don't think that will be the case here. This matchup will bring the best out of both teams and provide excitement until the end.
Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Oklahoma 31
No. 10 Georgia at No. 2 Florida
Another important matchup comes on Saturday afternoon with the Georgia Bulldogs traveling to Jacksonville to take on the Florida Gators. Both teams are currently ranked in the Top 10, but this game isn't about national rankings.
This game is all about the Florida-Georgia rivalry and the SEC East.
Florida's huge win over South Carolina last week put the Gators in control of the SEC East, but Georgia is still hanging in there. A win for Florida would clinch the East and send it to the SEC title game.
Georgia's loss to South Carolina nearly three weeks ago could have been devastating to their SEC hopes, but the Bulldogs were still hopeful. Now, Georgia will be looking to take some momentum from its win over Kentucky into this game against Florida.
The Bulldogs will be without senior defensive end Abry Jones, but this game could see the return of junior linebacker Jarvis Jones, which could be a big boost for Georgia's defense.
Aaron Murray, coming off a great game against Kentucky, will be leading the Bulldogs offense, but Florida's fourth-ranked defense will be giving it all they can handle.
Prediction: Georgia 35, Florida 38
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