10 One-on-One Matchups to Watch in Week 9
College football’s Week 9 schedule presents us with several enticing one-on-one matchups.
Some of the nation’s top quarterbacks will go head-to-head with some of the nation’s elite secondaries. Running backs will try and break through defenses that have played like brick walls.
Regardless, these are all matchups that can go either way.
Here are 10 of those pairings that could make for some interesting watching.
RB Jay Ajayi (Boise State) vs. LB Kyle Van Noy (BYU)
Week 9 Matchup: Boise State (5-2) at BYU (5-2), Oct. 25, 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
Broncos running back Jay Ajayi has been on quite the tear lately.
Over the last two weeks, the sophomore has racked up 331 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. That includes a 222-yard, three-score performance against Nevada last weekend.
Aside from Boise State’s Week 1 loss to Washington, Ajayi has found the end zone in each of the other six contests.
The Cougars’ run defense might have something to say about that.
Through seven games, the team ranks No. 33 against the run (135.3 YPC). Furthermore, BYU has allowed just 3.5 yards per carry to opposing running backs while conceding just three touchdowns on the ground.
Just last week, the Cougars held Houston’s high-scoring offense to just 48 rushing yards.
It all is led by linebacker Kyle Van Noy.
This season, the senior has been a force all around. He already has 41 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, one interception and a defensive touchdown.
It’ll certainly be a tough one for both sides.
QB Nathan Scheelhaase (Illinois) vs. DB Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State)
Week 9 Matchup: Michigan State (6-1) at Illinois (3-3), Oct. 26, 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
The Fighting Illini may have lost three of their last four, but the quarterback play from Nathan Scheelhaase is not to blame for it.
Through six games, the senior has thrown for 1,546 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions on 65.7 percent passing while adding another two scores on the ground. Furthermore, he’s completed 70 percent or more of his passes four times already.
Unfortunately, the Spartans defense could put a stop to that.
Thus far, the team ranks No. 4 against the pass, allowing just 168.9 yards per game through the air. Michigan State also tops the nation in both pass efficiency rating (88.4) and yards allowed per attempt (4.7).
Defensive back Darqueze Dennard is a big reason. The senior already has recorded 31 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, two interceptions, seven pass deflections and four quarterback hurries.
It will be a interesting matchup.
Air Force Rushing Attack vs. Notre Dame Run Defense
Week 9 Matchup: Notre Dame (5-2) at Air Force (1-6), Oct. 26, 5 p.m. ET on CBS
Not many teams have rushed the ball better than the Falcons this season.
Through seven contests, the team ranks No. 12 in the nation, averaging 268.6 yards per game on the ground. That includes an impressive 409-yard performance against Colgate in Air Force’s lone win this year.
What makes the rushing attack hard to stop is the fact that the team has five different players with at least 40 carries and two touchdowns.
It will be interesting to see how a rejuvenated Irish defense fares against the attack.
Over the last two weeks, the unit has allowed just 97.0 yards per game. That includes limiting a solid Arizona State ground game to just 65 rushing yards.
On the season, Notre Dame ranks No. 24 against the run (123.3 YPGA) while conceding just four scores on the ground.
Can the Irish continue their resurgence or will the Falcons prove to be a little too much?
QB Case McCoy (Texas) vs. TCU Secondary
Week 9 Matchup: Texas (4-2) at TCU (3-4), Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1
Longhorns quarterback Case McCoy had a big game during the team’s 36-20 victory over rival Oklahoma last weekend.
The senior threw for 190 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-21 passing. Furthermore, he registered a season-high quarterback rating of 159.8.
Given the circumstances, it could easily be Texas’ most impressive Red River Rivalry win during head coach Mack Brown’s tenure.
Expect the Horned Frogs secondary to try and shorten the celebrations.
Through seven games, the team ranks No. 11 in pass efficiency defense (105.1 RAT). TCU has conceded just seven touchdowns through the air and ranks No. 3 in the nation in both interceptions (13) and sacks (24).
More impressively, the unit hasn’t allowed an opposing quarterback to throw for more than 200 yards since SMU on Sept. 28.
That could all spell trouble for McCoy. Especially since the Horned Frogs have four different defensive backs with at least two interceptions.
We will learn a lot about the Longhorns quarterback in this one.
QB Davis Webb (Texas Tech) vs. Oklahoma Secondary
Week 9 Matchup: No. 10 Texas Tech (7-0) at No. 15 Oklahoma (6-1), Oct. 26, 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX
It’ll be a battle of strengths on Saturday.
For the Red Raiders, quarterback Davis Webb has been phenomenal. In three starts, he has thrown for 1,427 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions on 60.8 percent passing. That includes back-to-back 400-yard performances against Iowa State and West Virginia over the last two weeks.
The freshman’s strong play has Texas Tech ranked No. 2 in the nation in passing (416.4).
On the other hand, no other team has stopped the pass better than the Sooners.
Through seven games, the team ranks No. 1 against the pass (149.7 YPGA). Furthermore, Oklahoma has conceded just five touchdowns through the air and limited opposing quarterbacks to a rating of 96.2.
Most recently, the unit held Kansas to just 16 yards of passing last weekend.
In what should be a tough matchup, the Sooners have the advantage of playing at home. The team is 85-5 at Norman under Bob Stoops, including 14-2 against ranked opponents.
Something’s got to give on Saturday.
RB Mike Davis (South Carolina) vs. Missouri Run Defense
Week 9 Matchup: No. 21 South Carolina (5-2) at No. 5 Missouri (7-0), Oct. 26, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2
With Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw ruled out for this weekend’s contest, via GoGamecocks.com, that means backup Dylan Thompson will be thrown into the fire. And with South Carolina’s conference hopes lying in the balance—the team trails the Tigers by two games in the SEC East—look for head coach Steve Spurrier to turn to the running game.
That means running back Mike Davis (132 CAR, 879 YDs, 10 TDs) will be the focal point of the team’s attack.
In the last game Shaw missed—a 28-25 win over UCF—Davis starred, rushing for career highs of 167 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries. Furthermore, the sophomore has scored in each of the Gamecocks’ seven games and topped the century mark in six of them.
However, yards may come at a premium against a Missouri defense that ranks No. 19 against the run (116.6 YPGA) while conceding just six touchdowns on the ground. The most recent effort by the unit saw it limit Florida to just 59 yards on the ground.
Defensive end Michael Sam leads the nation in sacks (9.0) and tackles for loss (13.5). Expect him to make running lanes sparse.
Can Davis break through, or will Thompson have to step up?
RB Carlos Hyde (Ohio State) vs. Penn State Run Defense
Week 9 Matchup: Penn State (4-2) at No. 4 Ohio State (7-0), Oct. 26, 8 p.m. ET on ABC
Running back Carlos Hyde has been dominant for the Buckeyes ever since his return from suspension. That’s become evident as of late, as he has rushed for 317 yards and five touchdowns on 50 carries over the last two games.
That includes racking up 106 yards and two scores in the second half of Ohio State’s 34-24 win over Iowa last weekend.
It’s a run that could come to an end against the Nittany Lions’ stifling run defense.
Through six games, the unit has ranked No. 21 against the run (117.7 YPGA). Penn State has conceded just six touchdowns on the ground and allowed just 3.08 yards per carry to opposing running backs.
For a team coming off its signature win of the season—a 43-40, four-overtime thriller against Michigan—look for the Nittany Lions to try and build on that against the Buckeyes.
Can Hyde keep up his hot streak?
QB Brett Hundley (UCLA) vs. DL Tony Washington and DB Terrance Mitchell (Oregon)
Week 9 Matchup: No. 12 UCLA (5-1) at No. 3 Oregon (7-0), Oct. 26, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN
The pressure on Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley only grows with the news that running back Jordon James is unlikely to suit up this weekend, via The Los Angeles Times’ Chris Foster.
In his first outing without the team’s leading rusher, Hundley shined, throwing for 410 yards and three touchdowns on 31-of-41 passing. His effort helped UCLA easily dispose of Cal, 37-10.
However, last Saturday against Stanford was a different story.
This time, the sophomore seemed to struggle without James. He threw for a season-low 192 yards and tossed two critical interceptions in a 24-10 loss.
It surely doesn’t help that the Ducks vaunted secondary is up next. A unit that has conceded just 17.3 points per game while holding opponents to 16 or fewer points in five of seven contests. Oregon also ranks No. 1 in turnovers gained (21) and No. 14 in sacks (20).
Expect defensive lineman Tony Washington (6.5 sacks) and defensive back Terrance Mitchell (4 INTs) to give the Bruins offense all they can handle.
It’s time to see exactly what Hundley is made of.
QB Kevin Hogan (Stanford) vs. DB Steven Nelson and DB Rashaad Reynolds (OSU)
Week 9 Matchup: No. 6 Stanford (6-1) at No. 25 Oregon State (6-1), Oct. 26, 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Don’t expect Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan to blow anyone away with his numbers. Through seven games, he boasts a pretty average stat line, throwing for 1,405 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions on 62.9 percent passing.
However, if the junior does one thing exceptionally well, it’s limiting his mistakes.
Entering this weekend, Hogan has yet to throw multiple interceptions in a game. Furthermore, he’s completed more than 60 percent of his passes in all but one contest.
In the only game he failed to surpass that mark, Stanford lost, 27-21.
Expect that to be an area the Beavers secondary will attack on Saturday.
Although the unit has allowed 265.0 yards per game through the air, the team ranks No. 56 in pass efficiency defense (125.6 RAT). Oregon State also tops the country in interceptions with 14.
With defensive backs Steven Nelson (5 INTS, 1 TD) and Rashaad Reynolds (4 INTs) patrolling the field, Hogan will have to think twice before launching the ball deep.
QB Sean Mannion (Oregon State) vs. Stanford Secondary
Week 9 Matchup: No. 6 Stanford (6-1) at No. 25 Oregon State (6-0), Oct. 26, 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Having won six consecutive games, the Beavers are currently on their longest winning streak in nearly 13 years.
Through seven games, the team ranks No. 8 in total offense (515.9 YPG) and No. 1 in passing (442.1 YPG). Oregon State also averages a little over 44 points per game.
Quarterback Sean Mannion can be credited for that.
Thus far, the junior has thrown for 2,992 yards and 29 touchdowns (3 INTs) on 68.6 percent passing. Furthermore, he leads the nation in passing yards, touchdowns and passing yards per game.
Mannion will enter the showdown against the Cardinal coming off a 481-yard, four-touchdown performance over Cal last weekend.
However, he’ll be facing a secondary that just last week limited UCLA’s Brett Hundley to under 200 yards of passing and intercepted him twice.
Sure, the secondary has been quite questionable this season, ranking No. 87 against the pass. However, Stanford has currently forced a turnover in 32 straight games.
It will be interesting to see which side makes the big plays on Saturday.
All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of NCAA.com.