As weird as it seems, it's already Week 9 in college football. As the regular season comes closer to an end, each game becomes more and more important.
This weekend is going to be a good one, as a couple of undefeated title contenders are tested on the road by top-20 teams. There are also some key conference bouts that can have major implications on conference outcomes.
Without further ado, my picks and predictions for this week's exciting slate in college football.
This in-state rivalry game features teams that have won a game last week after rough stretches of a few weeks.
These teams are both in must-win situations if they want to stay in contention for a bowl this year.
The game's biggest match-up between the two star quarterbacks. Taylor Potts will look to outdo nemesis QB Jerrod Johnson. I think the battle of the high-powered offenses will go to Jerrod Johnson and the Aggies of Texas A&M in a high-scoring affair.
Texas A&M 41 Texas Tech 38
Oklahoma State ended its run of 6-0 last week when it dropped a game to Nebraska. It will come into this game angry, and hungry for a win.
Kansas State has been a bit under the radar this year, quietly going 5-2 against a respectable schedule. It has stud running back Daniel Thomas, who has led the offense throughout the season. He will need to have a big day to for the Wildcats to take down the Cowboys.
I believe that Oklahoma State's offense is too much for K-State to handle.
Oklahoma State 38 Kansas State 28
I know, I know. This is a mid-major matchup of two unranked teams. But if you look closer, this game could be really entertaining.
These two teams enter this game undefeated in Conference USA play. This might be the conference championship game.
These teams differ in their game-plans. East Carolina will try to beat you with its offense, led by QB Dominique Davis, while UCF plays both sides of the ball well, but plays neither greatly.
In the end, I see the Central Florida defense being the difference-maker in this bout, and the Knights will take down the Pirates.
UCF 27 East Carolina 24
This game showcases two of the most inconsistent teams in the country.
Will we see the Oregon State team that beat Arizona, or the team that lost to Washington? On the other hand, will we see the Cal squad that beat up on UCLA, Colorado, Arizona State, and nearly beat Arizona, or the team that got throttled by USC and Nevada?
I really don't know if we'll see the best or worst of either team. What I think will happen is an Oregon State victory behind James Rodgers.
Oregon State 31 California 24
In the preseason, this was assumed to be a top game this year and a major bellwether for the SEC title. Yet it will prove to be a bout between two under-performers trying to stay alive in the brutal conference.
Unluckily for Florida, it has been playing its worst football as of late. John Brantley just doesn't seem to be getting better, so Florida's offense continues to struggle.
On the other hand, Georgia is starting to pick up its game, winning three straight games while putting up 40+ points in each.
Due to sheer momentum, I'm going Bulldogs in this game. Who would have thunk that the Gators would be 4-4?
Georgia 27 Florida 20
I love this Baylor team led by Robert Griffin. The Bears have put up huge scoring numbers over the past few weeks, and they show no signs of slowing down.
I hate this Texas team led by Garret Gilbert. Its offense, unlike Baylor's, has been nonexistent for most of the season.
The Longhorns dropped another disappointing game to lowly Iowa State at home, their second such loss at home.
They seem to play worse at home, and since this game is in Austin, I'm going with the Bears.
Baylor 34 Texas 24
I'm still can't believe my eyes seeing the "23" next to Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have really come a long way, from an SEC bottom-dweller to being ranked. But they can't look past their next opponent, Kentucky.
Kentucky has also shown flashes of greatness, as it beat then-No. 10 South Carolina and nearly beat now-No. 3 Auburn. It has some dangerous weapons on offense, so Mississippi State must stay stout on defense.
I think that Mississppi State will look ahead to Alabama and lay an egg in this one. Kentucky will score a lot of points against a stunned Bulldog squad,
Kentucky 30 Mississippi State 27
Oregon comes into this game as the odds-on favorite to win the national title. USC comes into this game trying to spoil the Ducks' title hopes.
Oregon will put up 40-60 points, but the real question is how its defense will fare against Matt Barkley and the high-powered Trojan offense.
Personally, I have been low on USC all year, so I think the Ducks will run away with this game in high-scoring fashion (what's new?). But it could be a trap game for Oregon, as USC is capable of beating anyone in the country.
Oregon 57 USC 40
This game is as big as it gets, with national title implications. If Michigan State wins, it has a relatively easy road to an undefeated season. If not, it may not be part of the BCS.
Iowa would love to dash any Spartan title hopes. The Hawkeyes are coming off a frustrating, one-point loss to Wisconsin, so they'll come out in full force.
On the flip side, Michigan State is coming off of a near-loss to questionable Northwestern and must perform better this week against a far more talented opponent.
I love the Michigan State story this year, so I'm sticking with the Spartans to beat Iowa in a tight one and keep its title hope alive.
Michigan State 24 Iowa 21
And finally, the game of the week in college football.
This game also has major BCS implications, as Mizzou is looking to remain undefeated after knocking off Oklahoma. Nebraska knows the Tigers' situation, as the Huskers were in the same situation just two weeks ago, before being stunned by Texas.
Just like Michigan State, if Missouri wins this game, it has pretty soft schedule on its way to a perfect regular season.
This game will come down to which defense is tougher, as both squads have high-scoring offenses. I'll give Blaine Gabbert and Mizzou the edge over Taylor Martinez and Nebraska in a shootout.
Missouri 37 Nebraska 33