By Stewart Mandel
October 25, 2012
College Football Pickoff: Week 9
Saturday, Oct. 27
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 5 Notre Dame (7-0) at No. 8 Oklahoma (5-1)
We all know about Manti Te'o and the Irish defense, which have yet to allow more than 17 points in a game, but Oklahoma's D is experiencing a resurgence of its own under Mike Stoops. The Sooners are allowing just 15.3 points per game. It's hard to imagine Everett Golson and the Irish offense sustaining drives against Tony Jefferson and the Oklahoma secondary.
8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 13 Mississippi State (7-0) at No. 1 Alabama (7-0)
It's been a while since a defense has challenged 'Bama, and it's possible corner Johnthan Banks and the Bulldogs will make life difficult for Tide quarterback AJ McCarron (16 touchdowns, no interceptions). But Mississippi State counterpart Tyler Russell (15 touchdowns, one interception) has feasted on a slate of horrible defenses. Jesse Williams, Dee Milliner and Co. will bring him down to earth.
3:30 p.m. ET (CBS) No. 3 Florida (7-0) vs. No. 12 Georgia (6-1)
Bulldogs safety Shawn Williams called out his defensive teammates earlier this week for being "soft." He has a point. Georgia's veteran defense ranks just ninth in the SEC (5.2 yards per play). Florida's offense has its limitations, but the Gators' loaded defensive front will overwhelm the Bulldogs' suspect offensive line and force another ugly, low-scoring affair.
3:30 p.m. ET (FOX) No. 15 Texas Tech (6-1) at No. 4 Kansas State (7-0)
Texas Tech may well have the defense to slow down Collin Klein. The Red Raiders have been adept against the run (3.3 yards per carry) and the pass (5.3 yards per attempt) to date. But K-State's defense has already shut down two high-octane passers, Oklahoma's Landry Jones and West Virginia's Geno Smith. It will likely do the same to Seth Doege.
5:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 9 Ohio State (8-0) at Penn State (5-2)
Though the Buckeyes' record is perfect, they've been fortunate to avoid an opponent that can both exploit their shaky defense and contain Braxton Miller. With its outstanding linebackers (Mike Mauti, Gerald Hodges), Penn State can help limit Miller's long runs, while smart quarterback Matt McGloin (14 touchdowns, two interceptions) will exploit the holes in Ohio State's D.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN2) No. 10 USC (6-1) at Arizona (4-3)
RichRod's offense is cooking. The Wildcats just put up 533 yards on a formerly ranked Washington team. Meanwhile, Matt Barkley and Co. just scorched hapless Colorado, but they have yet to beat a foe with a winning record. Arizona may prove to be the remedy. Barkley and his receivers should carve up the nation's No. 52 pass defense (6.8 yards per play).
3:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU) Duke (6-2) at No. 11 Florida State (7-1)
Congrats to the Blue Devils on reaching bowl eligibility and taking over first place in the ACC Coastal Division. This week, it's back to reality. The 'Noles aren't likely to slip up at home, as their defense will put the clamps on Duke's largely one-dimensional offense. 'Noles running back Devonta Freeman, stepping in for the injured Chris Thompson, could have a big game.
8 p.m. ET (ESPN2) No. 20 Michigan (5-2) at Nebraska (5-2)
Huskers quarterback Taylor Martinez is putting up some big statistics (a 67 percent completion percentage, 15 touchdowns, four interceptions), but he wasn't particularly effective in losses to UCLA and Ohio State (one touchdown, four picks). Now he's going up against the toughest defense he's faced. Wolverines' standouts Jake Ryan and Jordan Kovacs will help force a couple more turnovers.
3 p.m. ET (FX) UCLA (5-2) at Arizona State (5-2)
In a game that will identify USC's lone challenger in the Pac-12 South, Arizona State must bounce back from an embarrassing home blowout to Oregon and an injury to star defensive tackle Will Sutton. Facing a Bruins defense that's struggled mightily against the pass (6.9 yards per attempt), Sun Devils quarterback Taylor Kelly will rediscover the groove he had prior to facing Oregon.
Friday, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2) Cincinnati (5-1) at No. 16 Louisville (7-0)
The Bearcats lost to Toledo in large part due to the Rockets' defensive and special teams touchdowns. While Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater continues to excel (73.4 completion percentage), the Cardinals' defense is a concern. It's allowing a 45.5 percent third-down conversion rate, ranked 103rd nationally. Cincy quarterback Munchie Legaux is ready to feast on that secondary.
Record Last Week: 6-4               Record This Season: 50-30

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