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College Football Week 9 Preview: SEC battle Auburn & LSU will be the game of the week

It’s the Auburn Tigers vs. the LSU Bayou Bengals...

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Auburn Julie Bennett-USA TODAY Sports

This is an open thread for college game chat.

#13 Wisconsin @ #3 Ohio State - Badgers loss to Illinois stings more with upcoming juggernaut Buckeyes offense up next - 12 PM ET FOX

This game could have been great, if not, for a last-play loss to Illinois last week. Now, this game could very well get way out of hand if the full-steam ahead Buckeyes keep up their pace. Ohio State is as good a football team as there is in the country and their quarterback Justin Fields is getting some Heisman discussion. However, Wisconsin’s defense has maintained their stature as one of the best in the country. Do they have enough to stop this Ohio State train from running them over?

During Thursday’s media availability, Paul Chryst mentioned that starting DE Garrett Rand is now questionable with a “head injury.” Presumably a concussion, but we can never rule out a headless horseman chasing Ichabod Crane scenario where Rand is trying to rush Justin Fields while carrying his head in his arms.

The Badgers often run a 2-4-5 situation on defense, though, so Rand being out isn’t the HUGEST deal, but he is a starter and a good one at that. Where I think the Buckeyes could find the most success is challenging the Wisconsin corners in man-to-man situations, especially in early down scenarios out of running packages. Wisconsin’s corners are still young and improving, but they aren’t at the level yet where they can win battles with OSU’s wide receivers on their own. If Ohio State is cool with throwing it on first down *gasp* I think they’ll have a lot of success.

Prediction: OSU is going to win a close one on a last-second field goal

#5 Oklahoma @ Kansas State - Wildcats need to slow down the fast-paced Sooners to have a slight chance to win - 12 PM ET ABC

Former K-State coach Bill Snyder had some slight success over OU, winning twice in three years between 2012-2014. First-year head coach, Chris Kleiman, will look to make a statement against their BIG-12 rival but the Wildcats won’t have the offense to keep up on the scoreboard. Their best bet is to slow things way down and continue to own time of possession:

On defense ... woof. For Oklahoma, success is as easy as 1 (overall Success Rate), 2 (passing Success Rate) 3 (rushing Success Rate). K-State’s efficiency numbers are still strong outside of rushing, where they’re only about average. Salvation lay not in big-play prevention, where the Wildcats are 122nd nationally and facing the most-explosive offense in the nation.

K-State’s best chance in this game is the usual formula: slow things down, control the clock, make plays with turnovers and on special teams. And it might work! K-State is fifth nationally by time of possession and has had several key special teams plays this year. Furthermore, OU has given the ball away six times this season.

Prediction: I predict pain for the Kansas State Wildcats, a big three-score win for the Sooners

#9 Auburn @ #2 LSU - Two top-notch SEC teams with two top-notch SEC quarterbacks set for battle - 3:30 PM ET CBS

The LSU Tigers have been rolling through the college football landscape and QB Joe Burrow deserves a ton of credit for his ability to lead the offense. This week, the opponent is the Auburn Tigers, where they also have a pretty good young quarterback, Bo Nix. Outside of the Florida loss, Nix has been outstanding but he’ll need to be flawless on the road. Is this one going to come down to two quarterbacks dueling a shootout? What does Auburn need to do in this one to contend?

Fast start on offense, particularly on the ground. Auburn is going to need to rush for over 150 yards in this game, and they cannot afford to wait until the 3rd quarter to make adjustments to figure it out. I expect DJ Williams to start seeing the ball in the 2nd half if we’re in this thing, to give us some fresh legs. So Kam Martin is going to have to get it done early.

No turnovers on the road. This goes without saying.

Average to above average play out of Bo Nix coupled by point #1 on running the football. If he’s able to do that without a turnover, Auburn will have a chance to win this game.

Get Joe Burrow’s jersey dirty. The most telling reason why LSU beat Florida was Burrow’s interview after the game. Not the interview itself, but how he looked. His hair was dry. His jersey was lily white. Dirty that thing up Saturday, because he hasn’t felt real pressure all year. You don’t complete 80% of your passes with consistent pass rush in your face. Time to step up, Nick Coe and TD Moultry.

Prediction: America gets a shootout they crave, LSU 35, Auburn 31

#8 Notre Dame @ #19 Michigan - The Irish must win for an outside shot at the CFP - 7:30 PM ET ABC

Notre Dame has one loss and they take on a two-loss Michigan team that is trying to avoid their third. Last year, the Irish were 12-0 and took a spot in the college football playoffs. At 5-1, with a loss to Georgia, Notre Dame must win this game to be in the argument of one-loss teams at the end. Michigan is in total disarray and cannot afford anymore losses with Ohio State and Michigan State still on the schedule. For the Wolverines, they have the defense to compete but that offense is hit or miss.

The Wolverines come into this game with what has been an inconsistent, unreliable offense through the first 7 games of the season. Ranked 52nd on offense in SP+, 80th in total offense (67th in passing, 80th in rushing), and 85th in yards per play, first year offensive coordinator Josh Gattis has certainly not had the start he wanted to have when handed the reins to the offense heading into the season.

On the other side of the ball, Clark Lea’s ND defense has certainly exceeded preseason expectations after he lost Jerry Tillery, Te’von Coney, Drue Tranquill, and Julian Love to the NFL, as the unit has seen its veteran captains at defensive end (Khalid Kareem, Julian Okwara) and safety (Alohi Gilman, Jalen Elliott) lead a quick-learning unit that is currently 35th in the country in SP+, 15th in scoring, 41st in total defense (31st passing, 64th rushing), and 33rd in yards per play allowed.

Prediction: The line has swung for this game in a slight favor of the Irish, I’ll take Notre Dame by four.

Full TV schedule can be found here.

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