It was a wild week 9 as far as the standings go as 7 teams dropped out of the AP top 25 after some tough losses. No. 15 Washington suffered a heartbreaker in a two-point loss to Cal, the No. 19 ranked Ducks of Oregon got blown out by the unranked Wildcats in Arizona, No. 20 Wisconsin got outplayed by Northwestern, and No. 25 Appalachian State was taken down by Georgia Southern.
Unranked Houston broke reasserted themselves back into the top 25, landing at No. 17 this week after taking down previously No. 21 USF last week in convincing fashion. In addition, Syracuse came out on top of another close matchup against a ranked opponent as they won a shootout against No. 21 NC State last week to go from unranked to No. 22 this week. Lastly, in one of the more surprising stories of the season, Washington State enters week 10 as the No. 10 team in the nation after taking down previously No. 24 Stanford in a top 25 matchup last weekend.
With four top 25 matchups in week 10, there will certainly be no shortage of fireworks and with that being said, here is our list of the top 5 games to watch this weekend:
5: California vs No. 10 Washington State
At 4-3, the Golden Bears are coming into this game with not much to lose, and a ton of confidence after knocking off No. 15 Washington last week. Washington State, on the other hand, is in the top 10 for the first time this season, and are trying to prove that they belong amongst the elite. This should be a great matchup considering Washington State’s defining factor is their passing game, while the Golden Bears, on the other hand, pride themselves on their ability to defend the pass.
4: No. 5 Michigan vs No. 14 Penn State
As Michigan continues their quest for the Big 10 Title, Penn State comes in not far behind. While Michigan is unbeaten in conference play this year, Penn State has had a bit of a rough go in recent weeks. After dropping two straight games, the Lions were able to bounce back with consecutive narrow victories over Indiana and Iowa, bringing them back up to No. 14 in the rankings. While it has been shaky, quarterback Trace McSorley has been phenomenal, and he’ll need to keep up that elite level of play if he wants to take down the No. 5 ranked Wolverines who are not only led by Heisman hopeful Shea Patterson but also boast one of the nation’s top defenses. This will surely be another great game in a long line of classic Big 10 matchups.
3: No. 12 West Virginia vs No. 15 Texas
After being upset by Iowa two weeks ago, the Mountaineers bounced back in a big way as they beat Baylor by a score of 58-14, reminding everyone just how dangerous their offense can be. On the other hand, Texas is looking to bounce back after failing to come out on top of a closely contested shootout against Oklahoma State. While West Virginia may have the better team on paper, the Longhorns enter this game battle-tested, coming off of four straight one-possession games which goes a long way in a big-time matchup such as this, when the pressure to move up in the rankings is at its highest. However, as long as Will Grier is at the helm for WVU, you have to like their chances as he has on numerous occasion shown the ability to take over a game for his team.
2: No. 6 Georgia vs No. 11 Kentucky
In one of the biggest SEC matchups of the season, No. 6 Georgia will look to stay on track as they hit the road to play the conference rival No. 11 Kentucky Wildcats. The Wildcats will have to step it up in a big way on offense if they want to have a chance in this one. The team hasn’t eclipsed 20 points in their last three games, and while their defense has been good, they have yet to play against an opposing offense of Georgia’s caliber. The Bulldogs are one of the most well-rounded teams in the country, and I expect them to bring their A-game as they look to retain control atop the SEC standings.
1: No. 1 Alabama vs No. 4 LSU
Not only does Alabama enter play as the consensus No. 1 team in the nation, behind an unbeaten record, but they are also led by arguably the best player in the nation (at least in terms of Heisman odds) in Tua Tagovailoa, making them the favorite in just about every game they play in this season. However, this week the Crimson Tide face their toughest challenge of the season as they have to head to Baton Rouge to play the No. 4 LSU Tigers who have already shocked the world once when they took down the then No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs 36-16. The Tigers have one of if not the best defense’s in the nation, right on par with Alabama, and have a more than capable offense to go along with it. While I do believe that the Tiger defense will be able to keep the Heisman favorite at bay, Tagovailoa and the Crimson Tide offense are going to put up points regardless of who they are playing, which shifts a lot of the attention to Tiger quarterback Joe Burrows who once again will be looked at to step up and be a big-time playmaker in this one. As previously mentioned, the last time Burrows was challenged to step up against Georgia’s Jake Fromm, he more than rose to the occasion, and that is exactly what LSU is going to need again if they want to come away with a statement win at home.