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Sports The five biggest questions facing college football in Week 9

17:00  29 october  2020
17:00  29 october  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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The return of the Big Ten season brought some surprise results and impressive debuts. It's always important to be mindful of overreactions to just one data point. Often the starts do not set in stone where teams finish.

The rest of the Power Five in action are at the midpoint of their season and races in those conferences are taking shape.

Parity has been one of the stories of the SEC season as teams below Alabama and Georgia have taken turns knocking off each other.

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The Big 12 title race has two league unbeatens with preseason favorite Oklahoma and Texas trailing behind with two losses. More clarity should come to the situation Saturday.

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Cincinnati, meanwhile, is slowly working its way into College Football Playoff contention. The Bearcats already have wins against two ranked opponents, and the American Athletic schedule allows for more quality wins ahead.

Texas wide receiver Joshua Moore (6) celebrates after making a touchdown catch during the second quarter against Baylor at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. © Scott Wachter, USA TODAY Sports Texas wide receiver Joshua Moore (6) celebrates after making a touchdown catch during the second quarter against Baylor at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

A look at the top questions for Week 9 in college football:

Does Penn State have a chance against Ohio State?

This seems like an easy question to answer after the Nittany Lions lost to Indiana last week. A deeper dive at that game shows Penn State dominated on both sides of the ball, but were undone by turnovers, penalties and special teams errors before poor clock management at the end of regulation. This is still a very good team capable of pulling an upset. And it is desperate, knowing an 0-2 start eliminates them from the Big Ten race.

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Now consider the situation with Ohio State. The Buckeyes were less-than-impressive early against Nebraska before pulling away late. The running game was not consistent. The defense didn't appear dominant. There's a danger of being overconfident and not anticipating that it will get the best performance from the Nittany Lions. This still has the makings of one of the best games of the season.

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Can Texas cause chaos in the Big 12?

Oklahoma State and Kansas State are the only unbeatens in Big 12 league play. If each wins its remaining games outside their matchup Nov. 7, then they will both be in the conference championship game. That would freeze out Iowa State, Oklahoma and Texas.

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There's several pitfalls ahead, especially with the Cowboys hosting Longhorns this weekend.  Yes, Texas has lost two games and there is pressure on Tom Herman to win this season. A defeat of Baylor, who was dealing with COVID-19 issues, shouldn't be overstated, however it gave the team a good feeling and a springboard to its trip to Stillwater. They'll need a fast start to avoid their penchant for having to come from behind. With a little bit of pressure, it's possible OSU then falters and throws open the conference race.

How does Michigan follow up its impressive opener?

One week after rolling over Minnesota to open the year, Michigan takes on rival Michigan State with the opportunity to cement a spot as the second-best team in the Big Ten — or even at the top of the list, should Penn State score the upset against the Buckeyes. After committing seven turnovers in losing to Rutgers, the Spartans shouldn't present too much of a challenge. The rivalry game provides the opportunity for another look at first-year starting quarterback Joe Milton, who was terrific against the Golden Gophers, and a strong follow-up should go a long way toward easing if not outright eliminating the concerns over the health of this offense heading into the regular season.

Where the College Football Playoff stands after Week 9

  Where the College Football Playoff stands after Week 9 There's been unpredictability in his unique college football seasons. A look at the playoff picture if the postseason started today.The Buckeyes have put together easy wins against Nebraska (52-17) and Penn State (38-25) as quarterback Justin Fields has surged into prime Heisman Trophy contention.

Is Memphis Cincinnati's biggest threat?

After trouncing SMU 42-13 last week, the Bearcats may have already passed their toughest test of the regular season. The Mustangs ranked fourth nationally in total offense entering the weekend and were held to just 290 yards, the program's lowest single-game output since early in the 2018 season. Memphis has similar firepower on offense, including one of the American's best quarterbacks in Brady White, and the Tigers would put the Bearcats in an uncomfortable position by creating a faster tempo. But Memphis has yet to run up against this sort of defense: Cincinnati ranks first nationally among teams that have played multiple games in yards allowed per play. And don't overlook the Bearcats' motivation to avenge back-to-back losses to Memphis to end the 2019 regular season.

Can Florida shake off the rust before meeting Missouri?

The Gators have been sidelined for two weeks after a rash of positive results for COVID-19. While Florida was getting healthy, Missouri was turning around its season under first-year coach Eli Drinkwitz. After losing to Alabama and Tennessee, the Tigers have won as underdogs against LSU and Kentucky to even their record at 2-2 and set up the possibility of a .500 finish against an SEC-only schedule. Once penciled in as an easy win for UF, the matchup is now closer to a toss-up. With Georgia up next, the Gators can't afford to stumble against Missouri and remain a factor in the East division race. Another subplot is the play of quarterback Kyle Trask, who earned early Heisman Trophy consideration but has since been overshadowed by Trevor Lawrence, Mac Jones and Justin Fields.

Pac-12 and Clemson-Notre Dame among five big college football questions to be answered in Week 10

  Pac-12 and Clemson-Notre Dame among five big college football questions to be answered in Week 10 Week 10 in college football will be one with significant story lines. A look at the five biggest questions heading into Saturday's matchups.The two biggest contenders to make the field — Oregon and Southern California — face divisional rivals at home and have an opportunity to get off on the right foot. But there can't be many missteps along the way with such little margin for error with a seven-game schedule.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The five biggest questions facing college football in Week 9

Five biggest questions for Week 11 in college football: Wisconsin, Notre Dame are teams to watch .
The college football schedule for Week 11 in slimmed down, but there's still significant story lines to follow. Here are the five biggest questions.Despite the adjustments, there are still several matchups worth keeping an eye on in Week 11.

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