By Brad Carroll
The night slate of Week 9's college football games takes a backseat, for once, to the extremely important afternoon schedule, but there are still a pair of teams involved who need a victory in the worst way to work their way back into the College Football Playoff conversation. No. 7 Clemson hosts Georgia Tech and No. 10 Oklahoma hosts Texas Tech in the two big games, while we also have No. 21 USC at Arizona State late.
Our college football experts preview and pick those games against the point spread below. Check out Part I of our afternoon previews and picks here and Part II of our previews and picks for the week’s mega-matchups here. Also, our Thursday and Friday game previews and picks are here. And, follow us on Twitter.
Georgia Tech at No. 7 Clemson, 8, ABC
Spread: Clemson -14.5
Brad’s Breakdown: Clemson has had two weeks to stew on its 27-24 loss to Syracuse that, at least temporarily, knocked it out of the College Football Playoff picture. The Tigers are still within striking distance of a spot in the top four, as highly-ranked teams have been dropping quickly recently, and that can only help Clemson’s positioning in the future. But there’s no doubt the Tigers need to sweep their final games and do so in impressive fashion against lesser programs. Georgia Tech isn’t exactly in that group, but are unranked with a 4-2 record. The Yellow Jackets have won four of their last five, with the lone loss coming against then-No. 11 Miami, 25-24. Both teams are close in nearly every team stat, and both recently beat Wake Forest by 14. Clemson will get back on track with a win, but Georgia Tech should make the Tigers work for it.
Brad’s Final: Clemson 35, Georgia Tech 24 (Georgia Tech)
Craig’s Final: Clemson 45, Georgia Tech 28 (Clemson)
Glenn’s Final: Clemson 42, Georgia Tech 24 (Clemson)
Matt’s Final: Clemson 28, Georgia Tech 21 (Georgia Tech)
Texas Tech at No. 10 Oklahoma, 8, ESPN2
Spread: Oklahoma -20
Brad’s Breakdown: Oklahoma has a longer road ahead than Clemson if it wants to play for a national championship, mainly because of the ranking, but also because the Sooners have played close games over its last four against some pretty pedestrian opponents. That stretch also included a 38-31 loss to Iowa State. Texas Tech might offer the Sooners the perfect chance to get back to the team many thought could win a national title. The Red Raiders have lost three of their last four, against Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Iowa State. Texas Tech dropped the latter game 31-13. Giving 20 points is a ton, but Oklahoma needs this game to make a statement.
Brad’s Final: Oklahoma 45, Texas Tech 24 (Oklahoma)
Craig’s Final: Oklahoma 42, Texas Tech 21 (Oklahoma)
Glenn’s Final: Oklahoma State 48, Texas Tech 38 (Texas Tech)
Matt’s Final: Oklahoma 56, Texas Tech 20 (Oklahoma)
No. 21 USC at Arizona State, 10:45, ESPN
Spread: USC -3
Brad’s Breakdown: Arizona State is rolling, while USC is falling, and there’s no reason to believe that will change in the desert late Saturday night. The Sun Devils have won three of four, including wins over then-No. 24 Oregon and then-No. 5 Washington, plus a 20-point win over Utah last week. The lone stumble in that stretch was at Stanford. USC has lost two of its last four, including a 49-14 embarrassment against Notre Dame last week. The Trojans haven’t been anywhere near the team pundits thought would challenge for a national title this year and are lucky to still be ranked in the top 25. Arizona State will continue its red-hot stretch with another upset victory.
Brad’s Final: Arizona State 31, USC 28 (Arizona State)
Craig’s Final: USC 31, Arizona State 24 (USC)
Glenn’s Final: USC 24, Arizona State 20 (USC)
Matt’s Final: USC 35, Arizona State 28 (USC)