By Brad Carroll
The afternoon slate of Week 9 college football games features three mega-matchups that one might need a multi-TV set-up or a quick remote trigger to not miss anything. No. 2 Penn State at No. 6 Ohio State is the biggest game of the week, by far, but there are also two other ranked matchups that will go a long way in determining College Football Playoff seeding, with No. 4 TCU traveling to No. 25 Iowa State and No. 14 NC State taking on host No. 9 Notre Dame.
Our college football experts have you covered with previews and picks against the point spread for all three games below. Make sure to check out our Thursday and Friday previews and picks here, Part I of our Saturday afternoon previews and picks here and our previews and picks for Saturday night’s games here. Follow us on Twitter here.
No. 2 Penn State at No. 6 Ohio State, 3:30, FOX
Spread: Ohio State -6
Brad’s Breakdown: This is going to be the game everyone will be watching, save for the fans of the other two games on this list. The winner of this game will take a gigantic step toward the College Football Playoff, as barring another loss later on, there should be no keeping out either Penn State or Ohio State with a win. Penn State improved to 7-0 after a relatively easy win over then-No. 19 Michigan last week, 42-13, which was also its biggest challenge to date. Ohio State lost its biggest game of the season, 31-16, to then-No. 5 Oklahoma at home in Week 2. The early loss actually helps the Buckeyes, however, as they can absorb that loss and move ahead. Penn State probably won’t have the same safety net if it lost now. Ohio State has won five in a row since that loss to the Sooners. Penn State scores 40 points a game, led by quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley, and allows just 9.3 points on defense. Ohio State averages 47.3 points on offense, with quarterback J.T. Barrett quietly having a Heisman-caliber season, and 15.4 points on defense. Home field is huge in this matchup, and that benefit goes to Ohio State. This should be a classic, a classic Penn State fans will look back on fondly.
Brad’s Final: Penn State 27, Ohio State 24 (Penn State)
Craig’s Final: Penn State 31, Ohio State 24 (Penn State)
Glenn’s Final: Penn State 17, Ohio State 14 (Penn State)
Matt’s Final: Penn State 28, Ohio State 21 (Penn State)
No. 4 TCU at No. 25 Iowa State, 3:30, ABC
Spread: TCU -6.5
Brad’s Breakdown: TCU has been this season’s biggest surprise, but Iowa State isn’t that far behind in the Big 12. The Cyclones are 5-2, with their biggest win coming at then-No. 3 Oklahoma 38-31 three weeks ago. Iowa State has lost to Iowa (in overtime) and Texas, while beating Northern Iowa, Akron, Kansas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma on their way to being ranked at No. 25. Iowa State can put up offensive numbers, averaging 35 points and over 400 yards a game, but its defense isn’t exactly a juggernaut, allowing over 350 yards a game. That’s something TCU will look to exploit. The Horned Frogs are 7-0 and have marquee wins over Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Kansas State, in consecutive games. TCU scores 41.9 points per game on offense, while allowing just 14.9 on defense. Iowa State has been on a roll, but TCU should knock them down a peg with another impressive victory.
Brad’s Final: TCU 42, Iowa State 31 (TCU)
Craig’s Final: TCU 41, Iowa State 28 (TCU)
Glenn’s Final: TCU 56, Iowa State 20 (TCU)
Matt’s Final: TCU 35, Iowa State 27 (TCU)
No. 14 NC State at No. 9 Notre Dame, 3:30, NBC
Spread: Notre Dame -7.5
Brad’s Breakdown: Both NC State and Notre Dame have followed similar paths, with each suffering an early-season loss and running the table ever since to move up in the rankings. Notre Dame has had the more impressive run, however, especially after a 49-14 win against then-No. 11 USC last week. The Irish’s lone blemish was a one-point home loss to Georgia, which looks even better now considering the Bulldogs have moved up to No. 3. NC State lost to unranked South Carolina in the opener and have won six straight since, including wins over then-ranked Florida State and Louisville, which looked a lot better at the time. Notre Dame hasn’t even struggled during its winning streak and that’s not likely to stop here against the Wolfpack.
Brad’s Final: Notre Dame 38, NC State 28 (Notre Dame)
Craig’s Final: Notre Dame 27, NC State 24 (NC State)
Glenn’s Final: Notre Dame 31, NC State 17 (Notre Dame)
Matt’s Final: Notre Dame 35, NC State 21 (Notre Dame)