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MC&J: Oregon travels to Utah for Week 9’s national College Football game of the week

The battle in Salt Lake City is one of two games this week between ranked teams.

Washington State v Oregon Photo by Lydia Ely/Getty Images

Last week ATS: 9-4 (4-3 National, 5-1 B1G)

Season ATS; 69-69 (29-41 National, 40-26 B1G)

I would be happy if every week was like last week. While there were a few setbacks with the national picks, it’s hard to find fault with a 9-4 week. Had it not been for Big Ten refs calling back an Iowa punt return touchdown because of a fair catch, they week would have been even better!

Now that we are back to .500 on the season, hopefully we can keep things positive as we head towards the final month of the regular season.

National games

No. 6 Oklahoma (-10) v. Kansas - 12:00 p.m. ET - FOX

Apparently Oklahoma spent their bye week celebrating their win over Texas, since it was obvious they didn’t prepare much for UCF. The Sooners trailed the Golden Knights heading into the fourth quarter, only surviving because UCF missed a two-point conversion late in the game that would have tied the game. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel did toss three touchdowns against his former team.

Kansas has been a tough team to pinpoint this year because of the injury woes of quarterback Jalon Daniels, who has been struggling with back issues. In their last game two weeks ago, Jason Bean filled in and threw five touchdown passes against Oklahoma State. The problem for the Jayhawks is their defense couldn’t stop Ollie Gordon II and the Cowboys.

The Sooners have won 18 straight games against the Jayhawks, but it feels like the gap is shrinking a bit. I’m not confident enough in Kansas to think they’ll win the last game between the teams as conference foes. However, I do like the Jayhawks to keep things within a touchdown in Lawrence in an exciting game that comes down to the wire.

Oklahoma 38, Kansas 31

No. 1 Georgia (-14.5) v. Florida - 3:30 p.m. ET - CBS

Georgia took a huge hit a couple weeks ago when Brock Bowers left the Vanderbilt game in the first half due to injury. The loss of Bowers is a huge hit to the Bulldogs, who were just starting to find their rhythm on offense prior to the injury. Now it’s back to square one for quarterback Carson Beck and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, as they’ll have to figure out how to put up points without their biggest offensive threat.

Florida has had a really strange season so far. The Gators lost at Utah in their season opener, beat Tennessee in Gainesville, lost to Kentucky a couple weeks later, and won a wild game against South Carolina two weeks ago. Wisconsin transfer Graham Mertz has actually been pretty good so far this year at quarterback, tossing 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Mertz threw for 423 yards and three touchdowns in the thrilling 41-39 win over the Gamecocks last time out.

Georgia has largely dominated The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (I’ll never stop calling it that) recently, winning five of the last six over Florida, with four of those wins coming by at least 19 points. I’m not convinced this one is going to be another blowout in favor of the Bulldogs. The Gators will provide just enough resistance to keep the final score inside two touchdowns as Georgia struggles a bit on offense without Bowers.

Georgia 33, Florida 21

No. 8 Oregon (-6.5) v. No. 13 Utah - 3:30 p.m. ET - FOX

Whatever Kyle Whittingham is making, it isn’t nearly enough since he is certainly worth at least double his current salary. Most teams would have already lost control of their season if they had to go through what the Utes have gone through. Quarterback Cam Rising hasn’t played this year after suffering a knee injury in the Rose Bowl, and has since been ruled out the rest of the season. As if being without their starting quarterback wasn’t challenging enough, Utah has a brutal schedule in the Pac-12.

One thing not working in Utah’s favor this week is Oregon certainly isn’t USC. The Ducks are mean and will try and bury you every chance they get. Say what you will about some of the points Oregon left on the table against Washington, but at least Dan Lanning wasn’t coaching scared. Plus, the Ducks at least have a semblance of defense, which is a lot more than the Trojans have.

It would be such a Kyle Whittingham thing for Utah to beat Oregon here. As tough as the Utes are in Salt Lake City, this is where having a backup quarterback comes back to bite them. Bo Nix and Oregon’s offense will be too much for the defense of the Utes to keep up with, especially after the group has had to work so hard all season to keep Utah in games.

Oregon 31, Utah 17

BYU v. No. 7 Texas (-17.5) - 3:30 p.m. ET - ABC

You know how we had Clemsoning? Maybe the new Clemsoning is Texasing. After looking like one of the best teams in the country, the Longhorns lost to Oklahoma in the beginning of the month, and after a bye week they jumped out 21-0 on Houston only to have quarterback Quinn Ewers get hurt, and then they almost blew the game against the Cougars. Freshman Maalik Murphy will fill in while Ewers is hurt, as Arch Manning still hasn’t seen the field this year for Texas.

Following a 3-0 start to the season, BYU has alternated wins and losses over their last four games in their first season in the Big 12. Luckily the Cougars have an experienced quarterback in Kedon Slovis since the offense hasn’t had much success running the football. Even if BYU had success running coming into this game, they likely wouldn’t be able to get much against a Texas defense allowing less than 100 yards per game on the ground.

Texas is definitely the more talented team here. The issue with the Longhorns is there is so much uncertainty following the injury to Ewers. It helps that Texas will play this game at home, but I think BYU and Slovis will be able to hang around in this one. While the Cougars might not push the Longhorns like Houston did last week, BYU at least doesn’t get blown out.

Texas 37, BYU 23

No. 20 Duke v. No. 18 Louisville (-4.5) - 3:30 p.m. ET - ESPN

Louisville was cruising towards a victory a couple weeks ago at Pitt before the Panthers reeled off 24 unanswered points in the second half to beat the Cardinals 38-21, ending the dreams of an undefeated season for Jeff Brohm in his first campaign as head coach at his alma mater. Quarterback Jack Plummer is going to have cut down on the turnovers he is committing, as he has already thrown eight picks this year.

Duke actually led Florida State last week 20-17 heading into the fourth quarter before the Seminoles took over in the final 15 minutes, sending the Blue Devils back to Durham with a 38-20 loss. Who knows how the game would have gone if quarterback Riley Leonard was healthy. Leonard played last week with an injured ankle, and it is unknown if he will be able to play this week.

The Blue Devils want to run the football, which plays right into Louisville’s hands since the Cardinals allow less than 100 yards per game on the ground. Plus, we all saw in the Notre Dame game how tough it can be to go into Papa John’s KFC Burger King Panera Chipotle Fast Food Thunderdome in Louisville and leave with a win.

Louisville 27, Duke 17

No. 21 Tennessee (-3.5) v. Kentucky - 7:00 p.m. ET - ESPN

Tennessee had Alabama right where they wanted them last week after the Volunteers jumped out to a 20-7 lead at halftime. Then the Crimson Tide did the thing they usually do, regrouping at halftime to stage a second half comeback, downing Josh Heupel’s team 34-20 in Tuscaloosa. Joe Milton actually wasn’t that bad in the loss, throwing for 271 yards and two touchdowns.

Kentucky enters this game on a two-game losing streak, falling to Georgia and Missouri before a bye week. NC State transfer quarterback Devin Leary has been brutal over the last three games, going 33-of-72 for 317 yards and two interceptions. Luckily, Leary has thrown five touchdowns to offset some of his inaccurate passes.

Much like when teams play Ohio State, they often come out flat in their next game because of the toll a game against the Buckeyes takes on players. I feel like something similar happens after playing Alabama. This will be noticeable on Saturday night since this will also be the second road game in a row for the Volunteers, while Kentucky is coming off a bye. The Wildcats win straight up.

Kentucky 28, Tennessee 24

No. 11 Oregon State (-3.5) v. Arizona - 10:30 p.m. ET - ESPN

The Arizona teams certainly put a scare into Washington over the last month, with the Wildcats and Sun Devils both keeping things tight in the fourth quarter. While Oregon State doesn’t quite have a passing attack like the Huskies, the Beavers have a strong defense and a running game that is very effective. Damien Martinez and Deshaun Fenwick are powering a rushing attack that is averaging nearly 200 yards per game.

Along with their ability to run the football, Clemson transfer D.J. Uiagalelei has found a favorite target through the air in the red zone, with tight end Jack Velling hauling in nearly half of Uiagalelei’s 15 touchdown tosses this season.

It is not yet known who will start at quarterback for Arizona in this game. Jayden de Laura was the starting quarterback for the Wildcats at the beginning of the season before suffering an ankle injury, which has left Noah Fifita to fill in while de Laura has been sidelined. Arizona has been feisty no matter who has been taking the snaps this year, with two of their three losses coming in overtime.

As much as I like Oregon State, it feels like the Pac-12 is destined to beat up on each other as the season rolls along. Arizona upsetting the Beavers seems like something that fits perfectly into the conference cannibalising itself, especially with the Wildcats having a bye to see if de Laura can get healthy enough to return to his starting quarterback role. Arizona wins an entertaining game late Saturday night.

Arizona 35, Oregon State 31