(12) Florida State hosts (3) Clemson at 8:00 PM on ABC. The Seminoles have completely turned around their season after losing two matchups to Louisville and UNC. After falling in the AP rankings to 23, the Seminoles claimed an upset win against (10) Miami and a 17-6 win against Wake Forest. A win against Clemson would propel the Seminoles into the top-10, making them contenders for the College Football Playoff. The Seminoles defense looks like a different squad after giving up 63 points to UNC on October 1st. After giving up 35.4 points per game in their first five games, they then held Miami to 19 and Wake Forest to just 6. The defense must shine again this week against a revived Clemson offense. Clemson RB Wayne Gallman will be returning after receiving a concussion against NC State. Last year, he rushed for 103 yards against FSU. WR Hunter Renfrow returned against NC State on October 15th and should be fully acclimated to game speed for this week’s game. Renfrow and Gallman are another set of weapons for QB Deshaun Watson to continue Clemson’s undefeated streak. The player to watch in this game is FSU DE DeMarcus Walker. Walker has 8.5 sacks this year, which is second in the nation and has been the key to FSU’s resurging defense. Walker will need to constantly pressure Watson and help keep him in the pocket, for Watson does his most damage on the run.
As we get closer to the College Football Playoff, Week 9 brings three ranked matchups with an undefeated team in each game. After Ohio State’s shocking loss to Penn State last week, only nine teams remain undefeated. Here’s a list of the best matchups, with players to watch in each game. All times are Eastern Standard Time.
(17) Utah hosts (4) Washington at 3:30 PM on FS1. Washington has been on a roll following their blowout win against Stanford, outscoring opponents 111-38 in their last two games. A win for the Huskies on Sunday would greatly increase their chances of securing a top-4 ranking, with Utah being their final ranked opponent remaining. QB Jake Browning is second in the nation with a 199.6 efficiency rating, and freshman RB Myles Gaskin leads the Pac-12 with 103.9 rush yards per game. The Huskies defense also leads the Pac-12 in points allowed per game with 14.6. The Huskies should have a relatively easy win on Saturday if they can continue their dominant play. The Utes’ are coming off a nail-biting win against a 3-5 UCLA team, 52-45. While Utah has compiled a 7-1 record, Washington is their first ranked opponent this season. The offense heavily relies on senior RB Joe Williams, who rushed for a school-record 332 yards vs. the Bruins last week. The Utes’ defeated Washington last year 34-23, but the Huskies are favored to win by 10. The player to watch in this game is Washington DT Elijah Qualls. Rated by Mel Kiper as the 19th best NFL prospect, his 6’1 321 pound frame allows him to take on blockers and create space for the rest of his defense. If he can disrupt Utah QB Troy Williams, the Utes’ offense will have little success.
(11) Wisconsin hosts (7) Nebraska 7:00 PM on ESPN. A relatively easy schedule propelled Nebraska to an undefeated record this season. A win on Sunday would prove that they are serious playoff contenders. Star wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp returns to the field this week after missing three games with a back injury. Last year, Westerkamp led the Cornhuskers with 7 receiving touchdowns. QB Tommy Armstrong has made great strides this year, throwing for 1,611 yards with 11 TDs. He’s also done damage rushing the ball, racking up 6 rushing TDs. However, Armstrong will have a difficult time rushing against Wisconsin’s dominant rush defense, which ranks 8th in the nation. The Badgers are coming off a statement win against Iowa last week, 13-9. Unfortunately, the Badgers lost their star linebacker Jack Cichy for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Cichy led the team with 60 tackles and his absence will create a gaping hole in the Badgers defense. If Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst can’t find a suitable replacement, the Badgers may suffer their third straight loss against a ranked opponent. The player to watch in this game is Wisconsin OLB T.J. Watt. Watt, the younger brother of J.J. Watt, has been a key component in Wisconsin’s success this season. Watt racked up 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss in their win against Michigan State and his excellent pass rushing ability is sure to give Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong some headaches. Watt will need to step up his play on Saturday after the loss of Cichy.