Week 9 Preview

October 18, 2017 by Dave Congrove

Two weeks to go before the playoff committee releases its first rankings of the 2017 season and as we learned last week, no one is granted immunity from the upset bug. Only 8 teams remain undefeated, of which just 6 hail from Power 5 conferences - Alabama, Georgia, Miami (Fla.), Penn State, TCU and Wisconsin. Of those, Georgia is idle this week with its annual grudge match with Florida just around the corner.

The top-ranked Crimson Tide have a wounded Tennessee team coming to town, led by a head coach who is firmly planted on the hot seat. Butch Jones' Volunteers haven't scored a touchdown since the 2nd quarter of the UMass game on September 23, scoring just 12 total points on 4 field goals over the last 10 quarters. Alabama is favored by 22.48 points according to the Congrove Computer Rankings.

Second-ranked Penn State hosts Michigan as a whopping 19.75-point computer choice, while Wisconsin is given a 25.02-point edge in Madison over Maryland.

Those cardiac kids from Miami will attempt to get a win without the necessity of last-minute heroics when they host Syracuse as a 14.65-point computer favorite. The Orange are invading south Florida fresh off the upset win over Clemson.

TCU may as well have a bye week as the Horned Frogs are projected to dispatch Kansas by 38.43. The Jayhawks have lost 43 straight road games and are coming off a 45-0 whipping last week at Iowa State.

Ohio State, ranked 4th despite its 1 loss, is idle, while No. 8 Clemson and No. 12 Washington also have the week off after absorbing upset losses last week.

The remaining two unbeaten teams are UCF and USF from the American Conference, but the computer expects the Golden Knights to take one on the chin this week when they visit Navy as a narrow 1.18-point underdog. Navy was just kicked off the list of undefeated teams last week in a 30-27 loss at Memphis. USF is a 9.14-point favorite at Tulane.

A pair of traditional powerhouses tee it up in South Bend when USC travels to Notre Dame. Both teams have 1 loss so this is a de facto playoff game with the loser essentially eliminated from Final Four consideration. The computer takes the home-standing Irish by a mere 1.48 points.

In all, 112 of the 130 FBS teams see action this week.

The fun begins Thursday with a Sun Belt showdown in Jonesboro between Arkansas State (-5.29) and Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns, as well as an American Conference clash in Houston where the Cougars (-5.65) will host Memphis.

A four-pack Friday night contains Air Force (-5.36) at Nevada, Colorado State (-5.46) at New Mexico, Marshall (-0.64) at Middle Tennessee, and Western Kentucky (-0.72) at Old Dominion.

Get the complete schedule and the computer's pick of every game here.


No FBS vs. FCS battles are on the agenda staged this week. FBS teams are 82-9 (.901) vs. the FCS this season, and 1,212-117 (.912) since 2003.

These are the FCS victories in 2017:
September 23: Western Illinois 52, Coastal Carolina 10
September 16: North Carolina A&T 35, Charlotte 31
September 16: Idaho State 30, Nevada 28
September 9: South Dakota 35. Bowling Green 27
September 9: New Hampshire 22, Georgia Southern 12
September 2: Liberty 48, Baylor 45
September 2: Howard 43, UNLV 40
September 2: James Madison 34, East Carolina 14
August 31: Tennessee State 17, Georgia State 10.

98 FBS teams are playing 98 games vs. FCS members this year, down substantially from the 110 FBS schools that played 113 games vs. FCS squads last year.


Alabama - Won 39 straight regular season nonconference games (FBS longest). Won 16 straight home games (FBS longest). Won 13 straight road games (tied for FBS longest). Won 21 straight conference games (FBS longest). Hosts Tennessee on Saturday.

Oklahoma - Won13 straight road games (tied for FBS longest).  Visits Kansas State on Saturday.

South Florida - Won 11 straight overall ( FBS longest). Visits Tulane on Saturday.

Texas State - Lost 13 straight conference games (FBS longest). Idle this week.

Charlotte - Lost 10 straight overall (FBS longest). Hosts UAB on Saturday.

Massachusetts - Lost 9 straight overall (FBS 2nd-longest). Hosts Georgia Southern on Saturday.

Kansas - Lost 43 straight road games (FBS longest). Visits TCU on Saturday.