Week 9 means that there are only five full weekends remaining in the 2016 season. A lot like my first marriage, it’s going way too fast.
For the third week in a row there are three ranked vs. ranked matchups. Each features an undefeated Power Five team (there are only seven remaining) hitting the road to face a Top 20 opponent. Two of the three have dropped at least three straight at their destination, see the Fun Facts for more details.
Byes are up to a season-high 22 this week, a number that includes five ranked teams. FBS vs. FCS games drop from three to two with only Mississippi State (vs. Samford) and UMass (vs. Wagner) playing down a level.
All-in-all there are 54 games, the lowest total of the season: five on Thursday, three on Friday and 46 on Saturday.
Don’t miss (25) Virginia Tech at Pitt and Cal at USC on Thursday night. On Saturday, the essential stuff kicks off with (4) Washington at (17) Utah 3:30pm EST on FS1 and continues with (7) Nebraska at (11) Wisconsin at 7pm EST on ESPN and (3) Clemson at (12) Florida State at 8pm EST on ABC.
It’s judgement day for the Pac-12 North, Big Ten West and ACC Atlantic.
OFF THIS WEEK (22)
- (1) Alabama
- Ball State
- Bowling Green
- (23) Colorado
- Colorado State
- (19) LSU
- (21) North Carolina
- Northern Illinois
- Texas State
- UL Lafayette
- (20) Western Michigan
RANKED vs. RANKED (3)
- (4) Washington at (17) Utah
- (7) Nebraska at (11) Wisconsin
- (3) Clemson at (12) Florida State
FIRST-EVER MEETINGS (1)
- New Mexico State at (9) Texas A&M
LONGEST SERIES OF THE WEEK
(2) Michigan and Michigan State play for the 109th time this Saturday. The two have met consecutively since 1945, missing 1943-44 due to World War II. The Wolverines played through the wartime years, but the Spartans canceled their 1943 season due to a lack of available players. MSU returned to the gridiron in ’44 but played only six games.
If Michigan State were to manage a huge upset this weekend it would be only the second time in history that it’s won four straight over Michigan. The first came from 1934-37, all four wins occurring in Ann Arbor.
Interestingly, the two schools only met in East Lansing three times from 1915-1957, the other 38 games all played at Michigan Stadium.
OLDEST SERIES OF THE WEEK
(2) Michigan-Michigan State and Illinois-Minnesota both kicked off 118-years ago in 1898. Even though Michigan went 10-0 that season, winning the Western Conference title, Harvard (11-0) and Princeton (11-0-1) are recognized as the national champions.
It was the same year that the Arizona Cardinals were founded, the “oldest continuously run professional football franchise in the nation.” What started as a “neighborhood” team that played on Chicago’s South Side as the Morgan Athletic Club morphed into the Normals, the Racine Cardinals, the Chicago Cardinals, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Phoenix Cardinals and finally, today, the Arizona Cardinals.
STREAKS OF THE WEEK
6: Hawaii has won 6 straight over New Mexico, San Jose State has won 6 straight over UNLV and Arkansas State has won 6 straight over Louisiana-Monroe.
7: (24) Penn State has won 7 straight over Purdue.
8: Kansas State has won 8 straight over Iowa State and Miami (Ohio) has won 8 straight over Eastern Michigan.
9: Oregon has won 9 straight over Arizona State, Wake Forest has won 9 straight over Army and San Diego State has won 9 straight over Utah State.
10: (13) Boise State has won 10 straight over Wyoming.
11: (16) Oklahoma has won 11 straight over Kansas.
12: USC has won 12 straight over Cal and Toledo has won 12 straight over Ohio.
MOST-LIKELY WEEK 9 WINNERS BASED ON HISTORY (FBS vs. FBS only):
American: (22) Navy (1-0 all-time) vs. USF
ACC: Wake Forest (11-4 all-time and 5-0 in the last five) vs. Army
Big 12: (16) Oklahoma (73-27-6 all-time 5-0 in the last five) vs. Kansas
Big Ten: (6) Ohio State (60-14-1 all-time and 5-0 in the last five) vs. Northwestern
CUSA: Marshall (6-5 all-time and 5-0 in the last five) vs. Southern Miss
MAC: Miami-Ohio (18-4 all-time and 5-0 in the last five) vs. Eastern Michigan
MWC: (13) Boise State (10-0 all-time) vs. Wyoming
Pac-12: (4) Washington (8-1 all-time and 4-1 in the last five) vs. (17) Utah
SEC: (18) Tennessee (25-7-2 all-time and 3-2 in the last five) vs. South Carolina
Sun Belt: Arkansas State (22-14 all-time and 5-0 in the last five) vs. Louisiana-Monroe
HARDWARE UP FOR GRABS
The Paul Bunyan – Governor of Michigan Trophy – (2) Michigan at Michigan State – series started in 1898 – Michigan leads all-time 68-35-5 but has dropped three straight.
First presented in 1953, the Paul Bunyan was donated by then Michigan governor Gerhard Mennen Williams to honor Michigan State’s inaugural season in the Big Ten. All-in-all, the trophy is a whopping nine-feet tall, featuring Bunyan standing with one foot on each side of the state, each school’s flag claiming it’s half.
The Wolverines have earned 35 Bunyan’s vs. the Spartans’ 26. The 1958 and 1963 games both ended in ties.
The Okefenokee Oar – (14) Florida vs. Georgia (at Jacksonville, Fla.) – series started in 1904 – Georgia leads 49-42-2 but Florida has won the last two.
Established in 2009 by the student governments of both schools, the Okefenokee is a 10-foot long oar, carved from a 1,000-year old cypress tree in the Okefenokee Swamp. Covering nearly 700 square miles, the swamp straddles the Florida-Georgia state line.
Seven years later, the Gators have taken home the oar four times vs. the Bulldogs three.
The Saddle Trophy – Texas Tech at TCU – series started in 1926 – Texas Tech leads 30-25-3 but TCU has won the last two.
Rather than being an active entity, the Saddle Trophy is missing in action. It dates back to 1961 when the Lubbock Avalanche Journal and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram hooked up to honor the yearly winner. It was part of a move to brand the rivalry as “The West Texas Championship of the Southwest Conference.”
Texas Tech didn’t join the Southwest Conference until 1960 while TCU had been a member since 1923. The Saddle was in use until 1970, when it mysteriously disappeared. At that time, each school had won the traveling prize five times apiece.
There has been a push to resurrect the Saddle since TCU joined the Big 12 in 2012.
Army has never won at Wake Forest
The Black Knights have had six opportunities to knock off the Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem and have fallen short each time. Though the two teams have met 15 times since 1945, they didn’t play at Wake Forest until 1990. That’s been the venue six out of the last nine games, all wins for the Deacons.
Wake leads the all-time series 11-4.
(13) Boise State is 22-0 all-time vs. its next two opponents
Boise State travels to Wyoming this Saturday and then hosts San Jose State next Friday night, both teams it has never lost to.
The Broncos are 10-0 all-time vs. the Cowboys, a series that kicked off in 2002 and 11-0 vs. the Spartans, dating back to 1978.
(3) Clemson hasn’t won at (12) Florida State since 2006
Clemson has dropped four straight in Tallahassee; falling 41-27 in 2008, 16-13 in 2010, 49-37 in 2012 and 23-17 in 2014.
The Tigers finished 8-5 in 2006, adding a 31-7 win over No. 13 Georgia Tech to their 27-20 upset at then No. 9 Florida State. They rose to as high as No. 10 in the AP that year, before losing four of the last five including to Kentucky in the Music City Bowl.
Kansas State and Iowa State play for the 100th time
Not only have the Wildcats and Cyclones met 99 times previously, they’ve played every single year since 1917. It earns the series a place in the Top Ten of the longest consecutive rivalries in college football.
Iowa State leads all-time 49-46-4 but K-State is on an eight-game winning streak. If the Wildcats can stretch their run to 11, it will mark the longest win streak in series history.
(2) Michigan hasn’t won at Michigan State since 2007
The Wolverines have lost the last four times they visited East Lansing; 26-20 in 2009, 28-14 in 2011, 29-6 in 2013 and 35-11 in 2014.
The 2007 win was Lloyd Carr’s final season at Michigan. It was also the last time the Wolverines were ranked in the Top Five—that is until Week 2 of this year.
The ’07 team came into the season at No. 5 in the AP before free-falling out of the rankings after their shock-the-world loss in the opener to then FCS Appalachian State.
(7) Nebraska hasn’t won at (11) Wisconsin in 50 years
The last time the Cornhuskers left Madison with a win was in 1966, the same year they went 9-2 and finished No. 6 in the final AP. Nebraska reeled off nine straight wins that season only to drop its last two games at Oklahoma (10-9) and then vs. No. 3 Alabama (34-7) in the Sugar Bowl.
Nebraska has lost three straight road games to Wisconsin since; in 1974, 2011 and 2014.
Northwestern has lost 14 straight at (6) Ohio State
Yet another serial road loser, Northwestern hasn’t won in Columbus since 1971, suffering 45 years of defeats since. Not only did the ’71 Wildcats beat No. 16 Ohio State, they capped off the season with a win over No. 19 Michigan State.
They finished 7-4 and were ranked as high as No. 20 in the AP. It was the last time they would be mentioned in the polls until 1995, when they stormed to a 10-2 record and finished at No. 8.