Week 9 in the 2023 College Football season. Last week, North Carolina and Penn State lost their unbeaten records, and the USC Trojans’ season all but ended. What would happen this week on the road to the College Football Playoffs?
Let’s review week 9 in College Football
Kansas Upset the Sooners
The number 6 ranked Oklahoma Sooners are one of the few unbeaten teams left in College Football this season. After their victory against Texas at Red River, they are in pole position for the Big 12 title, whose winner is the most likely team to potentially make the College Football Playoffs. This week, the Sooners face the Kansas Jayhawks, who have had a decent season so far. Will Oklahoma keep its unbeaten season alive?
The Jayhawks had the opening drive of the game and tried to do something with the ball. The Kansas offense made their way into the Sooners’ territory and down to the 27-yard line. They then decided to attempt an early fourth down conversion, needing to gain 3 yards. Jayhawks quarterback Jason Bean’s pass was incomplete, and possession was turned over to Oklahoma. However, the Sooners did not have the ball for long. From their 35-yard line, Sooners quarterback Dilon Gabriel’s pass was intercepted by Mello Dotson, who would return the ball into the endzone for a pick-6 touchdown to give the Jayhawks an early lead.
Kansas would widen their lead soon after. Their drive started from their 20-yard line after Oklahoma turned the ball over to them there. Jason Bean and running back Devin Neal were able to easily break through the Sooners’ defense and found themselves down inside the Oklahoma red zone. Then, from the 9-yard line, Jayhawks running back Daniel Hishaw Jr. would run the ball into the endzone to double the lead.
On the next drive, the Sooners would finally have some luck. Aided by a large penalty against the Kansas defense on the drive, Gabriel and company were able to drive down to the Jayhawks’ 7-yard line. From there, Gabriel would run the ball into the endzone for a 7-yard rushing touchdown to half the Kansas lead. This lead would become non-existent by the end of the next Oklahoma drive. The Sooners would again find themselves down inside the Jayhawks’ red zone, this time at the 2-yard line. Then, Tawee Walker would score the rushing touchdown to tie the game.Embed from Getty Images
After very quickly losing their lead, the Jayhawks could not afford to make any mistakes. Unfortunately, they would make a large mistake soon after. On the kickoff after the Sooner touchdown, the Jayhawks would catch the kick at their 15-yard line. All is normal so far. Then, they would fumble the ball at this spot, which was recovered by the Sooners’ defense. This mistake would prove costly for the Jayhawks, as Gabriel would again score a 9-yard rushing touchdown to give Oklahoma their first lead of the game.
Kansas would score some points before the half ended. From their 15-yard line, the Jayhawks offense would be able to drive down to the Sooners 6-yard line, before the drive would stall. Then, Jayhawks kicker Seth Keller would be successful in his 24-yard field goal attempt. This meant that at halftime, the Sooners would have a narrow 21-17 lead over the Jayhawks.
The second half would open with a few drives that ended in punts. It would be the Jayhawks who would get the first points of the half. Starting from their 44-yard line, the Kansas offense quickly made it into the Sooners’ red zone, aided by a 39-yard pass from Bean to Mason Fairchild. However, the Jayhawks could not go any further, and their drive stalled at the
Sooners 11-yard line. This set up a 29-yard field goal, which Keller would make. Things would get better for the Jayhawks soon after. On the next Oklahoma drive, the Sooners would make an error. On their 36-yard line, running back Jalil Farooq would fumble the ball, and this was scooped up by the Jayhawks. Jason Bean would then rush for 38 yards to score the touchdown to return the lead to Kanas. The Jayhawks would then attempt a 2-point conversion which would fail, but they would still have a lead.
This lead did not last long, however. Shaking off the fumble on the previous drive, the Sooners quickly made their way into the Jayhawks’ red zone, and then down to the 3-yard line. From there, running back Gavin Sawchuk would run the ball into the endzone to score the touchdown. Like the Jayhawks before them, the Sooners attempted a two-point conversion. This would also be unsuccessful, giving the Sooners a slim one-point lead.
Oklahoma would have this slim lead for about 3 minutes. The Jayhawks would again find themselves deep in the Sooner red zone, albeit aided by two large penalties against the Oklahoma defense. Then, from the one-yard line, Daniel Hishaw Jr would find the endzone to retake the lead. Kansas would again attempt a two-point conversion, which would again fail. The Jayhawks would hope to build on their lead soon after, but Keller would miss his 42-yard field goal attempt, leaving the lead at 5 points.
The Jayhawks would then make a mistake. Deep in their red zone, Jason Bean would throw an interception, setting up the Sooners with a strong field position to score and retake the lead. Oklahoma would drive down to the one-yard line before Gabriel would find the endzone again. The Sooners would again attempt a two-point conversion, which failed. This meant that the lead was one point and anyone could still win.Embed from Getty Images
Jason Bean would again throw an interception on his next drive, but this time it was thrown at around the halfway line. In reply, the Sooners were unable to do anything with the ball and quickly punted back to the Jayhawks. Could Bean redeem himself?
Their drive started at their 20-yard line, and the Jayhawks offense would quickly find themselves into Oklahoma territory. Then, at the Sooners 46-yard line, the Jayhawks were facing a 4th down attempt. If they failed to make the 6 yards needed, it would be game over. Bean would find Lawrence Arnold for a 37-yard pass to move the offense down into the red zone. Then, from the 9-yard line, Devin Neal would find the endzone for Kansas to take the lead with less than a minute to go. Kansas would then attempt a two-point conversion, which again failed. But with seconds left on the clock and the game still alive, what could Oklahoma do to keep their undefeated record alive>
The Sooners quickly drove into Kanas territory. However, time would run out before the Sooners could do anything with the ball. This meant that the Kansas Jayhawks had recorded a 38-33 upset against the number 6 ranked Oklahoma Sooners.
For the Jayhawks, this is an important win for them, as it was their last chance to defeat the Sooners before Oklahoma moves to the SEC next season. They improved to 6-2 for the season and are now bowl-eligible. For Oklahoma, their unbeaten season is over. This also opens the Big 12 up again, and a potential College Football Playoff spot (dependent on other conferences) as now the Sooners and the Texas Longhorns have one loss. Next week, the Jayhawks face Iowa State, while the Sooners face state rivals Oklahoma State.
Another Trojans Game
Another week, another USC Trojans game to review. Ever since the media have been giving us an almost daily prediction on where Caleb Williams will be going next season when he is drafted by an NFL team, even though he has not declared for the draft yet, his performances and that of his team have been interesting, to put it mildly. This week, the now number 24 ranked USC Trojans face the California Golden Bears. Surely we would not see an upset here.
The Trojans had the opening possession of the game and looked poor to begin with. After converting a 4th and 1 attempt on the 50-yard line, USC was able to make it into the Golden Bears’ red zone and down to the 6-yard line. However, their drive would stall at this location, setting up Trojans’ kicker Denis Lynch with a 23-yard field goal attempt which he would be successful with.
USC would have more luck soon after. On their first drive of the game, California would reach their 44-yard line before making a mistake. Golden Bears’ quarterback Fernando Mendoza would fumble the ball, which would be scooped up by the Trojans’ defense. A few plays later, MarShawn Lloyd would run the ball into the endzone for a 2-yard rushing touchdown to increase the Trojans’ lead.
The Golden Bears would shake their fumble on their previous drive off and would be able to score on their next drive. The Mendoza lead offense would find themselves at the Trojans’ 43-yard line when running back Jaydn Ott would score the 43-yard rushing touchdown to put California back into the game. In reply to this, the Trojans would fumble the ball on the opening play of their next drive but would recover it. After that mistake, Williams would throw a 56-yard pass to Tahj Washington to put them into the Golden Bears’ red zone, before throwing a 6-yard touchdown pass to Austin Jones.
The scoring would not stop there. On the next California drive, Jaydn Ott would again score a long rushing touchdown, this time from 61 yards out. A few drives later, the Golden Bears would take a surprise lead. In this drive, Mendoza and company would be able to make it into the Trojans’ red zone and then down to the 4-yard line. From there, Ott would score a 4-yard rushing touchdown, his third of the game.Embed from Getty Images
California would widen its lead soon after. Their drive would start at the 50-yard line, but the Golden Bears would be able to quickly find themselves deep into USC territory thanks to a pass interference penalty against the Trojans’ defense. They would then be able to reach the Trojans’ 17-yard line. From there, Mendoza would find Trond Grizzell for a 17-yard touchdown pass to put them 11 points ahead.
The Trojans would have one more attempt before halftime to try to get points on the board. The Williams lead offense would find themselves down at the Golden Bears’ 16-yard line, mostly aided by his 29-yard pass to Lake McRee. This set up Denis Lynch for a 33-yard field goal as time ran out. Lynch would miss this, and the Golden Bears would have a 28-17 lead at halftime.
USC would have the first score of the second half. Their drive started at the Golden Bears’ 45-yard line, and the Trojans would easily make their way down into the Golden Bears’ red zone. Then, from the 6-yard line, Williams would score a 6-yard rushing touchdown to close the gap. The Trojans would then attempt a two-point conversion to make it a 3-point game. This attempt would be unsuccessful.
California would then make another vital error. From their 11-yard line, Mendoza would throw an interception. However, there was a penalty on this play, but it was against the Golden Bears, so the interception stood. USC would take full advantage of the generous field position. From the Golden Bears’ 22-yard line, Williams would find Brenden Rice for the touchdown pass to hand the lead back to the Trojans. However, the extra point kick from Lynch would miss.
The Trojans’ lead did not last long. In reply to the touchdown pass, the Golden Bears were able to run the ball down the field and down to the Trojans’ 2-yard line. From there, Mendoza would run the ball into the endzone for the 2-yard rushing touchdown. California would then attempt a two-point conversion attempt. They would be successful with this.
Soon after, the Golden Bears would be able to add to their lead. Aided by a penalty against the USC defense, California was able to quickly reach the Trojans’ one-yard line. From there, Mendoza would again score the rushing touchdown, which added to the Golden Bears lead. In reply to this, the Trojans were also able to reach their opponents’ one-yard line. But, unlike California who had to rely on penalties, the Trojans were aided by two long passes from Williams to MarShawn Lloyd to get the job down. From the one-yard line, Williams would, like Mendoza, run the ball into the endzone.
USC would very quickly score another touchdown to tie the game. From the Golden Bears’ 9-yard line, MarShawn Lloyd would score the rushing touchdown to make the score 43-43. In reply to this, California would make another potentially costly mistake. From their 46-yard line, Ashton Stredick would fumble the ball which would be scooped up by the Trojans’ defense. However, immediately after this, Caleb Williams would fumble the ball which would be scooped up by the Golden Bears’ defense.
After losing and then regaining the ball, California would turn the ball over again soon after due to a failed fourth-down attempt. The Trojans would again take full advantage of this. From their 37-yard line, Lloyd would run for 56 yards and move the Trojans’ offense down to the Golden Bears’ 9-yard line. From there, Austin Jones would find the endzone after a 9-yard run to hand the lead back to USC. With time running out, could the Golden Bears cause an upset?
The drive started at their 21-yard line. Fernando Mendoza led his offense down to the Trojans’ 13-yard line after converting a 3rd down attempt on the Golden Bears ’42-yard line. From there, Mendoza found Jaivian Thomas for the 13-yard touchdown pass. This put California one point down. They had an opportunity to cause a massive upset, though it would not be one when we look back at USC’s current form. The Golden Bears attempted the two-point conversion to win the game. The attempt failed, and the number 24 ranked USC Trojan had held on to defeat the California Golden Bears 50-49.
This game was way closer than it should have been. With this narrow victory, USC improved to 7-2 for the season, though in my opinion, their ranked status should be up for question. In the past 4 weeks, they have struggled. For the Golden Bears, they were really close to causing an upset but fell at the final hurdle They fall to 3-5 for the season. Next week, the Trojans face a hard task in the Washington Huskies, while the Golden Bears travel north to face the Oregon Ducks.
The Bulldogs and the Gators
The number one-ranked Georgia Bulldogs are the best team in the country. So, one could question why I do not do an in-depth review of their game every week. The answer is, they have not been playing like the best team in the country should. They are one of the remaining unbeaten teams, but that record has come very close to being lost. This week, they faced their rivals the Florida Gators. Would the unbeaten record continue?
The Gators would have the opening possession of the game and would have an early score. On their opening drive, Gators quarterback Graham Mertz led his offense down to the Bulldogs’ 25-yard line. From there, Mertz found Eugene Wilson III for a 25-yard touchdown pass. In reply to this, the Bulldogs also started the game strong. Bulldogs quarterback Carson Beck helped his offense easily drive down from the Bulldogs’ 25-yard line to the Gators 4-yard line. This drive would stall here, which set up Bulldogs’ kicker Peyton Woodring with a 22-yard field goal attempt. He would be successful in this attempt.
Georgia would soon take the lead from their next drive. The Bulldogs would cross the 50-yard line and find the Gators’ 41-yard line. From there, Beck would find reliable target Ladd McConkey for a 41-yard touchdown pass to give the Bulldogs the lead. Things would get even better for Georgia on their next drive. After Florida turned over possession in their territory on the previous drive, the strong Bulldogs’ offense wasted no time in scoring again. Running back Daijun Edwards would find the endzone next, scoring a 20-yard rushing touchdown.
The mistakes would continue for the Gators. On their next drive, Mertz would be sacked by the Georgia defense. From the sack, he would fumble the ball, which was scooped up by the Bulldogs. 4 plays later, Edwards would have his second touchdown of the game after recording a 2-yard rushing touchdown.Embed from Getty Images
In reply to all these scores from Georgia, the Gators could not do anything. Their next drive was another 4 and out ending at their 19-yard line. However, the subsequent punt was blocked by the Bulldogs. The ball would then cross into the endzone and be recorded as a safety. This extended Georgia’s lead by two points. For the rest of the half, there were no more scores and not a lot of action. Just punts. So many punts that I can probably say that the Festival of Kicking made its way to Gainesville, Florida this week. At the end of the half, the Bulldogs had a 26-7 lead.
The second half would begin in the same way in which the first half ended. Punts. It was the Bulldogs who would be able to break the streak of punts and put some points on the board. From their 28-yard line, Georgia very quickly made it into Florida’s red zone. This was due to Carson Beck pairing up with Dominic Lovett for a 55-yard pass. However, once the Bulldogs crossed into the red zone, their drive would stall. In the end, a 32-yard field goal from Woodring would be the best Georgia could do on this attempt, but this did put them more than 20 points ahead of the Gators.
In reply to the widening lead, the Gators struggled on offense. In their next drive, they were able to cross into the Bulldogs’ territory and down to the 25-yard line. However, their drive would stall here. They would also attempt a 4th down conversion from this spot in an attempt to get a touchdown to stay in the game, but this conversion failed and handed possession back to the Bulldogs. This would prove costly, as Beck and company would quickly drive down to the Gators’ 17-yard line. From here, Beck would find Bell for the 17-yard touchdown pass to widen their lead.Embed from Getty Images
The Gators would finally put some points on the half in the second half. From their 28-yard line, a Montrell Johnson run advanced the Gators down to the Bulldogs’ 24-yard line. They would soon make their way down to the 5-yard line. From there, Mertz would find Hayden Hansen for the 5-yard touchdown pass. In reply, the Bulldogs drove down to the Gators’ one-yard line. From there, as, expected the Bulldogs would find the endzone again, this time from a Kendall Milton rushing touchdown.
With the game now over, we had entered the proverbial garbage time. In this period the Gators would find the endzone Mertz would record a one-yard rushing touchdown, but it made little impact on the final score. In the end, the number one-ranked Georgia Bulldogs had defeated the Florida Gators 43-20.
This is the kind of performance you would expect from an unbeaten number-one-ranked side. The victory puts Georgia at 8-0 for the season, and will keep their number-one ranking for another week. For the Gators, it was another poor performance, and they fall to 5-3. Next week, Georgia faces Missouri, while Florida faces Arkansas.
What Happened to the Other Ranked Teams?
#3 Ohio State @ Wisconsin
The number 3 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes are another of the remaining unbeaten teams. After last week’s victory over Penn State, the Buckeyes faced the Wisconsin Badgers. Star wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr would record two touchdowns as the Buckeyes would win 24-10, to keep their unbeaten season alive.
#4 Florida State @ Wake Forest
The number 4 ranked Florida State Seminoles face the Wake Forest Demon Deacons this week. The Seminoles scored 5 touchdowns in the first half, 4 of these from quarterback Jordan Travis in their 41-16 victory. This keeps them unbeaten and if they can stay like this, the College Football Playoff will be theirs.
#5 Washington @ Stanford
The number 5 ranked Washington Huskies are unbeaten so far this season, and this week faced the Standford Cardinals and their weird tree mascot. Huskies quarterback Michael Penix threw for 4 touchdowns as the Huskies recorded a 42-33 victory to remain unbeaten. Next week, Penix faces Caleb Williams in what could be a very good quarterback battle.
BYU @ #7 Texas
After the Sooners’ surprise loss, the number 7 ranked Texas Longhorns hoped to capitalize on this when they faced Big-12 rookies BYU Cougars. However, they would have to do it without quarterback Quinn Ewers, who is out injured for the next few weeks. While we did not see Arch Manning making his debut, we saw a strong performance from Malik Murphy, who threw 2 touchdowns in the Longhorns’ 35-6 victory.
#8 Oregon @ #13 Utah
The number 8 Oregon Ducks faced the number 13 ranked Utah Utes in the battle of the 2nd and 3rd best teams in the PAC-12. After their victory against USC last week, the Utes could not return the same form. Ducks quarterback Bo Nix threw for 2 touchdowns in their 35-6 victory.
Indiana @ #10 Penn State
After their loss to Ohio State last week, the number 10 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions faced the Indiana Hoosiers. This was a close game, with the score tied going into the final minutes of the game. Then a 57-yard touchdown pass from Drew Allar to KeAndre Lambert-Smith sealed a 33-24 victory for the Nittany Lions.
#11 Oregon State @ Arizona
The number 11 ranked Oregon State Beavers faced the Arizona Wildcats. We would see an upset in this game, as a late touchdown pass from Noah Fifita to Michael Wiley gave the Wildcats a 27-24 victory.Embed from Getty Images
Vanderbilt @ #12 Ole Miss
The number 12 ranked Ole Miss Rebels faced the Vanderbilt Commodores this week. As I have said many times before, Vandy is not in the SEC for football. It shows. Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart ran rings over Vandy, as Ole Miss recorded a 33-7 victory.
Pittsburgh @ #14 Notre Dame
The number 14 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish faced the Pittsburgh Panthers. This game went as you would expect a 6-win team facing a 2-win team would go. Notre Dame destroyed the Panthers in their 58-7 victory.
#17 North Carolina @ Georgia Tech
Last week, the number 17 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels lost their first game of the season. This week, they hoped to bounce back against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. This game was a shootout. Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye scored 2 touchdowns, but Yellow Jackets QB Haynes Kings would find the endzone 4 times, as Georgia Tech would record an unlikely 46-42 victory. It is all but over in the ACC.
#20 Duke @ #18 Louisville
In an all-ACC ranked battle, the number 20-ranked Duke Blue Devils faced the number 18-ranked Louisville Cardinals. Two first-quarter touchdowns from running back Jawhar Jordan gave the Cardinals an early lead that they would never lose. They would never lose it, as Duke couldn’t score a single point. Louisville would shut them out, and record a 23-0 victory.
#19 Air Force @ Colorado State
The number 19 ranked Air Force Falcons are another of the remaining unbeaten teams. They faced the Colorado State Rams in the snow. The wintery conditions would not bother them, as the Falcons would record a 30-13. Fun fact about this game, the Rams had a penalty against them on one drive because their fans were throwing snowballs at the Falcons sideline.
#21 Tennessee @ Kentucky
The number 21 ranked Tennessee Volunteers faced the Kentucky Wildcats in a battle of 5-2 teams. It was a close game throughout, but Dylan Sampson would record a 12-yard rushing touchdown for Tennessee in the 4th quarter to seal a 33-27 victory.
#22 Tulane @ Rice
The number 22 ranked Tulane Green Waves faced the Rice Owls in a surprisingly close game if you went by the scoreline. In reality, Tulane dominated the Owls in their 30-28 victory.
Colorado @ #23 UCLA
Cast your minds back to the start of the season. Everyone was in love with the Colorado Buffaloes. Then they got destroyed by the Oregon Ducks, and we moved on to something else. This week, the number 23 ranked UCLA Bruins faced Colorado, who are now 4-4. Bruins quarterback Ethan Garbers threw two touchdowns in UCLA’s 28-16 victory.
Old Dominion @ #25 James Madison
We have a new team in the top 25 this week. The number 25-ranked James Madison Dukes are unbeaten. They faced the Old Dominion Monarchs this week. It would be a close game, but James Madison would record a 30-27 victory to stay unbeaten.Embed from Getty Images
That was week 9 in the 2023 college football season. With the Sooners loss, another team’s hopes of reaching the College Football Playoffs may be over for another year. We are close to the first prediction by the committee of the top 4, will it be as expected?