Preview Thursday: Week 9 

Dan Lanning Oregon head coach

There are two ranked matchups this week, and perhaps none bigger than one taking place in the Pac-12 Conference. 

No. 8 Oregon will meet No. 13 Utah on the road, and the Ducks are looking to build on their 38-24 win over Washington State which served as a bounce-back measure after falling in a top-10 bout with Washington. 

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There are also 12 ranked teams that will play on the road in addition to Oregon, and the group includes No. 1 Georgia, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Florida State. No. 2 Michigan is on a bye. 

Here are several games to watch this week. 

No. 6 Oklahoma at Kansas 

The top team in the Big 12 Conference will hit the road and challenge one team looking to play spoiler to their undefeated season. 

A 7-0 Oklahoma squad is set for its third road game of the season against the Jayhawks, who are doing a bit of searching after losing their second of three outings last week. 

The Sooners avoided upset last week against UCF, defeating the Knights 31-29 after trailing 23-17 in the fourth quarter. 

This week, they’ll face the No. 7 total offense in the Big 12 that averages 443.1 yards per game. Jayhawks quarterback Jason Bean has taken over under center for Jalon Daniels, who is dealing with a shoulder injury, and Bean passed for 410 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions last week at Oklahoma State. 

Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables is impressed with how dynamic Kansas’ offense can be, and he expects a number of ways the Jayhawks will attack Oklahoma’s defense, which is the No. 1 scoring defense in the Big 12 holding opposition to 16.1 points per game. 

“There’s a lot going on from an eye candy standpoint,” Venables said. “One of the most explosive offenses, explosive runs and explosive passes in all of college football. And so again, we’ve got to do a great job of playing with discipline and gap integrity and then staying on top of everything, leveraging routes in the back end, so that they don’t have this great balance, and that’s the challenge of all of that.” 

No. 8 Oregon at No. 13 Utah 

This week’s premier matchup focuses on the Pac-12 and the stipulations behind the Oregon-Utah matchup. 

Both teams enter with one loss in conference play already. They’re chasing Washington and USC in the standings, and both Oregon and Utah have proven worthy threats to the Pac-12 crown. 

Oregon has the top scoring offense in the Pac-12 and leads in rushing offense behind an average of 226.9 yards per game. Receiver Troy Franklin is second in the conference with 109.7 receiving yards per game. 

The Ducks defense is stout, too. They hold opponents to 312.6 yards per game. 

“There is no weakness. They’re a complete team,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “Big game in the conference picture. They’re a one-loss team as are we, so both our backs are to the wall and it should be a hopefully a great football game.” 

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Whittingham said he’s long been impressed with the way Oregon quarterback Bo Nix plays, particularly with “the way he just leads and competes every week.” 

“He’s a tremendous player,” Whittingham said. “But the thing I like about him most is his competitiveness and his leadership, and I saw that at Auburn. I saw him play one game at Auburn. I was watching an SEC game a couple of, what was it, three years ago I guess now in the ’21 season, and saw this guy. I thought, ‘Who is that guy? He’s just making plays and just an absolute field general of the team and it was him and so I’ve had a strong opinion of how good he is for several years.” 

No. 20 Duke at No. 18 Louisville 

In a matchup between two teams looking to bounce back from losses, there are plenty of Atlantic Coast Conference championship implications between Duke and Louisville this week. 

North Carolina suffered its first loss of the season last week to unranked Virginia, and the Tar Heels currently are tied for second in the ACC with Louisville. Duke sits tied for fourth place. 

Louisville boasts the No. 4 scoring offense in the ACC behind an average of 34.1 points per game, while Duke holds the top scoring defense in the conference holding opponents to 13.9 points per game. 

The Blue Devils are searching for a win amid their quarterback dealing with injury. Riley Leonard suffered a shoulder injury against Notre Dame in September, and he played last week against the Seminoles going 7-for-16 with 69 pass yards and an interception. 

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Duke is also looking to get back in the win column after losing its second game in its past three contests. Head coach Mike Elko said he’s not concerned with the way the Blue Devils have handled themselves in defeat. 

“The one thing I don’t question about this group is response,” Elko said. “We’re wired in a really good way right now in that locker room because those kids understand that they’ve got a very small window to represent Duke football and they want to try to take advantage of it as best they can, so I’m not worried about our response. I’m more worried about can we stop this Louisville offense and can we make enough plays on our side to win the football game.”