Texas Longhorns begin their final push towards college football playoffs
The college football season is more than halfway finished, and potential playoff contenders are beginning to take shape. Heading into Week 9, let's take a look at this week's Big 12 matchups.
Must watch game Week 9:
(6) Texas vs. Oklahoma State
The Longhorns return to action in Week 9 vs. Oklahoma State after a much-deserved bye week. Texas fans probably appreciated the break just as much as the actual team, because it meant a chance for star quarterback Sam Ehlinger to rest his hurt throwing shoulder for UT’s playoff push. Texas now sits just one spot outside of the Top 5 thanks to an upset lost suffered by Ohio State, but have no time to relax with dangerous teams such as No. 13 West Virginia and Texas Tech remaining on their schedule. As for their matchup this weekend, Oklahoma State has lost their last two games after an embarrassing performance against Kansas State in week 8 when they fell 31-12. This weekend will provide the Longhorns with a good opportunity to settle back into the swing of things and make any necessary last-minute adjustments.
Texas Tech vs. Iowa State
Another noteworthy matchup in Week 9 is Texas Tech vs. Iowa State. While Iowa State has not necessarily impressed thus far this season with a 3-3 record, the Cyclones did what they have become known for and provided the Big 12 with a major, tide shifting upset. Iowa State dominated what was an undefeated West Virginia team 30-14 in Week 7, much like they took down No. 3 Oklahoma in 2017. Another point to be made is the fact that the Cyclones have won three of their last four games and seem to be finding a rhythm midway through this season. With all of that said, the Red Raiders have proven themselves difficult for any team to take down this season with a 4-2 record despite battling an abundance of injuries at the quarterback position. This Week 9 showdown will definitely be an interesting one due to the uncertainty surrounding both teams as well as the untapped potential each of them have shown.
Baylor vs. (13) West Virginia
The final game I have pointed out this coming weekend is West Virginia vs. Baylor. There are a few reasons why this game is so intriguing, the first — and most prevalent — being the fact that the Mountaineers suffered the first loss of the season in Week 7 before going into their bye week. It will be interesting to see how West Virginia responds, and if they return any more motivated or driven. The second reason being that the Bears were able to take the 6-1 Longhorns down to the wire in their last game and fell just six points short of pulling off the upset. Both teams will be looking to have bounce back performances and should be bringing a renewed energy to the field.
Players to watch Week 9:
Texas QB Sam Ehlinger: After being forced out of Week 7 game vs. Baylor with what was later confirmed as a sprain to his throwing shoulder, Longhorn fans will be paying close attention to Ehlinger's return. This makes him one of the must watch players in Week 9 because Ehlinger's physical and dynamic playing style is instrumental to UT’s offensive success. The young star's powerful running not only keeps defenses on their toes, but also opens up a dangerous play action passing attack that allows big time playmaking wide receivers Collin Johnson and Lil’ Jordan Humphrey to take advantage of one-on-one matchups. We will see if Ehlinger is able to continue his strong first half play, or if his normal playing style will be limited.
West Virginia QB Will Grier: Mountaineers quarterback and Heisman hopeful Will Grier was forced to sit through his bye week with the agony of defeat and without a doubt is ready to return to the field for a chance at redemption. Grier cannot help but feel painfully responsible for his team's devastating loss to Iowa State in Week 7, as he put up his worst performance of the year with only 100 yards passing and one touchdown. Keep an eye on one of the nation’s most dangerous quarterbacks who will not only be looking to redeem his team but also himself.
Oklahoma RB’s Kennedy Brooks and Trey Sermon: Since the Sooners lost workhorse running back Rodney Anderson to a season ending knee injury in Week 2, a dangerous backfield tandem has now come to fruition. Freshman Kennedy Brooks and Sophomore Trey Sermon have combined for 492 yards rushing and six touchdowns in the last three games and look to only be heating up. Oklahoma has a favorable matchup vs. Kansas State in Week 9 and should look to let this talented duo run free, especially after both backs surpassed 100 yards in their last game vs. TCU.
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