Welcome back for Week 9 of the 2015 college football season. Through the first four weeks, we put together a good list of prospects to track, which you can look back on here. Since then, our game threads have included an early ranking of quarterbacks, a ranking of running backs, a ranking of wide receivers, and a look at tight ends. We'll be back next week with more rankings.
In the meantime, today's schedule features some intriguing ranked action, and Jake has taken a look at two of the notable contests. In addition to these games, there is a notable matchup in the Bay Area. 5-2 Cal hosts 4-3 USC in a big Pac 12 matchup. Cal is coming off a tough loss to UCLA, which came after a loss to ranked Utah. The Trojans beat Utah to remain in the thick of the Pac-12 South race. Both teams need a win to bolster their chances at better bowl games. And of course, plenty of 49ers fans will be watching Jared Goff.
No. 9 Notre Dame (6-1) at No. 21 Temple (7-0)
Time: 5 p.m.
The No. 9 ranked Fighting Irish are still fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive. Today, they take on a 7-0 Temple team, in Philadelphia. Notre Dame comes into this game sitting at 6-1. The only loss was at Clemson, when they got knocked off by 2 points, but were down 21-3 in the 3rd quarter.
Sophomore quarterback Deshone Kizer has stepped up dramatically. He is completing 65.4% of his passes, with 1,370 yards through the air, and 10 passing scores. The young Kizer has tons of weapons around him that are helping out, starting with receiver Will Fuller. Fuller can stretch the field like nobody else in the country. His fast twitch and excellent vision make him a dynamic runner after the catch.
Running back C.J. Prosise is one of the biggest factors in Notre Dame's recent success. The 220-pound underrated senior has gashed teams for 922 yards on 129 carries and 11 scores on the season. Prosise has been getting it done week in and out, causing teams to respect him, making Kizer's life much easier.
Who guessed it? Temple is the No. 21 ranked team in the country, and the first time they have ever started the season 7-0. The Owls star running back Jahad Thomas is carving the way for the team, despite only having 66 rushing back yards in the recent win over East Carolina last Thursday. The junior has 822 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground thus far.
Thomas is not the only a facet in the grand slam season for the Owls. Dual-threat quarterback P.J. Walker is not only delivering wins, but he's showing leadership as well.
The Owls stout defense and dominant running-game has earned them a spot in the AP poll. Notre Dame will attempt at handing Temple their first loss of the season in Philadelphia today. The primetime Halloween showdown will have significant impact for both teams, win or lose.
The Owls over ND: 27-23
No. 8 Stanford (6-1) at Washington State (5-2)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The No. 8 Cardinal definitely should not overlook an underrated Washington State team that can put a lot of points on the board. The Cougars have tons of weapons on offensive side of the ball. Wide receiver Gabe Marks is one of the most unrecognized players in the country. The 6-foot, 190-pound junior has garnered 57 catches for 717 yards and 10 scores. River Cracraft No. 21, combines with Marks to make a nice tandem for the young Luke Falk at quarterback. The effective ground-game for the Cougars is leading to more of a balanced attack.
Lately, Kevin Hogan has been very efficient, leading the Cardinal to six straight wins. Hogan has a completion percentage of 66.7%, and a passer efficiency of 173.96%, the best among all Pac-12 quarterbacks. By no means do I think Hogan is the best quarter on the west coast, but he has been playing particularly well lately.
Christian McCaffrey's 1,518 all-purpose yards come in a variety of ways. McCaffrey, son of former NFL receiver Ed McCaffrey, returns kickoffs, runs out the wildcat, and yes of course, plays tailback. Despite having a talented quarterback and options at receiver, he still garners the majority of the attention from opposing defenses. How can he not draw focus when he is now in the talk for the Heisman? McCaffrey is biting on the heels of Fournette, and the Cardinal tailback is bound to have another huge game.
David Shaw might be a tiny bit worried about tonight. The Cougars are coming to play, not that I do not think Stanford is, but there seems to be a good chance that Wazzu can pull an upset. A packed stadium in Pullman, the chance to beat the No. 8 team in the country, it all looks promising for Washington State. But you have to remember, the Cardinal are the No. 8 ranked team in college football for a reason. Do not think for one second that Stanford is coming into Washington to lay down. No, they are going to do the exact opposite of that.
This is going to be a highly-entertaining matchup tonight. Wazzu should keep it close but I still think Stanford should squeak by.
Stanford on top of Washington St: 37-34