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The Battalion

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The Battalion

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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Around the country: Week 9

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Megan Williams/The Aggieland

The 12th Man on third deck during Texas A&M’s football game against Alabama at Kyle Field on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. (Megan Williams/The Aggieland)

No. 19 Air Force @ Colorado State
Saturday, Oct. 28 – Canvas Stadium – Fort Collins, Colorado
6 p.m. on CBSSN
With just over two hours separating the two schools, this matchup should be better than Colorado State’s record indicates.
Leading the way for the Rams is freshman quarterback Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi. So far, Fowler-Nicolosi has thrown for 2,179 yards and 15 touchdowns in his first season starting. His favorite target this season has been senior receiver Tory Horton. Horton has six touchdowns on 65 receptions and is averaging 105 yards per game.
The Rams’ second leading receiver this season has been junior tight end Dallin Holker. Holker has 43 receptions and six touchdowns. His 577 receiving yards ranks first in the nation amongst tight ends.
On the other side, Air Force comes into the matchup riding a 12-game win streak. The Falcons have leaned on the triple option and defense this season en route to a perfect 7-0 record.
Senior fullback Emmanuel Michel leads the way on the ground with 566 yards and eight touchdowns. Right behind him is senior quarterback Zac Larrier with 497 yards rushing. Larrier has also thrown for 619 yards this year on just 33 pass attempts.
The Falcons’ defense currently ranks second nationally in yards given up per game at 223.4. Leading the way is senior linebacker Alec Mock. Mock has a team-high 54 tackles along with two forced fumbles, two sacks and a pick-six.
It’ll be interesting to see how Air Force’s defense holds up against Colorado State’s passing attack. Air Force should win this game, but it’ll be close. If the Rams can force the Falcons’ offense into passing situations, they have a good shot at the upset.
Prediction: Air Force 27, Colorado State 20
No. 24 USC @ California
Saturday, Oct. 28 – California Memorial Stadium – Berkeley, California
3 p.m. on Pac-12 Network
USC is coming into this matchup on a two-game losing streak, which has essentially knocked it out of playoff contention. With how poor the Trojans’ defense has been this year, this game might not be a “get right” game for Lincoln Riley’s team.
Junior quarterback Caleb Williams has struggled during USC’s skid. The former Heisman Trophy winner threw three interceptions in USC’s blowout loss to Notre Dame in Week 7. Williams’ performance versus Utah was improved, but he couldn’t find the end zone through the air.
The real issue for the Trojans is their defense. The defense is ranked 104th in the nation in total defense. Cal is far from a good team, but the Golden Bears’ offense averages four touchdowns a game and over 400 yards per game.
Cal is also coming off a bye. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but an extra week of prep can go a long way. The Trojans should still find a way to win due to the talent difference, but any offensive mistakes will give Cal’s offense more opportunities versus a bad USC defense.
Prediction: USC 47, California 38
No. 20 Duke @ No. 18 Louisville
Saturday, Oct. 28 — Cardinal Stadium — Louisville, Kentucky
2:30 p.m. on ESPN
With both teams fresh off a loss, a win would keep a bowl game within reach for the victor.
Louisville has had Duke’s number in previous matchups, going 3-0, and the Cardinals’ chances of keeping it perfect is strong. It all starts with their running back, junior Jawhar Jordan.
Jordan has been on a tear, rushing for over 100 yards in three games, and the Cardinals will embrace his return from injury in the Pittsburgh game.
Though Louisville goes to the run game often, junior wide receiver Jamari Thrash has churned out yards through the air and holds the team’s triple crown so far.
On the other side, Duke is led by the three-headed dragon in the backfield. Running backs junior Jordan Waters and senior Jaquez Moore split touches, meaning either one can go off at any given time. They’ve produced 855 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.
Though not a strong pass team, junior quarterback Riley Leonard has joined in on the fun in the run. Rushing for 339 yards and 4 touchdowns, his dual-threat ability has supplemented the team’s run-first mentality.
Ultimately, it’ll be a close game between the two conference opponents, but the slight edge will go to Louisville. They were able to do what Duke could not: close out Notre Dame.
Prediction: Louisville 34, Duke 28
No. 8 Oregon @ No. 13 Utah
Saturday, Oct. 28 — Rice-Eccles Stadium — Salt Lake City
2:30 p.m. on FOX
College Gameday is headed to Salt Lake City for the first time since 2016, when the Utes lost a nailbiter to Washington.
Utah has started off the season 6-1 despite losing last year’s starting senior quarterback Cam Rising in the Rose Bowl.
The Utes have had to lean on junior quarterback Bryson Barnes and their run-heavy offense to take them to 3-1 in the conference standings, right behind the Ducks.
While offensive woes have been the Utes’ biggest obstacle, their defense has played lights out, allowing 217 yards per game and under 300 yards for total offense per game. The defense also has 25 sacks and 11 forced turnovers.
Oregon’s offense has seen great success with senior quarterback Bo Nix and junior running back Bucky Irving in the backfield. Nix has boosted his heisman candidacy this year by throwing for 2,089 yards and 19 passing touchdowns, garnering the No. 3 slot according to ESPN’s Heisman Tracker.
If the Utes want to compete for the closely-contented Pac-12 Championship, it needs to start with pressuring Nix to keep it close. Still, I think the Ducks’ offense is too lopsided against Utah.
Prediction: Oregon 34, Utah 21
Colorado @ No. 23 UCLA
Saturday, Oct. 28 — Rose Bowl — Los Angeles
6:30 p.m. on ABC
Colorado has another chance this week to prove that it can compete with top 25 teams, but after losing the last three out of five games, coach Deion Sanders is still looking to cement himself as a reliable FBS head coach.
His son, junior quarterback Shedeur Sanders, has been playing his best game yet, averaging a 72% completion rate along with 21 touchdown passes and 2,420 passing yards.
Despite the younger Sanders’ best efforts, the Buffaloes have fallen to 4-3 overall, with a double overtime loss two weeks ago to a 2-4 Stanford squad.
On the other end of the ball, UCLA played the same Stanford last week and put up a whopping 42-7 beatdown on the Cardinal.
Junior running back Carson Steele made his presence known in that game, rushing for 76 yards on 20 carries with three touchdowns.
UCLA is the clear favorite in this game, but if Shedeur can have another big day, the Bruins are in for a shootout in Los Angeles.
Prediction: UCLA 42, Colorado 31
Virginia @ Miami
Saturday, Oct. 28 — Hard Rock Stadium — Miami Gardens, Florida
2:30 p.m. on ACC Network
Following an upset win over then-No. 10 North Carolina, Virginia is riding a two-game win streak as it takes a trip to the 305.
It’s been a weird season for both teams. Miami goes through its first four games with ease, and then a late-game blunder topped off with one of the worst coaching decisions in recent memory leads into a two-game skid.
The opposite has happened to the Cavaliers. They opened the season winless, finally scoring the first win against William & Mary. Then, in a season filled with upsets, Virginia tacked on another one as it edged out a close one against the likes of sophomore quarterback Drake Maye and the Tar Heels.
The Hurricanes’ junior quarterback Tyler Van Dyke will return for Miami after missing the previous game with injury, and his presence will be welcomed.
Though Miami has the upper hand on paper, another surprise Virginia win is not out of the question.
Prediction: Miami 34, Virginia 24

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