The fate of the Big Ten hangs on this week.
While Wisconsin's College Football Playoff dreams suffered a monumental dent on Saturday, the conference is still home to three undefeated teams, all gunning for one of the top four spots in the country.
This week also saw Clemson fall further while remaining undefeated as the Tigers were jumped by Ohio State in the standings and now sit at No.4 in the AP Poll.
But things are about to shift even more with the release of the first College Football Playoff rankings on November 5.
Here are the must-watch games of Week 9 of the 2019 college football season.
No.13 Wisconsin at No.3 Ohio State
Saturday, 10/26 — 12:00 p.m. ET
Just a couple of days ago, Wisconsin was the darling of the college football, possessing the best defense in the country and featuring a Heisman-worthy tailback in the backfield.
But what a difference one game can make.
The Badgers tripped up just one game before their biggest battle of the season, falling to Illinois, 24-23, in Champaign on Saturday. The loss is as bad as it sounds. The under-500 Illini came back from a 23-14 deficit with less than six minutes to play, nailing a 39-yard field goal as time expired to capture to stunning upset.
The loss couldn't have come at a worse time for Paul Chryst's squad. Their seat at the College Football Playoff contenders table was practically removed and now they have to head to The Horseshoe to face the red-hot Buckeyes.
Ohio State's offense, led by transfer Justin Fields, is the third highest scoring team in the country (49.7 points per game) and possesses the second-best scoring defense (8.00 points per game).
This game features the mouth-watering meeting between Jonathan Taylor and Chase Young. While Taylor has a claim as the country's best offensive player, Young has made waves this season as the stoutest defensive force in the nation.
No.9 Auburn at No.2 LSU
Saturday, 10/26 — 3:30 P.m. ET
LSU has the second-highest scoring offense in the country, and they'll need it over the next two weeks.
Before a potential 1-2 matchup with Alabama in Tuscaloosa next week, quarterback Joe Burrows and the Tigers must get through a formidable Auburn side in Death Valley.
LSU's offense weathered a slow start against Mississippi State last Saturday but won't have time to figure things out against Auburn's defense. Luckily, Burrows and his plethora of receiving options have shown an uncanny ability to make the halftime adjustments necessary to push through in big games.
Following the stumble against Florida two weekends ago, Auburn got back to their winning ways with a 51-10 whopping of Arkansas to stay one game out the SEC West. It'll be paramount that quarterback Bo Nix shows up for Auburn on the road after the worst game of his career against the Gators.
A win against LSU would obviously set them up for a dream match in the Iron Bowl with a potential SEC West title on the line, but we're still a few weeks out from that reality.
No.6 Penn State at Michigan State
Saturday, 10/26 — 3:30 P.m. ET
Slow and steady might be what wins the race for the Nittany Lions.
In a season where the top teams in the country are also the highest scoring, Penn State has provided a nice change of pace. The Nittany Lions have only scored 45 points over the last two games but have knocked off two ranked opponents and Big Ten contenders in the process. Their latest conquest was a 28-21 win over Michigan that saw Sean Clifford throw a steady 182 yards and three touchdowns.
Penn State still has undefeated Minnesota and Ohio State on the schedule, but a trip to Lansing is no joke — just ask Wisconsin about overlooking a seemingly-weak opponent.
The Spartans have lost their last two games by a combined score of 72-10, but James Franklin and his team would be foolish to not take MSU and head coach Mike Dantonio seriously as we reach the late part of the season.
Maryland at No.17 Minnesota
Saturday, 10/26 — 3:30 p.m. ET
Is Minnesota legit? Well, we will find out in the coming weeks.
The Golden Gophers are a perfect 7-0 through this portion of the season and sit atop the Big Ten West, but their strength of schedule is heavily back loaded. They haven't faced a ranked team yet this season, but still have Penn State, Iowa and Wisconsin penciled in over the next month.
But before any of those games come to fruition, head coach P.J. Fleck and the Golden Gophers have to get through Maryland.
The Terrapins are an unimpressive 3-4 this season but have shown up on the big stage several time this season. In Week 2, they stunned Syracuse with a 63-20 route that got them ranked for the first time in years. They also dominated Rutgers by 41 points and hung with Indiana last week before falling by way of a last-minute interception.
Maryland isn't necessarily a good team, but they'll provide a nice test for Minnesota before they head into the meatiest part of their schedule.
No.8 Notre Dame at No.19 Michigan
Saturday, 10/26 — 7:30 P.M. ET
Not to beat a dead horse, but Michigan seemingly can't win big games in the late season.
Saturday night's meeting with Penn State was an opportunity for Jim Harbaugh to propel his program back into the Top 10, but the Wolverines fell flat on the big stage once again. The Wolverines trailed 21-0 within two quarters and couldn’t harness enough momentum to push back on the road.
But when you're a program like Michigan, the opportunities to prove yourself keep coming. This week, they welcome the Fighting Irish to Ann Arbor.
Notre Dame still has its College Football Playoff dreams intact, but there will need to be a lot of movement ahead of them even if they were to win out. But they can only focus on what's ahead of them, and it's a vulnerable Wolverines team. With the tandem of quarterback Ian Book and tailback Tony Jones Jr., the Irish maintain the firepower to go into The Big House and hand the Wolverines a devastating second consecutive loss.
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