Team unit breakdown for Week 9
Which team has the best chance at success this week? Chris Bennett breaks down the best options available if you're looking for a top team unit.
UCF (vs Connecticut): The Golden Knights are riding high off their thrilling comeback win at Louisville. And that sets them up for a major letdown game against lowly Connecticut. The call here is quarterback Blake Bortles struggles inexplicably and must rely on his rushing attack to put this contest away. UCONN ranks 75th nationally against the run, allowing 171.5 yards a game. Miami transfer Storm Johnson has shined in his first season as a featured back, and freshman William Stanback is emerging as a viable second option, scoring thrice in the last two weeks. This pair will run downhill with ease on Saturday.
LSU (vs. Furman): There's no mincing words. The Tigers are ticked off following a sickening loss at Ole Miss last Saturday. And they're going to take it out on the Paladins of Furman. Statistical support isn't needed here - the Tigers can name their score and likely will hang 60-plus points on their overmatched opponent. More on LSU to come.
Auburn (vs. Florida Atlantic): Another SEC Tigers offense is featured in Week 9 as Auburn returns home to face an overmatched Owls defense. This Tigers ground attack is simply on fire, having posted a whopping 1,385 yards the last four weeks. Coach Gus Malzhan has this unit rolling, and it won't stop against FAU.
Boston College (at North Carolina): Andre Williams and company return from a bye week and travel to Chapel Hill to face a Tar Heels defense that allows 203 yards per game. The Tar Heels allowed Miami's backup running back to march down the field for a game-winning score last Thursday and should pose little resistance for the nation's eighth-leading rusher. Boston College has also seen an uptick in production from freshman Myles Willis , who offers a nice change of pace to Williams' bruising style.
Buffalo (at Kent State): Don't look now, but Branden Oliver and the Bulls rushing attack are becoming a weekly staple here. Thank the MAC schedule for this impressive run, as the Bulls will seek their fourth consecutive game with 215 or more yards on the ground. Oliver saw a ridiculous 43 carries a week ago against Massachusetts and gets a 114th-ranked Golden Flashes defense that gave up 257 yards a week ago and an absurd 454 yards against Northern Illinois on Oct. 6.
Clemson (at Maryland): Tigers, Tigers and more Tigers in Week 9. Clemson is reeling from a deflating loss to Florida State and catches a Maryland team with injuries at nearly every offensive skill position, as well as at cornerback. Look for quarterback Tajh Boyd to hook up with wide receiver Sammy Watkins early, and Martavis Bryant , Mike Williams and Adam Humphries to get in on the act as this Tiger offense bounces back on the road against an overmatched and injury riddled defense.
LSU (vs. Furman): As promised, more on the Bayou Bengals. Was there any mention that this team is ticked off? It's honestly inexplicable that an SEC team is taking on an FCS opponent this late in the season, but since it is, why not exploit it? Zach Mettenberger rights the ship, and hooks up with Jarvis Landry , Odell Beckham and Kadron Boone , at least.
Miami (vs. Wake Forest): Miami quarterback Stephen Morris looked lost last Thursday at North Carolina, throwing four interceptions on passes that should never have been thrown. He lost top wide receiver Phillip Dorsett in the process, clearly falling in love with deep passes and nothing else. He's had 10 days to watch film and may be poised for his best performance of the year against the Demon Deacons. Running back Duke Johnson has been dealing with head injuries throughout the season, and it's possible Dorsett's absence could help Morris. He still has plenty of mouths to feed in Allen Hurns , Stacy Coley and Herb Waters , and it's time for Morris to prove his worth before Week 10's showdown against Florida State.
Washington (vs. Cal): Quarterback Keith Price and company have been a victim of a brutal schedule, falling for three consecutive weeks against Oregon, Stanford and Arizona State. During that stretch, they've had just one game with 300 yards or more passing after opening the year with three straight games over 310 yards. This week, they face the nation's worst pass defense in Cal, which allowings 346.7 yards through the air a game; having only allowed less than 276 yards once all season. Look for the Huskies to take a month's worth of frustration out on the Bears on Saturday.
South Carolina (at Missouri): Here's the risky pick of the week, as the Gamecocks will trot out backup quarterback Dylan Thompson at Missouri against a fierce pass rush. With that in mind, this Tiger defense surrenders 264.4 yards per game through the air, and Thompson is a better pure passer than the injured Connor Shaw . Running back Mike Davis is the Gamecocks' bread and butter, but look for Thompson to complete some downfield balls to the likes of Bruce Ellington , Shaq Roland , Nick Jones and Damiere Byrd .
SMU (vs. Temple): This late in the season, it's fair to ask this question: Does Southern Methodist run the football? Through six weeks, quarterback Garrett Gilbert and the Mustangs have attempted 335 passes while running only 166 times. Gilbert's season low is 43 attempts and 276 yards. There's little reason to expect anything different than the norm against a 115th-ranked Temple pass defense that allows 284.4 yards a game. Look for receivers Jeremy Johnson , Darius Joseph and Keenan Holman to shine again.
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