Week 9 in college football has several must-win games for teams in lesser-known conferences such as the SWAC and Mountain West. UTEP is trying to avoid losing its 20th game in a row, while UNLV and Hawaii are both seeking to halt losing streaks.
Meanwhile, two of the oldest schools in the country face each other in an Ivy League clash between Cornell and still undefeated Princeton. Prairie View snapped Grambling State’s 26-game conference winning streak in the SWAC, but can the Panthers hold off first-place Alcorn State?
Alcorn State Braves (6-2) at Prairie View Panthers (3-4)
Kickoff: 9 am PT
Location: Blackshear Field, Prairie View, TX
Point Spread: Alcorn State -1.5
Alcorn State is first place after a last-second win over SWAC rival Grambling State. Noah Johnson threw a TD with 12 seconds to go to seal the 33-26 win. Alcorn State lost a five-OT thriller to Alabama State two weeks ago when kicker Corey McCullough missed six field goals.
The Prairie View Panthers made headlines a couple of weeks earlier when they snapped Grambling’s 26-game SWAC conference winning streak with a 22-16 win at the 95th Texas State Fair Classic played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
Prairie View’s D allows 30.7 ppg. In four losses, they allowed 38 or more points three times. For one of the top offenses in the SWAC led by QB Jalen Morton (13 TD in 6 games), Prairie View struggled at times. In four losses, the Panthers only scored only 19.3 ppg. Last week, Southern shut them out 38-0 and Morton had his worst game of the season with 5 INTs and zero TDs.
Cornell Big Red (3-3) at Princeton Tigers (6-0)
Kickoff: 10 am PT
Location: Powers Field, Princeton, NJ
Point Spread: Princeton -19
The Cornell Big Red visit South New Jersey in an attempt to thwart the Princeton Tigers’ unstoppable rushing attack. Cornell is ranked #7 in the FBS in rushing with 277.7 yards per game.
Cornell edged out Princeton last year 29-28 in a nail biter. Princeton blew a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter and Cornell rallied to win on field goal in the closing minute.
Cornell only beat Princeton twice in last 6 years. Whenever Cornell wins, it’s a close game. Three of the last four wins over Princeton were by a total of 5 points.
Undefeated Princeton outscored opponents 289-64. The best D in the Ivy League only allows 10.6 points per game. Princeton held off a late surge from Harvard last week to win 29-21.
Gunnin’ for a Win
UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (2-5) at San Jose State Spartans (0-7)
Kickoff: 3:30 pm PT
Location: Spartan Stadium, San Jose, CA
Point Spread: San Jose -3
UNLV four-straight games and the Rebels couldn’t be happier to play against a last-place team the Mountain West. UNLV will play without Armani Rodgers (toe), the double-threat QB who threw 6 TDs and ran for another 6 TDs. Backup Max Gilliam held his own as a starter with 8 TDs and 3 INTs. UNLV’s offensive hopes rely on RB Lexington Thomas (8 TD), who scored twice against Air Force .
San Jose State is wondering when their first win of the season will show up. San Diego State denied them last week in a 16-13 squeaker, courtesy of a 51-yard game winning FG.
Led by QB Josh Love, San Jose State scores only 21 points per game in a pass-heavy offense where they throw for five times as much yardage (255 yards per game) as they run (52 yards per game). Love will face a UNLV defense that is ranked 115th in the country.
UNLV is 8-2 against the spread in their last 10 games away from Las Vegas.
UTEP = U Take ‘Em Points
UAB Blazers (6-1) at UTEP (0-7)
Kickoff: 4:30 pm PT
Location: Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, TX
Point Spread: UAB -16
The UAB Blazers are riding high off a five-game winning streak, while the UTEP Miners are trying to halt a 19-game losing streak that dates back to last season.
Last week, the Blazers edged out North Texas 28-21 after storming back from down 11 points at halftime. Spencer Brown rushed for 3 TDs in the win.
In three wins this season, the Blazers D held opponents to 7 or fewer points including a 42-0 shutout against Rice. The Blazers’ sole loss was a 47-24 drubbing by the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers early in the season.
There’s a joke in West Texas. Do you know what UTEP stands for? “U take ’em points!” UTEP is 4-1 against the spread in their last 5 games.
Despite a couple of blowouts early in September, UTEP lost all four of their conference games by a margin of 6.5 points. Two weeks earlier, UTEP lost to North Texas 27-24. That was the closest the Miners game all season to discovering a win. QB Ryan Metz threw 2 TDs and rushed for another.
Rainbow Warrior Big Dogs
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (6-2) at Fresno State Bulldogs (6-1)
Kickoff: 7:30 pm PT
Location: Bulldog Stadium, Fresno, CA
Point Spread: Fresno -24.5
The Rainbow Warriors, fresh off a rare home loss to Nevada 40-22, face a potential three-game skid with a match up against the best team in the Mountain West conference.
The Rainbow Warriors looked awful on defense the last two losses allowing 89 points. The Warriors will play without their best defensive player, Jahlani Tavai (92 tackles), who suffered a shoulder injury in a loss against Nevada.
Over their last 3 games, Fresno State outscored their opponents 86-13. This season, Fresno State outgunned everyone 266-88 with an average margin of victory 25.5 points.
Fresno State covered their last five games. Overall this season, the Bulldogs are 6-1 against the spread. Meanwhile, the Rainbow Warriors are 2-4 against the spread over their last six games.