Week 9 rundown: Takeaways from Saturday's biggest games

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The college football calendar hit Week 9 in full stride with a number of playoff implications at stake.

Saturday's slate featured a number of big matchups highlighted by the rivalry contest in East Lansing between No. 6 Michigan and No. 8 Michigan State.

Here's what to take away from the biggest games on the schedule this weekend.

Give Walker a Heisman invite

A Michigan State player has never won the Heisman Trophy, but Kenneth Walker III may have one hand on the award after Saturday's epic showing versus Michigan.

The No. 8 Spartans stormed back from a 30-14 deficit to remain perfect on the season, taking down the No. 6 Wolverines behind five touchdowns from the star running back. The Wake Forest transfer ran all over Jim Harbaugh's defense for a total of 197 yards - including two scores in the fourth quarter - to secure the victory.

Walker has now run for a nation-leading 1,194 yards in 2021 with 15 total touchdowns. More importantly, he has Michigan State primed for a legitimate shot at the Big Ten title and a College Football Playoff berth. The Spartans will face Purdue and Maryland in back-to-back weeks before blockbuster matchups with No. 5 Ohio State and No. 20 Penn State to end the season.

Ohio State wins despite red-zone issues

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Ohio State piled up 469 yards of offense, scored 33 points, and notched a key win over No. 20 Penn State on Saturday. The defense showed improvement from earlier in the season, holding the Nittany Lions in check for most of the contest.

Now that we've got the positives out of the way, the Buckeyes need to spend the week in practice working extensively on their red-zone offense.

Ryan Day's attack is arguably the best in the country but it managed just one touchdown in six trips to the red zone. Outside of the one major, Ohio State turned it over on downs once and settled for four field goals inside the 20-yard line. For a team with an embarrassment of weapons like TreVeyon Henderson, Chris Olave, and Garrett Wilson, that simply isn't good enough going into the final stretch of the season.

Luckily for the Buckeyes, the next two games against Nebraska and Purdue should serve as good practice for the red-zone attack before massive back-to-back contests against Michigan State and Michigan to end the year.

Harbaugh still can't flip script

The good news for Michigan and Harbaugh through eight games is clear: the Wolverines sit with a 7-1 record and will likely enter November as a top-10 team in the country. The bad news? That one loss will only further the narrative that Harbaugh's Wolverines cannot get the job done against rival opponents or equal talent.

Despite holding a 16-point lead at one point, the Wolverines couldn't complete the road win over the Spartans on Saturday as Harbaugh dropped to 3-9 in his career against either Ohio State or Michigan State.

There were plenty of positives for Michigan in the loss, though. Cade threw for 383 yards for an offense ranked 101st in the country, but that will get washed away by the loss. Harbaugh remains a good coach who can consistently deliver winning seasons, but needs a couple of signature victories to satisfy those in charge at Michigan.

Georgia's 142 seconds of fury

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They played 60 minutes in the annual rivalry game between No. 1 Georgia and Florida on Saturday, but the fate of the contest was decided in 142 seconds at the end of the second quarter.

With the score 3-0, Anthony Richardson fumbled the football with the Bulldogs recovering inside the 15. One play later, James Cook found the end zone to make it 10-0 with 2:16 to play in the half. Two plays after the ensuing kickoff, Richardson was picked off at the 36-yard line, giving the ball back to the Bulldogs. Stetson Bennett then threw a touchdown pass to make the score 17-0 with 1:35 to play. Somehow, that still wouldn't be the end of it.

After Florida got the ball to its 47-yard line with 20 seconds left, Richardson threw another interception, this time returned for a touchdown by Nakobe Dean to make the halftime score 24-0. The drive chart is an absolute horror show for the Gators.

While Florida scored a fourth-quarter touchdown to avoid being shut out for the first time in 417 games, the Georgia defense once again showed it can almost single-handedly win games for Kirby Smart. The Bulldogs are now 8-0 and have yet to allow more than 13 points in a game on the schedule.

As for the 4-4 Gators, Dan Mullen is now quietly 2-7 in his last nine games against Power 5 competition. Don't be shocked to hear some hot seat chatter in Gainesville heading into next week's game against South Carolina.

Nix outshines Corral in Auburn win

Matt Corral is one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy but he wasn't the top quarterback on the field at Auburn on Saturday night. Bo Nix's star shone bright as the No. 18 Tigers downed No. 10 Ole Miss to improve to 6-2 on the campaign.

Nix owned a career record of 2-8 against top-10 opposition entering play but was brilliant from start to finish in the victory. The junior threw for 276 yards and a score while also rushing for 30 and two touchdowns on the ground. It's just the kind of performance Bryan Harsin needed out of Nix with No. 14 Texas A&M and No. 3 Alabama left on the schedule.

Same as ever for Texas

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Tom Herman started his career at Texas in 2017 with a 4-4 record over his first eight games. The veteran coach was fired by the school following the 2020 season at a buyout of $15 million plus $9 million more for his assistant coaches. Steve Sarkisian was hired to replace Herman on a six-year contract worth just over $34 million and sits with an identical 4-4 record through his first eight games. The early returns say nothing has changed for the better in Austin.

The Longhorns dropped their third game in a row on Saturday with another incredibly poor showing in the second half. After taking a 14-10 lead to the locker room, No. 16 Baylor outscored the road team 21-10 over the final two quarters to grab the win. Texas has now lost three games in a row for the first time since 2016 and has been outscored 75-24 in the second half the last three games.

Week 9 rundown: Takeaways from Saturday's biggest games
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