Week 9 of the 2022 college football season has arrived and so has our weekly look at Anxiety Games across the country. For those new here, we’re keeping tabs on games where the fans and/or coaching staffs of specific programs may feel a bit uneasy about the possibility of things going downhill with a bad outing.
There’s plenty to dive into for this week’s slate. Let’s take a look.
Arkansas at Auburn, noon ET, SEC Network
Hey, Auburn is back in action after a bye week. That means we’re right back on Bryan Harsin watch and the anxiety has only ratcheted up with four players entering the transfer portal this week. Over half of Auburn’s 2021 signing class have now left the program and even in the age of the portal, that is not a good sign for the struggling head coach. A fourth straight loss would only add to the misery for the Tigers.
USF at Houston, noon ET, ESPN2
This has been a season from hell for Jeff Scott at USF and they’ll come off a bye week with a tough road test against Houston. The Bulls have been ravaged by injuries and lost starting quarterback Gerry Bohanon to a shoulder injury before the break. A loss to the Cougars here would officially eliminate them from bowl eligibility and drop Scott to 4-25 for his career in Tampa. Each passing loss brings him a step closer to his ouster and the ripcord might be pulled soon.
Miami at Virginia, 12:30 p.m. ET, ACC Regional Networks/ESPN3
Miami has been a massive disappointment considering the offseason hype surrounding the arrival of Mario Cristobal. The Hurricanes were pummeled by Duke in an embarrassing 45-21 loss last Saturday, a game where they turned the ball over eight times. With the status of starting quarterback Tyler Van Dyke in question with an arm injury, the team may have to turn to backup Jake Garcia to carry the load against UVA on Saturday. A loss here would send Canes fans into further meltdown mode.
On the other side, things have not gone well for Virginia under its first-year head coach Tony Elliott. The Cavaliers offense has been dreadful, even with a senior quarterback in Brennan Armstrong operating the controls. They still have a chance to get bowl eligible but absolutely needs this win against a mediocre Canes team to accomplish that goal.
South Alabama at Arkansas State, 4 p.m. ET, ESPNU
South Alabama ceded control of the Sun Belt West division last Thursday, falling to in-state rival Troy in a 10-6 loss. The Jaguars are still well positioned to compete for a conference title and must handle its business moving forward.
Most of the anxiety here is on the Arkansas State side, who are 2-6 and losers of three straight heading into this matchup. The Red Wolves have shown little progress in nearly two years under head coach Butch Jones and a loss here would eliminate them from bowl contention. This program was recently a Sun Belt power and missing a bowl game would put a lot of pressure on the former Tennessee head coach heading into 2023. Speaking of Tennessee...
Kentucky at Tennessee, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
This will be the most high-stakes edition of this rivalry in recent memory (or ever) with UK heading down I-75 to meet UT in Knoxville, TN.
Tennessee is still riding high off its upset win over Alabama from two weeks ago, but has back-to-back tough SEC East challenges with this game and a trip to Georgia next Saturday. Kentucky is coming off a bye and that means that UK head coach Mark Stoops has had two weeks to plot on how to stop Hendon Hooker and company. A loss at home here would take a bunch of the air out of the baloon for the Vols.
Texas A&M could lose its fourth straight game here, dropping its record to 3-5 on the season and in territory where it could miss a bowl game. Texas A&M is paying Jimbo Fisher $9 million a year to do this. That is all.