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USA TODAY Sports’ Paul Myerberg breaks down the latest Amway Coaches Poll.

USA TODAY

The return of the Big Ten season brought some surprise results and impressive debuts. It’s always important to be mindful of overreactions to just one data point. Often the starts do not set in stone where teams finish. 

The rest of the Power Five in action are at the midpoint of their season and races in those conferences are taking shape.

Parity has been one of the stories of the SEC season as teams below Alabama and Georgia have taken turns knocking off each other.

The Big 12 title race has two league unbeatens with preseason favorite Oklahoma and Texas trailing behind with two losses. More clarity should come to the situation Saturday.

Cincinnati, meanwhile, is slowly working its way into College Football Playoff contention. The Bearcats already have wins against two ranked opponents, and the American Athletic schedule allows for more quality wins ahead.

A look at the top questions for Week 9 in college football:

Does Penn State have a chance against Ohio State?

This seems like an easy question to answer after the Nittany Lions lost to Indiana last week. A deeper dive at that game shows Penn State dominated on both sides of the ball, but were undone by turnovers, penalties and special teams errors before poor clock management at the end of regulation. This is still a very good team capable of pulling an upset. And it is desperate, knowing an 0-2 start eliminates them from the Big Ten race.

Now consider the situation with Ohio State. The Buckeyes were less-than-impressive early against Nebraska before pulling away late. The running game was not consistent. The defense didn’t appear dominant. There’s a danger of being overconfident and not anticipating that it will get the best performance from the Nittany Lions. This still has the makings of one of the best games of the season.

UNIQUE POSTSEASON: Losing records, jammed schedule part of what will be unique bowl season

FALLING APART: Big Ten’s season plan in jeopardy after Wisconsin cancellation

MIDSEASON AWARDS: Honoring the best team and individual performances 

Can Texas cause chaos in the Big 12?

Oklahoma State and Kansas State are the only unbeatens in Big 12 league play. If each wins its remaining games outside their matchup Nov. 7, then they will both be in the conference championship game. That would freeze out Iowa State, Oklahoma and Texas. 

There’s several pitfalls ahead, especially with the Cowboys hosting Longhorns this weekend.  Yes, Texas has lost two games and there is pressure on Tom Herman to win this season. A defeat of Baylor, who was dealing with COVID-19 issues, shouldn’t be overstated, however it gave the team a good feeling and a springboard to its trip to Stillwater. They’ll need a fast start to avoid their penchant for having to come from behind. With a little bit of pressure, it’s possible OSU then falters and throws open the conference race.

Texas