Don't you dare overlook Week 9 of this college football season. It's easy to become cynical of the schedule when only a few weekends have a bevy of marquee games. Everyone looking ahead knows Nov. 3 is the weekend for the 2018 season with Alabama-LSU, West Virginia-Texas, Penn State-Michigan games all going down. It's a great slate!
But Week 10 doesn't come before Week 9, and as you'll read below, we're starting to get into the good stuff as far as conference play is concerned. A lot of the divisional races around the country are starting to take shape and many of the leaders in those races are either playing each other this weekend, or will play each other in the coming weeks. This is when it gets good.
Sometimes the most unsuspecting weekends yield the most chaos. A number of higher-ranked teams are on the road this Saturday, some of them already underdogs in Vegas' eyes. There are a lot of interesting point spreads out there. So, no, Saturday doesn't have to be an afterthought as we gear up for that vaunted first weekend in November. There's still plenty to enjoy. So get your televisions, laptops and tablets ready. This one should be fun.
All times eastern
The biggest games
No. 9 Florida vs. No. 7 Georgia, CBS, stream on FuboTV (Try for free), 3:30 p.m.: , and the winner could very well represent the SEC East in Atlanta. Though both programs are ranked in the top 10, this game takes on a different meaning for each side. A win in Jacksonville would be a cherry on top of what has already been a nice debut for first-year Florida coach Dan Mullen. Georgia, on the other hand, is coming off of a brutal loss at LSU and a second consecutive "L" could send the Bulldogs from preseason playoff contender to middle of the pack SEC East team. Rivalry games with stakes are simply the best.
No. 18 Iowa at No. 17 Penn State, ESPN, 3:30 p.m.: This could be a big weekend for Iowa. The Hawkeyes are nearly a full touchdown dog on the road, but a win here combined with a Wisconsin loss -- more on the Badgers' precarious situation below -- would keep them in the Big Ten West hunt. Iowa follows this game up with games against Northwestern and Purdue, two other West division players. Meanwhile, Penn State is looking to avoid a third loss in four games with Michigan and Wisconsin still to go.
No. 14 Washington State at No. 24 Stanford, Pac-12 Networks, 7 p.m.: Can Washington State follow up its marquee win against Oregon? The Cougars have quickly become the trendy periphery playoff possibility, but they're a field goal dog on the road. This game can also provide some clarity in the suddenly fascinating Pac-12 North race, or muddy it even further. Heading into Saturday, Washington, Washington State and Stanford all have but one conference loss (and Oregon still isn't far behind at 2-2). Yet all three leading teams still have to play each other.
Other big games
No. 2 Clemson at Florida State ABC, noon: The Tigers are a huge road favorite, about 17 points at most Vegas books, and Florida State historically is pretty bad in these situations. Put Clemson's defensive front against FSU's o-line and this one is lopsided. Still, it's Clemson-Florida State and the Seminoles haven't given up on the season yet.
No. 20 Wisconsin at Northwestern, FOX, noon: The Badgers are on reputation as an underdog is a big reason why. What was a 6.5-point spread for Wisconsin has now shrunk to four for Paul Chryst's team. A popular upset pick down the road is because it would have huge playoff ramifications, but don't overlook the Wildcats' opening act on Saturday. This one has Big Ten West race implications as both teams have just one conference loss.this weekend and Northwestern's
No. 21 South Florida at Houston, ABC/ESPN2, 3:30 p.m.: The Bulls are undefeated, but they don't grade out well in advanced analytics and are a touchdown dog on the road against the Cougars. This would be Houston's biggest win and, on paper, it's the toughest test remaining on the schedule. Win here and the Cougars are clear favorites to win the AAC West.
No. 12 Kentucky at Missouri, SEC Network, 4 p.m.: It's not often that you see the No. 12 team in the country as a touchdown dog. This is a clash of styles with Kentucky's lockdown defense against Missouri quarterback Drew Lock and the Tigers' offense. It doesn't always look pretty with the Wildcats, but if they get a road win here, it sets up a big SEC East showdown against Georgia on Nov. 3.
No. 16 Texas A&M at Mississippi State, ESPN, 7 p.m.: This is another interesting line. Mississippi State was a 2.5-point favorite, though the line has dropped to -1.5 for the Bulldogs. The thing is, Mississippi State has zero passing attack and opposing defenses have been loading up the box. That would favor Texas A&M, but good luck blocking one of college football's best pass-rushing defensive lines, Aggies.
No. 6 Texas at Oklahoma State, ABC, 8 p.m.: The line is just 3.5 points in favor of the Longhorns, and Tom Herman is far less than a sure thing against the spread as a favorite as opposed to the underdog role. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger will play coming off of a shoulder injury, but how effective will he be? Oklahoma State has its share of problems, but this is a get-up game for the Pokes, and with No. 13 West Virginia coming to Austin on Nov. 3, it's a look-ahead game for the Horns. Hang tight, this one could get weird.
Keep an eye on ...
- Purdue at Michigan State, ESPN, noon
- Kansas State at No. 8 Oklahoma, FOX, 3:30 p.m.
- No. 22 NC State at Syracuse, ESPN2, 7 p.m.
- No. 3 Notre Dame vs. Navy, CBS, 8 p.m.
- No. 19 Oregon at Arizona, ESPN, 10:30 p.m.
- Hawaii at Fresno State, ESPN2, 10:30 p.m.