Before No. 6 Texas takes on Oklahoma State in Stillwater, No. 9 Florida and No. 6 Georgia will demand the attention of the college football world. Here are the must-watch games of Week Nine:
Texas Tech at Iowa State
Saturday, 11 a.m., ESPN2
Is there a better way to start your Saturday than by watching two Big 12 offenses battle in Ames? Iowa State never met an upset it didn’t like. The Cyclones have proof, ending West Virginia’s undefeated season two weeks ago behind freshman quarterback Brock Purdy. Meanwhile, Texas Tech gunslinger Alan Bowman, back from a lung injury, is more than capable of 400-yard passing days. In fact, he threw for 408 yards and three touchdowns in a 32-point win over Kansas last week. The victory placed the 5–2 Red Raiders just outside of the AP Poll. One more win will likely launch Tech into the Top 25, but a follow-up win in Ames is no simple task.
No. 9 Florida vs. No. 7 Georgia
Saturday, 2:30 p.m., CBS
It’ll be the first World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party since 2008 where both rivals are ranked in the top 10. Florida, 4–7 a season ago, has turned its program 180 degrees in year one of the Dan Mullen era. Led by a relentless defenses that allows 16.6 points per game, the Gators have knocked off LSU and Mississippi State for their third 6–1 start in four years. Florida’s journey to the SEC title game goes through a powerhouse program in the Georgia Bulldogs, the reigning SEC champion. The Bulldogs won the last edition of the rivalry, 42-7, and Kirby Smart’s team desperately needs a win if they hope to qualify for the playoff in back-to-back years.
No. 21 South Florida at Houston
Saturday, 2:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2
In his two years at South Florida, Charlie Strong has posted a 17–2 record, and one of those two losses occurred against Houston last October. D’Eriq King’s rushing touchdown with 11 seconds left handed a ranked Bulls squad their first loss of the season. This year, King has massively improved in the passing department with 23 touchdowns and three interceptions, hoping to become the spoiler of yet another undefeated South Florida season. South Florida’s 7–0 record has been anything but graceful, but Strong’s team has proved it knows how to win in crunch time. With star running back Jordan Cronkrite (143.3 rushing yards per game) on the field, the Bulls have emerged victorious in four one-possession games this year.
No. 18 Iowa at No. 17 Penn State
Saturday, 2:30 p.m., ESPN
Penn State and Iowa never fail to provide us with thrillers. In 2017, Trace McSorley guided the Nittany Lions down the field, sealing the game with a strike to Juwan Johnson on the final play of a 21-19 win. This season, the Hawkeyes are flying under the radar. One minute away from defeating Wisconsin and preserving an undefeated record, defensive end Parker Hesse and the Hawkeyes are still alive in a competitive Big Ten West race. For Penn State, this game’s about righting ship again. James Franklin’s team lost two straight heartbreakers before narrowly beating Indiana, so this game in Happy Valley provides a perfect opportunity to redeem the season.
No. 14 Washington State at No. 24 Stanford
Saturday, 6 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Accessing Pac-12 Network is no easy task, but do whatever you can to find a stream of this high-stakes conference showdown. After flying its flag at College GameDay for 15 straight years, Washington State finally hosted the show in Pullman last Saturday and topped off the unforgettable day with a 34-20 win over Oregon. Transfer Gardner Minshew has been a pleasant surprise in Mike Leach’s offense this year and ranks second in the nation in passing yards. When Minshew is off the field, Stanford’s star wideout J.J. Arcega-Whiteside will be rivaling the Cougars’ 18th ranked passing defense. Third in the FBS in receiving touchdowns, the strong-armed 6-foot-3-inch receiver will play a vital role to keep Stanford in the rankings.