The final weekend of October is upon us, and it brings a host of conference showdowns and traditional rivalries that should make this one of the best weekends of the college football season.
Georgia and rival Florida will tee it up in Jacksonville in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party -- one of the fiercest rivalries in the SEC. Both teams are coming off of bye weeks, and the Gators would love nothing more than to get their season back on track with an upset over the defending national champions. Tennessee will get back into conference play as well when it hosts Kentucky one week after the Volunteers thrashed UT Martin.
Ohio State will look to keep its undefeated season alive when it travels to State College to take on Penn State in a Big Ten East showdown that is a must-win game for the Nittany Lions. Oklahoma State will try to keep its College Football Playoff hopes intact on the road vs. Kansas State in what could serve as a Big 12 Championship Game eliminator for the loser.
Lines for Week 9 are out. Let's take a look at how the oddsmakers see results playing out. Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
Florida vs. No. 1 Georgia (-22.5): Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson will face his toughest test yet in Jacksonville when he faces a Bulldogs defense that leads the SEC in points allowed (9.1 per game) and total defense (247 yards per game) and is second in defensive yards per play (4.43). The Bulldogs haven't had any issues dispatching opponents in their last two games following an early October scare from Missouri.
No. 2 Ohio State (-14.5) at No. 13 Penn State: The Nittany Lions got back on the winning track with a 45-17 victory over Minnesota, but they are in a must-win situation at home against the Buckeyes. It'll be fascinating to see how Ohio State coach Ryan Day coaches up quarterback CJ Stroud in front of what will be a hostile crowd. Could this be the spot for Stroud to make a Heisman Trophy statement?
No. 19 Kentucky at No. 3 Tennessee (-14): The Volunteers will have a tough test against a physical Wildcats defense that is known to own the line of scrimmage. This should be a fun QB battle between Heisman Trophy candidate Hendon Hooker for the Volunteers and NFL hopeful Will Levis for the Wildcats.
Michigan State at No. 4 Michigan (-21.5): This rivalry isn't expected to be that close, and for good reason. The Wolverines defense has been money all year, and the Spartans have struggled with offensive consistency. However, the Spartans have won two straight in this series, including a 37-33 thriller last season.
No. 9 Oklahoma State at No. 22 Kansas State (PK): It's rare that we get a "pick 'em" these days, but oddsmakers think this one will be close. Both teams are entering with one conference loss apiece, which likely makes this a de facto elimination game in the race for a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game.
No. 10 USC (-15) at Arizona: The Trojans will hit the field for the first time since losing a thriller to Utah two weeks ago in Salt Lake City. Quarterback Caleb Williams leads a tremendous Trojan offense that is squaring off against a Wildcats defense that is giving up a Pac-12-worst 6.94 yards per play. It's a perfect chance for Lincoln Riley's crew to gain some confidence down the stretch, even though oddsmakers don't necessarily think this one will be a blowout.
Best of the rest
- No. 7 TCU (-7) at West Virginia
- No. 8 Oregon (-14) at California
- No. 10 Wake Forest (-5) at Louisville
- Stanford at No. 12 UCLA (-14.5)
- No. 14 Utah (-8) at Washington State
- No. 15 Ole Miss (-3) at Texas A&M
- Notre Dame at No. 16 Syracuse (-2)
- No. 17 Illinois (-5.5) at Nebraska
- No. 20 Cincinnati at UCF (PK)
- Pittsburgh at No. 21 North Carolina (-3)
- Virginia Tech at No. 24 NC State (-13)
- Missouri at No. 25 South Carolina (-6)