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Cocktail Party leads Saturday college football slate without Ohio State

Also, the Pac-12 could be eliminated from playoff consideration this week!

NCAA Football: Georgia at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know about you guys, but after last weekend, I definitely needed a weekend of college football in which I was not emotionally invested (or broken) by what happens on the field.

So, while Ohio State is on their bye today, it will be nice to sit back, relax, and watch football without having to deal with the existential dread that the team that you love is squandering incredible opportunities and the best passing quarterback in school history by not being able to adapt to a talent pool that possesses different strengths and weaknesses than their predecessors of the recent past.

The Buckeyes aren’t the only blue blood on a bye, as Michigan, LSU, and Alabama are all taking a breather today as well, but there is ball to be watched.

Let’s checkout the major games that you should be keeping your eyes on today:

Early Window

Purdue at Michigan State | ESPN | noon ET

I will completely understand if this one is a bit too painful for you to watch. I’ve still yet to watch an Iowa football game after last year’s debacle, and if Ohio State were to matchup with either the Hawkeyes or Boilermakers in a Big Ten Championship game, only LGHL contractual obligations would get me to turn on the TV.

Nonetheless, if you can stomach watching Jeff Brohm’s team so soon after last week’s beatdown, this game will give you a preview of Ohio State’s next potential challenge in Mark Dantonio’s always troubling late-season Spartans.

MSU has been a weird one this year. After falling to the Fightin’ Herm Edwardses of Arizona State in Week 2, many people left them for dead, especially after they coughed one up against Northwestern a few weeks later. However, then our old friend Marky D got his team up in order to land another blow to a great — but not elite— Penn State team following OSU’s comeback win in Happy Valley.

From there, I started becoming increasingly nervous about the Nov. 10 matchup between the Buckeyes and the Spartans, as it seemed that as the calendar flipped to fall, the boys from East Lansing were starting to get things figured out... but then came last week where TTUN held Sparty to just 94 yards of offense. Ninety-four yards! Dwayne Haskins had almost as many passes as they had yards last week.

This is all to say that I have no idea who the Michigan State Spartans are at this point in the season, and I’m not sure Dantonio does either. The same could be true for the Buckeyes, I suppose, but despite their recent failings, I at least feel like I know what I can expect from them on a weekly basis... for better or for worse.

Afternoon Window

No. 9 Florida at No. 7 Georgia | CBS | 3:30 p.m. ET

Now this is the game that everyone is looking forward to this college football Saturday; the game formerly (and forever in my heart) known as the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party pits the Gators and the Bulldogs against each other in a top-10 matchup for the first time in a decade, when some guy named Urban Meyer led the No. 5 Gators to a 49-10 beat down of the then-No. 8 Bulldogs.

This year the winner will almost assuredly earn the honor of getting beaten by Alabama in the SEC Championship game (although I see you still lurking around, Kentucky).

Georgia and Florida are very similar teams when you stack them up on paper. UGA is fifth in the SEC with 461.9 yards of total offense per game, while UF is sixth with 408.3. On defense, UGA is fourth, giving up 310.6; while UF is fifth, allowing 323.3.

Despite their win over LSU earlier this month, it still feels like Florida has to prove that they are back to a level where they can compete with a true national power, which UGA absolutely is. So, if the Gators can pull this one off, I think it would be time to officially say that they’re back, baby!

No. 18 Iowa at No. 17 Penn State | CBS | 3:30 p.m. ET

See above about watching Iowa games, but, with the Big Ten West being all over the place this season, and Ohio State still controlling its own destiny in terms of the conference championship game, it might behoove Buckeye fans to tune in and check out this game, 2017 scars or not.

The Hawkeyes have reeled off three-straight big wins over Minnesota, Indiana, and Maryland after suffering the lone loss of their season against Wisconsin in late September. However, if you tune into this one, you shouldn’t expect a high-scoring affair, as the visiting Hawks are the stingiest defense in the B1G allowing only 14.1 points per game, while the Nittany Lions are fourth in the league giving up just a touchdown and a two-point conversion more at 22, good for fourth in the league.

Iowa’s offense has been middle of the pack in terms of yardage this year, primarily because neither of their running backs have broken through to give quarterback Nate Stanley a consistent run-threat. Sophomore backs Toren Young (57.57 ypg) and Mekhi Sargent (42.43 ypg) do provide balance, but not the potential knock-out punch that Kirk Ferentz has had on teams past.

Stanley is throwing for 222.7 yards per game, which — if he maintains that pace the rest of the season — would be the most by an Iowa QB since James Vandenberg’s 232.5 in 2011. It might not be a pretty game, but if the Buckeyes have to face off with Iowa in Indianapolis in a month and a half, I think it might be good to prepare ourselves for that potential now.

Evening Window

No. 14 Washington State at No. 24 Stanford | Pac-12 Networks | 7:00 p.m. ET

This is it, this could be the game that eliminates the Pac-12 from the 2018 College Football Playoff... and it’s still October. Wazzu is the only team in the league with less than two losses, and they are traveling to a traditionally tough place to play.

Stanford has had an up-and-down season as their Heisman runner-up from a year ago, Bryce Love, has dealt with injuries, and the team has suffered for it. Mike Leach-coached teams are always fun to watch, and with the potential for a conference to have its path to the playoff shut before Halloween, it’s probably worth a watch.

Pac-12 After Dark

In a week with a lot of big-name teams getting their bye, the left coast circus isn’t giving us much to stay up late for; fortunately Game 4 of the World Series starts at 8:09 p.m. ET., and after Friday night, you never know when that sucker is going to end!

But, sticking with college football after hours, we’ve got No. 19 Oregon at Arizona on ESPN, Hawaii at Fresno State on ESPN2, and San Diego State at Nevada on ESPNU; all game kick off at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Check Saturday’s full slate of games here:

Week 9 Saturday Schedule

Matchup Time (ET) TV Streaming
Matchup Time (ET) TV Streaming
#2 Clemson at Florida State 12:00 PM ABC
#20 Wisconsin at Northwestern 12:00 PM FOX
Vanderbilt at Arkansas 12:00 PM SEC Network
Texas Tech at Iowa State 12:00 PM ESPN2
Wake Forest at Louisville 12:00 PM ACC Network
UMass at UConn 12:00 PM ESPNU
Army at Eastern Michigan 12:00 PM CBSSN
Purdue at Michigan State 12:00 PM ESPN
Central Michigan at Akron 12:00 PM None
Bethune-Cookman at Nebraska 12:00 PM BTN
North Carolina at Virginia 12:20 PM ACC Network
Southern Mississippi at Charlotte 2:00 PM None
Coastal Carolina at Georgia State 2:00 PM ESPN+ ESPN+
TCU at Kansas 3:00 PM FS1
Oregon State at Colorado 3:00 PM Pac-12 Networks
#9 Florida at #7 Georgia 3:30 PM CBS
Kansas State at #8 Oklahoma 3:30 PM FOX
#18 Iowa at #17 Penn State 3:30 PM ESPN
#21 South Florida at Houston 3:30 PM ABC/ESPN2
Arizona State at USC 3:30 PM ABC/ESPN2
Illinois at Maryland 3:30 PM BTN
Duke at Pittsburgh 3:30 PM ACC Network
Middle Tennessee at Old Dominion 3:30 PM ESPN+ ESPN+
Northern Illinois at BYU 3:30 PM ESPNU
Cincinnati at SMU 3:30 PM CBSSN
#12 Kentucky at Missouri 4:00 PM SEC Network
New Mexico at Utah State 4:00 PM None Facebook
Rice at North Texas 4:00 PM ESPN+ ESPN+
#15 Washington at California 6:30 PM FS1
UNLV at San Jose State 6:30 PM AT&T SportsNet
#14 Washington State at #24 Stanford 7:00 PM Pac-12 Networks
#16 Texas A&M at Mississippi State 7:00 PM ESPN
#22 NC State at Syracuse 7:00 PM ESPN2
Boise State at Air Force 7:00 PM CBSSN
Arkansas State at Louisiana 7:00 PM ESPN+ ESPN+
Tulane at Tulsa 7:00 PM ESPNU
New Mexico State at Texas State 7:00 PM None
Tennessee at South Carolina 7:30 PM SEC Network
Florida Intl at Western Kentucky 7:30 PM beIn Sports
#3 Notre Dame at Navy 8:00 PM CBS
#6 Texas at Oklahoma State 8:00 PM ABC
#19 Oregon at Arizona 10:30 PM ESPN
Hawai'i at Fresno State 10:30 PM ESPN2
San Diego State at Nevada 10:30 PM ESPNU