Games to Watch: Week 9

Steve Helwick

No. 11 Oklahoma State at No. 22 West Virginia

Saturday, 11 a.m., ABC

The offenses should be alive and well in Morgantown, West Virginia on Saturday morning. Mountaineer quarterback Will Grier leads the FBS in passing touchdowns with 26 and Cowboy quarterback Mason Rudolph checks in at first nationally with 2,650 passing yards. Rudolph and Oklahoma State escaped Austin with a 13-10 victory, thanks to an overtime interception by senior safety Ramon Richards, and the offense will hope to get back on track during the road trip. West Virginia has lost two close games to ranked teams, but the Mountaineers remain undefeated on their home turf this season. The winner will avoid its second conference loss and keep its Big 12 Championship Game hopes alive.

No. 2 Penn State at No. 6 Ohio State

Saturday, 2:30 p.m., FOX

This matchup for Big Ten East supremacy serves as a revenge game for both parties involved. Ohio State looks to avenge its 24-21 loss to the Nittany Lions last October, when Penn State cornerback Grant Haley scooped up a blocked field goal for a touchdown to propel his team back to national prominence. For Penn State, the Nittany Lions were snubbed from the College Football Playoff despite winning the Big Ten, thanks to Ohio State’s better overall record. The stars will show up in Columbus, Ohio, with the nation’s all-purpose yard leader Saquon Barkley — who scored three touchdowns last week in a whited-out Beaver Stadium in a 42-13 win over Michigan — taking on senior quarterback J.T. Barrett (18-straight touchdown passes without an interception) and his one-loss Buckeyes.

No. 4 TCU at No. 25 Iowa State

Saturday, 2:30 p.m., ABC

Who would have thought Iowa State would find a ranking next to its name over halfway through the season? The Cyclones have been the surprise team of 2017, rattling off two consecutive wins to boost themselves to second place in the Big 12. And with a victory over head coach Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs, Iowa State can leap into first. But TCU has also served as a surprise team this season after a 6–7 down year in 2016. The re-emergence of senior quarterback Kenny Hill is one of the reasons TCU sports a top-4 ranking, as he has passed for 1,728 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. Countering for the Cyclones will be former starting quarterback-turned-inside linebacker Joel Lanning, the team’s leading tackler.

No. 14 NC State at No. 9 Notre Dame

Saturday, 2:30 p.m., NBC

NC State is positioned atop the ACC Atlantic Division, and the Wolfpack can add another quality win to their résumé by taking down Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. The Wolfpack are led by defensive end Bradley Chubb, who has registered 6.5 sacks this season. But head coach Brian Kelly’s Fighting Irish will bring their dynamic rushing attack to the contest Saturday. Quarterback Brandon Wimbush and running back Josh Adams (who combine for 1,475 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns) tore apart preseason playoff contender USC in Week 8 with a 49-14 victory. If Notre Dame defeats another ranked team, consider the Irish as a dark-horse candidate for the College Football Playoff.