Games to watch: Showcase between quarterbacks in Iowa highlight weekend’s slate

Clark Dalton

No. 20 Washington State at Houston

ESPN, Friday, 8:15 p.m.

Washington State head coach Mike Leach continues to take unproven quarterbacks and transform them into stat-stuffers. In 2019, the air raid was given to quarterback Anthony Gordon, a fifth-year senior who had only appeared in two games before this season. This inexperience has not manifested on the field — Gordon has thrown nine touchdowns accompanied by a QBR of 90.8, the sixth best rating in all of college football. On the flip side, Leach’s old Big 12 foe Dana Holgorsen is still trying to fully implement a similar system at Houston. Senior quarterback D’Eriq King has not quite adjusted to the new offense, and his completion percentage has dropped from 63% to 54%. However, King could catch fire again with a big upset over a Pac-12 team that could be susceptible to King’s dual-threat talent.

Stanford at No. 17 UCF

Saturday, ESPN, 2:30 p.m.

The Knights of Central Florida are the classic Cinderella of college football, finding themselves in the AP Top 25 once again. Yet the clock may strike midnight when Stanford arrives in Spectrum Stadium this Saturday. Senior quarterback K.J. Costello returns for the Cardinal, which could jump-start a sluggish offense. Even though Costello returns, the Knights defense has shown the ability to shut down passing attacks so far this season. Given the tendency of both teams to run the ball heavily, expect a classic hard-nosed battle.

Arizona State at No. 18 Michigan State

Saturday, FOX, 3:00 p.m.

The Spartans’ Big Ten hopes came crashing down early last year when they fell in Tempe, Arizona, 16-13. This time, the matchup is in East Lansing, Michigan, where Michigan State looks to serve the Sun Devils a cold plate of revenge. The Spartans boast a defense that has held opponents to just 213 yards per game in 2019. The Sun Devils’ passing offense is beginning to take flight under true freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels, who has averaged 294 yards passing per game. Neither team has faced a serious test from a national contender so far, so it also a gauge to see if either could be a surprise team within the scope of their conferences.

 



TCU at Purdue

Saturday, BTN, 6:30 p.m.

Although Purdue has struggled to become a contender in the Big Ten for the past decade, it’s starting to pick up the pieces. Fifth-year senior quarterback Elijah Sindelar has flourished this season, and he currently leads all of college football in total passing yards with 932. His favorite target is sophomore receiver Rondale Moore, who leads all wideouts in the country with 344 receiving yards. TCU is still in the middle of a quarterback carousel with freshman Max Duggan and senior Alex Delton splitting snaps. The Horned Frogs defense is on the upswing, which is imperative for a turnaround. Junior linebacker Garret Wallow has been all over the field with 13 tackles so far. With a relatively even matchup, the winner of this game can use it as springboard for a larger resurgence.

No. 19 Iowa at Iowa State

Saturday, FS1, 3:00 p.m.

As evidenced in the movie “Field of Dreams,” in Iowa, if you build it, they will come. Well Iowa schools have built their program, and ESPN’s College GameDay is coming. The Hawkeyes have an underrated quarterback who has come up big in the national spotlight before. Since his breakout performance in a 55-24 win over Ohio State in 2017, senior Nate Stanley has blossomed into a precise passer. Stanley has started the season with six touchdowns and no interceptions. Stanley will face a tough crowd in Ames, and another budding young passer in sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy. Purdy and Stanley both drive their offenses, so the outcome will depend on their performances.