Looking ahead to college football: Week 9′s five games to watch

The college football offseason is long and arduous, but its end is almost in sight. We’re going to take a look at five games you have to look forward to for every weekend of the season. (This is also a handy guide to decide how to RSVP for any autumn weddings.)

All times are Eastern and all games are played on Saturday unless otherwise noted.

These games are played the weekend of October 26th.

Stanford at Oregon State (TBD) – When these two teams met last year, it was a battle of top 16 teams the Cardinal prevailed in 27-23. This time the Beavers get home field, and it seems very possible they’ll be 7-0 coming into the game. Oregon State should be a tough out all season, as they bring back two capable quarterbacks, all-name team captain Storm Woods at running back, most of their offensive line and their top five tacklers from 2012. For Stanford, it’s the same formula as the rest of their games: lean on their strong offensive line, let the defense do their thing and unleash quarterback Kevin Hogan any time you need a big play.

Texas Tech at Oklahoma (TBD) – It’s almost a question of when rather than if in regards to Kliff Kingsbury pulling off an upset on the Sooners. In 2007, the Sooners were ranked fourth in the country when they went into Lubbock and fell 34-27 to Mike Leach. In 2011, it was Tommy Tuberville on the Red Raider sidelines when they went into Norman and snapped Oklahoma’s 39-game home winning streak. Both of these teams need to replace a lot of pieces going into this season, but if Kingsbury has the offense rolling early in his tenure, this could turn into a nice up-and-down game.

UCLA at Oregon (TBD) – A rematch of the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game, this pits two of the top mobile quarterbacks in the country against one another. Marcus Mariota and Brent Hundley combined for a staggering 75 touchdowns in 2012, and there’s no reason to think they’re going to slow down this year. Oregon has to replace two great linebackers in Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso, but they’ll be more than happy to unleash weapons like De’Anthony Thomas, Byron Marshall and Colt Lyerla if the Bruins start putting points up.

Texas at TCU (TBD) – Phil Steele is a really smart guy and thinks Texas could finish in the top five this season. SBNation’s Bill Connelly is a really smart guy and thinks TCU has a real shot at greatness this season. If Steele and Connelly are talking teams up, we should give some consideration to their Lone Star clash. The Horned Frogs won in Austin last year without Casey Pachall, and with the Big 12 primed to be wide open, this will likely be a key game in what could easily be the most entertaining conference race of the season.

Louisville at South Florida (TBD) – This is one that will get mocked in the comments, but that’s fine. I admit it’s a bit of a reach, but three factors:

1) Weird stuff happens in Tampa. In 2005 Louisville took a nine-game winning streak and top-ten ranking to Raymond James Stadium. It did not end well.

2) Defensive end Aaron Lynch was a top recruit and produced at Notre Dame his freshman year before transferring to the Bulls. His name is being mentioned on a lot of draft boards, and putting on a show against Teddy Bridgewater would be a way to solidify his stock.

3) Willie Taggart is a very good coach, and he’ll have a bye week to try and cook something up for Charlie Strong (who is also, obviously, a very good coach).

The Cardinals are going to be multi-touchdown favorites, but you never know.

Other games considered:

Tennessee at Alabama (TBD) – They don’t always get to play this on the third Saturday in October, but this is still one of the oldest and most respected rivalries in the south. The Tide have won six straight, so this will be a nice midseason litmus test for Butch Jones in his first year as Vols coach.

Oklahoma State at Iowa State (TBD) – A return to the scene of the crime where the Cowboys lost a spot in the 2011 BCS title game. I don't think either side has forgotten.

Boise State at BYU (8:00 p.m., ESPN, Friday) – Independence continues to treat the Cougars well, as they get to host the Broncos on primetime.

Vanderbilt at Texas A&M (TBD) – The SEC schedule could not have smiled more brightly on College Station, as the Aggies draw Vandy and Mizzou for their opponents from the East Division. In comparison, LSU gets Florida and Georgia and Alabama faces Kentucky and Tennessee. One of those schedules is not like the others.

NC State at Florida State (TBD) – Considering they lost to Florida at the end of the season, the upset in Raleigh last year didn’t cost the Seminoles anything but their pride, but I'm sure Jimbo Fisher wouldn't mind a nice, easy win that could reestablish order in the series.

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