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Georgia wide receiver Mecole Hardman (4) runs for a touchdown against Austin Peay during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Mike Stewart/Associated Press

The SEC is never out of the national spotlight.

Once again, one of the marquee matchups of the college football schedule comes from the nation’s top conference. 

This time around, the SEC East is in focus, as No. 7 Georgia and No. 9 Florida square off in a battle of Top 10 teams in one of the fiercest rivalry games in the sport. 

Elsewhere in Week 9, the Big Ten and Pac-12 boast games with a pair of ranked teams, while Thursday and Friday will be important nights for a few programs looking to make a good impression with more eyeballs on them than usual.

Week 9 Schedule and Odds (via OddsShark)

All Times ET.

Picks against the spread in bold.

     

Thursday, October 25

Baylor at No. 13 West Virginia (-13.5) (7 p.m., FS1) 

No. 25 Appalachian State (-11.5) at Georgia Southern (7:30 p.m., ESPNU) 

Friday, October 26

No. 23 Utah (-10) at UCLA (10:30 p.m., ESPN) 

Saturday, October 27

No. 2 Clemson (-17) at Florida State (Noon, ABC) 

No. 20 Wisconsin (-6) at Northwestern (Noon, Fox) 

No. 9 Florida at No. 7 Georgia (-9) (3:30 p.m., CBS) 

Kansas State at No. 8 Oklahoma (-21.5) (3:30 p.m., Fox)

No. 18 Iowa at No. 17 Penn State (-9) (3:30 p.m., ESPN) 

No. 21 South Florida at Houston (-7.5) (3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2) 

No. 12 Kentucky at Missouri (-6) (4 p.m., SEC Network) 

No. 15 Washington (-13.5) at California (4:30 p.m., FS1) 

No. 14 Washington State at No. 24 Stanford (-3) (7 p.m., Pac-12 Network) 

No. 16 Texas A&M at Mississippi State (-3) (7 p.m., ESPN) 

No. 22 NC State at Syracuse (-1) (7 p.m., ESPN2) 

No. 3 Notre Dame (-22) at Navy (8 p.m., CBS) 

No. 6 Texas (-1.5) at Oklahoma State (8 p.m., ABC) 

No. 19 Oregon at Arizona (10:30 p.m., ESPN) 

Predictions

Georgia 27, Florida 17

Bragging rights in the SEC East, and in one of the nation’s most heated rivalries, will be on the line Saturday in Jacksonville. 

Both No. 7 Georgia and No. 9 Florida have losses to LSU on their resumes, but neither team is out of the playoff conversation, which makes Saturday’s clash even more important. 

Georgia regained its hold on the rivalry a year ago, as Sony Michel and Nick Chubb headlined a 42-7 victory to end a three-game losing streak to the Gators. 

The ground game will be important once again for the Bulldogs, as the combination of D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield will try to bludgeon the Florida front seven.

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 13: D'Andre Swift #7 of the Georgia Bulldogs runs with the ball during a game against the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium on October 13, 2018 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Although the Bulldogs will rely on their running backs to set the tone on offense, Jake Fromm will be the key difference-maker, as he uses his experience under center to steady Kirby Smart’s team. 

Keep an eye on Georgia wide receivers Mecole Hardman and Riley Ridley, who have 49 receptions and nine touchdowns between them, as they’ll provide Fromm with outlets on third down to extend drives and keep the ball away from the Florida offense. 

The Gators will go as far as quarterback Feleipe Franks takes them, and so far this season he’s put in a string of decent performances.

The one thing Franks can’t do Saturday is turn the ball over, but that might be more difficult than you think, as he’s thrown a pick in each of his last three games. 

Franks needs a star or two to emerge alongside him from a collection of four running backs with over 100 yards rushing and seven players with 100 or more receiving yards. 

Running back Jordan Scarlett and wide receiver Van Jefferson will have the most eyes on them, while Franks will try to use Lamical Perine in a variety of ways out of the backfield. 

Successfully using Perine, who had 121 rushing yards and 93 receiving yards two weeks ago versus Vanderbilt, could be the X-factor Florida needs to topple Georgia. 

John Raoux/Associated Press

Neither team will create separation through three quarters, but once the clock turns over to the fourth quarter, Fromm and Co. will take over. 

A touchdown drive engineered by the sophomore quarterback and a late field goal out of Rodrigo Blankenship will be enough for Georgia to win and cover. 

Penn State 21, Iowa 16 

Saturday is finally the day No. 17 Penn State wins a big game.

The Nittany Lions fell short against Ohio State and Michigan State at home to kill off their College Football Playoff aspirations, but they still have plenty to play for. 

A New Year’s Day bowl is within reach, and if the Nittany Lions string together victories during their next three games, they’ll be back in the Top 10. 

Saturday’s clash with No. 18 Iowa will play out similar to Penn State’s defeat at the hands of Michigan State two weeks ago. 

The Nittany Lions will benefit from a few big plays out of quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Miles Sanders, but they’ll be involved in a field position battle for four quarters.

Doug McSchooler/Associated Press

The Iowa defense that’s allowed 99 points in seven games will disrupt any rhythm Penn State attempts to get into on offense, but a few impressive plays from McSorley late in the contest should be enough to earn a home victory. 

Iowa’s slowly moved up the Top 25 with three straight wins since falling to Wisconsin, but the Hawkeyes need a victory over a ranked foe to prove they are for real. 

Quarterback Nate Stanley has two impressive targets in wide receiver T.J. Hockenson and tight end Noah Fant, but they’ll struggle against a Penn State defense that has seven interceptions and forced 25 sacks.

A fourth-quarter turnover produced by the Penn State secondary will set up McSorley’s game-winning score, which will hand the Nittany Lions momentum going into showdowns with No. 5 Michigan and No. 20 Wisconsin. 

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com

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