USA TODAY Sports college football staff picks for Week 9

The Big Ten game of the season looks a little different after the conference's opening weekend.

Saturday's anticipated showdown between Ohio State and Penn State was expected to be decisive in the race for the East division and determine to a College Football Playoff berth.

The third-ranked Buckeyes still seem on track for their biggest goals with Michigan now their biggest contender. The No. 17 Nittany Lions, meanwhile, face the prospect of being knocked completely out of the race after losing to Indiana last week. With the game at home, however, Penn State has an opportunity to change its outlook. A bounce-back win would throw open the race completely.

Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave (17) makes a touchdown catch while being defended by two Penn State players during their game in 2019 at Ohio Stadium. (Photo: Greg Bartram/USA TODAY Sports)

The Big 12 could some clarity to its picture this weekend. No. 6 Oklahoma State and No. 16 Kansas State are both are unbeaten in league play ahead of respective matchups against Texas and West Virginia. With wins Saturday, the Cowboys and Wildcats would further solidify their lead and eliminate the two-loss Longhorns and Mountaineers. Losses would throw up the door to chaos with Iowa State and Oklahoma also in the picture.

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LOOKING AHEAD: The five biggest questions facing college football in Week 9

MIDSEASON AWARDS: Honoring the best and worst of the first eight weeks

Are there any surprises possible this week? The SEC could offer some. No. 5 Georgia and No. 9 Florida will meet next week for their annual showdown. Both must avoid looking ahead with the Bulldogs traveling to Kentucky and Gators hosting Missouri after two weeks off due to COVID-19 complications.

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