Week 9 of the college football season features just one matchup between ranked teams.
No. 3 Ohio State travels to No. 18 Penn State in the second straight prime-time Big Ten showdown, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC. It won’t be a “White Out,” and the Nittany Lions face more pressure after losing 36-35 to Indiana in their conference opener. It won’t get any easier against the Buckeyes, who won their home opener 52-17 against Nebraska.
This week includes 21 matchups involving teams ranked in the AP Top 25, and the College Football Playoff race promises to ramp up in November.
It’s another full college football Saturday set on Halloween. It’s also a chance to improve our record against the spread in AP Top 25 matchups.
Here is a look at our track record this season:
Last week: 13-3 straight up, 10-6 against the spread
Overall: 75-25 straight up, 47-46 against the spread
Top 25: 65-20 straight up, 42-42 against the spread
Now, a look at our picks against the spread for Week 9 (lines represent odds as of Monday afternoon):
Marshall has not given up more than 17 points in its five victories, and the Thundering Herd is 4-1 against the spread this season. The line is a tough high, but the offense should get back on track against the winless Panthers.
Pick: Marshall wins 38-13 and COVERS the spread.
The Bearcats are starting to attract attention as a legit Playoff contender, and this is another tough matchup. Memphis beat Cincinnati twice last season, and quarterback Brady White can turn this into a shootout. The Bearcats win on a late touchdown pass from Desmond Ridder.
Pick: Cincinnati wins 30-26 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Neither team will offer apologies for late touchdowns in this game. The Spartans won’t turn the ball over seven times again, but without a consistent running game quarterback Rocky Lombardi will be pressed into a few mistakes. Michigan poured it on late last year against its in-state rival, but Joe Milton will make a few mistakes, too.
Pick: Michigan wins 38-21 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
The Mountaineers have won the last four meetings in this series, which makes them intriguing home favorites. The Wildcats have committed just two turnovers this season, however, and a balanced rushing attack shows up on the road.
Pick: Kansas State wins 31-24 in an UPSET.
The Chanticleers are a low favorite again this week, and the value is there knowing they are 4-1 against the spread this season. Georgia State is 3-1 against the spread and could turn this into a shootout, but we’ll stick with the ranked team.
Pick: Coastal Carolina wins 34-28 and COVERS the spread.
Clemson is becoming a difficult team to bet on. The Tigers are 2-4 against the spread this season, and they are 0-4 against the spread when that number is more than 27 points. This team can cover any game, but Boston College is a pleasant surprise at 4-2 straight up under first-year coach Jeff Hafley.
Pick: Clemson wins 45-16 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Kentucky continues to be a hard play given its up-and-down season, and Georgia had a bye week to regroup after losing to Alabama. The Bulldogs have won 10 in a row in the series, and the last three matchups have been decided by an average of 22.3 points per game.
Pick: Georgia wins 33-16 and COVERS the spread.
That’s a huge spread for a road favorite coming off a loss, but the Jayhawks are not a trusty underdog. They are 0-5 against the spread and have two losses of 40-plus points. We’re going against the trend, but don’t feel great about it.
Pick: Iowa State wins 44-17 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
The Irish are inconsistent from week to week, but it’s still an undefeated team who can cover three-touchdown spreads on the road. It’s the Irish’s first true road game of the season, and a tune-up for the showdown with Clemson. Expect the Irish to be sharp.
Pick: Notre Dame wins 42-20 and COVERS the spread.
The Badgers would be an easy pick here if not for the uncertain status of quarterback Graham Mertz, who reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. Wisconsin might have to go with either Chase Wolf or Danny Vanden Boom if Mertz can’t go, and Nebraska is an improved team — despite last week’s loss at Ohio State.
Pick: Wisconsin wins 34-24 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
How will the Hoosiers — and the Scarlet Knights, for that matter — handle Week 1 success? Indiana has won the last four meetings in the series, but the last two on the road have been decided by seven points or fewer.
Pick: Indiana wins 31-21 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Texas won a 36-30 shootout in this matchup last season, and the offense can turn it into a similar game. Oklahoma State, however, has a better defense — one that allows just 12 points per game. We can’t believe it either.
Pick: Oklahoma State wins 34-24 and COVERS the spread.
Boise State routed Utah State 42-13 in its opener, and the Broncos appear to have another team capable of making a New Year’s Day 6 bowl. Air Force couldn’t get much offense going in a 17-6 loss to San Jose State, and the Falcons have lost the last three meetings in this series by 15.3 points per game.
Pick: Boise State wins 35-17 and COVERS the spread.
Mike Leach’s “Air Raid” has averaged just 10 points per game in three losses since the season-opening upset against LSU, which seems like it happened years ago. The Crimson Tide are 3-2 against the spread, but this is the first one this season of more than 30 points. Maybe the Bulldogs score a few cosmetic touchdowns here. Maybe.
Pick: Alabama wins 45-17 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
This game lost some of its buildup because of the Nittany Lions’ loss to Indiana, and Ohio State is looking to keep its streak of double-digit Big Ten victories going. Penn State will hang around for a half, but the Buckeyes simply present too many problems. This line could go up more before kickoff.
Pick: Ohio State wins 48-21 and COVERS the spread.
This line has dropped four points from its open, which is a nod to a more competitive Arkansas team under first-year coach Sam Pittman. The Aggies have won the last eight meetings, but five of those games have been decided by no more than seven points.
Pick: Texas A&M wins 31-24 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Missouri is coming off back-to-back wins, and the offense has been efficient with Connor Bazelak at quarterback. Florida has not played since a loss at Texas A&M on Oct. 10. The Tigers should be able to keep pace and hang right around the line.
Pick: Florida wins 41-27 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
SMU is coming off a deflating loss to Cincinnati, and it’s a test of concentration against Navy’s triple-option attack. The Midshipmen force a few turnovers to hang around into the second half before the Mustangs take control.
Pick: SMU wins 33-21 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Virginia has not scored more than 23 points in a game through four consecutive ACC losses, and that’s not a good trend heading into a matchup with North Carolina’s high-scoring offense. Sam Howell keeps the Tar Heels moving in the right direction.
Pick: North Carolina wins 38-24 and COVERS the spread.
The Sooners are ranked again, and they have won eight straight games against the Red Raiders. Oklahoma continues that streak with another impressive performance by Spencer Rattler.
Pick: Oklahoma wins 43-26 and COVERS the spread.
BYU gets the late-night window one more time. The Cougars are 5-1 against the spread this season, and are 2-1 against the spread when it’s more than 20 points. Expect quarterback Zach Wilson to put on another show against the Hilltoppers’ defense.
Pick: BYU wins 48-17 and COVERS the spread.
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