Week 9 College Football Picks
It’s Wednesday and you know what that means: Lets make some college football picks, people!!!
Admittedly, last week was a bit of a mixed bag for us. After jumping out to a 3-0 start (including one of the easiest wins of the year in the Ohio State-Northwestern game) things sputtered, as we finished just 3-3 overall. Still, even after that 3-3 week, my record in these picks is still 34-18-2 overall this year, meaning that I am handing out winners at a 60 percent clip.
As I’ve mentioned 100 times, if you’re not following these picks (or following the Aaron Torres Pod Instagram page where I also post the picks) you really are costing yourself money.
Anyway, it’s time to get to this week’s picks. As always, they are brought to you by my good friends at MyBookie.AG. Remember, if you’re gambling this weekend go to MyBookie, and use the promo code “TORRES” at checkout to receive a 100 percent sign-up bonus. For every dollar you put in, MyBookie gives you a free dollar to play with.
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Here are today’s picks.
Mississippi State at Texas A&M (UNDER 50 ½): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, SEC Network
To me, this game is a simple situational play. Take two teams who aren’t very well, and who are both struggling on offense, and put them in an 11 a.m. local time kickoff and what do you get?
A low-scoring, sloppy, ugly game. That’s what.
Starting with Mississippi State, there’s no other way to say it: They are abysmal right now. We haven’t seen a train wreck quite like Joe Moorhead in Starkville since the actual movie “Train Wreck” came out a few years ago (great movie by the way). Overall, the Bulldogs are just 11-9 since he took over and just 5-9 against Power 5 competition. Things are so bad that his agent is already leaking him as a candidate for the Rutgers job (I don’t buy it), and even if that were to happen, Mississippi State fans would basically throw him a parade on the way out of town.
On the other side, last week proved that Texas A&M’s players still believe in Jimbo Fisher, but even after a win at Ole Miss, I’m still not sold on this team. Keep in mind that the Aggies were actually outgained by Colonel Reb in that game, and needed a non-offensive touchdown to seal the victory late.
Point being neither of these teams is very good offensively right now, and I’m just not sure how motivated either will be to play this weekend.
The UNDER is the play to make here.
No. 13 Wisconsin (+14 ½) at No. 3 Ohio State: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, FOX
Listen, I’ve been arguing since before the Nebraska game that Ohio State is the most complete team in the country. So this isn’t a shot at the Buckeyes.
But I also think that Wisconsin is a really good football team, potentially Top 5 in the country, and they just had one of those weird, strange, inexplicable days last week against Illinois.
As an example, here some stats that were complete outliers for the Badgers last week.
Heading into the Illinois game, Wisconsin had given up a total of 29 points, for an average of five points per game (which is insane, by the way). They gave up 24 against Illinois.
Heading into the Illinois game, they had given up five total touchdowns. They gave up three alone to Illinois.
Wisconsin is giving up 4.6 yards per completion this year. They gave up eight yards per completion against Illinois.
They are giving up an average of just three yards per carry. They gave up over five yards per carry to Illinois.
Most importantly, they had the ball for over 40 minutes and Illinois under 20… and Illinois somehow won.
Point being, that this game was the aberration of all aberrations.
And while I’m not picking Wisconsin to win, I do believe they can cover a more than two touchdown spread.
Maryland (+17, now +16 ½) at No. 17 Minnesota: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
The Minnesota Golden Gophers are the surprise of the college football season, as they sit at 7-0 following a win over FCS foe Rutgers last week.
Rutgers is in the FBS?
Wow, you learn something new every day.
As for this game, these are heady times in Minneapolis, and with a win on Saturday, Minnesota will be 8-0 for the first time since the 1941 season. That’s just insane to even think about.
It’s also why I’m worried here.
The bottom line is that Minnesota has gone from “completely off the college football radar” to a team that everyone is talking about in the span of about 15 minutes. Keep in mind also that following this game Minnesota has a bye, and then will face Penn State in what could be one of the biggest Minnesota football games in decades.
Think Minnesota could overlook Maryland here? With things setting up for a potential “Game of the Decade” in Minneapolis a few weeks from now?
Take the Terps do enough to cover the points, and they might even be in position to win the game outright late.
No. 9 Auburn at No. 2 LSU (-11): Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS
A few weeks ago, I flipped on the Auburn-Florida game, a game which I predicted Auburn to win outright and realized immediately I’d made a huge mistake. Bo Nix was giving the ball away like he was Oprah giving away cars at Christmas, and the Tigers limped to a tough road defeat in the Swamp.
And it was at that time something hit me: Have we completely overvalued Bo Nix because of one, late, last minute touchdown pass against Oregon?
I think so.
It sounds crazy, but here are the stats in Nix’s three biggest games of the season: In that Oregon opener, Nix was actually just 13 of 31 passing the ball, even in the victory. Against Texas A&M, Auburn won 28-14, but scored 14 points of those points on the first two possessions of the game, and the Aggies actually ended up with more total yardage than Auburn. And against Florida, we all know what happened.
So in reality, Nix has been average to below average in Auburn’s three biggest games this season. Which also leads me to this: If that last-second pass at the end of the Oregon game had fallen incomplete, how different would we feel about Nix right now? My guess is a lot. Furthermore, how much has our opinion of Nix been skewed because he’s looked awesome against Mississippi State and Arkansas, two of the worst Power 5 teams in the country? Again, the answer is a lot.
Therefore, on Saturday afternoon in Death Valley I expect Nix to look a lot like what he is: A freshman quarterback, still trying to find his way in the SEC. It doesn’t help that LSU’s strength is run defense (they rank 10th nationally in that category) meaning that the one thing that could help Nix – a solid running game – won’t be there for him this weekend.
In the end, I don’t think Auburn is a bad team, but I do think this is a bad matchup for them. Look for LSU to cruise into their bye and into a showdown with Bama in two weeks.
Arkansas (+32) at No. 1 Alabama: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
When it became clear that Tua Tagovailoa wouldn’t play in this game, and the point spread was still released with Alabama as a 35-point favorite, I tweeted that if Arkansas couldn’t cover a 35-point spread against this Alabama team, they should consider shutting down the program.
I was only half-kidding, but I do believe that this game will prove one thing: How badly Alabama needs Tua this season.
That’s right, for those who think of think of this as just another Bama juggernaut which is going to cruise a playoff and potential championship, they clearly haven’t been watching. This is a team that currently ranks sixth in the SEC in rushing yardage and eighth in total defense.
Those numbers would have been inconceivable in previous years. Only that’s the new reality at Alabama.
That’s also why I have been calling Tua the “Patrick Mahomes of college football” this week, and I see a lot of parallels between what could happen at Alabama these next few weeks with what happened with Duke basketball last year. Remember when Duke was rolling, clearly the No. 1 team in the country, and then Zion got hurt and the Blue Devils completely fell apart without him? Like at some point Duke just stopped evolving as a team and assumed that Zion would bail them out whenever they needed him… then he wasn’t there and they were a mess?
That’s kind of what I see from Bama.
Now admittedly, I don’t think they’re so bad without Tua that they will lose to Arkansas.
But I do think it’s enough where the Hogs will cover this 30+ point spread.
Boston College (+33 ½) at No. 4 Clemson: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network
So far this season my favorite bet has bet Clemson UNDERS. Seriously they’ve cashed 5 out of 5 times for me this year, and are basically helping pay for my unborn child’s college fund.
So, thank you for that Clemson.
But this weekend I’m going to stay away from the UNDER and take Boston College to cover as a massive underdog.
The reason why? I don’t think anyone realizes just how good the Eagles’ offense has been the last few weeks. Seriously, would you believe me if I told you that Boston College actually has the 11th ranked offense in all of college football right now? That they’ve put up at least 530 yards of total offense in each of their last three games and averaged 42 points in their last two games?
Honestly I didn’t know any of that either until I started doing the research.
Therefore, while Clemson UNDERS have been the play to make this season, for the first time in a long time, I will stay away and instead grab Boston College and the points here.
Boston College +33 ½ is my favorite bet of the week.
No. 8 Notre Dame at No. 19 Michigan (UNDER 51, now 52): Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
This game has been the talk of the gambling world this week, as Michigan – yes, Michigan – opened as a four-point favorite. That was bet all the way down to the point now, that Notre Dame is a slight favorite.
I’ve decided to stay away from picking a winner (I lean Notre Dame) but if you do want to bet it, what you have to decide is this: Was Michigan’s near-loss to Penn State, in which they outplayed them in the second half and dropped a game-tying touchdown with two minutes to go, a sign that the Wolverines have actually turned a corner? Or was it a one-game aberration, where the Wolverines will go back to looking the way they have for most of the rest of the season, which is putrid on offense.
Honestly, I’m not totally sure, which is why I’m staying away from picking a winner.
The one thing I am sure of? After one bad game against Wisconsin a month or so ago, the Michigan defense is back to being elite.
Seriously, here is what you need to know about the Michigan defense: They are allowing just 283 yards per game, which is 14th in college football. Not bad. However, if you just took out the Wisconsin game, Michigan would be giving up 249 yards per game… which would be fourth in all of college football.
That is an elite defense, and if you needed proof, look no further than last week against Penn State. In that game, Michigan actually comfortably outgained the Nittany Lions, and allowed just 283 yards of total offense. If you take out two big touchdown plays – just two plays overall – the Wolverines would have given up just 205.
Anyway, that’s a long-winded way of me saying that win or lose, I like Michigan’s defense to show up in this game.
And for the UNDER to hit with ease.
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