Week 9 College Football Picks - PSU-OSU, Tennessee-Kentucky + more (presented by Betfred Sportsbook)
It's Wednesday, and you know what that means - it's time to make our Week 9 college football picks!
The picks have been up and down the last few weeks, but for the second week in a row we nailed our "Best Bet" which was also our "Betfred Boost" meaning that if you rode with LSU (-2.5) with us, you made yourself a nice little chunk of change.
Well, we're back this week and it's time to get ready for the picks.
Also, make sure you're listening to the College Football Betting Podcast - where new episodes drop every week.
Now, to the picks!
No. 2 Ohio State at No. 13 Penn State (UNDER 61): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, FOX
It's the Game of the Week as FOX rolls into Happy Valley for the Big Noon Kick-off between two historic powers.
There are playoff, Big Ten East and Heisman implications.
And we're... taking the UNDER.
I know, I know it's boring. But if you look at this game on paper, both team's defenses match-up with the other's offense pretty well.
From the Ohio State perspective, we know they're arguably the most talented offense in college football, and certainly the most entertaining west of Knoxville, Tennessee. At the same time, they weren't exactly crisp against Iowa last week, and this will be the best secondary they've played so far this season. Penn State is actually third nationally in opponent completion percentage, allowing just 50 percent completion on the year.
From the Penn State perspective, well, back when they beat Auburn and we thought they were good (back when we thought Auburn might be decent) the Nittany Lions did it on the ground - and early on had one of the most explosive run games in the sport. The problem was, Michigan proved that when you take away the Nittany Lion run game and make Sean Clifford beat you, well, Sean Clifford ain't gonna actually beat you.
Which is exactly what I expect Ohio State to do - take away the ground game. They have an elite run defense under Jim Knowles, giving up 89 yards per game, and have 51 tackles for loss in just seven contests, the best in the Big Ten.
In the end, Ohio State does enough to win this game, say in the neighborhood of like 30-14.
But rather than sweat out a cover, take the UNDER and cruise to an easy victory.
Arkansas (-3.5) at Auburn: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Both teams are coming off a bye, totally refreshed and saying all the right things.
It's all about renewed optimism and excitement - but I'll be real, this line just makes absolutely no sense to me.
If we know one single thing about Arkansas, it is that they run the crap out of the ball under Sam Pittman, averaging 240 yards and nearly five yards per carry.
On the other end, if we know one thing about Auburn, it's that they can't stop the run to save their lives. The Tigers are currently dead last in run defense, and are coming off a performance against Ole Miss where they gave up 446 yards on the ground.
FOUR HUNDRED FORTY-SIX YARDS! JUST ON THE GROUND!
Can I get a Woooooo Pig Sooie!
Arkansas runs all over Auburn, literally, in this one.
Notre Dame at No. 16 Syracuse (-2.5): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ABC
Another game where the line makes absolutely no sense to me. And apparently bettors agree - since Notre Dame opened as a slight favorite, and all the money has come pouring in on the Orange. With good reason.
Look, all of America got to see Syracuse last week - and what they saw was the Orange is a pretty good football team. They were in complete control of Clemson until the Tigers made a QB change, and even then, a combination of self-inflicted wounds, and umm, questionable referee calls, helped the Tigers close out the victory.
Well, fast-forward and they're returning home to a sold out, rocking Carrier Dome (and yes, we will always call it the Carrier Dome in these parts - even though it's no longer the name), with Notre Dame visiting Syracuse for the first time since 2003. And the Notre Dame team visiting isn't very good, with an offense that ranks in the bottom half of college football in yards per game and points per game scored as well.
Put simply, I think Syracuse has the better quarterback in this game (Garrett Shrader), best skill position guy (Sean Tucker) and better defense, and are at home.
That's a lot of variables in their favor - which is why I like the Orange to win.
Oklahoma at Iowa State (UNDER 56): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, FS1
You know the Sooners have fallen far when this game is getting buried with a noon ET/11 am kick-off on FS1. But in terms of the game itself, well, I'm going to throw a curveball - and take the UNDER here.
I know, I know, I'm the same guy that truly believes Oklahoma might have to consider firing Brent Venables this year (even if they won't) in large part because the defense - supposedly his strength - has crumbled like a house of cards. The problem is, I'm just not sure Iowa State, which ranks dead last in the Big 12 in rush offense can expose it.
On the other side of the ball, you know where Iowa State is actually good? In the defensive secondary, where they lead the Big 12 in pass defense. Well, what does Oklahoma do at an elite level offensively? Throw the football.
So, in theory Iowa State's pass defense slows down Oklahoma, and Oklahoma's run defense isn't exposed by a bad Cyclone run game.
This feels more low-scoring than anticipated, which is why I like the UNDER here.
Florida vs. No. 1 Georgia (-22.5): Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Remember that fun two-week stretch where Georgia gave up a few big plays to Kent State, had to rally to beat Missouri and everyone said "I dunno, Georgia looks awfully vulnerable!"
Yeah, well since then, they've won their last two games by a combined score of 97-10 (admittedly against probably the two worst teams in the SEC, Auburn and Vanderbilt) and after all the angst, their defense is again ranked in the Top 5 nationally in both pass defense and run defense.
As for Florida, well, it's eight games into the Billy Napier era, and I'm not really sure what the Gators do well. Anthony Richardson struggles any time he drops back to pass (unless he's playing Tennessee), the receivers can't separate and while the run game is solid, quite a bit of the Gators run yardage has come on some big plays from Richardson. So basically, when Richardson isn't ripping off 80-yard runs, they can't move the ball.
That's bad news in the SEC, and even worse news against an elite Georgia team.
Dawgs roll in this one.
No. 10 USC (-15.5) at Arizona: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
First off, shout out to the Pac-12 who has apparently decided, "You know what? If USC is leaving our league, let's make a few of their games as hard to find as humanly possible." I mean seriously, there's just no reason that the most intriguing team, with the most intriguing coach, player (Caleb Williams) and team in the conference, is playing on a channel no one else gets.
At the same time, this game, like so many others, has a big-time "styles make fights" vibe to me. While the stats don't totally bare it out, USC has been really solid in the run game this year, and are going up against an Arizona run defense which ranks 121st nationally and second worst in the Power 5, behind only Colorado. Just for fun, how about this: Not only did Arizona give up over 300 yards rushing to Oregon just a few weeks ago, they gave up 283 yards to North Dakota State back in September.
North Dakota State is an FCS team.
Add in the fact that Arizona can get reckless with the ball (11 turnovers this season)
No. 19 Kentucky at No. 3 Tennessee (OVER 62): Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Fun fact: Kentucky hasn't given up more than 24 points in each of their last 11 games.
More fun fact: The last team to do it was Tennessee, who nearly doubled that.
Look, no one is slowing down this Tennessee offense, but let me go ahead and give credit to the Wildcats as well, their offense has been much more explosive since Chris Rodriguez returned to the lineup. He has rushed for 100+ yards in each of the last two games, and Will Levis will be as healthy as he's been in a month.
I do think Tennessee wins to keep their SEC/playoff/national title hopes alive.
But I also think Kentucky scores enough where the OVER hits, in something like a 37-30 victory here.
Michigan State at No. 4 Michigan (-23): Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC - I've tried to talk myself into this game one way or another about 15 different ways and can't get there. On the one hand, Michigan State has won six of the last nine in this series. On the other, they stink this year. Then again, Mel Tucker hasn't lost to Jim Harbaugh. On the other, again, Michigan State is terrible this year. Michigan really isn't built to beat teams big. On the other, Michigan State stinks this year. So yeah, I think you get the point. If you have a strong opinion on this one, good luck. I'm staying away.
No. 15 Ole Miss (-2.5) at Texas A&M: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network - I mean come on, you don't really need the explanation here, do you?!
A reminder: The picks are brought to you by Betfred Sportsbook. New users can get $250 when they bet $50 on any game this weekend - good in Arizona, Colorado and Iowa only