A week after zero matchups between ranked opponents, Week 9 gives us three matchups between top 25 opponents. Saturday’s slate kicks off with arguably the highest-profile game of the weekend, as the No. 6 Michigan Wolverines take on “little brother” No. 8 Michigan State Spartans. The other two ranked vs. ranked matchups happen in primetime, as No. 10 Ole Miss faces No. 18 Auburn and No. 5 Ohio State hosts No. 20 Penn State. In addition, games between No. 11 Notre Dame and UNC and No. 22 Iowa State and West Virginia should also be interesting, as all of those teams were highly ranked at some point this season.
Do any of these highlighted games warrant an appearance on our best bets list this week?
Here are my top plays for Week 9 in college football.
Ranked teams who took an L in Week 8
7. Penn State (Illinois)
8. Oklahoma State (ISU)
14. Coastal Carolina (App St)
18. NC State (Miami)
25. Purdue (Wisconsin) pic.twitter.com/eu00733ByK
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 24, 2021
Best Bets for Week 9: College Football
(Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
Last Season: 35-22 (+9.5 units)
YTD: 18-12 (+4.2 units)
Miami at Pittsburgh: O/U 61
If we had told you before the season began that one of the starting quarterbacks in this game currently had the fourth-best odds to win the Heisman Trophy, almost everyone would have likely said that honor would belong to Miami’s D’Eriq King. However, the oft-injured Hurricanes quarterback had season-ending shoulder surgery three weeks ago, so the Heisman hype belongs to Pitt’s Kenny Pickett.
Pickett is second in the conference with 2,236 passing yards, and his 176.1 quarterback rating is the best in the league. He has an outstanding 23:1 QB:INT ratio and has been helped by an offensive line that routinely keeps the pocket clean each week. These two teams rank in the top-five in the conference in scoring, with Pittsburgh’s 45.3 PPG leading the way. Miami’s offense has not crumbled after the loss to King, as they have scored at least 31 points in three of their last four games.
Though the under is 5-1 in the last six meetings in Pittsburgh between these teams, this is not the typical old-school ground-and-pound Panthers attack of yesteryear. The over is 6-1 in Pittsburgh’s last seven home games, and we look for each team to light up the scoreboard consistently this weekend.
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 24, 2021
PICK: OVER 61
Iowa at Wisconsin: O/U 37
We move from a game where we expect fireworks to a game where the first to 17 points may win. The Iowa Hawkeyes and Wisconsin Badgers would each like nothing more than to turn this game into an old-fashioned street brawl, with physical running games and seeing who will win the battle in the trenches. The Hawkeyes rank fifth nationally in points per game allowed (14.6), while the Badgers are not far behind at 18.4 points per game, which ranks 17th.
Neither team possesses many playmakers on the outside, which is why quarterbacks Graham Mertz and Spencer Petras have struggled to throw the football this year. The over has cashed in three of the last four meetings between these teams, but the under hit last year in Iowa’s 28-7 home victory. The Hawkeyes had Mertz’s number that day, holding him to 169 yards passing. Iowa’s defense also stifled the run, as they allowed just 56 yards on 33 carries.
The under is 5-2 in Iowa’s last seven games as an underdog and is 6-2 in Wisconsin’s last eight conference games. With neither team likely to pull away, look for these two teams to play it close to the vest for four quarters.
PICK: UNDER 37
Penn State at Ohio State (-18.5)
The Ohio State Buckeyes have arguably looked like the most impressive team in the country for the last four weeks. In that span, they have beaten four straight opponents (three conference opponents) by a combined score of 231-44. Their eye-popping efficiency on offense combined with a defense that looks to be making strides each week are big reasons they are 17-point favorites over the Nittany Lions. However, only one of their last seven meetings was decided by more than 13 points, so we trust the Nittany Lions to provide a spirited effort off last week’s surprising upset loss to Illinois.
Many bettors will quickly jump off the Penn State train after their home loss to the Illini, especially because they mustered just 18 total points in nine overtimes. The Nittany Lions were cautious with quarterback Sean Clifford last week. He appears to be still dealing with an unspecified injury that he suffered on October 9th in a loss at Iowa. The team called just nine passes in the first half, as they likely wanted to minimize the number of hits Clifford would take over four quarters.
Penn State will need a better performance on offense to hang with the high-powered Buckeyes this weekend. However, part of me feels last week’s poor performance against Illinois was due to a lookahead factor of this week, and especially since their game against Illinois was sandwiched in between games against two top-five opponents. Penn State has covered the spread in four of their last five games against Ohio State as underdogs, so the Buckeyes will have to prove me wrong in this one, as we feel 18.5 points is too much to lay.
PICK: Penn State +18.5
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