Week 9 of the college football season is here and so is college football sports betting. Each week during the NCAA football season, we’ll break down the biggest games of the week from a sports betting perspective and give you a pick or a lean for the games you, and the rest of America, are going to be watching.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel good about and could end up in our weekly plays. A “lean” is a wager we favor over the other side. It could end up in our plays after additional research or information is released.
Picks record to date
(6) Texas at Oklahoma State
DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Texas -3.5 / Total 59.5
If you’ve read our picks each week, and I hope you have been given my record this season, you know I’m a huge fan of UT’s Tom Herman as an underdog. He was a massive dog against Oklahoma in Dallas and won the game outright (as we predicted). Texas got three points from TCU and won that game as well.
However, Herman’s record this season as a favorite is much different. Texas is an awful 0-4 this year laying points. They were double-digit favorites against Maryland on a neutral field and lost that game outright. UT also failed to cover last week at home against Baylor as 14-point favorites.
The Longhorns have won six games in a row but were lucky to squeak out a 19-14 victory over Kansas State as 8.5-point favorites in their only true road game so far this season.
You can probably read where I’m going with this pick. Oklahoma State is going to be ready for Texas this week. The Cowboys’ offense can score when it’s clicking. The Longhorn defense is one of the best in the Big 12, but Okie State has had two weeks to prepare for this game. Having lost three of four, they’re due for a great performance.
There is also a question about the health of Texas QB Sam Ehlinger, who left last week’s game against Baylor with a shoulder injury. If he can’t go, backup Shane Buechele will be forced into action. Texas should take a conservative approach on offense to keep Ehlinger healthy for some big games down the stretch. That will help the dog here.
Oklahoma State’s fifth-year QB Taylor Cornelius leads an offense that is scoring 36.3 points per game. But losses at Kansas State and at home versus Iowa State were disappointing to say the least. The Cowboys were favored by eight points or more in both those losses before the bye. Cornelius is averaging 287 yards passing per game but has thrown eight interceptions. Texas hasn’t given up more than 17 points in four of the last five games, but I think OSU is ready to get back on track.
I love the hook here. If you can get it at 3.5, take Okie State.
Pick: Oklahoma State +3.5
(9) Florida vs. (6) Georgia
DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Georgia -6.5 / Total 52
Florida is playing with house money now. At 6-1, this team is trying to find a way to get to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. They will need a Kentucky loss at some point, but entering the Cocktail Party with only one loss is a major step in the right direction for this program under first-year HC Dan Mullen. Florida isn’t just 6-1 straight up; they are also 6-1 ATS this season.
The Gators’ defense is tough as nails, and moving the ball on them has been extremely tough. UF is ranked 14th in the country in points given up per game (18.3), and their secondary is ninth in completion percentage (51.6%). If Georgia wants to move the ball, it might have to be on the ground.
Georgia is 4-3 ATS this season, and some are wondering if the Bulldogs were overvalued this year following their blowout defeat at LSU. Luckily, the bye week came at a perfect time. Now, Georgia will try to duplicate last year’s post-bye success. A year ago, they won their final three games, including the SEC Championship over Auburn.
QB Jake Fromm has been hearing it from the fans after a bad performance at LSU, and the calls for backup Justin Fields to play more are getting louder. Fromm knows this and will want to perform well against another elite SEC defense. The Bulldogs got their wakeup call, and I expect them to come roaring out against the Gators.
Florida QB Feleipe Franks doesn’t have the weapons to keep up with Georgia when the ‘Dogs are playing their best. If Georgia had beaten LSU, this pick would be different, but it’s tough to paint a picture that has the Gators covering in this game.
Pick: Georgia -6.5
(18) Iowa at (17) Penn State
DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Penn State -7 / Total 51
We missed only one play last week: Ohio State at Purdue. The Big 10 has been good to us this season, so we are back with this exciting matchup of contrasting styles.
Iowa’s defense is currently ranked fifth in the nation in points allowed per game (14.1) and third in rushing yards allowed (79.6). The Hawkeyes’ defense covers up a lot of the mistakes the offense has made this year. That has been the primary catalyst for the 6-1 start. Iowa is coming into the game ranked in the top 20 for the first time since 2016, but they also carry an impressive 6-1 mark ATS this season.
Penn State had lost two games in a row going into last week’s game against Indiana, but the Nittany Lions were able to get back on track with a 33-28 victory. Yet something just isn’t right with Penn State. At 5-2, they have failed to cover the last two games as double-digit favorites. The outright loss to Ohio State at home as +3.5 dogs was the most impressive ATS win to date, but PSU is still only 4-3 against the number this year.
For Penn State to win, they must be able to run the ball. The Lions are averaging over 240 yards per game on the ground (11th in the country), and running back Miles Sanders is averaging 110 yards per game by himself. QB Trace McSorley also runs for over 70 yards per game, but he only passes for around 200 per contest. Against an Iowa defense that doesn’t allow you to run on them, it could be tough sledding for PSU to put up points.
Iowa also loves to play keep-away with their offense. They want to grind opponents down. The Hawks are 15th in the country in time of possession percentage, which could be bad news for Penn State. If Iowa gets a lead, they will bleed the clock and force McSorley to throw the ball. That could lead to mistakes. Remember, defense travels, and taking the team with a great defense on the road getting points is a great spot.
The weather is also something to watch in this one. Rain and cold temps are predicted. That’s perfect Iowa football weather. Take the points in a low-scoring game.
PICK: Iowa +7
PICK: Under 51
(3) Notre Dame vs. Navy
DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Notre Dame -24 / Total 54.5
While this will be a neutral-site game in San Diego, Navy will have a full stadium of midshipmen fans cheering them on against rival Notre Dame. This is the Super Bowl for Navy, a team having a down year. They’re losers of four straight games. Navy is also an awful 1-6 ATS so far this season and are coming off a 49-36 loss at home to Houston.
However, with the Irish -24, we have to acknowledge Notre Dame isn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut. Even after the change at QB with Ian Book, ND is outside the top 25 for points per game.
The Fighting Irish have been double-digit favorites three times season, and they have failed to cover every time. Overall, Notre Dame is just 4-3 against the spread, but every ATS win has come as 6.5-point favorites or less. In their last game, the Irish survived on the road at Pitt, escaping with a 19-14 victory to stay undefeated.
Now, there is little doubt Notre Dame is going to win on Saturday night. However, the question is can they cover? I don’t think so, and here’s why.
I just told you about ND’s record against the spread this season. The Irish will face a triple-option rushing attack that is fourth in the nation (280.3 yards per game). Navy runs the ball 83 percent percent of the time, which will test a rush defense giving up 3.5 yards per rush. Combine that with Notre Dame failing to cover seven of their last 11 games as more than 17-point favorites, and you can start to see the trend. The Irish rarely blow out teams.
It is worth mentioning Notre Dame is coming off a bye, which is key for preparing for the unique offense Navy runs. Navy QB Malcolm Perry is averaging 13 yards per carry and could pop a few big runs to keep this game close.
Twenty-four points are just too many to lay on a team that doesn’t blow opponents out. The Irish will win, but you should take the points.
PICK: Navy +24