Week 9 College Football Odds, Best Bets: Our Top Picks for Saturday’s Noon Kickoffs, Including Wisconsin vs. Iowa and Pitt vs. Miami
Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, home of the Pittsburgh Panthers football team.
Welcome to Week 9. This week, we don’t have to wait for the slate to ramp up in intensity. That’ll happen right away.
Our college football staff sees value on three games featuring ranked teams — No. 9 Iowa vs. Wisconsin, No. 6 Michigan vs. No. 8 Michigan State, and No. 17 Pitt vs. Miami — in the noon kickoff window to go along with a spread pick in Rutgers vs. Illinois.
With so many quality games on the slate, the least we could do is bet them. After all, we haven’t been afforded a slate like this for a few weeks.
So, check out all four of our picks for the noon kickoff window below, and use the table below to navigate to any game.
College Football Best Bets for Week 9
Our Top Picks for Saturday’s Noon Kickoffs
The set of college football team logos below reflects each of our college football staff’s best bets for games kicking off at noon ET.
Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific pick discussed in this article.
Check Out All of Our Staff’s Best Bets for Week 9
Looking for more of our college football staff’s top picks for Week 9? Check out our best bets for each of Saturday’s three other kickoff windows:
No. 9 Iowa vs. Wisconsin
The stage is set for a heavyweight Big Ten slugfest between Iowa and Wisconsin with both programs relying on dominant defenses.
Iowa has allowed 15 points per game this season and just 2.7 yards per carry. Wisconsin has been just as efficient, allowing 18 points per contest along with 1.9 yards per carry.
But where these teams differ — and what will be the most important factor on Saturday — is the turnover differential.
The Hawkeyes defense leads the nation with 16 interceptions this season. They match up against a quarterback in Graham Mertz who has tossed seven interceptions to just two touchdown passes this season.
Mertz has been a turnover machine who has also coughed the football up five times due to fumbles.
In last week’s win over Purdue, Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst only trusted Mertz to throw the ball eight times all game. The Badgers offense won’t be able to move the ball on the ground against the Hawkeyes, and they’ll run a thin line if they attempt to move the chains through the air.
Camp Randall Stadium doesn’t have the same buzz to it in noon games as it does in prime time. Iowa is in prime position to win this game handily coming off a bye week.
Pick: Iowa +3.5
No. 6 Michigan vs. No. 8 Michigan State
I believe the wrong team is favored in this top-10 showdown. And by moving the line from Michigan -4 to Michigan State -3.5, I’m getting a little bit better than double my money should it hit.
The Spartans are one of six teams in the nation in the top 18 in both points per play on offense and defense. Their special teams unit has been flipping field position all season long. Bryce Baringer is seventh nationally at 49.2 yards per punt, and Jayden Reed is far and away the nation’s best punt returner (26.2 ypr, 2 TDs).
And this is all before we even get to their running game, which has been dynamic from the first snap of the season. Pro Football Focus ranks the Green and White front as the 15th-best run-blocking unit, and Kenneth Walker IIII has racked up 997 yards on the ground at a clip of 6.6 yards per carry.
This team is not smoke and mirrors because it’s winning in a fashion that is repeatable: Run the ball, play great special teams, get to the quarterback and break up passes at a high rate.
Those last two were enough to push me into the Spartan camp. Michigan State registers 3.71 sacks per game, the fifth-best average in all of college football. And when the ball is in the air, it closes out on receivers hard, defending 5.71 per game (10th).
And finally, there’s Harbaugh’s record against ranked opponents on the road since taking over at his alma mater: 1-8.
I need to see it to believe it before I bet a Harbaugh-led team on the road facing a quality opponent.
Pick: Michigan State Alt Line -3.5 (+205)
Miami vs. No. 17 Pitt
No. 17 Pittsburgh looks to strengthen its grip on the ACC Coastal Division with a win over Miami on Saturday.
Last week, Pitt hosted and subsequently disposed of Clemson by a final score of 27-17. The Panthers opened the week as slight dogs to Clemson before closing as 3.5-point favorites.
Potentially too much is being made of the win over Clemson, given the Tigers’ offensive woes this season. However, Clemson has an excellent defense and is still one of the most talented teams in the nation. It may not be the resume-building win that it once was, but it’s still a very solid win for the Panthers nonetheless.
Quarterback Kenny Pickett is on a tear this season. The redshirt senior signal-caller is having his name thrown around as a Heisman candidate for his impressive play so far this season.
Pickett has tossed 23 touchdowns to only one interception through seven games this season. His touchdown pass total ranks fourth in the country and tops the ACC. Behind Pickett’s arm, Pitt ranks third in FBS scoring offense, generating 45.3 points per game.
While Pickett has stolen the show with his decision-making and post-game cold one talk, the Pitt defense has earned every right to be held in high regard.
The Panther defense allows only 19.6 points per game, which ranks 26th in the nation. Where this defense really stands out is in Havoc, ranking 15th in the country. Pitt’s defense has been great at forcing turnovers, putting it in the top 25 in the country in turnover margin.
Pittsburgh will be facing a Miami team that has struggled defensively this season. Behind Pickett, the Pitt offense will put up a lot of points. The tough Panther defense will do enough to prevent Miami from covering.
Pitt has not only won its last four games by double-digit margins, but it’s also covered in all four games. My model projects Pitt as 15.69-point favorites in this game based on its passing offense relative to Miami’s lowly passing defense.
Lay the nine points.
Pick: Pitt -9
Rutgers vs. Illinois
This must qualify as the “mother of all letdowns” for Illinois.
This team is a week removed from knocking off Penn State in nine overtimes as 24-point road underdogs — a game in which it took nine overtimes to score only 20 points.
The offensive woes have been a season-long struggle for the Illini, as they are 114th in the country in scoring.
Rutgers, on the other end, has not been much better offensively. Its last time out, it managed only seven points against a lowly Northwestern team.
Greg Schiano has pointed out this team’s struggles offensively, and luckily, has had an extra week after that performance to prepare this team for Illinois.
This offense has dealt with injuries to quarterback Noah Vedral and his favorite targets, Bo Melton and Aron Cruickshank. With everyone back in the fold this week, the passing game for Rutgers should pick back up and be able to move the ball.
This defense will continue to be a force in the run and make Illinois beat it through the air. I like Rutgers to get a much-needed win on the road and to finally get on the board in the Big Ten.
Pick: Rutgers -1.5
Check Out the Rest of Our College Football Best Bets for Week 9
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