College Football Expert Picks: Our Staff’s 10 Favorite Week 9 Bets
Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill
- Our college football experts give their 10 favorite betting picks for Week 9 of the 2018 season.
- You'll find an over/under and three moneyline underdogs, as we look to improve upon our solid start.
It’s Week 9 of the 2018 college football season, which might not sound that exciting on the surface — but this is college football! Every week has potential College Football Playoff elimination games at this point in the season.
And this week is no different. We have an SEC showdown that will essentially serve as an elimination game, while Washington State and Texas could see their outside chances go down in flames in two tough conference road games.
Plus, every Saturday is exciting for bettors — regardless of the slate. So, to help you narrow down the final plays that make your final Week 9 college football card, we asked a group of our staffers for their one favorite Saturday pick.
Regardless of your betting style, you should find something that catches your eye — or at least helps you make more informed betting decisions for Week 9 — in the picks below.
We will get things started with a noon ET kick and then hit a number of favorite bets that cover some of the marquee matchups of the day, including:
- Florida vs. Georgia -6 | O/U: 52 | 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS
- Iowa at Penn State -6 | O/U: 52 | 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
- Texas at Oklahoma State +3.5 | O/U: 61 | 8 p.m. ET on ABC
As always, don’t forget about the three quick grabs at the end, where Peter Jennings will try to hit his third significant moneyline underdog of the past month.
We hope you take at least one key piece of information away that can help guide you toward a winner or away from a loser. Let’s jump in.
In case you’re curious, our staff’s favorite college football bets are 55-45-1 (55.0%) +11.0 units on the season
*All odds pulled overnight on Oct. 26.
Matt Mitchell: Purdue ML +110 (at Michigan State)
Noon ET on ESPN
Purdue is 4-1 straight up (SU) and perfect against the spread (ATS) over its last five games, including outright wins as a +200 and +375 underdog. Head coach Jeff Brohm is pushing all the right buttons and has his team firing on all cylinders.
So rather than worry about a letdown spot after a dramatic thumping of Ohio State, I’m ready to “Boiler Up” on a Boilermaker team that still has the dangling carrot of a Big Ten West title in front of it.
Michigan State, fresh off being levied a $10,000 fine, has fallen out of favor with the conference, fans and bettors alike — and for good reason.
In the last 30 days, I’ve watched the Spartans struggle against Central Michigan, face plant against Northwestern and look punchless against Michigan.
I’m jumping at the chance to get plus-money on the hottest team in the Midwest against a really banged-up Sparty squad.
Ken Barkley: Florida +7 (-120) vs. Georgia
3:30 p.m. ET on CBS
I’m paying a little more for the +7 here in a game I have a really hard time believing Georgia can win with ease.
If anything, Georgia is living off its 2017 reputation. The Bulldogs had a truly incredible run last season and recruited better than anyone else. As a result, in a very short period of time (really a matter of just six months), the narrative somehow became “Are they Alabama? Maybe!”
That narrative has driven inflated Georgia prices all season, despite ‘un-Tide-like’ results. Georgia thought it really put a feather in its cap with a win in Columbia against South Carolina, but the Gamecocks have been fairly disappointing.
And even against a moderately comparative team such as Missouri, Georgia gave up yards in bunches and had trouble with turnovers.
Georgia’s loss to LSU was no fluke; that’s what this team is this year. There are just too many holes on defense that you did not see last year.
A blowout win could get Georgia’s season right back on track, but Florida has the most impressive win of the two teams and a defense that can pressure Jake Fromm into mistakes. The Gators should keep this within a touchdown.
Steve Petrella: Florida ML +225
3:30 p.m. ET on CBS
Since Ken took Florida with the points, I’ll throw out the moneyline, as I’m invested in both.
He hit the narrative angle on the head: Georgia was and still is being treated like its elite recruiting has matriculated, when in reality, the Kirby Smart dynasty is still bubbling. It’s well on the way, but it’s not there yet.
Florida is uber-talented, and head coach Dan Mullen is taking advantage. Mullen always did a lot with a little at Mississippi State, and now he’s doing a lot with a lot in Gainesville.
The Gators match up incredibly well in the trenches and should get after Fromm. And when they have the ball, I think Florida can move the ball on the ground with its trio of capable backs.
After Florida got blown out last year, I think we see a motivated Gators team pull off the upset in a tight game.
John Ewing: Illinois-Maryland Under 53.5
3:30 p.m. ET on BTN
Maryland and Illinois both like to run the ball. The Terps and Illini rank in the top 25 in Standard Downs run rate and in the top 40 nationally in Rushing S&P+. Maryland averages 219.9 rushing yards per game (ranking 26th), while Illinois averages 226.1 rushing yards per game (24th).
When two successful rushing teams meet, the clock keeps running — which leads to lower-scoring games.
Since 2005, the under has gone 228-177-7 (56%) when two teams that average 215 or more rushing yards per game face off. If the game features a low total (fewer than 59 points), the under improves to 143-96-4 (60%).
Danny Donahue: Penn State -6
3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
There’s no bet I like making more than fading a trendy dog, and Iowa, getting 68% of bets thus far, looks to be just that on Saturday.
Where did all this Hawkeye love come from anyway? Yes, they’ve won three straight, but those victories came against Minnesota, Indiana and Maryland — three teams with a combined conference record of 3-10.
Meanwhile, Penn State is just a couple bad plays away from a potential 7-0 start.
While both teams’ records and rankings might not back me up, I just don’t see these teams on the same level. Giving fewer than seven with the Nittany Lions at home is too much value to pass up.
Stuckey: Penn State-Iowa Under 52.5
3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
This is actually an ideal matchup for both defenses.
Penn State has been inefficient on offense all season, which can be attributed in part to the departures of offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, RB Saquon Barkley, TE Mike Gesicki and WR DaeSean Hamilton — but also due to an inordinate amount of drops by its receiving corps.
For evidence of this drop in efficiency, look no further than quarterback Trace McSorley’s completion percentage, which has fallen from 66.5% last season to 53.9% in 2018.
McSorley still leads a potent offense, but it’s one that is very reliant on explosive plays. Well, that plays right into the hands of an Iowa defense that ranks No. 1 in the nation in limiting explosiveness.
The Hawkeyes defense has also done a nice job in containing mobile quarterbacks in recent meetings.
On the other side of the ball, Iowa really struggles to run the ball, averaging only 4.0 yards per carry (89th in the country). The Hawkeyes’ passing attack, which features star tight end Noah Fant, has carried the offense.
However, quarterback Nate Stanley won’t have it easy against a very good Penn State secondary, which is the strength of the defense. The Nittany Lions have allowed only 5.8 yards per pass attempt this season, which is tied for 15th in the country.
Each defense simply matches up very well with the strength of the opposing offense.
As a result, I think this game could play out similarly to the one we saw in Iowa City last year when Penn State pulled out a 21-19 thrilling win on the final play of the game.
Collin Wilson: Oklahoma State +3.5 (at Texas)
8 p.m. ET on ABC
If you looked at each team’s resume without the team names, you’d be shocked that the Cowboys are home underdogs this week. Let’s try that exercise out here:
- 113th in overall explosiveness
- 113th in sack rate
- 123rd in red zone scoring percentage
- .04 yards per play differential
- 8th in overall explosiveness
- 9th in sack rate
- 66th in red zone scoring percentage
- +1.39 yards per play differential
Believe it or not, Team A is Texas and Team B is Oklahoma State. Simply put, the Longhorns are currently the most overrated and overvalued team in college football.
Their -1.6 Second Order Win Total demonstrates how much good luck they’ve benefited from — having won games against Oklahoma and Baylor with a 9% and 32% postgame win expectancy, respectively.
Peter Jennings: USF moneyline +270 (at Houston)
Lauren Joffe: Washington State +3 (at Stanford)
Jason Sobel: Oklahoma State +3.5 (vs. Texas)