Week 9 College Football Odds, Picks: 3 Betting Previews for Friday’s NCAAF Games
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Friday night lights are always special — and Week 9 of the college football season is no exception.
After a stellar Thursday slate that featured an ACC/Sun Belt doubleheader and a rare Thursday night edition of Pac-12 After Dark, we have three more games on the docket for Friday.
It all starts in the Ivy League, as Yale travels to New York to take on Columbia in a Friday night Ivy rivalry. Things only ramp up from there, as East Carolina heads to Provo, Utah, to face BYU and Louisiana goes to battle against FIU in more Fun Belt action.
So, read on for our full analysis of Friday night's college football games — and be sure to check back tomorrow for even more NCAAF betting coverage for Saturday's gigantic slate.
Friday College Football Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football staff is targeting from today's slate of games. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.|
Yale vs. Columbia
Yale hits the road again this week after suffering its first Ivy League loss of the season last Saturday at the hands of Penn. Many expected a close game between the two, as both came into the matchup undefeated in conference play. They did not disappoint.
Penn took the lead with just 20 seconds left in the game, sealing a 20-13 victory. Despite the loss, Yale left no question regarding its place as one of the best defensive teams in the Ivy League. The Bulldogs held the Quakers to just 67 rushing yards and recorded two sacks.
They now turn their attention to another top defense in the conference in Columbia, which is giving up just 16.8 points per contest.
Columbia will be playing its fourth home game in five weeks on Friday night, but there seems to be little home-field advantage for the Lions. Columbia is just 1-3 at home this year and has yet to cover the spread in Wien Stadium.
The Lions' defense is one of the best in FCS, but that means little if they can't win games. Do they have what it takes to edge out the Bulldogs in a defensive standoff and secure their first conference win of the season?
The Bulldogs had no answer for the Penn passing attack last week. Penn put up 351 passing yards on the Bulldogs and averaged 11.7 yards per completion.
Penn secured a new set of downs on nearly every completion, which was infuriating for Yale backers to watch. The Quakers logged more first downs due to a pass than the Bulldogs did as a whole.
The good news for Yale is that Columbia passes the ball nearly 20% less than the Quakers — and it's nowhere near as good.
One of the biggest concerns for Yale will be maintaining its success running the ball against the best rush defense in the Ivy. The Bulldogs performed well against Penn, racking up 180 yards on the ground but failed to cash in on their few trips to the red zone.
Penn is the best team in the conference in red-zone defense, so that can be understood. However, Columbia comes in last, allowing teams to score on 82.4% of trips.
If Yale fails to make the most of its trips inside the 20, it could very well cost it this game.
No FCS team in the country is better than the Lions at stopping the run. Columbia is holding teams to just 54.5 rushing yards per contest.
Along with that, it has one of the nation's most significant threats to the backfield in defensive lineman Justin Townsend.
Townsend is tied for fifth among all FCS players with six sacks on the season. He also ranks sixth on Columbia's single-season list and still has four games left. For reference, Daniel Delorenzi holds the Lions' single-season record with 10 sacks in 2018.
Columbia hasn't been bad on the offensive side of the ball, but it hasn't been great either. The Lions live and die with the run. They have the sixth-leading rusher in the conference but rank eighth in the nation in tackles for loss allowed.
Columbia's most significant advantage on offense is its lack of mistakes. It leads the Ivy League in both third-down conversions and penalties, with just 29 flags so far this season. However, there's concern that it'll struggle to convert on third down against a Yale defense giving up conversions on just 37.6% of attempts.
The Lions are second-to-last in the Ivy League in yards per punt, averaging just 33.9 yards per kick.
Yale vs Columbia Betting Pick
Friday night marks the 100th all-time meeting between these two Ivy League founders. Yale holds a daunting 75-22-2 lead in the series, and the Bulldogs are also 13-5 at Wien Stadium.
However, the Lions held them off on their last visit, posting a 17-10 win back in 2018.
I have no doubt both defenses will excel in this matchup. My only concern is how much this Columbia team can slow down Yale, the conference's best rushing offense.
Dartmouth ranks last in nearly every offensive category in the Ivy League and still put up 27 points in a win over the Lions.
Meanwhile, Yale has struggled to pull away from opponents and maintain a lead. The Bulldogs are the better team, but I wouldn't back them as more than a touchdown favorite.
Pick: Yale -6.5 or Better
Louisiana vs. FIU
Florida International travels to match up against Louisiana Tech in a Conference USA showdown between two of the nation's bottom-tier teams.
Florida International has pulled off some thrilling upsets over the last month. The Panthers upset New Mexico State by two touchdowns as 16-point underdogs to open October and then defeated Charlotte by 19 as 14-point underdogs last week.
Those victories have propelled Florida International to a 3-4 record on the season. Despite those victories, the Panthers are still appropriately ranked 130th, according to ourCollin Wilson’s Power Ratings.
They will have a chance at another upset victory this week as they face Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs have had their own set of challenges, opening this season just 2-5 while being outscored by 16 points per game.
More importantly, the Bulldogs will be starting third-string quarterback Parker McNeil in this matchup.
With an injury to its quarterback and a nonexistent defense, how does Louisiana Tech cover this number?
Louisiana Tech's season has officially hit rock bottom.
Let’s start with the defense. The Bulldogs are allowing 43 points and over 520 yards of total offense per game this season to FBS foes, ranking among the country's bottom two teams.
Opponents are averaging an astonishing 6.8 yards per carry and 286 rushing yards per game. They’re not much better at defending the pass, allowing 7.5 yards per attempt and 235 yards per game.
Every FBS opponent has exceeded 31 points against the Bulldogs, and that trend should continue in this matchup.
The offense, particularly McNeil, has carried this program through the first two months. McNeil has thrown 15 touchdowns while averaging nine yards per pass attempt. But both he and backup Matthew Downing were injured against Rice, which will potentially for true freshman Landry Lyddy to start under center.
Lyddy threw for two touchdowns in his six pass attempts against Rice, but those were mainly just 50-50 jump-balls that the receiver came down with.
The rushing game won’t provide Lyddy any comfort, as the Bulldogs average just 2.4 yards per carry against FBS competition. The group ranks 126th in the nation, averaging only 71 rushing yards per game.
Florida International played its best game of the season last time out in its 34-15 victory over Charlotte. The Panthers jumped out to a 34-0 lead before half while totaling 450 yards in the matchup.
Quarterback Grayson James put together his best performance of the season, throwing for 300 yards while completing 26-of-34 passing. He also rushed the ball 10 times to total 53 yards and found pay dirt twice.
FIU's offense certainly didn’t look like the same unit that ranks 124th in the country in scoring (15 PPG). We saw the Panthers methodically move the ball up-and-down the field to rack up 27 first downs.
I’m anticipating a similar effort against a defense that hasn’t been able to stop a nosebleed.
The Florida International defense isn’t anything to gloat about either. The unit allows 33 points per game and just shy of 390 total yards per contest. It's held up against the run, holding opponents to 3.8 yards per carry but has been exposed through the air at times, allowing 7.5 yards per attempt.
But now, it will likely face a third-string quarterback in Lyddy who will be a bit of a wild card this week.
Luckily for the Panthers, they can lean on their pass rush that ranks seventh in the country. That unit will be able to apply constant pressure to the freshman as it matches up against the 119th-rated pass-blocking unit.
Louisiana Tech vs FIU Betting Pick
Louisiana Tech is in a boatload of trouble entering this matchup if its starting quarterback doesn't play. McNeil is the sole reason the Bulldogs have been somewhat competitive in their losses. If he's out of the lineup, that puts a lot of pressure on a freshman third-string replacement.
And he’s going to be under duress all night long against the Panthers' seventh-ranked pass rush.
Although the Florida International offense has struggled this season, we saw it put the pieces together last week against Charlotte. It should be able to replicate that effort against a LA Tech defense that's allowing seven yards per play.
Louisiana Tech’s also defense ranks 129th in the country in tackling, according to PFF.
The Panthers have come away with two dominant victories over the last two weeks as double-digit underdogs. It wouldn't surprise me to see them pull off another upset this week.
East Carolina vs. BYU
The BYU Cougars look to snap their three-game losing streak when they welcome the East Carolina Pirates to Provo on Friday Night.
East Carolina has been up and down this season but picked up a season-defining win last Saturday in Greenville, beating UCF, 34-13. The Pirates are now 5-3 on the season and need just one win to get to bowl eligibility.
BYU came into the season with high hopes and expectations after being ranked in the preseason top 25. However, it seems the Cougars have hit rock bottom after losing to Liberty in Lynchburg, 41-13.
The defense has been terrible, the offense has struggled to move the ball, and now it's looking like bowl eligibility is no longer a guarantee.
The Pirates offense has been really strong this season. East Carolina is averaging 6.2 yards per play (26th in FBS) while ranking 30th in EPA/Play and 42nd in Success Rate.
Quarterback Holton Ahlers is having the best season of his career by far in 2022. He's averaging 8.1 yards per attempt with an 84.0 PFF passing grade, and most importantly, has only eight Turnover-Worthy Plays compared to 13 Big-Time Throws.
He torched Memphis and UCF in his last two games, so what do you think he's going to do to BYU's defense?
Image via PFF
East Carolina has an outstanding running back in Keaton Mitchell, who is having an unreal season. He's posted eight touchdowns, an 88.4 PFF rushing grade and 26 runs of at least 10 yards, all on 6.8 yards per carry.
He should have a field day against this BYU front seven.
— 𝗙𝗢𝗟𝗟𝗢𝗪 @𝗙𝗧𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗱𝟳 (@FTBeard7) October 23, 2022
Looking at this East Carolina defense on paper, you'd would think it's been struggling considering it's allowing 5.8 yards per play, which is 98th in the country. However, it's been incredible in the most important defensive metric: Finishing Drives.
The Pirates have allowed their opponents to drive inside their 40-yard line 30 times, but they're allowing only 3.26 points per opportunity, which is the 25th-best mark in college football.
The East Carolina front seven has been incredibly stout, and it's going to be very difficult for BYU to establish a consistent rushing attack.
The Pirates are top-30 in the country in Power Success Rate Allowed, Stuff Rate, and Defensive Line Yards. Not to mention, East Carolina is also 32nd in EPA/Rush Allowed and is only allowing 3.3 yards per carry this season.
The East Carolina secondary does struggle from a Success Rate standpoint, but it doesn't give up a lot of big plays. The Pirates rank 28th in Passing Explosiveness Allowed, and BYU quarterback Jarren Hall's PFF passing grade on throws under 10 yards is only 67.8.
Hall has really struggled for BYU at quarterback this season. He's coming off of a game against Liberty in which he averaged just 5.5 yards per attempt and posted a 62.1 PFF passing grade.
That's kind of been indicative of his season as a whole.
Hall only has a 74.8 PFF passing grade with 14 Big-Time Throws and nine Turnover-Worthy Plays. Additionally, his adjusted completion percentage sits at 73%, which is slightly below the national average.
For the season, he has BYU ranked 45th in Passing Success Rate and Explosiveness.
BYU's rushing attack is incredibly reliant on explosive plays, as it's 106th in Rushing Success Rate but fifth in the nation in Rushing Explosiveness. As a result, going up against a top-30 front seven is not a recipe for success on the ground for the Cougars.
The Cougars have lost three straight games because their defense is so poor. BYU allows 5.8 yards per play (95th in FBS) while ranking 114th in Success Rate Allowed, 121st in EPA/Play, and most importantly, 130th in Finishing Drives Allowed (only Arizona is worse).
I wish I could tell you there's one unit on the defense to blame, but everyone is to blame.
Arkansas and Liberty averaged over 6.0 yards per carry against BYU's front seven the past two weeks, which isn't really surprising considering BYU sits 123rd in Defensive Line Yards, 113th in Stuff Rate, 107th in EPA/Rush and 122nd in PFF run defense grade.
The BYU secondary hasn't been much better. The Cougars are 112th in Passing Success Rate Allowed, 94th in Passing Explosiveness Allowed and 114th in EPA/Pass Allowed.
Consequently, I have a hard time seeing how they are going to slow down this East Carolina offense.
East Carolina vs BYU Betting Pick
There's no reason why BYU should be favored over East Carolina right now given how bad the Cougars defense is.
If Hall and the Cougars can't move the ball consistently through the air, then they're in trouble with their rushing attack being incredibly reliant on explosive plays.
I have East Carolina projected as a 6.4-point favorite, so I love the value on the Pirates at +3.5.