College Football Odds, Predictions, Picks for Week 9: Our 3 Favorite Bets for Saturday Night, Including Penn State vs. Ohio State, Virginia vs. BYU
STATE COLLEGE, PA – SEPTEMBER 11: A view of the back of the helmet worn by Devyn Ford #28 of the Penn State Nittany Lions before the game against the Ball State Cardinals at Beaver Stadium on September 11, 2021 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
- The night isn't over yet, as more college football action remains on the schedule.
- Our staff has three more bets to break down, including picks for Ohio State vs. Penn State and Virginia vs. BYU.
- Check out all three of our picks for Saturday night below.
We made it. It’s been a long — but fun — day of college football. Now, we try to close it out with some late-night wins.
Our staff has its eyes on two games in the late set, including one of the biggest games of the day in No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 20 Penn State. When that highly-anticipated matchup wraps up, we’ll turn to the action in Provo, where 25th-ranked BYU hosts former Cougar head coach Bronco Mendenhall and Virginia.
And if you made it here a little early, don’t forget to check out our best bets for the other kickoff windows throughout the day: the noons, the afternoons, and the evening set.
As always, use the table below to navigate to any pick. Now, let’s take a trip to Green Dot City before the night comes to an end.
College Football Best Bets for Week 9
Our Top Picks for Saturday Night
The set of college football team logos below reflects each of our college football staff’s best bets for Saturday’s evening slate of games kicking off at 7:30 p.m. 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. 20 Penn State vs. No. 5 Ohio State
Yes, the Ohio State offense looks unstoppable right now, and yes, it did just hang 54 points on Indiana. But Penn State will be the best defense it’s seen this season.
The Nittany Lions have one of the best secondaries in the country, allowing only 4.9 yards per pass attempt, and are top-10 in both Passing Success Rate Allowed and explosive passing allowed.
The front seven has also been pretty stout against the run, as Penn State is only allowing only 3.7 yards per attempt and ranks 17th in rushing explosiveness allowed.
The Penn State offense is a different story. It looks like Sean Clifford will be under center on Saturday night, but the Nittany Lions have all sorts of problems.
Penn State can’t run the ball to save its life, as it’s gaining only 3.7 yards per carry and ranks outside the top 100 in Rushing Success Rate, rushing explosiveness, and EPA/Rush.
That’s a big problem because the front seven is the strength of the Ohio State defense, as it ranks top-20 in Defensive Line Yards, Rushing Success Rate Allowed, and EPA/Rush allowed.
If Clifford and Penn State are going to have any success offensively in this game, it has to come through the air. Ohio State sits 72nd in Passing Success Rate Allowed, 47th in EPA/Pass allowed, and graded out as 62nd in terms of a coverage grade, per PFF.
The problem is the Penn State passing attack has been really bad this season, as Clifford only has a 70.6 passing grade while averaging 7.7 yards per attempt. That has Penn State ranked outside the top 70 in EPA/Pass, Passing Success Rate, and passing explosiveness.
I only have 50.35 points projected for this game, so I think there’s a lot of value on under 61.5 points.
Pick: Under 61.5
No. 20 Penn State vs. No. 5 Ohio State Over 61
By Doug Ziefel
The Ohio State Buckeyes have really found their groove offensively. Over their last four games they have averaged 58 points.
The freshmen duo of quarterback C.J. Stroud and running back TreVeyon Henderson have hit their stride and are now leading the top offense in the country. Stroud is third in the country in yards per pass, and Henderson has made the Buckeyes backfield second in yards per rush.
The potent Buckeye offense will be pitted against a Penn State defense that, up until last week, was one of the better units in the nation. Though in their most recent matchup against Illinois, the Nittany Lions were torched on the ground for 357 yards.
Yes, the game did go into nine overtimes, but any kind of repeat performance will put Penn State well behind the Buckeyes.
We know Ohio State will be supplying a majority of the points in this game, but Sean Clifford and the Penn State offense will need to score not just to keep up, but more importantly, go over the total.
After being knocked out of the game against Iowa, Clifford returned with what was reported as a clean bill of health. He certainly still looked shaken as he completed 56% of his passes for only 4.9 yards per pass against the Illini.
Another week removed from the injury should benefit Clifford and the rest of the offense, as his performance greatly impacts the talented skill players surrounding him.
The Ohio State defense struggles getting off the field on third down. So, if the Nittany Lions can sustain drives, it will most likely lead to points.
Every game Ohio State has played this season has gone over 61 points.
Take the over, and enjoy the well-oiled machine that is the Ohio State offense. With a little help from the Nittany Lions, the scoreboards should light up.
Pick: Over 61
Virginia vs. No. 25 BYU
Virginia heads to high altitude to square off against BYU for a Saturday night kickoff.
Cavalier head coach Bronco Mendenhall will make his professional return to Provo, Utah, after serving as the BYU head coach from 2005-15. Mendenhall left under unclear conditions but did make reference to the unique circumstances that the university presented on the way out.
I wouldn’t consider Mendenhall’s return a motivating factor from a handicapping perspective given the amount of time that has passed.
Of more importance will be how the Cavaliers handle the altitude at LaVell Edwards Stadium, which sits at 4,630 feet above sea level. This stands in stark contrast to Charlottesville, Virginia, which sits around 600 feet above sea level.
Elevation can be particularly tough to play in because oxygen levels decrease at higher altitudes. This creates a shortness of breath, especially for athletes participating at full exertion.
Additionally, the adjustment to a significantly higher altitude can cause individuals to have trouble sleeping and generally impact their normal routine.
These issues are exacerbated for people who haven’t experienced altitude before. A late kickoff coupled with the altitude adjustment should spell a slow start for the Cavaliers.
Look for the explosive Virginia offense to face an adjustment period in early stages of this game.
Cavaliers quarterback Brennan Armstrong leads a Virginia offense that has relied on shootouts. Unfortunately, a shootout may not be in cards for the Cougars after losing two standout offensive players last week against Washington State.
The Virginia defense has been notoriously porous this season, ranking 113th in rushing defense. Expect BYU to emphasize running the ball and eating lots of clock to keep Armstrong off of the field.
My model projects the total for this matchup at 52.59 points. An altitude adjustment, long trip and late kickoff should be enough to stymie the Cavaliers’ quick-start offense for a quarter or two.
The Cougars will look to moderate the pace of the game offensively. Take the under, as BYU will be able to create enough defensive pressure to keep the under in play. It’s also worth noting that BYU has hit the under in six of its eight games this season.