College Football Betting Report with Preview and Picks for Week 9 Games
Last week's huge upset saw Illinois (+24) take down Penn State 20-18 in a record nine overtimes. That was a big win for many leading online sportsbooks, and a costly loss for the Nittany Lions, as Penn State falls out of the top 10 to No. 20 this week as they travel to Columbus to tackle No. 5 Ohio State. That's one of three Top 25 match-ups on the final weekend of October, and I'll chip-in more picks and opinions with information you can bet on.
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Week 9 Top 25 Match-ups
Saturday, Oct. 30
No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 20 Penn State | 7:30 p.m. | ABC
No. 6 Michigan at No. 8 Michigan State | 12 p.m. | FOX
No. 10 Ole Miss at No. 18 Auburn | 7 p.m. | ESPN
NCAA Betting Predictions for Saturday, Oct. 30
No. 1 Georgia (-14) will also take on unranked Florida in the annual cocktail party in Jacksonville. The Bulldogs and Gators are two of five teams that have out-gained each of their opponents this season. The Bulldogs brick wall defense is allowing a nation-low 6.6 points per game, 209 yards per game at 3.4 yards per play - all best in the country, and No. 2 rush defense allowing 64 rushing yards per game at 2.2 yards per rush. Florida doesn't have the offensive weapons of last year when they pulled the 44-28 upset as 3-point 'Dog in the Cocktail Party Top 10 match-up. Both teams off a bye in another defensive duel to play under the total of 51 or 51.5 at some leading online sportsbooks, including MyBookie.
The Big Ten and specifically the East Division headlines the Top 25 match-ups in Week 9.
Penn State at Ohio State
Line: Ohio State -19 and Total 60.5 at Heritage Sports
I bet Illinois (+24) last week, but not on the moneyline! Penn State got caught looking ahead a bit and lost outright to the Fighting Illini 20-18 in a FBS record nine overtimes. Think about that, and the total finishing at 38 points. Quarterback Sean Clifford was hurting an unable to run and use his mobility. Other lingering injuries to some key players are a concern. But I expect a big bounce back effort by the Nittany Lions hoping they are healthy enough. This us another huge favorite forced to win by more than three touchdowns to cash in for bettors. The line is still inflated with recenct bias setting in and upward line move due to potential Penn State players health and the Buckeyes blowout wins. Sure Ohio State is averaging a nation-best 559 yards per game on offense and one of just a handful of teams averaging at least 200 rushing and 250 passing yards per game (352 per game, actually).
But Penn State's defense is still top tier, can pressure the quarterback and take the ball away with a stronger secondary. If they are healthy, which is still a question. The Lions defensive stats still read 331 YPG and just 4.2 yards per play allowed. Those stats and specifically the run defense won't be as strong with injured nose guard PJ Mustipher out for the year following the loss to Iowa a few weeks ago. The run defense was destroyed in his absence last week as Illinois rushed for 357 rushing yards. But Ohio State is overrated, having been gifted points by Minnesota in the opener and then losing at home to Oregon. Since then, the bullying Buckeyes have feasted on Tulsa, Akron, Rutgers, Maryland and Indiana. Big deal. We'll keep it as an opinion play and really just a stronger lean on Penn State with coach Franklin saying QB Clifford has practiced this week and is nearing full health. When mobile and able to run as well, he gives the Lions more than a fighting chance. Watch early game action and consider in-play betting on Penn State as well if Clifford is functioning well enough and the defense is healthy.
Opinion: Penn State plus the points
Michigan at Michigan State
Line: Michigan -4 and Total 50.5 at BetOnline
An early kickoff in East Lansing for in-state undefeated rivals. More than 70% of the spread bets and 85% of the spread handle is on the underdog Spartans at one leading online sportsbook, but closer to 65% of the bets and 55% of the spread money is supporting Sparty at more online sportsbooks. That may be a surprise, but a bigger one is that the Spartans are 7-0. Consider that Michigan State was picked to finish last in the Big Ten East Division by a number of leading college football publications, and were among the worst teams in the conference ratings of offensive and defensive lines. The total has dipped down a bit to 51.5 with betting support under. Despite playing an easier schedule, the MSU Spartans advanced numbers are not nearly as strong as Michigan's. Big Blue is going to win the battle in the trenches and the game. Both teams run defenses allow near 115 yards per game, but the Wolverines offense rushes for 253 YPG at 5.5 yards per rush while the Spartans run for 190 YPG at 5.1 YPR. The Wolverines pound the ground game rushed for 294 yards on 51 carries in last week's 33-7 whipping of the Northwestern Wildcats, despite playing without both starting offensive guards. They return this week to help the 'thunder and lightning' duo or RB's Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum give Michigan the redemption win after losing to the Spartans last season 27-24 as a 22-point favorite. Michigan belongs in the top 10 and Michigan State does not, and the Spartans are 0-7 SU/ATS since late Oct., 2018 against top-10 teams.
Pick: Michigan -4
Mississippi at Auburn
Line: Auburn -2.5 and Total 66.5 at Jazz Sports
A pretty even match-up and projection, but Auburn (5-2) has a situational and scheduling advantage off a bye while Ole Miss (6-1) is grinding through a fifth-straight SEC game with a Rebels deficient defense allowing 30 points per game and 5.9 yards per play over their last four contests against SEC foes LSU, Tennessee, Arkansas and Alabama.
Pick: Auburn -2.5
First one to score 20 points apparently wins the Iowa at Wisconsin (-3) game, as a season-low 36 points is set as the over/under between these two former Top 20 teams. Wisconsin is out of the rankings, while Iowa fell from No. 2 to No. 9 in the AP Poll following their first loss to Purdue at home prior to last week's bye. The Badgers boast the No. 1 run defense in the country by stats allowing 53 rushing YPG and 1.9 yards per rush with Iowa top 10 in the country in both allowing 89 rushing yards and 2.7 yards per rush.
Nine teams remain undefeated, including No. 2 Cincinnati (7-0) and No. 4 Oklahoma (8-0) with one-loss Alabama (7-1) sandwiched between them.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. He chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Read more great insights from FairwayJay and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay