Next week kicks off midweek MACtion, but before then, we have Week 9 in college football. Here’s what I like this week.
Texas A&M +2.5, +120 vs. Ole Miss
The Aggies return home for the first time since Week 3. Despite a 3-4 win/loss record, A&M has one of the best scoring defenses in the country. Check out my full reasoning here.
Illinois -7 at Nebraska
The Cornhuskers' rushing defense, ranked bottom 20 in the FBS' gets to figure out how to stop Illinois RB Chase Brown, who has rushed at least 108 yards in every game this season. You can read more about my pick here.
UCF pick-em (-110) vs. Cincinnati
This game has seen some line movement with UCF opening as a 1-point home dog before moving to a 1-point favorite and now back to a pick-em. The Knights are a different offensive beast at home, averaging 38 points per game compared to 26 on the road with a top-10 rushing attack. The RB unit consists of four players, including QB John Plumlee, who has over 500 yards of rushing offense to go along with his 11 passing touchdowns. Defending a mobile quarterback is always tough.
The Bearcats are 6-1 but have close wins of four points or less in back-to-back weeks over USF and SMU. The problem for Cincinnati is penalties, as it is third worst in the FBS, averaging 11 penalties on the road for 100 yards per game. This could play out like Cincy’s Week 1 matchup against Arkansas. The Bearcats gave up 220 rushing yards, had 10 penalties and lost, 31-24.
Iowa State +1.5 vs. Oklahoma
This is the best defense that the Sooners offense will face. Dillon Gabriel and Co. have struggled against comparable defenses. Against Kansas State, Oklahoma had 550 yards of total offense but 300 came in the second half and two of Gabriel's passing scores came in the last eight minutes of the game. Against TCU, before he left the game due to injury, OU had a fumble, turnover on downs, and 230 yards of total offense, with 80 coming on a single play.
So much of the Oklahoma offense is predicated on the run game. The Cyclones are top 10 in opponent yards per carry, allowing only one player to rush for over 100 yards (Texas RB Bijan Robinson). Iowa State held both Kansas and Kansas State to below 3.5 yards per carry, well below their season average. Oklahoma RBs Eric Gray and Jovantae Barnes will be running into a brick wall. The moneyline is -110, but I’d rather take the plus-points for the same price.
Pittsburgh +3, +130 at North Carolina
This is a play against UNC’s lack of quarterback protection and terrible defense. Tar Heels QB Drake Maye has been sacked 17 times this season, including five sacks from Miami in a three-point win. The Panthers are top 30 in sack percentage. Pair that with UNC ranking 127th in yardage allowed and 117th in touchdowns allowed, and Pitt could pull off the short-spread upset.