CFB Week 9 betting preview: How to bet the big games
Week 8 was not a success, as the ranked teams did well for those living and dying by the AP voters. The market thankfully didn't relent on the full -7 with Iowa State, or we would have lost three of four.
Here is what's on tap for an attractive Week 9 slate:
Aesthetically, this game isn't the best example of a top team facing a stern test. Though if you like neck rolls and play-action passes to a tight end, this is the game for you.
It's not a great sign that Army held Wisconsin to 112 passing yards a week before the program gave up 458 to Wake Forest, with the Demon Deacons scoring a touchdown on every drive. However, as much as we've criticized quarterback Graham Mertz, Iowa's offense is just as likely to struggle here as Wisconsin's thanks to this Badgers defense. If you have Wisconsin to win the division or the conference at a big number, this is your chance for the ticket to be live.
I'll take the home team to score just enough points, while the Hawkeyes may even get shut out.
Pick: Wisconsin -3
This is the game Michigan State needs to get the national media attention the team has craved as an undefeated program.
In the Spartans' four conference games, they've outscored opponents 112-69, while Michigan has a 123-66 differential. Neither school has faced a ranked team, which means there's uncertainty with both programs, not just Michigan State.
The Spartans have actually shown more offensive explosiveness than the Wolverines. While both teams can run the football, Michigan State could hand Jim Harbaugh another disappointing result against a ranked team if, unlike in the past, it can get a big play in the passing game.
Pick: Michigan State +4.5
Now we're getting wild with the game formerly known as the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party." Perhaps it won't be that wild on the field if Georgia's defense does what it does every contest, but Florida will have had two weeks to prepare for its game of the year.
Dan Mullen, one of the game's pre-eminent play-callers, finally has enough reason and opportunity to give Anthony Richardson the start. If Richardson - or incumbent quarterback Emory Jones - can stretch the field against the Bulldogs, we might finally see Georgia's secondary tested.
The Gators will need to improve the run defense we saw against LSU, but if they can avoid numerous short-field situations, Mullen can do enough with the play sheet to keep this inside the number.
Pick: Florida +14
Our third game between ranked teams sees the second tier of the SEC battling on the Plains. Auburn's going to do the same thing it did against Arkansas two weeks ago: run to set up Bo Nix's passing. Tigers running backs Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter didn't explode in that game, but I'm buying this team coming off its bye week.
Ole Miss has been in fistfight after fistfight this month. The Rebels were hit in the mouth by Alabama, won 52-51 over Arkansas, experienced crowd chaos in Tennessee, and recorded a home win over LSU, all with no reprieve. This is a brutal road spot for an Ole Miss team that has to be running out of gas and is going up against the much fresher Tigers.
Pick: Auburn -3
The nightcap in the Horseshoe lost some of its luster after Penn State fell in college football's version of a penalty shootout last week against Illinois. However, that result doesn't make the Nittany Lions any less capable of hanging around with Ohio State.
The Buckeyes have flashed against the dregs of the Big Ten since they took a surprising loss to Oregon, but this is a big step up in competition for C.J. Stroud and Co. Penn State can slow down Ohio State, and if Sean Clifford is healthy, we'll see if the Buckeyes' defense has truly tightened things up. I've got this game lined at just under two touchdowns, so 18 points is enough for me to fire away on the Nittany Lions.
Pick: Penn State +18.5
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.