- Week 9 of NCAAF is here, providing great spots to fade last week’s results.
- This week’s betting column features some of the ugliest sides of the year.
- South Carolina and Marshall are both overvalued from misunderstood wins.
Week 9 of the college football calendar has arrived, and with it comes a new table of NCAAF odds.
Accordingly, I’ve got a fresh set of picks to hand out.
College Football Best Bets: Week 9 Predictions
After I’ve handicapped the whole board each week, I will publish my five best plays from the wider canon of college football odds.
I’ll provide a short explanation of why I like each bet, so you don’t have to go on faith alone.
If you prefer an audio version of this weekly article, you can always subscribe to The Lion’s Edge, my weekly handicapping podcast for BetMGM.
Last week’s picks were 2-3. Strangely, it was the two underdogs who failed us; the favorites went 2-1 ATS.
Temple at Navy (-13.5)
It’s my first ugly dog play of the day, and it certainly won’t be my last. Temple got nuked by UCF two weeks ago in a weeknight shellacking, and the betting market for the Owls has been micro-sized ever since.
If you can get over that result, Temple becomes a pretty appealing side in this spot. Navy’s offense is far behind UCF, and the Midshipmen (2-5 straight up; 0-1 ATS as a favorite this season) should not be laying a number like this.
The public generally favors laying the points with Navy, but Temple is a sharp darling this week because pros know to bet the number, not the name on the jersey. I’ll be on Temple as well.
Play: Temple +13.5
Northwestern at Iowa (-11.5)
I’m looking at the total in this spot, which is currently sitting at 37.5 at the BetMGM online sportsbook.
Amusingly, there have been reports this week of ultra-low totals for this game, very early in the week, with posted numbers as low as 31.5. Crazy, right?
Here’s the thing, though. A quick look at the recent games between Iowa and Northwestern tells us that four of the last five games would have gone under 31.5. And remember – this is a divisional matchup, played every year in the Big Ten. It’s not like the last five games stretch back to the 90s.
I think the low opener is a huge clue to the right side, and I feel like the market movement has given me an extra six points of value. Give me the under in this awful game I will not spend one moment of my Saturday watching.
Play: Iowa/Northwestern Under 37.5
Missouri at South Carolina (-4.5)
South Carolina has popped into the tail end of the AP Top 25 this week thanks to a four-game winning streak. Nice job, Gamecocks.
Except… let’s take a look at what they’ve done to make it into the poll. Since South Carolina lost to Georgia 48-7 on Sept. 17, it beat Charlotte, South Carolina State, Kentucky and Texas A&M.
One of those teams is an FCS squad. One of them (Charlotte) just fired its coach. One of them (Kentucky) had an injured starting quarterback that didn’t play. One of them (A&M) is a much better college football brand than an actual team. Did you know that A&M is now under .500?
The point is there is a gap between what South Carolina has done and how its 5-2 record is perceived right now. That makes this a natural sell-high spot, which is why sharp bettors are moving the line toward Missouri. The market-wide tickets are split 50/50, but the line has moved down from Missouri +5.5.
BetMGM currently has Missouri +4.5, which is both a valuable number and the best number anywhere in the market right now. Head over to the shop and hit this thing before it moves down again.
Play: Missouri +4.5
Coastal Carolina at Marshall (-2.5)
Marshall beat Notre Dame on Sept. 10, 26-21. Over the ensuing month, it went 0-4 ATS and 0-3 straight up versus FBS college football teams.
Marshall is a mess. But this past weekend, they just so happened to play a team that’s currently an even bigger mess: my alma mater, James Madison.
I was in Harrisonburg for the game and can tell you exactly what happened. JMU’s quarterback, Todd Centeio, suffered a freak injury in practice late last week. Redshirt freshman Billy Atkins was suddenly shoved into the starting position, despite the fact he didn’t take first-team game reps all week.
JMU also suffered multiple injuries on the starting offensive line. And remember – this is a team with great starting talent, but they haven’t yet built an FBS two-deep.
The result? Atkins threw four picks, and JMU failed to score any points in the final three quarters of the game.
Marshall is getting credit for winning at JMU, which is why it’s favored over Coastal. But the Chanticleers are off a bye, and on principle, I can’t lay points with Marshall right now. I think Coastal Carolina is likely to win this game outright.
Play: Coastal Carolina +2.5
Stanford at UCLA (-16.5)
The last month of UCLA’s schedule has been packed with top-end Pac-12 games. The Bruins have played Oregon, Utah and Washington in successive weeks.
The only bottom-half team that UCLA played was Colorado. They bludgeoned the Buffs, 45-17.
This week, UCLA is looking to rebound off its first loss of the season, and it draws Stanford in a night game in Los Angeles. I expect a return to form and a result similar to its Colorado outing.
Play: UCLA -16.5
Wyoming at Hawai’i (+11.5)
You’d never know these two were conference mates if you looked at their schedules so far. Hawai’i’s last five games have been against brutally bad competition: Colorado State, Nevada, San Diego State, New Mexico State, Duquesne. And it’s only 2-3 in those games!
Wyoming, meanwhile, has assembled a respectable five wins against far superior competition: Utah State, New Mexico, San Jose State, BYU, Air Force.
Hawai’i is one of the worst teams in FBS this year amid a turbulent offseason that saw plenty of transfer attrition. Because its schedule has lined up neatly against the bottom of the western G5 landscape, I’m not sure the market fully appreciates how bad this team is.
Harken back to the opening weeks of the season, when the Rainbow Warriors played Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky and Michigan and lost all three by a combined score of 168-37.
With Wyoming in town, I think we’re going to see a result that’s a lot closer to that than some of these nominally competitive rock fights between bad teams.
Play: Wyoming -11.5
College Football Parlay
The favorite parlays just aren’t getting it done, so I’m going to take a shot on this three-leg parlay full of short dogs with sketchy lines. It pays 10-to-1.
- Texas A&M +120
- East Carolina +125
- Notre Dame +120
College Football Predictions
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