Our college football best bets for Week 9

By VSiN Staff  (VSiN.com) 

October 29, 2022 09:32 AM
USATSI_19201697

Welcome to Week 9 of the college football season.

Each week, our VSiN experts will combine to give their best bets on select games.

We had a 2-4 showing in Week 8 and we’re looking for better results in Week 9. Odds are from DraftKings (unless noted) as of Wednesday night. 

Season record: 36-42-1

For updated odds, check out our VSiN college football odds page.

For betting splits from DraftKings Sportsbooks on every college game, check out our Betting Splits page.

Week 9 college football best bets

East Carolina Pirates at BYU Cougars (-3, 63.5)

Friday, 8 p.m. ET

Tim Murray: BYU rose to No. 12 in the AP poll after defeating Baylor on Sept. 10, but things turned shortly after. The Cougars are now 4-4 and enter Week 9 riding a three-game losing streak. BYU’s defense has been a mess during the skid, allowing a combined 1,687 yards against Notre Dame, Arkansas and Liberty. The Cougars rank 104th in the country in total defense, and head coach Kalani Sitake took over defensive play-calling last week. 

East Carolina heads to Provo riding high. The Pirates crushed UCF 34-13 last week as 5.5-point home underdogs. East Carolina won the turnover battle 4-0. QB Holton Ahlers is having a great season, completing 70.3% of his passes with 18 touchdowns and five interceptions. RB Keaton Mitchell has rushed for 687 yards and eight touchdowns, and WR C.J. Johnson has eight touchdown receptions. That all sounds like trouble for a shaky BYU defense.

Neither team has had a bye this season and both will be playing their ninth game in nine weeks. Fresh off a 21-point win over a perennial AAC power, East Carolina could be in a tricky situational spot. The Pirates are off next week before visiting No. 20 Cincinnati on Nov. 11. But will BYU be up for the challenge? Or will the Cougars mail it in after a disappointing start? Punter and captain Ryan Rehkow said this week, “We’ve made the choice to fight and not give up.” On a Friday evening in Provo, I expect BYU to give one of its best efforts.

Pick: BYU -3

TCU Horned Frogs (-7.5, 69) at West Virginia Mountaineers

Saturday, Noon ET

Adam Burke: You won’t find a worse spot than what TCU has to deal with this week — on a long trek to Morgantown off of five really important and emotional games — but situational spots are only part of any handicap. 

In this instance, TCU is simply the far better team, and one of the nation’s most potent offenses draws one of the worst defenses.

A game with a high-scoring expectation certainly seems to favor the Horned Frogs, who only trail Ohio State and Tennessee in yards per play this season with 7.41. The Mountaineers rank 69th with 5.78 YPP, even though they’re 27th in pass attempts. Speaking of which, TCU ranks 11th in completion percentage against at 53.5%. WVU is only 95th in yards per pass attempt and has also only managed 5.45 YPP in Big 12 play.

The Mountaineers come into this game 109th in the nation with 6.09 yards per play against, and Big 12 opponents have racked up 6.83 YPP on this beleaguered defense. It is undoubtedly a rough spot for TCU with an early kickoff, but a case can be made that the Horned Frogs control their own destiny for the College Football Playoff, which should prevent a letdown.

I have this game lined more like 11.5 and I think TCU is substantially better than WVU.

Pick: TCU -7.5

Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Minnesota Golden Gophers (-14, 40.5)

Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET

Adam Burke: It looks like Tanner Morgan will be back behind center for Minnesota, but this line is just too high. We have a total of 40.5 or 41 with a favorite of 13.5 or 14, which immediately makes me think about taking the underdog. We also have a good defensive underdog in Rutgers, who ranks 10th in yards per play against. The Scarlet Knights allowed seven yards per play to Ohio State but held Iowa, Nebraska and Indiana to a combined 4.69 YPP.

While Minnesota is a bit better than those offenses, the Golden Gophers are a pretty big regression candidate in a couple of key areas. As I wrote earlier this week, Minnesota leads the nation in third-down conversion rate on offense and ranks third on defense, but the regression is already happening as the Gophers have played much stiffer competition the last two weeks (Penn State and Illinois).

Minnesota’s offense goes through RB Mo Ibrahim, but Rutgers is one of 10 teams to allow fewer than three yards per carry this season. Rutgers’ ground game ranks around average in terms of yards per carry, so they can be dangerous enough to move the chains and get a few first downs. I’ll take the 14-point head start in what should be an ugly, low-scoring game. I have it lined 11.5.

Pick: Rutgers + 14

Oregon Ducks (-17, 58.5) at Cal Golden Bears

Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET

Tim Murray: Oregon has not lost since getting blown out by Georgia in the season opener and has scored 40 or more points in all six victories. With ESPN’s “College Gameday” in town last week, the Ducks put up 45 points and racked up 545 yards of offense against UCLA en route to a 45-30 victory. 

It has not been a great season for Cal. The Golden Bears are on a three-game losing streak that includes a loss to Colorado as 15-point favorites two weeks ago. However, Cal covered last week as a 7.5-point home underdog against Washington. Since 2019, Cal is 14-4 ATS as an underdog. Additionally, under coach Justin Wilcox, who took over in 2017, the Golden Bears are 17-3 ATS as underdogs of a touchdown or more. 

Oregon has proven it is one of the top teams in the country. However, coming off a blowout out then-No. 9 UCLA in Eugene coupled with a sleepy 12:30 p.m. kickoff in Berkeley, Saturday has the makings of a potential letdown spot. I’ll take the points with the Golden Bears.

Pick: Cal + 17

New Mexico State Aggies (-2, 39) at Massachusetts Minutemen

Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET

Adam Burke: The game on EVERYBODY’S radar this week is New Mexico State-UMass, as two of the nation’s absolute worst teams do battle. It is a long trek for the Aggies, but the travel is about the only thing that appears to be a hindrance in this game.

UMass ranks 131st in the nation with 3.72 yards per play, which is last in the nation. New Mexico State is not a whole lot better at 119th (but almost a full yard per play better with 4.68). Defensively, we see a big difference between these teams, as New Mexico State ranks 58th with 5.41 YPP against and UMass is 100th with 5.92 YPP against.

New Mexico State has played a terrible schedule that ranks 137th, while UMass has played the 100th-ranked schedule. The Aggies have been blown out by Minnesota and Wisconsin, but UMass hasn’t played a single Power 5 team this season, so the schedule strength seems a little bit misleading.

Ultimately, while I have power-ratings value on New Mexico State, the tipping point here is coach Jerry Kill. He’s been a massive upgrade for the Aggies and they’ve played better as the season has gone along. Both teams are on extra rest after NMSU’s game against San Jose State was canceled, so Kill and the boys won’t mind the long trip and the better team should prevail. 

Pick: New Mexico State -2

Missouri Tigers at South Carolina Gamecocks (-4, 46.5)

Saturday, 4 p.m. ET

Wes Reynolds: After being crushed 49-0 on Sept. 17 versus Georgia, South Carolina has now won and covered four in a row and finds itself ranked (No. 25) for the first time this season. However, the Gamecocks are now a bit overvalued. 

South Carolina’s first two wins in this streak came against Charlotte (just fired coach Will Healy after a 1-7 start) and South Carolina State (FCS). Next, the Gamecocks got a Kentucky team without the services of starting quarterback and likely first-round pick Will Levis. Finally, South Carolina beat Texas A&M last week as a short home underdog courtesy of a kickoff return touchdown and a couple of Aggies turnovers that gave the Gamecocks short fields. The Aggies outgained the Gamecocks by 112 yards and only trailed by three early in the fourth quarter before starting quarterback Haynes King was hurt. True freshman Conner Weigman had to finish the game (not a great situation on the road in the SEC in the fourth quarter of a close game). 

Oklahoma transfer quarterback Spencer Rattler has still only thrown five touchdown passes (versus eight interceptions) in seven games as the new starter for South Carolina. Now he must face a Missouri defense that ranks 22nd in the nation (325.4 yards per game). The Tigers also rank ninth in third-down defense (29.1%) and 16th in Passing Efficiency Defense. 

Missouri is a little better than its 3-4 record indicates. The Tigers should have won at Auburn (26-yard missed field goal at the end of regulation and a fumble through the end zone that cost them the game in overtime). Mizzou also had a 10-point lead over No. 1 Georgia in the fourth quarter and outgained Florida by nearly 75 yards in Gainesville only to lose 24-17. 

Pick: Missouri + 4

Ole Miss Rebels (-2, 55) at Texas A&M Aggies

Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET

Tim Murray: You can make a strong argument that Texas A&M has been the biggest disappointment in college football this season. In Jimbo Fisher’s fifth season in College Station, the Aggies were No. 6 in the preseason AP poll. Texas A&M lost at home to Appalachian State on Sept. 10 and enters this game with a 3-4 record (1-3 in the SEC). Lots of fans are trying to figure out how to pay for Jimbo Fisher’s $86 million buyout right now. Is this the ultimate buy-low spot?

Texas A&M’s 30-24 loss at South Carolina last week was a bit misleading. The Aggies outgained the Gamecocks 398-286 and had 23 first downs to South Carolina’s 13. The Gamecocks led 17-0 less than six minutes into the game. South Carolina returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and forced two turnovers that set up short fields. Ole Miss is ]the third-best rushing team in the country. While Texas A&M has struggled to slow down some rushing attacks, the Aggies front should be able to hold its own against a mostly one-dimensional Ole Miss offense. Aggies defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin spent the past two seasons as the Rebels DC, so there should be some familiarity there. 

In a bizarre scheduling quirk, this will be Texas A&M’s first home game since Sept. 17 after the Aggies played four straight on the road. Additionally, Ole Miss will be playing its ninth game in as many weeks. Lastly, the public is not racing to back the 3-4 Aggies. Per the DraftKings Betting Splits at VSiN.com, 82% of the tickets on Thursday morning were on the Rebels. I will hold my nose and back the Aggies in a buy-low spot in front of the 12th man in College Station.

Pick: Texas A&M + 2

Pittsburgh Panthers at North Carolina Tar Heels (-3, 64.5)

Saturday, 8 p.m. ET

Danny Burke: After an embarrassing performance, especially defensively, at home against Notre Dame, the Tar Heels picked themselves up and began what is now a three-game winning streak. Unfortunately, North Carolina’s defense reverted back to its old habit of not stopping anyone, or anything, in its last game against Duke. But the Tar Heels still managed to hang on. And, now, coming out of their second bye of the season, they get to take on an average Pitt team. 

Kedon Slovis, the former Trojan, has taken the reins of this Panthers offense. And although they are averaging 32 points per game, it hasn’t necessarily been via Slovis and his arm. The transfer quarterback has only five passing touchdowns this season and just as many interceptions. Pitt’s strength comes from its running game, which is racking up about 190 rushing yards per game. The Panthers have also had the benefit of a weak schedule, yet they sit at just 4-3. Losses against Louisville, Georgia Tech and Tennessee don’t seem too egregious on paper, but when you look at who they’ve beaten (West Virginia in Week 1, Western Michigan, Rhode Island, Virginia Tech), it’s not screaming “live underdog” against UNC. 

Historically, it’s been a tough trip for the Panthers going to Chapel Hill (0-6 all time). And it won’t get any easier facing a North Carolina offense, led by quarterback Drake Maye, that is averaging 42 points, 327 passing yards and 506 total yards. I realize UNC’s defense can be a liability, but as long as it limits the Panthers’ ground attack and forces Slovis to make pressured decisions, the Tar Heels should be able to outscore this Pitt team by a healthy margin. 

Pick: North Carolina ML (-145)

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