Week 9 of the college football season is here, with another Saturday of terrific matchups.
Our handicappers Adam Burke, Tim Murray, Wes Reynolds and Scott Seidenberg are here to give you their best bets for the weekend's card.
Overall record: 34-40-3 ATS
Lines are consensus odds from VSiN's college football lines page, as of Wednesday night.
Saturday, Oct. 30
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-1.5, 42) at Illinois Fighting Illini
Murray: There is no bigger letdown spot in college football this week than Illinois. As a 25-point underdog, the Illini stunned Penn State last week 20-18 in nine (yes, nine) overtimes. It wasn’t the prettiest football game, but Bret Bielema’s squad pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the college football season. Back in Week 0, Illinois opened the season with a 30-22 win over Nebraska as a 6.5-point underdog. The following week the Illini lost to UTSA as 4.5-point favorites. This weekend, Rutgers heads to Champaign as a short 1.5-point favorite.
After a 3-0 start to the season, Rutgers has started Big Ten play with four straight losses. The first three were understandable (Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State), but the 21-7 loss at Northwestern was ugly. The question about the Scarlet Knights heading into Saturday afternoon is: Which rush defense will show up? In a 17-7 Week 2 win over Syracuse, Rutgers held the Orange to a season-low 67 rushing yards; Syracuse is currently averaging 242 rushing yards per game (ranked No. 8 in nation). Orange RB Sean Tucker leads the nation with 1,060 rushing yards. Rutgers held Tucker to just 54 yards on the ground, his only game under 100 yards rushing this season. Syracuse also held Michigan (No. 5, 253 YPG) to a season-low 112 rushing yards in a 20-13 loss in Ann Arbor. Rutgers did fail to contain Michigan State’s RB Kenneth Walker III, who ran for 233 yards including a 94-yard touchdown run.
Illinois is about as one-dimensional as a service academy. The Illini head into Week 9 ranked 129th (out of 130) in the country in passing efficiency, averaging just 139.2 passing yards per game, which is 124th nationally. If you remove option-focused teams (Army, Navy, Air Force, Georgia Southern), only San Diego State and Colorado average fewer passing yards per game. Illini QB Art Sitkowski broke his arm in overtime and will miss the remainder of the season, so Michigan transfer Brandon Peters will step back in at quarterback.