Week 9 college football power ratings and game spreads

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com) 

USATSI_19280268

The weekly variance in college football feels higher than ever before. Maybe it’s just a giant helping of recency bias, but the week-to-week performances feature a lot of head-scratchers, don’t they? That’s why box score study is so important, not only to find out what happened in the game, but find out who played in the game.

This past week, we had a bunch of replacement quarterbacks in the Group of Five ranging from “we thought it was possible” to “this is the first we’re hearing of this”. Most college coaches shy away from sharing injury information, especially with programs that don’t have a lot of people on the beat. Bettors find out some of this inside intel and you’ll see line moves, but the average bettor isn’t going to have any idea and then may make some incorrect judgments based on the results.

Todd Centeio of James Madison, Collin Schlee of Kent State, James Blackman of Arkansas State and Cooper Legas of Utah State were among the quarterbacks that missed games last week for teams that failed to cover the spread. Those weren’t the only ones, but those were three that did create some line movement in the market. James Madison wound up going 0-for-17 on third down. Kent State never came close to covering against Akron with a true freshman at QB. Utah State was inept offensively against Wyoming in a game that also featured wind.

These weren’t the first and won’t be the last, but it is critically important to know whether or not a starting quarterback played in the game and how much of it he actually played before you start looking at results and reading too much into them. Of course, then you also have to keep in mind that those signal callers might be out again.

I’ve also mentioned this multiple times already, but the dispersal of talent across the country thanks to how easy it is to transfer has really created a lot of parity, particularly in the Group of Five. The elites are still the elites in the Power Five conferences, but we’ve even seen a lot of Jekyll-and-Hyde performances from middle-tier teams in those leagues. It’s just the reality that we live in.

Here are my Week 9 Power Ratings:

Rank

Team

Conference

PR

HFA

1

Georgia

SEC

98.5

3.5

2

Ohio State

Big Ten

98.5

3.5

3

Alabama

SEC

93.5

3.5

4

Michigan

Big Ten

89

3

5

Tennessee

SEC

87

2.5

6

TCU

Big 12

86.5

2

7

Oregon

Pac-12

86

3

8

LSU

SEC

85

2.5

9

Texas

Big 12

85

2

10

USC

Pac-12

84

2

11

Clemson

ACC

82.5

3.5

12

Utah

Pac-12

81.5

3.5

13

Kansas State

Big 12

80.5

2

14

Ole Miss

SEC

80.5

2

15

UCLA

Pac-12

80

2

16

Kentucky

SEC

79.5

2

17

Wake Forest

ACC

79

2.5

18

Baylor

Big 12

78.5

2

19

Florida State

ACC

78.5

2

20

Oklahoma State

Big 12

78.5

3

21

Penn State

Big Ten

78

2.5

22

Texas Tech

Big 12

77.5

2

23

Arkansas

SEC

77

2

24

Cincinnati

AAC

76.5

3.5

25

Notre Dame

Independent

76

3.5

26

Syracuse

ACC

75.5

2

27

Oklahoma

Big 12

75

3.5

28

Washington

Pac-12

75

2

29

Illinois

Big Ten

74.5

1.5

30

Iowa State

Big 12

74.5

2.5

31

Minnesota

Big Ten

74.5

2

32

Texas A&M

SEC

74.5

3.5

33

Boise State

Mountain West

74

2.5

34

Mississippi State

SEC

74

2.5

35

North Carolina

ACC

73.5

2

36

UCF

AAC

73.5

3.5

37

Washington State

Pac-12

73.5

3

38

Oregon State

Pac-12

73

2

39

Purdue

Big Ten

73

2

40

Louisville

ACC

72.5

2

41

Maryland

Big Ten

72.5

2

42

South Carolina

SEC

72.5

2

43

West Virginia

Big 12

72.5

2.5

44

Wisconsin

Big Ten

72.5

2

45

James Madison

Sun Belt

71.5

2

46

Pitt

ACC

71.5

2

47

Appalachian State

Sun Belt

71

3.5

48

Florida

SEC

71

3

49

Troy

Sun Belt

71

2

50

East Carolina

AAC

70.5

1.5

51

San Jose State

Mountain West

70.5

2

52

Air Force

Mountain West

70

2.5

53

Arizona State

Pac-12

70

2.5

54

Auburn

SEC

70

3

55

South Alabama

Sun Belt

70

2

56

Toledo

MAC

70

2.5

57

Tulane

AAC

70

3

58

Kansas

Big 12

69

1

59

Stanford

Pac-12

69

2

60

California

Pac-12

68

2

61

Iowa

Big Ten

68

3

62

NC State

ACC

68

3

63

SMU

AAC

68

3.5

64

UAB

Conference USA

68

3.5

65

Arizona

Pac-12

67.5

2

66

BYU

Independent

67.5

2

67

Miami (FL)

ACC

67.5

2.5

68

Missouri

SEC

67.5

2.5

69

UTSA

Conference USA

67

2

70

Fresno State

Mountain West

66.5

2.5

71

Houston

AAC

66

2

72

Michigan State

Big Ten

66

2

73

Western Kentucky

Conference USA

66

2

74

Marshall

Sun Belt

65.5

2

75

Memphis

AAC

65.5

3.5

76

Nebraska

Big Ten

65

1.5

77

Rutgers

Big Ten

65

1.5

78

Coastal Carolina

Sun Belt

64

2

79

Liberty

Independent

64

3.5

80

Tulsa

AAC

64

2

81

Duke

ACC

63.5

2

82

Indiana

Big Ten

62

2

83

Louisiana

Sun Belt

61.5

3

84

North Texas

Conference USA

61.5

2

85

Arkansas State

Sun Belt

61

2

86

Georgia Southern

Sun Belt

61

2.5

87

Navy

AAC

61

2

88

Southern Miss

Sun Belt

61

2

89

Virginia

ACC

61

3

90

Buffalo

MAC

60.5

3.5

91

Georgia State

Sun Belt

60.5

2

92

Georgia Tech

ACC

60

2

93

Virginia Tech

ACC

60

2

94

Wyoming

Mountain West

60

2.5

95

Old Dominion

Sun Belt

59

2

96

Rice

Conference USA

59

1

97

Eastern Michigan

MAC

58.5

2

98

Ohio

MAC

58.5

2

99

Texas State

Sun Belt

58.5

1.5

100

Army

Independent

58

3

101

San Diego State

Mountain West

58

2

102

Boston College

ACC

57.5

2

103

UNLV

Mountain West

57.5

1

104

Kent State

MAC

57

2.5

105

Northwestern

Big Ten

57

2

106

Utah State

Mountain West

57

2

107

Middle Tennessee

Conference USA

56.5

2.5

108

Northern Illinois

MAC

56.5

2

109

Ball State

MAC

56

2

110

Florida Atlantic

Conference USA

56

3

111

UTEP

Conference USA

56

1

112

Louisiana-Monroe

Sun Belt

55.5

2

113

Vanderbilt

SEC

55.5

1

114

South Florida

AAC

53

2

115

Miami (OH)

MAC

52.5

3

116

Colorado

Pac-12

52

2

117

Temple

AAC

52

2

118

Louisiana Tech

Conference USA

51.5

2

119

New Mexico

Mountain West

51.5

1

120

Bowling Green

MAC

50.5

1

121

UConn

Independent

50.5

1

122

Western Michigan

MAC

50

2

123

Central Michigan

MAC

49.5

2.5

124

Colorado State

Mountain West

46.5

1.5

125

Nevada

Mountain West

45.5

3

126

New Mexico State

Independent

45.5

2

127

Charlotte

Conference USA

44.5

2

128

Hawaii

Mountain West

44

2

129

FIU

Conference USA

43

2

130

Akron

MAC

41.5

1

131

UMass

Independent

37

1.5

Here are my Week 9 adjustments:

Up: App State + 1.5, Temple + 2, TCU + 2.5, South Carolina + 1.5, Rutgers + 2, Ohio State + 2, Wake Forest + 1.5, Louisville + 2, Liberty + 2.5, Houston + 1.5, Bowling Green + 2, Akron + 2.5, Western Michigan + 1, Ohio + 2.5, Old Dominion + 2.5, Syracuse + 4, Wyoming + 2, Fresno State + 2, Arizona State + 1.5, Oregon + 3, North Texas + 1.5, LSU + 4, Texas Tech + 4, FIU + 3.5, Wisconsin + 2, Rice + 2, Northwestern + 2, Hawaii + 3.5, Cal + 2.5, Cincinnati + 1.5, Louisiana + 2, Coastal Carolina + 2, Colorado + 3

Down: Georgia State -1.5, Georgia Tech -2, Tulsa -2, Kansas State -2, Miami (FL) -4.5, Texas A&M -5, Indiana -2, Boston College -2.5, Pitt -3.5, BYU -2, Navy -1.5, Central Michigan -4, Kent State -3.5, Miami (OH) -2, Northern Illinois -4, James Madison -2.5, Georgia Southern -1.5, Clemson -2, Utah State -3.5, Notre Dame -4, Oregon State -2, Washington -1.5, UCLA -2, UTSA -2, Ole Miss -2, Kansas -2, Vanderbilt -2.5, Charlotte -5, Purdue -2, San Diego State -2, Mississippi State -3, Louisiana Tech -2, Colorado State -2.5, Boise State -1.5, UCF -2, New Mexico State -3, Iowa -2, Stanford -2.5

Injury: Maryland -6 (if Tagovailoa out), Minnesota -4 (if Morgan out), Miami -5 (if Van Dyke out), UAB -3 (if Hopkins out), Kansas State -4 (if Martinez out; other inj.), Kent State -5 (if Schlee out), James Madison -6 (if Centeio is out), Arkansas State -5 (if Blackman out)

Obviously you see that there are several quarterbacks listed there that will alter a line greatly whether they are in or out. Those adjustments are in addition to any changes to the team power ratings that have already taken place.

A few notes on the biggest changes:

Texas A&M -5: The Aggies are a mess right now and the athletic department is probably trying to figure out whether or not Jimbo Fisher’s buyout is worth the cost or if he recruiting prowess might lead to good things down the line. I had A&M -6 against South Carolina last week in a game that closed 3 and the Aggies lost outright. They were better than the final score, but this is a team in turmoil.

Charlotte -5: Speaking of turmoil, Charlotte did fire Will Healy after getting taken to the woodshed by a really bad FIU team. Even with Chris Reynolds back (who was benched last week), this team stinks to high heaven.

Miami (FL) -4.5: The Hurricanes committed eight turnovers against Duke and the Blue Devils scored on a lot of short fields, but this Miami team is bad in a lot of facets and Mario Cristobal isn’t impressing anybody in Coral Gables. Great recruiter, bad coach. We’ll also see if Tyler Van Dyke is out for a while, which would force another adjustment.

Texas Tech + 4: Behren Morton played extremely well against West Virginia and it looks like the Red Raiders have their quarterback. They’ve had injuries at the position and have been forced to experiment much of the season, but a good coaching staff in Lubbock has this rig rolling in the right direction.

Syracuse + 4: So, I realized that I’m not really in line with the market on Syracuse based on where I initially had the line against Notre Dame this week. I also didn’t realize that they are + 1.76 yards per play on the season with a top-15 defense and a top-30 offense. I guess I’ve been underestimating them.

LSU + 4: Brian Kelly has it all working down in Baton Rouge. Jayden Daniels was a phenomenal free agent grab in the transfer portal and this team looks so much better than it did early in the season. The mark of a good coach is how a team progresses throughout the season and the Tigers look very strong right now.

Notre Dame -4: The Fighting Irish coasted to a win over UNLV, but Drew Pyne still doesn’t look very good and Notre Dame just isn’t able to punish teams physically. Stanford barely beat Arizona State last week and had a really bad offensive showing despite about 1,000 pass attempts. UNLV is just in shambles and Notre Dame really let them hang around after the first quarter. I haven’t had a good handle on them all season, but they got bumped down again.

Central Michigan -4: Trying to figure out the teams in the MAC on a weekly basis is like trying to herd stray cats. The conference is an absolute dumpster fire this season. But, Central Michigan seems to be one of the teams engulfed in flames, as they are decent defensively, but just awful on offense.

FIU + 3.5: I wanted to mention FIU here because Mike MacIntyre is doing one hell of a job. This was a team that basically quit at the end of last season, lost a bunch of players, was recycling threadbare uniforms and just in complete disarray. They’re way better than I expected and they’ve actually had some very nice data points recently. I had to give them some love this week.

Here are my Week 9 game lines:

Date

Away

Home

My Line

10/27

Virginia Tech

NC State

-11

 

Louisiana

Southern Miss

-1.5

 

Utah

Washington State

+ 5

 

 

 

 

10/28

East Carolina

BYU

+ 1

 

Louisiana Tech

FIU

+ 6.5

 

 

 

 

10/29

Illinois

Nebraska

+ 8

 

Boston College

UConn

+ 6

 

Coastal Carolina

Marshall

-3.5

 

New Mexico State

UMass

+ 7

 

Miami (OH)

Akron

+ 10

 

Missouri

South Carolina

-7

 

Kentucky

Tennessee

-10

 

TCU

West Virginia

+ 11.5

 

Georgia Tech

Florida State

-20.5

 

Ohio State

Penn State

+ 18

 

Wake Forest

Louisville

+ 4.5

 

Notre Dame

Syracuse

-1.5

 

Michigan State

Michigan

-26

 

Miami (FL) (w/ Van Dyke)

Virginia

+ 3.5

 

Cincinnati

UCF

-0.5

 

Northwestern

Iowa

-14

 

Toledo

Eastern Michigan

+ 9.5

 

Old Dominion

Georgia State

-3.5

 

Pitt

North Carolina

-4

 

Rutgers

Minnesota (w/ Morgan)

-11.5

 

South Alabama

Arkansas State (w/ Blackman)

+ 7

 

Oklahoma

Iowa State

-2

 

Arizona State

Colorado

+ 16

 

Colorado State

Boise State

-30

 

Charlotte

Rice

-15.5

 

USC

Arizona

+ 14.5

 

San Diego State

Fresno State

-11

 

Stanford

UCLA

-13

 

Oregon

Cal

+ 16

 

USF

Houston

-15

 

SMU

Tulsa

+ 2

 

Oklahoma State

Kansas State (w/ Martinez)

-4

 

Baylor

Texas Tech

-1

 

Ole Miss

Texas A&M

+ 2.5

 

Arkansas (w/ Jefferson)

Auburn

+ 4

 

Temple

Navy

-9

 

North Texas

Western Kentucky

-6.5

 

Florida

Georgia (N – Jacksonville)

-27.5

 

Wyoming

Hawaii

+ 14

 

UAB (w/ Hopkins)

FAU

+ 9

 

Middle Tennessee

UTEP

-0.5

 

Nevada

San Jose State

-27

Some early picks to consider:

East Carolina + 3 (-1) at BYU: I know it’s hard to make a team from Greenville, NC a favorite in Provo, UT, but BYU has looked pretty bad multiple times this season and has been a very disappointing team against the spread. I happen to think East Carolina’s pretty good. Maybe BYU rights the ship here. I’ll wait and see if 3.5 shows up before I get involved.

New Mexico State -3 (-7) at UMass: I realize that there’s no way that New Mexico State could be laying a big number 2,500 miles from home, but UMass is really awful and the Aggies have been showing some mild signs of life this season. I actually had this higher before I adjusted NMSU down to be a little more in line with the market.

TCU -7.5 (-11.5) at West Virginia: I hate, hate, hate this spot for TCU, but I think this line is a little cheap given where the two teams are and have been. WVU has allowed over six yards per play and TCU is the third-ranked offense in the country by YPP. Bad spot or not, how does WVU get stops here?

Tune in for more early-week thoughts on the VSiN College Football Podcast with host Tim Murray. I’ll join him for the Tuesday episode and we’ll talk more about my power ratings adjustments, games of note, the weeknight games and a whole lot more. Listen, rate, review, subscribe!

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