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College Football Week 9 Picks

College Football: Week 8 was our second losing week of the year, counting Week 0. After starting the season so well, we have hit an ugly cold stretch over the last two weeks and now sit at 18-18 on the year.

Memphis was drubbed at UCF. Houston won but failed to cover against East Carolina. UAB straight-up lost to Rice (as 23.5-point favorites), and Hawaii won but failed to cover against the abysmal NMSU Aggies.

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A Look Ahead to Week 9

Week 9 is a fun slate, especially compared to last week. Florida will play #1 Georgia in the annual “World’s largest outdoor cocktail party” in Jacksonville, FL. #10 Ole Miss will travel to #18 Auburn. #6 Michigan will play #8 Michigan State in East Lansing. Wisconsin will host #9 Iowa, and #20 Penn State will face #5 Ohio State in Columbus.

This week, we’re going back to the drawing board on our picks. The last few weeks, we followed the money and chased the sharps, and we went 1-7 as a result. It’s time to go back to the basics and apply the reasoning and process that worked for us for so long. We’re going with five picks this week just because we really like the slate.

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

 

#2 Cincinnati -26.5 at Tulane

There are plenty of reasons to like Cincinnati this season, but the top has to be their defense. The Bearcats are 5th in points allowed per game (14.6) and 19th in points-for (41.1). Despite being 56th in yardage (420 per game), their points scored show how efficient they are at scoring TDs, avoiding turnovers, and Red Zone TD rate.

Tulane started off promising, offensively. Since barely losing to Oklahoma in Norman, the Green Wave have congealed into a green pond. Tulane has scored between 21 and 29 points over each of their last five games. However, they’re also surrendering 47 points per game in that stretch.

With a great defense in town and a 5.21% turnover-worthy play percentage (via PFF), Tulane may be running into a meat grinder this week. Sure, we’ve seen Tulane cover easily in a few games they had no business doing so, but now they’re facing an elite defense.

One particularly important tidbit heading into this game is Tulane’s QBR. Without pressure, Michael Pratt (Tulane QB) has a 116.4 QBR. With pressure, it drops down to 23.1. Expect a long day for Pratt, as the game plan for the Bearcats defense is rather simple. This has the makings of an absolute blowout, since Cincy will likely need style points to get into the playoff.

Cincinnati 55 Tulane 14

 

Bowling Green at Buffalo Under 52

Bowling Green has been a sloppy mess over the last month. During that stretch, they’re 0-4 and have given up 37 PPG. Offensively, they’ve been good, but they are a rushing team, who has been scripted into passing, due to the large deficits of late. They know they’re a good running team, but they can’t fall too far behind or things could snowball.

Buffalo run the ball more frequently than Bowling Green (even in negative game scripts). Buffalo runs the ball 56% of the time, compared to Bowling Green at 34%. However, with both teams allowing over 190 yards rushing on defense each game, Bowling Green should focus their efforts more in that specific area this week.

The rub here is the fact we have two good rushing teams facing each other, who also have inferior rush defenses. It means there should be a fast clock in the game. With a heavy run script, there will be less clock stoppages.

Passing efficiency is an issue for both teams as well. This should translate to obvious passing down situations with a low probability of success. The more punts, the merrier. Let’s just hope the run defenses aren’t too awful.

Buffalo 31 Bowling Green 14

 

#1 Georgia -14 vs Florida

Florida might be falling apart (hopefully). The Gators were perceived to be a good defense who could hang in with anyone. After LSU’s record-setting performance on the ground against Florida two weeks ago, we realize Florida probably isn’t the defense we thought they were.

For Georgia, this season has been a culmination of years of pre-season praise. Every year, we hear about how good Georgia will be. This is the first season it appears to be true. The Bulldogs are destroying opponents this season and have shown no signs of slowing. Georgia is allowing just 6.6 PPG and 207 total YPG (both are #1 in the nation).

Considering Georgia’s schedule thus far and their defensive ranking, I don’t know how you can have any other conclusion than, “this is undoubtedly the best defense in the country.” I don’t mind that Florida is coming off a bye. They’re facing the wrong team this week. Even if Florida hadn’t been embarrassed by LSU, I would still like Georgia with this line.

Georgia 38 Florida 17

 

#6 Michigan at #8 Michigan State +4

Michigan State has a tremendous running back in Kenneth Walker III and an awesome receiver in Jayden Green. They are a solid offense (200.4 RYPG and 251 PYPG). Michigan is a defense-focused team with an efficient but less potent offense (than MSU).

Both teams call majority run plays (Michigan is at 64% while Michigan State is 54%) so the clock should be bleeding quite a bit. In these intense rivalry games, it’s common for teams to get a feel of the landscape for a few drives. I expect the same to transpire here. Neither team wants to be the first to blink, because both teams are capable and comfortable utilizing balanced offenses.

If Michigan State gets behind, they have the weapons offensively to make up ground. For Michigan State, they’re going to hope to stay close throughout. I would expect to see a little more creativity early from Jim Harbaugh, due to the flexibility of knowing his defense is stronger overall.

Last season’s game in Ann Arbor was decided on a field goal, and I feel like we should expect the same this season in East Lansing. It’s also probably worth noting that Jim Harbaugh has been historically awful in big games during the regular season.

Michigan State 26 Michigan 23

 

Texas (first half +.5) at #16 Baylor

Toss out the rankings and advanced numbers here, because none of that seems to matter with Texas this season. Over their last two games, Texas has put together tremendous first half performances.

If you want to get technical, Texas has put together tremendous first half performances in every game but the Arkansas game this season. Baylor is a little overrated at this point and trying to cling to their high perch in the Big 12 standings.

Until this point, Baylor has not seen a running back anywhere near the level of Bijan Robinson. Regardless of how effective Bijan is against Baylor, he’s going to free-up With how Texas has played in the first half of games so far this year, it’s worth riding them again this week with their postseason hanging in the balance.

(1st Half) Texas 24 Baylor 14

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