Week 9 college football picks and predictions from Adam Burke


Week 9 best bets for Houston vs. Kansas State, Ohio State vs. Wisconsin

Even though I make my own spreads for college football using my Power Ratings every week, I find that the dynamics of a handicap change the deeper we get into the season. Sure, you still want to consult your numbers or any stats that come into play, but there is a lot more happening that cannot be quantified. As I wrote about in this week’s situational spots article, some teams are not going to reach their goals and this is also the time of year when we see lame-duck head coaches emerge.


Some of those factors are part of my handicaps this week, to go along with looking at my numbers to see where I perceive some line value. With all of those things thrown into the hopper on each game, here are my favorite plays for Week 9.

College Football Odds | College Football Betting Splits | College Football Week 9 Hub

(odds as of October 26, 9:00 a.m. PT)

Houston Cougars at Kansas State Wildcats (-17.5, 58)

Houston was a bad third-down spot away from potentially beating Texas last week. The Cougars failed on a disjointed and sloppy fourth-down play and lost 31-24, but Dana Holgorsen’s crew is really fighting in the Big 12. The other two AAC teams, UCF and Cincinnati, are 0-8 in Big 12 games. Houston has a win and came very close to beating Texas.

This line just looks too high to me. Kansas State is a very good team, but Donovan Smith has blossomed in Holgorsen’s offense. This is an early 11 a.m. local kickoff in Manhattan and Kansas State has Texas on deck. Last week’s blowout win over TCU felt like easily the best game that the Wildcats have played this season and I think they’ll come back to earth here a little against a lesser opponent that they don’t really have history against.

My line is a good bit lower on this game and I’ll trust my biggest power ratings overlay of the week.

Pick: Houston +17.5 (would play to +14.5)

Air Force Falcons (-13, 47) at Colorado State Rams

Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun didn’t make many friends last week with the announcement that QB Zac Larrier would be out a couple weeks, only for him to start against Navy. This week, we’ve seen no such news about Larrier’s availability, so it should be all systems go for the 19th-ranked Falcons.

But, the weather is a concern in this football game. Snow is in the forecast in Fort Collins to go along with a bit of a breeze. That is definitely going to hurt Colorado State more than Air Force, which is part of the reason why we’ve seen this line slowly inch towards -14 on the Falcons’ side. That should push the Falcons to run the ball more and will likely hurt Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi and the Rams offense.

Fowler-Nicolosi was a three-star recruit out of Aledo, Texas and he hasn’t played in a whole lot of weather like this. He’s already thrown 11 INT this season, so he’s struggled to take care of the football as a redshirt freshman and Air Force is likely to have long, backbreaking drives in this game with limited possessions for the Rams.

Colorado State ranks 58th in the nation with 3.91 yards per carry allowed. I’m sure they’ll be cheating up against the run as much as possible with temps going down into the night and wind chills in the teens. There are also reports of up to two inches of snow falling during the game. This is an Under bet for me and I do expect the total to drop even more.

Pick: Under 47 (would play to 44)

Ohio State Buckeyes (-14.5, 45.5) at Wisconsin Badgers

The Buckeyes head to what should be a pretty excited atmosphere at Camp Randall, but likely a subdued one as well. Things haven’t gone as expected in Badger Land this season. SMU transfer Tanner Mordecai broke his hand and wasn’t that effective in Phil Longo’s offense anyway. Team leader Chez Mellusi suffered a season-ending injury, leaving the backfield exclusively to Braelon Allen. Allen is still having a very fine season with 5.9 yards per carry, but with Mellusi and Mordecai out, the next leading rusher is Jackson Acker with 26 carries for 111 yards.

Freshman Braelyn Locke has played two games in place of Mordecai and has completed 36 of 71 passes for 362 yards with two touchdowns and a pick. There won’t be a lot of explosiveness from the Badger offense and the Buckeyes have the best defense they’ve had in a very long time thanks to second-year DC Jim Knowles.

Ohio State’s offense has been underwhelming of late. Injuries to TreVeyeon Henderson, Emeka Egbuka, and others haven’t helped. Wisconsin is still stepping up in class in a big way, as they’ve played Purdue, Rutgers, Iowa, and Illinois in conference play, so their passing numbers are a little fraudulent.

If the Buckeyes get into the upper 20s or low-30s, they should be able to cover this number and I think they’ve got a great chance to do that against a Wisconsin defense that should get exposed a little bit here.

Pick: Ohio State -14.5 (would play at -14.5 or better)

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