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Week 9 college football picks: South Carolina to challenge Mizzou, UCLA to slow Oregon

Expecting a shootout in UCLA vs. Oregon? Think Missouri will run away from South Carolina like it did Georgia and Florida? Let's get to this week's best bets.Above, Dan Rubenstein picks this week's five biggest games.

A 6-7 week 8 drops me to 76-66 (54 percent, +$561). Let's get to the wagers. For up-to-date odds information, visit OddsShark.

As usual, I'll offer analysis on the games involving ranked teams. If you have questions about any of my wagers, or just want to discuss another game, please do head to the comments section.

  • I have a lot of respect for UCLA's defense, and think that Oregon's defense is fairly underrated and often overshadowed by its offense. But, UCLA has a ton of youth on offense, and I worry that they'll not remain composed and able to play their desired, slower pace. Vegas thinks the score will be 47-24, but I think both defenses will hold this to a game played in the 60s.
  • Clemson was destroyed last Saturday by Florida State, but a careful examination of the game shows that Clemson's defense played better than most realized. I think the trip to Maryland will be sloppy and lower scoring, particularly because Maryland lost star receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long last week.
  • Everyone believes that the SEC East race is over and that South Carolina will roll over after the awful loss to Tennessee last weekend. But I expect star running back Mike Davis to have a big game and compensate for the loss of Connor Shaw, who's likely not starting. I also expect the Gamecocks to have a better plan for new QB Matty Mauk than the Gators did last weekend.
  • Penn State is a much better team at home than on the road, and I think value on the Nittany Lions is somewhat diminished after the win over a choking Michigan squad. Ohio State at home will produce too many big plays, and Christian Hackenberg will struggle in his first big road test.
  • Stanford can run the football and play strong defense. Its offense isn't amazing, but it has played three defenses in as many weeks (Washington, Utah and UCLA) that are considerably stronger than what Oregon State has.
  • Like Penn State, Tennessee is another young team that I believe will play much different on the road than it has at home. I like Tennessee on the offensive and defensive line, but its skill position players are at a major disadvantage against an Alabama team that has really been clicking of late. And there is no look-ahead angle here, as the Tide get a bye week before the coming LSU game.
  • USC is having trouble fielding a healthy offense, and Utah stops the run quite well. Meanwhile USC's defense is very good. Let's go under.
  • TCU plays excellent defense, but its offense is putrid. It does have QB Trevone Boykin, who can scramble around a good bit, and that's one thing that has given Texas' defense trouble.
  • Auburn is having a dream season under new coach Gus Malzahn, but Florida Atlantic plays very good defense, ball control offense, and has good special teams. It wouldn't surprise me to see an Auburn hangover here after the huge win over Texas A&M.
  • I think Iowa State is done, and that Oklahoma State's win over TCU last weekend could build some confidence.
  • Speaking of done, Louisville's chance at a championship season is now finished. Will Louisville be sharp and focused to head to Tampa to take on a USF team that, despite being awful, has a lot of fight? We shall see.

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