All wagers at -110 odds unless otherwise noted. Visit Odds Shark for updated lines throughout each game week.
Season record: 93-100.
A 16-11-1 Week 8 was great, but it could have been so much better, with numerous hard-luck losses coming my way. On the year I am now 8-22 in games decided by a field goal, and 34-51 in those decided by a single score. Bad luck in those games is the difference between a winning and losing record.
That’s OK, though, because October’s been much better than September. Below are my Week 9 college football picks, on everything from some of the weekend’s biggest FBS games to some of the smallest. Bets cash the same, whether the game’s on ESPN or ESPN3.
1. Akron -15 at Buffalo: Distinguishing between below average (Akron), bad, and awful (Buffalo) teams is an important aspect of wagering. There is look-ahead possibility for the Zips, with Toledo on deck, but Buffalo might be the worst team in the country.
2. Cal at USC -14.5: Since making the switch to QB Sam Darnold, USC has outscored Pac-12 opponents by 55 points.
3. Navy at South Florida -7.5: Navy is by far the worst one-loss team in the country, and I expect USF to get things turned around after a disappointing loss at Temple.
4. San Diego State at Utah State +7: I backed San Diego State successfully in Week 8, but Utah State has been playing better of late.
5. Air Force -13 at Fresno State: Fresno State did fire its coach, but it did not get a new roster. This is a rare 2016 opportunity to get Air Force on the cheap.
6. Michigan -23 at Michigan State: If Michigan wins, it will be because the Wolverines held the Spartans under 17 points. I think that will happen. Spartans QB Brian Lewerke was just 11 of 24 for 156 yards against Maryland.
7. Baylor at Texas +3.5: When a line makes little sense, often the best plan is to take the nonsensical side. Baylor's schedule has been embarrassingly weak. Again.
8. Clemson -4 at Florida State: How much of Florida State's defensive improvement is fool's gold as a result of playing immobile quarterbacks? That, plus FSU's offensive slump makes me believe Clemson is the right side.
9. West Virginia at Oklahoma State +4.5: Eventually, betting against West Virginia will pay off. Outside of the Texas Tech game, West Virginia's offense has not been good by Big 12 standards.
10. Nebraska at Wisconsin -8: Nebraska's schedule has been a joke, and the Cornhuskers have not dominated it. Wisconsin has played Michigan, Ohio State, and LSU tough.
11. Auburn -4 at Ole Miss: This feels like chasing line value, as the odds opened at Auburn -1. But Auburn has been rolling, and Ole Miss playing poorly.
12. Miami at Notre Dame +2.5: Both teams are reeling, but Notre Dame is off a bye and healthier.
13. Washington -10 at Utah: Utah is 4-1 in games decided by a single score.
14. Middle Tennessee -17 at FIU: FIU is one of the worst three-loss teams in the country. Middle Tennessee just scored 51 points at Missouri.
15. Cincinnati at Temple -7: I am unconvinced that all of Cincinnati's issues have been fixed after a win over East Carolina. Temple is running well, and the Bearcats allowed a combined 635 yards rushing over their last three games.
16. Army at Wake Forest -6: Laying points with Wake Forest feels scary, but Army has lost its last three FBS games.
17. Texas Tech at TCU -8: TCU's defense has been playing better, and facing Texas Tech should help the Frogs' offense.
18. Penn State -11 at Purdue: I looked for every angle to not bet this, as it is a clear letdown situation following the Ohio State win. But Penn State is a good team, and its offense has played well in every game other than Michigan and Ohio State.
19. Maryland at Indiana -5: Indiana is one of the best teams with a losing record in the country. Maryland is one of the worst teams to have two or fewer losses.
20. Kent State +15 at Central Michigan: Kent State has been both bad and unlucky. The unlucky part (0-4 in games decided by a single score) helps create some line value.
21. Kansas State at Iowa State +7: The Wildcats are coming off an emotional win over Texas and have Oklahoma State on deck. Iowa State is off a bye.
22. Stanford at Arizona +6: Something is fundamentally wrong with Stanford. Arizona should not be this big of an underdog at home.
23. Duke at Georgia Tech -6.5: Both teams are off a bye, but Georgia Tech should be able to score enough to put this one away.
24. Rice +28 at Louisiana Tech: Louisiana Tech has been good to my win column this year, but this line is inflated.
25. Boise State -13.5 at Wyoming: Boise State has faced a much tougher schedule than Wyoming has. The one decent team that Wyoming faced, Nebraska, blew out the Cowboys by 35 points.
26. North Texas +3.5 at UTSA: North Texas has really hit its stride after a tough start.
27. Kentucky at Missouri -4: I am back on the Missouri train. Kentucky has improved, but those close wins were at home.
28. ULM at Arkansas State -20: This is not a bet for Arkansas State, but a pure fade of ULM.
29. UNLV -3 at San Jose State: San Jose State is an awful team, while UNLV is merely bad.