November must be near. Week 9 of the college football season features the following:
- a game pivotal to both the national title and Big Ten races: Penn State at Ohio State
- a Playoff eliminator: NC State at Notre Dame
- ranked-vs.-ranked games that will sculpt the Big 12 home stretch: TCU at Iowa State, Oklahoma State at WVU
- a key rivalry game that regularly features out-of-character performances and will shape a division race: Florida vs. Georgia
The No. 1 team is on bye, and yet I don’t hear too many people complaining about this being a boring week. (I do, however, hear people complaining about all the good games being on at the same time. I am one of those voices.)
The spread (listed in parentheses) is shown next to S&P+’s pick for each game. When S&P+ predicts a push (a tie with Vegas, basically), I’m listing the pick on the side that S&P+ would’ve picked, if teams could score in decimals.
Ranked vs. ranked
- No. 6 Ohio State (-6.5) 33, No. 2 Penn State 24 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, Fox)
- No. 9 Notre Dame (-7.5) 36, No. 14 NC State 25 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, NBC)
- No. 4 TCU (-6.5) 30, No. 25 Iowa State 22 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ABC/ESPN2)
- No. 11 Oklahoma State (-7.5) 39, No. 22 West Virginia 31 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ABC)
The headliner is in Columbus, but the Big 12 race might be the one most impacted by Week 9.
Other ranked teams in action
- No. 3 Georgia (-14) 35, Florida 17 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, CBS)
- No. 5 Wisconsin 38, Illinois (+27) 12 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN)
- No. 7 Clemson 32, Georgia Tech (+14) 21 (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, ABC/ESPN2)
- No. 8 Miami (-20.5) 39, North Carolina 17 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN2)
- No. 10 Oklahoma 42, Texas Tech (+20) 30 (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, ABC/ESPN2)
- No. 12 Washington (-17.5) 40, UCLA 21 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ABC/ESPN2)
- No. 13 Virginia Tech (-15.5) 33, Duke 16 (Saturday, 7:20 PM ET, ACCN)
- No. 15 Washington State (-3) 30, Arizona 27 (Saturday, 9:30 PM ET, Pac-12)
- No. 16 Michigan State (-2.5) 27, Northwestern 18 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN)
- No. 17 USF (-10.5) 33, Houston 20 (Saturday, 3:45 PM ET, ESPNU)
- No. 18 UCF 68, Austin Peay -3 (Saturday, 5:00 PM ET, ESPN3)*
- No. 20 Stanford (-21) 46, Oregon State 20 (Thursday, 9:00 PM ET, ESPN)
- No. 21 USC (-3) 34, Arizona State 26 (Saturday, 10:45 PM ET, ESPN)
- No. 24 Memphis 36, Tulane (+10.5) 30 (Friday, 8:00 PM ET, CBSSN)
The only reason to believe that Florida can pull an upset over Georgia is that the Gators have pulled off out-of-character results against the Dawgs for three straight years — four, really, including a closer-than-expected loss in 2013. The Florida offense finds life it misplaced against everybody else, and ... well, rivalry games are funky sometimes.
On paper, though, this isn’t a game. We’ll see.
* The number of total points and the projected final margin are determined separately, and once in a blue moon, that results in a negative projected score. One of these days, it’ll really happen, regardless of the rules of actual football. Either way, if you can find an Austin Peay-UCF spread, UCF’s probably beating it.
Power 5 vs. Power 5
- Colorado (-4) 29, California 25 (Saturday, 2:00 PM ET, Pac-12)
- Florida State (-4) 29, Boston College 21 (Friday, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN)
- Indiana (-4.5) 28, Maryland 22 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, BTN)
- Iowa 26, Minnesota (+7) 20 (Saturday, 6:30 PM ET, FS1)
- Kansas State 37, Kansas (+24.5) 20 (Saturday, 3:00 PM ET, FS1)
- Kentucky 26, Tennessee (+4.5) 23 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, SECN)
- Michigan 28, Rutgers (+23.5) 15 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, BTN)
- Mississippi State (-1) 30, Texas A&M 22 (Saturday, 7:15 PM ET, ESPN)
- Ole Miss (-3.5) 35, Arkansas 29 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, SECN)
- Oregon (+3) 28, Utah 28 (Saturday, 5:45 PM ET, Pac-12)
- Purdue (-5.5) 30, Nebraska 23 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, BTN)
- South Carolina (-7) 29, Vanderbilt 21 (Saturday, 4:00 PM ET, SECN)
- Texas (-8) 34, Baylor 24 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ESPNU)
- Virginia (+3) 32, Pittsburgh 24 (Saturday, 12:30 PM ET, ACCN)
- Wake Forest (+3) 30, Louisville 29 (Saturday, 12:20 PM ET, ACCN)
Friday night features an odd matchup between an FSU team struggling to a unique degree and a Boston College that suddenly found an offense between the couch cushions. Steve Addazio and the Eagles can’t send the Noles to 2-5, can they?
FBS vs. FBS
- Appalachian State (-4.5) 33, Massachusetts 24 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, NESN)
- Arkansas State (-4) 34, New Mexico State 28 (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
- Boise State 26, Utah State (+8.5) 24 (Saturday, 10:00 PM ET, CBSSN)
- Buffalo (+5.5) 29, Akron 24 (Saturday, 11:30 AM ET, CBSSN)
- BYU 26, San Jose State (+13) 21 (Saturday, 3:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
- Coastal Carolina (-8.5) 34, Texas State 23 (Saturday, 6:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
- Colorado State (-11) 39, Air Force 27 (Saturday, 3:00 PM ET, CBSSN)
- Florida Atlantic 33, Western Kentucky (+7) 27 (Saturday, 4:30 PM ET, Stadium)
- Fresno State 38, UNLV (+21.5) 21 (Saturday, 10:00 PM ET, MWC Video)
- Idaho 32, UL-Monroe (+3) 30 (Saturday, 5:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
- Louisiana Tech (-13) 35, Rice 20 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, $FloTV)
- Marshall 31, Florida International (+17) 18 (Saturday, 2:30 PM ET, Facebook)
- Missouri 38, Connecticut (+12) 31 (Saturday, 6:30 PM ET, CBSSN)
- North Texas (-10.5) 39, Old Dominion 21 (Saturday, 6:30 PM ET, ESPN3)
- Northern Illinois 25, Eastern Michigan (+7) 18 (Thursday, 7:00 PM ET, CBSSN)
- San Diego State 34, Hawaii (+9.5) 27 (Saturday, 11:15 PM ET, ESPN2)
- SMU (-9) 46, Tulsa 26 (Friday, 9:00 PM ET, ESPN2)
- South Alabama (-1) 29, Georgia State 24 (Thursday, 7:30 PM ET, ESPNU)
- Southern Miss (-13) 33, UAB 19 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, $CUSA Video)
- Toledo 38, Ball State (+26) 20 (Thursday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
- Troy (-25.5) 38, Georgia Southern 10 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN3)
- UTSA (-16) 39, UTEP 15 (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, $CUSA Video)
- Wyoming (+1) 26, New Mexico 25 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, ESPNU)
The MWC Mountain Division race should be pretty well-defined after this week. If Boise State and Colorado State both win (and they’re both favored to do so), the two teams will be two weeks from basically a winner-takes-all battle in CSU’s pretty new Fort Collins stadium. But Air Force and Utah State are both pretty tricky. An upset or two, and the division potentially opens wide.
Each year at Football Study Hall, I have posted weekly S&P+ picks as a way of affirming the ratings’ validity. I use my S&P+ system as a complement to most of my analysis, and the picks are a way of showing it generally knows what it’s talking about.
S&P+ tends to hit between 50 (meh) and 54 percent (great) against the spread from year to year. It isn’t always the single best performer, but it holds its own. And beyond picks, it goes deeper than any other set of college football analytics on the market. You can go into granular detail regarding team strengths and weaknesses in a way that no other set of ratings allows. (See the annual team statistical profiles as proof.)
This year, I will be posting the weekly S&P+ picks at SB Nation instead of FSH.
Because I like to experiment, however, I won’t just be posting the official S&P+ picks. Go to this Google doc, and you will find three sets of picks: S&P+, F/+ (combined ratings from S&P+ and Brian Fremeau’s FEI), and what I’m calling an adjusted S&P+ pick, in which I attempt to account for two additional factors: week of play and type of game.
- Week of play: I’m finding that there are cycles to scoring averages throughout a given season. Week 1 typically falls below the season scoring average, while the final weeks of the season tend to perk up in the scoring department. This adjusted projection will take this into account.
- Game type: It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that the standard deviation of possible results in a game against FCS competition, for instance, is different than that of a conference game. This projection will also adjust for different types of games. This will mean some pretty extreme projections, but we’ll see how it performs.