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S&P+ spread picks for every game in college football’s Week 9

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The week’s biggest game is a Playoff eliminator in the SEC, and here’s how S&P+ forecasts everything else in FBS as well.

NCAA Football: Florida at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

If college football answers just one question this weekend, it will be: how seriously should we be taking Florida?

Dan Mullen’s first squad is up to 14th in S&P+ and ninth in the AP poll. In the last month, they have won a grind-it-out battle over Mississippi State in Starkville, handed LSU its only loss, and survived a mountain of bad turnovers luck to win by double digits at Vanderbilt. They have a top-20 defense and a top-10 special teams unit, and while their offense lags in big plays, they’ve become more efficient.

If they pull off a win over Georgia, the Gators are officially your SEC East favorites and a not-so-dark-horse Playoff contender. The Rivalry Formerly Known As the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party has produced an infinite number of unexpected results, and it wouldn’t be particularly surprising if Florida, a touchdown underdog, added another such result.

To some degree, though, this has begun to feel like too much, too soon. In the “progress is rarely linear” department, Florida could be due a setback. Georgia, meanwhile, could be ready for a bounce back after a frustrating loss in Baton Rouge.

S&P+ and Vegas just about agree on this one — S&P+ favors the Dawgs by 6.3 points with a 64 percent win probability — but run defense will be the key either way.

  • Florida’s offense: 25th in Rushing S&P+ (16th in rushing marginal efficiency)
  • Georgia’s defense: 84th in Rushing S&P+ (65th in rushing marginal efficiency)
  • Georgia’s offense: ninth in Rushing S&P+ (fifth in rushing marginal efficiency)
  • Florida’s defense: 56th in Rushing S&P+ (37th in rushing marginal efficiency)

Florida’s run defense has been a little disappointing, and Georgia’s has been a lot disappointing. Both offenses have opportunities, and both offenses desperately need to avoid obvious passing downs. Whoever’s more effective in the trenches becomes your East favorite.

Below are FBS picks and projections using the S&P+ projections, listed in full for all 130 FBS teams here.

See the bottom of the post for more detail about these.

The spread (listed in parentheses) is shown next to S&P+’s pick for each game. The team in bold is projected to beat the spread. (At most books, there is no listed spread for FCS games.) When S&P+ predicts a tie or a push (a tie with Vegas, basically), I list the pick on the side S&P+ would pick if teams could score in decimals.

Gotta say, this week’s lines are terrifying if you’re actually looking to make money. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many games with lines and projections so much in agreement. Wazzu (-3) by 3.1 over Oregon? Ohio (-16.5) by 16.51? Are you kidding me?

This document breaks games (and S&P+’s season performance to date) out into their decimal glory. This year, I am including and monitoring total (over/under) picks as well.

Weeknight games

A 6-5 start to Week 9 for S&P+:

  • No. 13 West Virginia 40, Baylor (+14) 29 — West Virginia won and covered, 58-14
  • No. 23 Utah (-10.5) 34, UCLA 21 — Utah won and covered, 41-10
  • No. 25 Appalachian State (-10) 35, Georgia Southern 23 — Georgia Southern won, 34-14
  • Florida Atlantic (-3.5) 32, Louisiana Tech 28 — LA Tech won, 21-13
  • Miami (-3.5) 28, Boston College 23 — BC won, 27-14
  • Minnesota (+2.5) 27, Indiana 25 — Minnesota won, 38-31
  • Ohio (-11) 40, Ball State 28 — Ohio won and covered, 52-14
  • Troy (-11) 37, South Alabama 26 — Troy won and covered, 38-17
  • Virginia Tech (-3) 35, Georgia Tech 30 — GT won, 49-28
  • Western Michigan 36, Toledo (+6.5) 32 — Toledo won, 51-24
  • Wyoming (+2) 29, Colorado State 26 — Wyoming won, 34-21

Ranked vs. ranked

NCAA Football: Oregon at Washington State
Wazzu’s Dezmon Patmon
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
  • No. 7 Georgia 32, No. 9 Florida (+7) 25 (Oct. 27, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS) (actual projected score: UGA 31.7, UF 25.4)
  • No. 17 Penn State 28, No. 18 Iowa (+6.5) 23 (Oct. 27, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • No. 14 Washington State (+3) 31, No. 24 Stanford 30 (Oct. 27, 7 p.m. ET, Pac-12)

On paper, this is Mike Leach’s most legit Wazzu team. But after last week’s day-long party, can the Cougs avoid a hangover during a physical battle with disappointing Stanford?

Other ranked teams in action

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Kansas State
Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
  • No. 2 Clemson (-17) 34, Florida State 15 (Oct. 27, 12 p.m. ET, ABC)
  • No. 3 Notre Dame 41, Navy (+23.5) 18 (Oct. 27, 8 p.m. ET, CBS) (actual projected score: ND 41.46, Navy 17.99 — Notre Dame by 23.47)
  • Oklahoma State (+3.5) 33, No. 6 Texas 26 (Oct. 27, 8 p.m. ET, ABC)
  • No. 8 Oklahoma (-24.5) 48, Kansas State 20 (Oct. 27, 3:30 p.m. ET, Fox)
  • Missouri 29, No. 12 Kentucky (+7) 25 (Oct. 27, 4 p.m. ET, SECN)
  • No. 15 Washington 29, California (+12) 17 (Oct. 27, 6:30 p.m. ET, FS1) (actual projected score: UW 29.0, Cal 17.3)
  • Mississippi State 26, No. 16 Texas A&M (+2) 24 (Oct. 27, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN) (actual projected score: MSU 25.61, A&M 23.63 — MSU by 1.98 ... get out of my computer, Vegas)
  • No. 19 Oregon 34, Arizona (+9.5) 28 (Oct. 27, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • No. 20 Wisconsin (-7) 35, Northwestern 24 (Oct. 27, 12 p.m. ET, Fox)
  • Houston 35, No. 21 USF (+7.5) 30 (Oct. 27, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2)
  • No. 22 NC State 29, Syracuse (+2.5) 28 (Oct. 27, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Each year, S&P+ seems to hold onto infatuations with certain teams for longer than it maybe should. Oklahoma State might be one of those teams; the Cowboys drastically underachieved their projections in each of their last two games (a six-point loss to Iowa State and a baffling 19-point loss to Kansas State) but are still holding onto a No. 22 S&P+ ranking thanks to early-season explosiveness and friendly preseason projections.

Either that dies this week, or the Pokes pull a top-10 upset. (Or something in between, but let me believe that it’s a simple either/or.)

Power 5 vs. Power 5

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Purdue
Purdue’s D.J. Knox
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
  • Arkansas (+1.5) 30, Vanderbilt 25 (Oct. 27, 12 p.m. ET, SECN)
  • Colorado 41, Oregon State (+24.5) 24 (Oct. 27, 3 p.m. ET, Pac-12)
  • Duke (-3) 31, Pittsburgh 23 (Oct. 27, 3:30 p.m. ET, ACCN)
  • Iowa State 31, Texas Tech (+3.5) 30 (Oct. 27, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • Louisville (-2.5) 30, Wake Forest 27 (Oct. 27, 12 p.m. ET, ACCN)
  • Maryland 35, Illinois (+18) 22 (Oct. 27, 3:30 p.m. ET, BTN)
  • Purdue (+1.5) 29, Michigan State 28 (Oct. 27, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • South Carolina 34, Tennessee (+7.5) 27 (Oct. 27, 7:30 p.m. ET, SECN)
  • TCU 31, Kansas (+13.5) 19 (Oct. 27, 3 p.m. ET, FS1)
  • USC 31, Arizona State (+6) 26 (Oct. 27, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2)
  • Virginia (-9) 31, North Carolina 19 (Oct. 27, 12:20 p.m. ET, ACCN)

Like Wazzu, Purdue has to go on the road to face a physical, joy-killing, and slightly disappointing team a week after a field-rushing Saturday night win. Can Jeff Brohm get his players dialed in again?

FBS vs. FBS

NCAA Football: Hawaii at Colorado State
Hawaii’s Cole McDonald
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
  • Akron (-4.5) 23, Central Michigan 19 (Oct. 27, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN3) (actual projected score: Akron 23.2, CMU 18.6)
  • Arkansas State 34, UL-Lafayette (+3) 33 (Oct. 27, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
  • Boise State (-9.5) 34, Air Force 22 (Oct. 27, 7 p.m. ET, CBSSN)
  • BYU 24, Northern Illinois (+7) 21 (Oct. 27, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
  • Cincinnati (-9) 32, SMU 19 (Oct. 27, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN)
  • Coastal Carolina (-3.5) 38, Georgia State 34 (Oct. 27, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
  • Eastern Michigan (-1) 33, Army 29 (Oct. 27, 12 p.m. ET, CBSSN)
  • Florida International 30, Western Kentucky (+3.5) 28 (Oct. 27, 7:30 p.m. ET, beIN)
  • Fresno State (-24) 43, Hawaii 17 (Oct. 27, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • Middle Tennessee (-4) 32, Old Dominion 28 (Oct. 27, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+) (actual projected score: MTSU 32.4, ODU 27.6)
  • North Texas (-30) 45, Rice 13 (Oct. 27, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
  • San Diego State 26, Nevada (+3) 23 (Oct. 27, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU) (actual projected score: SDSU 25.65, Nevada 22.69 — SDSU by 2.96)
  • Southern Miss (-7.5) 28, Charlotte 18 (Oct. 27, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Texas State (-3) 29, New Mexico State 23 (Oct. 27, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Tulsa 26, Tulane (+2.5) 24 (Oct. 27, 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
  • UAB (-16) 35, UTEP 16 (Oct. 27, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
  • UMass (-5) 43, UConn 33 (Oct. 27, 12 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
  • UNLV (+2.5) 31, San Jose State 28 (Oct. 27, 6:30 p.m. ET, MWC Video)
  • Utah State 39, New Mexico (+20.5) 22 (Oct. 27, 4 p.m. ET, Facebook)

Earlier this season, Hawaii was college football’s most anti-social team, defying expectations in a way that made us wonder if the Warriors were a threat for the G5’s New Year’s Six bowl. They’ve now lost back-to-back games handily and are projected to continue that against dominant Fresno State and Utah State teams. If they have any defiant magic left, now would be a good time to find it.

FBS vs. FCS

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Nebraska
Nebraska’s Devine Ozigbo
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
  • Nebraska 35, Bethune-Cookman 0 (Oct. 27, 12 p.m. ET, BTN)

NU may have experienced its first 0-6 start ever, but after last week’s win over Minnesota, the Huskers should have three in four games if they take care of business against B-C and Illinois.


Each year, I post 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.

Beyond picks, though, 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.)