The spotlight gets brighter and the target gets bigger on the backs of the undefeated as Week 9 of the college football season rolls around. As we await the release of NBC Sports’ Top 25 poll this week, let’s take a look at those schools still sitting undefeated and assess the chances of their upcoming opponents at least covering the spread this coming weekend.
Georgia Bulldogs (7-0, 4-0)
Saturday vs. Florida Gators (5-2, 3-1)
Site: Jacksonville, Florida
Spread: Georgia -14.5
The world’s greatest outdoor cocktail party has been one-sided over the past half-decade, with the Bulldogs winning five of the last six and outscoring the Gators in those games by an average of 34-17. It’s no surprise that BetMGM lists Georgia as a 14½-point favorite. If Florida wants to derail Georgia’s pursuit of a third straight national title, Billy Napier and the Gators will need help from the Bulldogs. Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs enter the game rested after a week to regroup and adjust to life without their star tight end Brock Bowers.
Michigan Wolverines (8-0, 5-0)
Harbaugh’s crew is off this week. They follow up with a game against Purdue in a few weeks. I can’t imagine the Boilermakers’ team total will be low enough considering how dominant Michigan’s defense was.
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Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0, 4-0)
Saturday @ Wisconsin Badgers (5-2, 3-1)
Site: Madison, Wisconsin
Spread: Ohio State -14.5
After a dominant defensive performance by the Buckeyes in the Horseshoe against Penn State, Ohio State is poised to tie them this Saturday night on NBC at Wisconsin. Freshman Bradin Locke led the Badgers to Saturday’s win over Illinois, but the speed of Ohio State’s defense is a notch or two faster than the Illini’s. Wisconsin will need to control the ball and chew up the clock if they want to threaten the two-touchdown spread. Perhaps the Buckeyes will still be basking in the victory over the Nittany Lions when they invade Camp Randall Stadium. Ryan Day’s broadsides make that unlikely. How suspicious? Well, BetMGM has not offered money line odds for the game.
Florida State Seminoles (7-0, 5-0)
Saturday @ Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-3, 1-3)
Site: Winston-Salem, NC
Spread: FSU -20.5
Maybe Riley Leonard’s ankle kept the Blue Devils from keeping FSU by this article, or maybe the Seminoles’ size just wore Duke down. The spread is just under three touchdowns this weekend when the Seminoles roll into Winston-Salem. Wake Forest’s offense showed something in their 4th quarter comeback win over the Pitt Panthers, but these Demon Deacons are young and have yet to face an opponent with the physical size of Florida State.
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Washington Huskies (7-0, 5-0)
Saturday @ Stanford Cardinal (2-5, 1-4)
Site: Palo Alto, California
Spread: Washington -26.5
The Arizona Sun Devils nearly earned the night off for Michael Penix Jr. and the Washington offense on Saturday. Now Stanford is picking on the Huskies. The Cardinal should be smarting from a 42-7 loss at the hands of the UCLA Bruins at Stanford Stadium last Saturday. Does pride step in and propel the Cardinal to their biggest effort of the season? They will probably need to collect at least 20 points to do so. The good news? They’ve done that four times this season. The bad news? They haven’t done it against a school even with a solid defense. They scored just 10 against USC.
Oklahoma Sooners (7-0, 4-0)
Saturday @ Kansas Jayhawks (5-2, 2-2)
Site: Lawrence, Kansas
Spread: Oklahoma -10
The Kansas Jayhawks welcome the Sooners to campus this weekend. The 10-point spread is the smallest among the undefeated. That doesn’t necessarily spell success for Kansas bettors, as Oklahoma has won 16 straight by an average of 30 points and never by less than 14. That’s the definition of dominance. However, the Sooners were uneventful this past weekend in their battle against UCF. Maybe the spotlight is getting too bright for the undefeated Sooners.
Air Force Falcons (7-0, 4-0)
Saturday @ Colorado State (3-4, 1-2)
Site: Fort Collins, Colorado
Spread: Air Force -11.5
One step closer to defending the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy after a 17-6 victory in Annapolis over Navy, Air Force returns to conference play this weekend at Colorado State. The Falcons’ offense has scored 34 or more goals in all but two games. This week, however, follows that emotional game at the Naval Academy. This means a healthy flight back and forth. They need to recover and be ready to face a Rams team that has yet to score fewer than 23 points in a game this season, and they need to do it a mile above sea level.
So which underdog covers the spread in Week 9 against this group of undefeated heavyweight teams?
Let’s fly with the cardinal. It really is a gamble (pun intended) as to say Stanford has been outscored two of the last three weeks would be an understatement. However, the Washington Huskies have had no time to catch their breath since their clash with Oregon a few Saturdays ago and have had their hands full in each of their last three games. It might be a sweat, but for the Cardinal to get 26½ at home against a team that should be physically and mentally drained is worth the sweat.
*all odds provided by BetMGM