Last week saw the #2 OSU Buckeyes get blasted by the Purdue Boilermakers arguably knocking them from the CFP race. This week is a down week for marquee ranked matchups. However, the two we have will have major implications on who finishes where in their respective conferences. The Gators and Bulldogs will face off in what will likely be the deciding factor of who comes out of the SEC East to battle the winner of the West. While the Stanford and Washington State matchup will have heavy implications on who wins the Pac-12 North. Here are our Week 9 College Football Big Games and Top Picks…
#9 Florida vs #8 Georgia – 3:30pm ET
Line: Georgia -7
This Saturday, one of the nations biggest rivalries will go head-to-head at the world’s largest cocktail party. Both teams are coming off of a bye, allowing them an extra week of preparation for the biggest showdown of the season in the SEC East. With Georgia, Kentucky, and Florida all tied atop the division, this game could very well decide who’s going to make an appearance in the SEC Championship game. Florida is looking to build off of an impressive on the road comeback at Vanderbilt. While the Bulldogs are looking to bounce back after suffering their first loss of the season to the LSU Tigers, a team in which the Florida Gators have already beaten. Neither team has a lights-out quarterback, and both will rely heavily on their defenses. Neither side has home-field advantage as the game is played annually at a neutral site in Jacksonville, Florida. The Gators are 4-1 against the spread in the last five matchups against the Bulldogs. If Sophomore quarterback Feleipe Franks can find his open receivers and get the Gators off to an early lead, it will be hard for the Bulldogs to win this game. The Dawgs bread-and-butter is their running game. They run the ball as efficiently as anyone in the country. However, they are very mediocre as a passing offense and struggle to make up ground when they fall behind. The Gators have one of the nations elite defenses at all three levels. They have terrific pass rushers, arguably the nations best linebacker in Vosean Joseph, and a world-class secondary. If the Gators can build a slight early lead, and let their defense take them home from there, then they should not only cover the spread but also flat-out win the game. The winner of the SEC East has been one of these two teams 7 of the past ten years, and it’s more than likely to be that way again this season. The winner of this game will be right in the College Football Playoff hunt while the loser will be on the outskirts looking in. In other words, this is a season make or breaker matchup right here. We’re rolling with the Gators.
Prediction: Florida 20-17 Georgia
#2 Clemson at Florida State – 12:00pm ET
Line: Clemson -17
The Clemson Tigers are fresh off of a beat down against the NC State Wolfpack to take sole first place of the ACC Atlantic Division. The Tigers are 3-0 against the Seminoles in their last three meetings. However, the Seminoles are 2-1 against the spread in those three games. Florida State started the season terribly. Their offense looked out of rhythm; their defense couldn’t stop anybody, nothing was going as expected. The last three weeks they’ve looked much better, and much more comfortable. They still have major issues on their offensive line, which could provide serious problems against the Tigers. Clemson hosts arguably the best defensive line in all of football. If they can consistently get pressure on Seminoles quarterback DeAndre Francois, it’s going to be a long afternoon for Willie Taggart and his ball club. The Clemson Tigers have the nations top recruit in true freshman Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence has an NFL ready arm and terrific poise for how young he is. However, he is still a freshman, and he has yet to play in an environment as hostile as Doak Campbell Stadium. The Seminoles will have to rally behind this crowd on both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively to give themselves any shot at winning. Records aside, the amount of talent on this Seminole roster has been understated. Let’s not forget these Seminoles have had a top-tier recruiting class every season for as far as we can remember. There is talent on this roster, and if they can play to their abilities and stay within the game, they’ll have a chance.
Prediction: Clemson 35-24 FSU
#18 Iowa at #17 Penn State – 3:30 pm ET
Line: PSU -6.5
The Iowa Hawkeyes are coming into Happy Valley looking for their third road win of the season and hoping to remain in the thick of the Big 10 West standings. Penn State, on the other hand, is looking to defend home turf and secure their first win of the season against a ranked team. Iowa consistently fields a relentless defense that never seems to allow you to score many points. The Hawkeyes are only giving up 14.1 points per game on the season. Penn State is in the midst of watching their season fall apart. Just three short weeks ago they were right in the hunt for a College Football Playoff spot, only to then lose back-to-back games to both Ohio State and Michigan State. Last week the Nittany Lions struggled yet again, barely squeaking out a victory against the unranked Indiana Hoosiers. The Hawkeyes, on the other hand, are getting better and better. Their defense is coming full circle, and playing elite football, and their offense is more explosive now then it has been in previous years. The Hawkeyes are 4-0 in their last four road games against the spread, and we’re expecting them to make it 5-0. Iowa is the definition of consistency with the way they run the football, play defense and compete. They’ll come into Happy Valley and not only cover the spread, but win this game.
Prediction: Iowa 24-20 Penn State
#21 USF at Houston – 3:30 pm ET
Line: Houston -6.5
The South Florida Bulls are looking for their ninth straight victory to remain undefeated as they head to Houston trying to stay atop the conference with UCF. Houston is an extremely tough opponent at home. They’ve scored no less than 41 points in every game this season, and have the country’s best defensive player and arguably the top pick in this upcoming NFL Draft in defensive tackle Ed Oliver. Double team, triple team, it doesn’t matter, no one has been able to stop this guy. If he has anywhere close to his usual game, then the Bulls QB Blake Barnett is in for a long afternoon. The Bulls have been great this year at winning close contested games, with four of their last five games coming by way of single-digit victories. The Bulls are going to come in with an edge, as they try to remain unbeaten until their end of the season showdown against the UCF Knights, who are also undefeated. The Bulls will need to establish some offense early to keep the crowd at rest. Their usual go-to offense is on the ground, but with Ed Oliver, in the middle, they’ll more than likely need to find ways to win through the air. Barnett is a shaky passer who has only thrown ten touchdowns on the season and also has seven interceptions. The outcome of this game will likely come down to how much success he can have.
Prediction: USF 42-45 Houston
#14 Washington State at #24 Stanford – 7:00 pm ET
Line: Stanford -3
How sweet would it be for the Cougars to come into Stanford and secure an upset and spoil Homecoming weekend for the Cardinals? Well, that’s exactly what they’re trying to do this coming weekend. Fresh off a victory at home against Oregon, this Mike Leach led team is oozing with confidence. The Cougars are the only team in the nation who remain undefeated against the spread. They’re a perfect 7-0 on the season. Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew has only been sacked five times all season, good for fifth least in the country on the year. The Cardinal’s defense is usually strong across the board, but this season they’ve been susceptible vulnerable against the pass, something the Cougars specialize in. If Stanford wants to have a shot in this game they’ll need a good performance from their quarterback K.J. Costello. Superstar running back Bryce Love has hardly been healthy this entire season. Their once go-to player has been anything but himself. The Cardinals will need to find success through the air to put points on the scoreboard and keep themselves in this ball game. Washington State is coming on the road looking to make a statement and secure their 3rd straight victory against the Cardinals. Don’t bet against them.
Prediction: Washington State 34-27 Stanford