It was good news and bad news for me last week. I won all three of my best bets, with Alabama covering against Tennessee, Buffalo-Kent State going Under and Central Florida covering against Oklahoma, nearly upsetting the Sooners straight-up as a 19-point underdog.
But I also went 0-4 on my leans. Remind me to never go Over on an Iowa game no matter how low the total gets.
Here’s to success on both fronts this week.
Stephen Nover’s TGD Picks Record: 24-30-2
CFB odds used in these betting tips are current as of Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 11:30 p.m. ET
CFB Week 9 Best Bets
USC @ California
BEST BET: California +11 (-110)
bet365 Sportsbook • WAGER: 2 Units
California averages 29.9 points a game, but my handicap is based on fading USC. The Trojans have a bad defense, are on the road and their morale is in question.
Caleb Williams isn’t playing up to his lofty standards – two touchdowns and three interceptions in his last three games – and the situation isn’t good for USC. The Trojans have played four tough games during the past four weeks, while Cal was idle last week.
After escaping Colorado, 48-41, and Arizona, 43-41 after overtime, the Trojans were smashed by Notre Dame, 48-20, and then lost in dagger-to-the-heart type fashion, 34-32, to Utah last week when the Utes made a field goal on the final play.
The terrible loss to Notre Dame likely cost Williams his Heisman Trophy chance, while the devastating defeat to Utah realistically knocked the Trojans out of the Pac-12 title race.
The Trojans have to be physically tiring, and their mental frame can’t be good. Cal has the offense to take advantage.
Memphis @ North Texas
BEST BET: North Texas +7.5 (-110)
bet365 Sportsbook • WAGER: 2 Units
Since Chandler Rogers became the starting quarterback, North Texas has gone 3-2 SU and 4-1 ATS. Rodgers has completed 65 percent of his throws and has a 14-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio this season.
The Mean Green’s only losses during this span were to Navy, 27-24, and to Tulane, 35-28 – the latter as a 20-point underdog last week.
Both of those losses were on the road. North Texas has won seven of its last eight home games and is 7-0 at home against their past seven American Athletic Conference foes.
North Texas clearly is an improved team, while Memphis is an underachieving squad. The Tigers are 2-2 in their last four games, which includes a 10-point home loss to Tulane.
Memphis beat UAB, 45-21, last week but that score was misleading. The Blazers outgained the Tigers but were done in by a minus-4 turnover ratio.
Memphis is surrendering an average of 29.5 points in its last four games. The Tigers rank 86th in run defense and have just five takeaways.
The Mean Green is averaging 34.6 points per game and rank 14th in total yards. Their defense is bad, but their offense is strong enough to pull the outright upset being at home.
North Carolina @ Georgia Tech
BEST BET: Georgia Tech +11.5 (-110)
BetMGM Sportsbook • WAGER: 2 Units
Drake Maye is the best quarterback in college football, but his North Carolina Tar Heels have a disturbing way of blowing up a promising season.
The Tar Heels opened 9-1 last year before losing their final four games. This season, they were 6-0 before getting stunned by Virginia, 31-27, as a 24-point home favorite this past Saturday. Virginia entered that matchup with only one win.
Now, the Tar Heels are laying double-digits on the road to Georgia Tech, a team that has defeated them each of the last two seasons in upset fashion. Georgia Tech beat North Carolina, 21-17, as a 21.5-point road underdog last season and also knocked off the Tar Heels, 45-22, as a 14.5-point underdog in 2021. North Carolina is 2-10 in its last 12 games in Atlanta.
The Yellow Jackets already have upset victories against Miami and Wake Forest this season. Dual-threat quarterback Haynes King is capable of hurting the Tar Heels’ 87th-ranked pass defense.
CFB Week 9 Betting Prediction Leans
Iowa State @ Baylor
BET LEAN: Iowa State -2.5 (-110)
bet365 Sportsbook • WAGER: 1 Unit
Baylor is garbage this season, so I have no difficulty laying a short road number with rested Iowa State.
The Cyclones are coming into the meeting after winning and covering three of their last four games. Their lone defeat during that span came to sixth-ranked Oklahoma.
Iowa State was idle last week. The Cyclones beat Cincinnati, 30-10, on the road in their last game, outgaining their opponents by 150 yards.
Baylor just played the Bearcats this past week and won, 32-29, despite being outgained by 54 yards.
The Bears’ only other Division-I victory was against Central Florida when they had to rally from 28 points down.
Oklahoma @ Kansas
BET LEAN: Oklahoma -9.5 (-115)
BetRivers Sportsbook • WAGER: 1 Unit
Unbeaten Oklahoma had its scare last week before pulling out a 31-29 victory against Central Florida.
The 7-0 Sooners have won all but two of their games by at least 14 points. Oklahoma is the fourth-highest scoring team in the nation, and Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel is in the Heisman Trophy hunt.
The Sooners should beat the Jayhawks by double-digits. Kansas lost to Texas, a team Oklahoma beat, by 26 points and ranks 97th in total average defensive yards.
Pittsburgh @ Notre Dame
BET LEAN: Pittsburgh +20.5 (-110)
BetMGM Sportsbook • WAGER: 1 Unit
After four straight, tough, marquee matchups against Ohio State, Duke, Louisville and USC last week, Notre Dame is in letdown mode hosting Pittsburgh.
The Panthers made a needed quarterback switch following their bye three weeks ago, going from disappointing Phil Jurkovec to Christian Veilleux, who led Pittsburgh to a 38-21 upset victory against Louisville two weeks ago.
The Panthers should have defeated Wake Forest last Saturday. They lost when Veilleux slid too early when it looked like he had a certain first down that would have clinched the game. Wake Forest then connected on a touchdown pass with seven seconds left to win, 21-17.
Tennessee @ Kentucky
BET LEAN: Tennessee -3.5 (-110)
bet365 Sportsbook • WAGER: 1 Unit
Kentucky took advantage of an easy schedule to win its first five games. The Wildcats, though, have been exposed in their last two games, getting blown out by Georgia, 51-13, and losing to Missouri, 38-21. Wildcats quarterback Devin Leary is averaging an interception a game.
I see a class difference here. Tennessee led Alabama, 20-7, at halftime last week before falling. Volunteers quarterback Joe Milton runs hot and cold, but I’ll take him over Leary.
Tennessee has beaten Kentucky in eight of the last 10 meetings, including burying the Wildcats, 44-6, last year.
How To Bet College Football Week 9
Back underdogs in low-scoring games
‘Dogs will cover the spreads in a few spots. In games with projected low scoring, there is a smaller distribution of scores, and each point you get on the spread is worth more as a bettor than in high-scoring games.
CFB Playoff chasers could produce big margins of victory
As we get closer to the end of the regular season, National Championship contenders may look to run up the score in seemingly meaningless games to boost their national profile and playoff picture.
For example, Ohio State’s -15.5 spread may undersell a possible 30-to-40-point margin of victory.
Hammer the spreads of some of these heavy favorites.