This article will break down College Football Week 9 and its top games. Big Ten rivalries highlight a full slate, including #6 Michigan at #8 Michigan State, #9 Iowa at Wisconsin, and #20 Penn State at #5 Ohio State. The SEC West also has a battle for second place between #10 Ole Miss and #18 Auburn.
Keep up-to-date here at theLines for the best odds and sportsbook bonus offers for college football this season.
College Football Week 9 Odds
College Football Week 9 Top Games
#6 Michigan () at #8 Michigan State
This is the first top-10 matchup between these teams since 1964, where the game was also held in East Lansing. Both teams pit top-20 defenses in terms of yards per play, with Michigan (4.7) standing 18th and Michigan State (4.8) standing 20th. Michigan also fields the second-best scoring defense, allowing just 14.3 points per game (Michigan State is 21st in the metric at 19.5).
Spartan running back Kenneth Walker III has rushed for 997 yards this season, second in the nation, and nine touchdowns. Walker faces a tough Michigan run defense that’s allowing just 3.6 yards per attempt. Quarterback Payton Thorne (1,701 yards, 15 touchdowns) has been sacked on 5.8% of snaps this season, 50th in the country. Focus will be turned to Wolverines’ projected first-round pass rusher Adian Hutchinson and linebacker David Ojabo (both with five sacks).
Michigan, on the other hand, has a pair of running backs– Blake Corum and Hasaan Haskins– with 10 rushing touchdowns on the season. The Spartans are allowing the fourth-least total production to the rush this season, with just 26.6% of all yards allowed coming on the ground. Michigan is fourth in run percentage among non-service academy teams this season (65.8%).
#9 Iowa at Wisconsin ()
It’s no surprise that the story in this game is defense, defense, and some more defense. Both teams are top-10 in yards per rush allowed, with Wisconsin standing second in the country (3.8 yards per carry allowed). Both teams also field inconsistent and untrusted starting quarterback in Spencer Petras and Graham Mertz. Petras is 91st in passing efficiency while Mertz is 106th.
Tyler Goodson has received the 15th-most carries in the country this season (136) and turned those into 586 yards and five touchdowns. However, Goodson’s failed to break 90 yards over his past four games and has a propensity to disappoint in big games against sturdy defenses. As shown against Purdue, limiting Goodson and forcing Petras to command the game results in very few Iowa points.
Offensive efficiency overall is an issue with Wisconsin this season. The Badgers are 105th in points per play this season and 125th in third down conversion rate (just 28.1%). Watch for this line to move as the market grows this coming week; Iowa +3.5 early in the week may be tantalizing to many bettors. Also keep an eye on the point total, which is set at just , one of the lowest marks on the season.
#10 Ole Miss at #18 Auburn ()
Heisman contender Matt Corral () has slowed down a bit since entering SEC play, but he’s still accounted for 24 total touchdowns and just one turnover on the season. Auburn has struggled this season in forcing turnovers, averaging just 0.7 turnovers per game (123rd).
The number to watch in this one is the point total, which stood at 66 on Sunday. Ole Miss is scoring 51.4% fewer points on the road than at home (31.7 vs. 48.0) while Auburn is allowing just 22.7 points per game at home. The Rebels have gone under the point total and under 66 points in each of their last two games while Auburn hasn’t gone over 66 points against an FBS opponent this season.
However, with the explosiveness of Corral and the Ole Miss offense, Bo Nix will be forced to make plays himself. In his last game against Arkansas, Nix completed 80.8% of his passes (21-of-26) for 292 yards. However, he is 88th in the nation in passer rating on the season.
#20 Penn State at #5 Ohio State ()
This game held a lot more water before Penn State dropped a nine-overtime stinker to Illinois in which the Nittany Lions scored just 18 points and failed to convert in five straight overtime periods. It goes without saying that there’s serious concerns with the Penn State offense– with or without Sean Clifford. Before the season began, Ohio State was a -12.5 favorite in this game, a number that climbed to -16.5 on Sunday.
Over his last three games, CJ Stroud is averaging 334 yards (while sitting a majority of second halves) and has thrown 14 touchdowns while completing nearly 74% of his passes. Penn State is second in the nation in quarterback rating allowed and first in yards per attempt allowed (4.9). Granted, names on that list include Graham Mertz, Bo Nix, Spencer Petras, and Art Sitkowski (none of which rank above 85th in passing efficiency).
Ultimately, this game comes down to whether or not Penn State can force any stops and pull their weight offensively. As it’s been shown this season, 35 points are needed to upend Ohio State. That’s a mark Penn State has not hit against a Power Five opponent yet this year.