The lights get brighter and the target gets bigger behind the undefeated as Week 9 of the college football playoffs approaches. As we await the publication of NBC Sports’ Top 25 Poll this week, let’s take a look at the schools that remain undefeated and examine the chances of those coming in to make the broadcast this coming week.
Georgia Bulldogs (7-0, 4-0)
Saturday vs. Florida Gators (5-2, 3-1)
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Spread: Georgia -14.5
The biggest outdoor party in the world has been one-sided over the last decade as the Bulldogs have won five of the last six and outscored the Gators in those games by an average of 34-17. It’s no wonder BetMGM lists Georgia as a 14½ favorite. If Florida is to upset Georgia’s bid for a third consecutive national title, Billy Napier and the Gators will need help from the Bulldogs. Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs enter the game after taking a week off to rebuild and adjust to life without their star tight end Brock Bowers.
Michigan Wolverines (8-0, 5-0)
Harbaugh’s staff will leave this week. They then face Purdue in a few weeks. I can’t imagine the Boilermakers’ Team Total will be low enough considering how Michigan’s defense has been.
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Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0, 4-0)
Saturday @ Wisconsin Badgers (5-2, 3-1)
Location: Madison, WI
Spread: Ohio State -14.5
After the Buckeyes’ big defense in the Horseshoe against Penn State, Ohio State plans to tie them up this Saturday night on NBC in Wisconsin. Freshman Braedyn Locke led the Badgers to a win Saturday over Illinois but Ohio State’s speed defense plays a notch or two faster than the Illini. Wisconsin will need to control the ball and chew up the clock if they want to risk a double spread. Perhaps the Buckeyes would be enjoying a win over the Nittany Lions when they invade Camp Randall Stadium. Ryan Day’s coverage prevents that from happening. How suspicious? Well, BetMGM didn’t offer a bonus option for this game.
Florida State Seminoles (7-0, 5-0)
Saturday @ Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-3, 1-3)
Location: Winston-Salem, NC
Spread: FSU -20.5
Maybe Riley Leonard’s knee kept the Blue Devils from shutting out FSU in this one or maybe the Seminoles’ size just wore Duke down. The spread falls just shy of three times this weekend when the Seminoles attack Winston-Salem. Wake Forest’s offense showed something in its 4th quarter comeback win over the Pitt Panthers, but these Demon Deacons are young and have never faced a big rival like Florida State.
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Washington Huskies (7-0, 5-0)
Saturday @ Stanford Cardinal (2-5, 1-4)
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Spread: Washington -26.5
The Arizona State Sun Devils almost cashed in on Michael Penix, Jr.’s night. and Washington’s offense on Saturday. Now, Stanford gets a crack at the Huskies. The Cardinal should be smarting after a 42-7 drubbing at the hands of the UCLA Bruins at Stanford Stadium last Saturday. Will pride push in and motivate the Cardinal to their biggest effort of the season? They must earn at least 20 points to do so. Good news? They have done it four times this season. Bad news? He didn’t do that against a school with a reliable defense. He scored just 10 against USC.
Oklahoma Sooners (7-0, 4-0)
Saturday @ Kansas Jayhawks (5-2, 2-2)
Location: Lawrence, KS
Spread: Oklahoma -10
The Kansas Jayhawks welcome the Sooners to campus this week. The 10-point spread is the lowest among the undefeated. This does not match the success of Kansas bettors as Oklahoma has won 16 straight with an average of 30 points and at least 14. That is the meaning of control. However, the Sooners were flat last weekend in their nail-biter against UCF. Perhaps the light shines brightest for the Undefeated Undefeated.
Air Force Falcons (7-0, 4-0)
Saturday @ Colorado State (3-4, 1-2)
Location: Fort Collins, CO
Spread: Air Force -11.5
Close to defending the Commander in Chief’s Trophy following a 17-6 win in Annapolis over Navy, Air Force returns to action this week at Colorado State. The Falcons’ offense has scored 34 or more points in all but two games. However, this week follows the Naval Academy games. This means a good flight back and forth. They need to recover and be ready to face a Rams team that has yet to score less than 23 points in a game this season and will need to do so a mile above sea level.
So who covers the Week 9 spread against a heavy group of undefeated teams?
Let’s fly with the Cardinal. I would gamble (pun) to say that Stanford was left out three weeks ago would be an understatement. However, the Washington Huskies haven’t had a moment of rest since their tussle with Oregon a few Saturdays ago and have had their hands full in their last three games. It might be a sweat but the Cardinals getting 26½ at home against a team that should be physically and mentally tired is worth the sweat.
*All odds provided by BetMGM