The spotlight gets brighter and the target gets larger on the backs of the undefeated as Week 9 of the college football season beckons. As we await publication of this week’s NBC Sports’ Top 25 Poll, let’s look at those schools who still sit without a loss and assess their upcoming opponents’ opportunities to at least cover the spread this coming weekend.
Georgia Bulldogs (7-0, 4-0)
Saturday vs. Florida Gators (5-2, 3-1)
Site: Jacksonville, FL
Spread: Georgia -14.5
The world’s largest outdoor cocktail party has been one-sided the last half decade with the Bulldogs winning five of the last six and outscoring the Gators in those games by an average of 34-17. Not a surprise that BetMGM lists Georgia as a 14½ point favorite. If Florida is to derail Georgia’s pursuit of a third consecutive national title Billy Napier and the Gators will need help from the Bulldogs. Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs enter the game rested following 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 next suit up against Purdue in a couple weeks. Can’t imagine the Boilermakers’ Team Total will be low enough considering how dominant Michigan’s defense has been.
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Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0, 4-0)
Saturday @ Wisconsin Badgers (5-2, 3-1)
Site: Madison, WI
Spread: Ohio State -14.5
After a dominant defensive performance by the Buckeyes at the Horseshoe against Penn State, Ohio State gets set to lace them up this Saturday night on NBC at Wisconsin. Freshman Braedyn Locke led the Badgers to a win Saturday over Illinois but the speed of the Ohio State defense plays a notch or two faster than that of the Illini. Wisconsin will need to control the ball and chew up the clock if they are to endanger the two touchdown spread. Maybe the Buckeyes will still be basking in the win over the Nittany Lions when they invade Camp Randall Stadium. Ryan Day’s wideouts make that pretty unlikely. How doubtful? Well, BetMGM has not offered odds on the moneyline 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 prevented the Blue Devils’ from keeping FSU out of this article or maybe the size of the Seminoles simply wore Duke down. The spread is just shy of three touchdowns this weekend when the Seminoles invade 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 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, CA
Spread: Washington -26.5
The Sun Devils of Arizona State nearly capitalized on an off night for Michael Penix, Jr. and the Washington offense on Saturday. Now, Stanford gets a crack at the Huskies. The Cardinal has to be smarting after a 42-7 thrashing at the hands of the UCLA Bruins at Stanford Stadium this past Saturday. Does pride kick in and propel the Cardinal to their greatest effort of the season? They’ll probably need to score at least 20 points to do so. The good news? They have done so four times this season. The bad news? They have not done so against a school with even a credible defense. They scored just 10 against USC.
Oklahoma Sooners (7-0, 4-0)
Saturday @ Kansas Jayhawks (5-2, 2-2)
Site: Lawrence, KS
Spread: Oklahoma -10
The Kansas Jayhawks welcome the Sooners to campus this weekend. The spread of 10 points is the smallest among the undefeateds. That does not necessarily equate to success for Kansas bettors as Oklahoma has won 16 straight by an average of 30 points and never by less than 14. That is the definition of dominance. However, the Sooners were flat this past weekend in their nail-biter 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, CO
Spread: Air Force -11.5
A step closer to defending the Commander in Chief’s Trophy following a 17-6 win in Annapolis over Navy, Air Force returns to conference play this weekend at Colorado State. The Falcons’ offense has scored 34 or more in all but two games. However, this week follows that emotional game at the Naval Academy. That means a healthy flight back and forth. They must recover and be ready to face a Rams’ team who has yet to score less than 23 points in any game this season and they must do so a mile above sea level.
So which underdog covers the spread in Week 9 against this heavyweight group of undefeated teams?
Let’s fly with the Cardinal. It is truly a gamble (pun intended) for to say Stanford has been outclassed two of the last three weeks would be an understatement. However, the Washington Huskies have not had a moment to catch their breath since their clash with Oregon a couple Saturdays ago and have had their hands full in each of their last three games. It may be a sweat but the Cardinal getting 26½ at home against a team that has to be physically and mentally drained is worth the sweat.
*all odds provided by BetMGM