The 2023 college football season moves into Week 9, and the end of the month of October. The chase for the College Football Playoff is getting more intense. It might be reasonable to claim that various unbeaten teams do have some margin for error, but if other teams remain unbeaten, that might not necessarily be the case. Most teams have played seven or eight games to this point in the season.
Teams want to be 11-0 so that if they lose their 12th or 13th game, they will still finish the season with only one loss. Teams can’t really say that they are guaranteed a playoff spot just yet. They need to collect several more wins to potentially arrive at that point. It’s a little too early for teams to compare their bodies of work to competitors. They just have to keep winning. It’s in late November when we will all be making much deeper comparisons of team resumes.
Florida State Seminoles at Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Odds: Florida State -20.5
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons barely got past the Pittsburgh Panthers last week, in what was not a well-played football game. Wake and Pitt both looked like lower-tier Atlantic Coast Conference teams. Some games are close because two teams are really good, but Wake-Pitt was close because neither team was good enough to pull away and consistently play well.
Florida State is a loaded, talented team with strength and depth on both sides of the ball, on the front lines and on the perimeter. The Seminoles might be vulnerable to a letdown given the physicality of their most recent game against Duke, but Florida State should find Wake Forest to be a physically inferior team they can dominate all day long. Take the Seminoles in this one.
Pick: Florida State -20.5
Oklahoma Sooners at Kansas Jayhawks
Odds: Oklahoma -9.5
The Kansas Jayhawks will be without their starting quarterback, Jalon Daniels, in this game against the Oklahoma Sooners. Jason Bean, the backup, will fill in. Bean has gained a lot of experience in his Kansas career because Daniels has gotten injured frequently at KU. To that extent, Kansas is not trotting out a woefully inadequate quarterback. Bean is certainly competent and serviceable. However, Daniels is a much bigger running threat and someone who creates a lot more pressure on an opposing defense than Bean does. Kansas will probably keep this close for one half, but it will be really hard for the Jayhawks to stay with the Sooners for the full 60 minutes. Oklahoma is the better pick. Lay the points at BetOnline (view full BetOnline review here.
Pick: Oklahoma -9.5
Pittsburgh Panthers at Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Odds: Notre Dame -20.5
The Pittsburgh Panthers are not a good team, but they usually put up a good fight against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi has complained about bad officiating calls in games against Notre Dame from previous seasons. That might make Notre Dame more motivated to win, but those comments are also a way of getting his Pittsburgh team fired up for this clash. Pittsburgh’s offense isn’t very good, which is why Notre Dame’s defense should have no problem limiting what the Panthers do. However, Notre Dame’s offense has struggled for much of the season. This will prevent Notre Dame from achieving a big blowout of the Panthers. Pittsburgh can probably cover the very large point spread.
Pick: Pittsburgh +20.5
BYU Cougars at Texas Longhorns
Odds: Texas -18.5
The Longhorns watched starting quarterback Quinn Ewers get injured last week in a narrow 31-24 win at Houston. Without Ewers, this offense doesn’t appear to be very good, which is why the 18.5-point spread is noticeably large here. BYU is not an exceptionally good team, but Texas will probably find it difficult to score at a rapid pace against BYU’s competent defense. With Ewers, Texas probably would cover this spread, but without him, the Longhorns will probably win by 14 to 17 points, but books like Bovada have the line higher.
Pick: BYU +18.5
Georgia Bulldogs vs. Florida Gators (Jacksonville, Florida)
Odds: Georgia -14.5
This is one of the harder games to pick against the spread in Week 9. Why do we say that? Georgia has not covered a lot of spreads this year. The Bulldogs have played a lot of ordinary football. This 2023 team is nowhere near the 2021 or 2022 national championship teams coach Kirby Smart has fielded.
However, Florida and quarterback Graham Mertz do not figure to offer a supreme challenge to Georgia’s defense. On paper, Georgia is probably 20 points better, but Georgia has rarely played at a very elevated level this season. You should frankly avoid this game from a betting standpoint, or at least wait to make a live-betting play if you find a good line. However, if you really want to make a pick for this game, Florida plus the points looks like the better play.
Pick: Florida +14.5
Oregon Ducks at Utah Utes
Odds: Oregon -6.5
This is a fascinating game because Utah very rarely loses at home in Salt Lake City, but will not have star quarterback Cam Rising available for this game. The Utes’ offense has generally struggled this year without Rising on the field, but last week, backup quarterback Bryson Barnes led the Utes to 34 points and a huge win on the road over the USC Trojans. Barnes came up with a 26-yard scramble in the final minute to set up a 38-yard game-winning field goal on the final play of the game.
Utah is overachieving this season, but Oregon has a lot of really good athletes who are likely going to be too much for Utah to deal with. Oregon is a significantly better team than any other team Utah has faced to this point in the season, and that includes the Oregon State team which shut down Utah a few weeks ago. Oregon will win this game by at least one touchdown, possibly two.
Pick: Oregon -6.5
Duke Blue Devils at Louisville Cardinals
Odds: Louisville -4.5
This is a game between two of the more pleasant surprises in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Both teams have only one loss in the league and are very much in the hunt for the ACC Championship Game later this season. Louisville is favored because Duke quarterback Riley Leonard got re-injured last week against Florida State. He was injured earlier in the season against Notre Dame, then missed the game against North Carolina State, then came back against Florida State…but then was injured in the second half.
Louisville, meanwhile, defeated Notre Dame at home earlier this season. That is a big reason why the Cardinals are getting the nod at home here. They have shown they can beat a good team at home. Duke’s offense is hard to trust with Leonard not being healthy, but Duke’s defense is excellent and is very easy to trust. The Blue Devils might not win the game outright, but they will keep it close.
Pick: Duke +4.5
Tennessee Volunteers at Kentucky Wildcats
Odds: Tennessee -3.5
This is a hard-to-pick game between two disappointing SEC teams. Tennessee outplayed Alabama in the first half of last week’s game against the Crimson Tide before getting hammered 17-0 in the third quarter and ultimately losing the game. Kentucky has fallen short in big SEC tests against Missouri and Georgia. It’s really hard to know which team will show up for this game. Tennessee, though, has usually had Kentucky’s number in this series, so lean to the Vols if you have to.
Pick: Tennessee -3.5
Ohio State Buckeyes at Wisconsin Badgers
Odds: Ohio State -14.5
This is a game Ohio State should win. The Buckeyes have already beaten Notre Dame and Penn State this season and are on track to be unbeaten heading into the huge game against Michigan at the end of November. However, this is a night game in Madison, where the Badgers are usually very tough and manage to put up a good fight even if their offense isn’t performing well. Wisconsin isn’t good enough to win this game outright, but its defense is definitely good enough to keep this game close and competitive. The Badgers are the better pick against the point spread.
Pick: Wisconsin +14.5
Colorado Buffaloes at UCLA Bruins
Odds: UCLA -17
This is an interesting game for a lot of reasons, chiefly the fact that Colorado blew a 29-0 loss to Stanford and then had the next week off to think about that collapse. Will the Buffaloes be deflated or motivated heading into this game under coach Deion Sanders? We don’t know which version of Colorado will show up. Meanwhile, UCLA has looked better in recent weeks. The Bruins crushed Stanford 42-7, which is a lot better than what Colorado did in its loss to the Cardinal. UCLA is playing better on offense, which might mean the Bruins have enough on that side of the ball to cover the spread. However, Colorado has enough on offense to keep this game competitive against the Bruins. The spread is big, and Colorado should be able to cover it.