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Friday, 25 October 2019

College Football Week 9 Picks 2019 (October 26th)

Week 8 proved to be another mixed bag for the College Football Picks, but I am still in a position to really get this regular season going in the direction I would want.

The selections are all being played on Saturday this week and I have written out the analysis for a few of the Picks while adding a couple to the 'MY PICKS' section below. I have also updated the season totals at the bottom of this thread.

Oklahoma State Cowboys @ Iowa State Cyclones Pick: There is always a worry that the Big 12 is so competitive in its current format that even a Conference Champion is not guaranteed of a place in the College Football PlayOffs. The addition of the Championship Game was to strengthen the position of that team, but I do think we will eventually see Divisions in the Big 12 as we do in the other Power 5 Conferences.

There are four teams who currently sit at 3-1 or better in the Conference and two remain unbeaten. One of those at 3-1 is the Iowa State Cyclones who will be hosting the underachieving Oklahoma State Cowboys in Week 9 of the 2019 season and hoping to stay relevant going into the Bye Week.

Even if the Cyclones went on and won the Big 12 Championship Game it is unlikely that they are going to be invited into the College Football PlayOff, but Matt Campbell won't be worrying about that and instead will focus on trying to make sure the Cyclones can improve their record from the last two seasons which have both finished 8-5.

Four more wins will do that for Iowa State and they should be favoured in four of their remaining five regular season games before heading into a Bowl Game. First up they will be looking to maintain their spot in the Conference which sees them a game behind the Baylor Bears and Oklahoma Sooners and the Cyclones will likely be playing in the Championship Game if they can win their remaining five games.

Next up on deck is the Oklahoma Sooners, but that is in two weeks time so I am not going to worry about a potential 'look-ahead' spot for the home team. The team have talented Running Backs that should be able to establish the ground game in this Week 9 game and that is going to give the Cyclones a big chance to win this game by a comfortable margin.

Iowa State should be able to rip off some big gains against the Cowboys Defensive Line which has given up 4.9 yards per carry in their last three games having lost back to back games to drop back to 4-3 for the season. Running the ball effectively will make the Cyclones very dangerous as it should open things up for Brock Purdy at Quarter Back who has the best passing yards in the Big 12 which is also including Heisman chasing Jalen Hurts.

Purdy has been well protected and there are some decent Receivers who can exploit the holes in the Oklahoma State Secondary. With the team likely going to have a comfortable day moving the chains, the Cyclones should score plenty of points and maintain the average of 40 points per game over their last three games which have all resulted in wins.

Mike Gundy will make the Cowboys competitive as he always does, but this is clearly not one of the better teams Oklahoma State have had in recent years. They finished 7-6 last season and there is every chance they can at least have a winning season again in 2019, but they look short of the quality of the Big 12 and are only 1-3 in Conference play.

Chuba Hubbard is going to have to try and establish the run against one of the best Defensive Lines in the Big 12 and I do think that might be a challenge beyond the young Running Back. There is no doubting the talent Hubbard has and the Cowboys Offensive Line have opened some big holes for him, but even as the competition has ramped up the Cyclones have held teams to 3.3 yards per carry.

You have to believe the focus for the Cyclones will be to try and contain the run and then unleash the pass rush against a Cowboys Offensive Line which has struggled to protect Spencer Sanders. The inexperience of the Quarter Back has shown up at times with mistakes made via Interceptions not uncommon for players like Sanders who are learning on the job.

While the Iowa State Secondary have not been able to turn the ball over as they would have liked, they have been strong defending the pass and they can stall some drives with the quality in the Defensive unit.

This is a big number, but the Cyclones can find the stops to get in front of it with their balanced Offensive unit likely going to be a difference maker for them. The Defense is as good as any in the Big 12 and the Cyclones have momentum behind them which they can ride to a strong looking win.

The Cyclones are 5-2 against the spread in the last seven at home against Oklahoma State, while they have been strong at home and in Conference play. I do respect Mike Gundy and the Cowboys, but the Cyclones can be good enough to put a statement win on the board.

Tulane Green Wave @ Navy Midshipmen Pick: The two teams meeting in Week 9 of the College Football season have genuine ambitions of playing in the American Athletic Championship Game, but are facing what is effectively an elimination game on Saturday. The team to beat in the American Athletic West Division looks to be the SMU Mustangs who have improved to 8-0 for the season and 4-0 within the Conference, but both the Tulave Green Wave and Navy Midshipmen have winning records on the season to this stage too.

In each of Willie Fritz' seasons in charge of the Green Wave they have improved their season totals from 4 wins to 5 and then to 7 last season when they made a Bowl Game. Tulane are already at 5-2 for the 2019 season so improving again has to be the minimum of what Fritz will be expecting now, but they did drop their first Conference game last week in a defeat to the Memphis Tigers to fall to 2-1 within the American Athletic Conference.

While the Green Wave were losing in Week 8, the Navy Midshipmen were winning for a third game in a row and they have improved to 5-1. Like Tulane, Navy have suffered a Conference loss, but they stand at 3-1 and the winner will believe they can chase the Mustangs while the losing team is going to find it too difficult to make up two games.

Navy finished 3-10 in 2018 so this turnaround is impressive, although the Midshipmen have long been a team that won't be involved in consecutive down seasons.

Much of this game is going to come down to the battle in the trenches between the Navy Offensive Line and the Tulane Defensive Line. Everyone knows the triple option is going to be huge for Navy and that has been the main way Malcolm Perry has been moving the ball at Quarter Back for the Midshipmen.

Perry has been nothing like as comfortable when being asked to throw and he won't want to be behind the chains in this one and be forced to go to the air. The Tulane pass rush has been strong all season, but I do think Navy have shown enough on the ground to believe they can hurt Tulane who give up 142 yards per game on the ground over the course of 2019. There has been some improvements up front by the Green Wave Defensive Line, but Navy will believe in what they are doing and they can at least keep the chains moving.

It will be a challenge for the Midshipmen to run the ball, but Tulane are not going to have it much easier and establishing the run is important to their whole approach. One concern for the Green Wave is both Darius Bradwell and Corey Dauphine are banged up and certainly won't be at 100% for this game even if both are suited up and ready to go.

The second issue is that the Navy Midshipmen have restricted teams to 3 yards per carry in the last three games which is a slight improvement on the overall 3.1 yards per carry number allowed for the 2019 season. That means the pressure could be on Justin McMillan to bounce back from a poor showing at Quarter Back agains the Memphis Tigers, although I am sure McMillan won't have forgotten his strong performance which helped Tulane beat Navy by a single point at home last season.

McMillan has had a decent season at Quarter Back, but he will be like Malcolm Perry in needing the run game to support him and keep him in third and manageable spots. Anything third and long and McMillan will have to deal with the Navy pass rush which is significantly better than 2018 and that could lead to the kind of mistakes we saw last week.

There are a couple of trends that are going against Navy here which is a concern, but they have won the last four home games against Tulane. I do think this could be a close game, but I feel the Navy Defense is going to make a big play that gives them a chance of an extra possession which can be the difference between a cover and a non-cover.

With revenge following the very close last season to motivate them, I like Navy here.

Penn State Nittany Lions @ Michigan State Spartans Pick: There was a real feeling that the Michigan State Spartans were a big player in the Big Ten Conference with 17 returning starters going into the 2019 season. They finished with a winning record in 2018 and Ohio State did not look to be as strong as previous years, but pre-season expectations are now up in smoke.

The Spartans are a disappointing 4-3 in 2018 and just 2-2 in Big Ten games and while that leaves them firmly in a position to return to the Bowl season, it also means they are likely out of the equation as far as the College Football PlayOffs as well as the Big Ten Championship Game.

They come out of their Bye Week off back to back beat downs from the Buckeyes and the Wisconsin Badgers and the Spartans will be heading into another Bye as soon as this game is over. Michigan State will play spoiler for teams in the Big Ten down the stretch with a game against rivals Michigan and this one against Penn State most pressing especially as the Spartans should find two wins from the other three games on their remaining schedule.

It will be playing spoiler if they can beat the Nittany Lions who are 7-0 in 2019 and who are in a position to win double digit games in a single season for the third time in four years. This game is coming in at the end of a difficult stretch for Penn State who have beaten Iowa and Michigan in their last two games and will be looking to remain unbeaten going into a Bye Week before big games with unbeaten Minnesota and Ohio State.

There isn't much chance that Penn State will overlook Michigan State though considering they were beaten by them in each of the last two seasons as a big favourite. This season the spread is much tighter, but the Nittany Lions are favoured and that has very much to do with having an Offensive unit that has shown a lot more life than Michigan State's.

Having a Bye Week to try and fix things is important for Michigan State, but they are not getting enough from experienced players. Brian Lewerke has struggled massively at Quarter Back when the level has picked up and his was actually taken out of the defeat to the Badgers in the Fourth Quarter, although expected to start here.

Lewerke has not been helped much by the lack of any running game and I don't think that is going to change much in this one against a Penn State Defensive Line which has given up just 2 yards per carry over their last three games. And that is despite going up against better Quarter Backs than Lewerke so I imagine the Michigan State Offense is going to have to be run by the Quarter Back's arm.

Much is going to depend on how the protection holds up for Brian Lewerke, but you wouldn't expect him to have a lot of time. The Penn State pass rush has been very good at getting to the Quarter Back all season and the Spartans Offensive Line is giving up plenty of hits on Lewerke in the backfield. Being in third and long should only accentuate the issue and I think the Nittany Lions can at least keep Michigan State from really having a big day Offensively.

There will be one or two issues for the Penn State Offense too though because they have struggled for consistency and the Spartans do have one of the better Defensive units in the College Football ranks. However there have been some problems in slowing down the run in recent games so the Nittany Lions might at least be in a position for Sean Clifford to throw from third and manageable rather than third and long which should aid in his completion rate.

Clifford has done what he has needed to in order to help the Nittany Lions win their recent games and maintain their run. He will need to manage this one well too, but there is a chance that Penn State can establish the run a little better in this game which should also be a huge boost for the Quarter Back.

Big plays helped Penn State beat Michigan in Week 8 and Clifford should be able to hit some of those in this game too. It might be the difference in what is expected to be another tight game, but one that Penn State can pull away with some big plays and with another strong Defensive performance.

The favourite is 6-2 against the spread in this series, but I have already mentioned that Michigan State have covered as the underdog in each of the last two seasons. It is a big challenge to win on the road, but the Spartans have not covered in any of their last four against a team with a winning record and they are 1-5 against the spread in the last six at home.

Penn State have a very strong record against teams with winning records and I think they can do enough to get over this number although it might be nip and tuck until the Fourth Quarter.

Indiana Hoosiers @ Nebraska Cornhuskers Pick: The Penn State game at Michigan State has some serious Big Ten Championship and possibly College Football PlayOff implications, but this one is still very important to the two teams involved. Last season the Indiana Hoosiers and the Nebraska Cornhuskers both finished with losing records, but they look capable of much better in 2019 when they get to meet each other in Week 9.

The Hoosiers have finished with 5-7 records in each of the last two seasons, but they have already matched that number in 2019 and need one more win to be Bowl eligible for the first time since 2016. On the other side the Cornhuskers have had back to back four win seasons and have matched that number already in 2019, although two heavy losses in their last three games has just slowed down any momentum they had picked up.

Injuries are hurting Nebraska although they are hoping Adrian Martinez is going to be passed healthy to return at Quarter Back. His backup was hurt in the defeat to the Golden Gophers, but the Bye Week should have given Nebraska time to get Martinez ready to compete.

They are going to need him to be after Maurice Washington was indefinitely suspended meaning going down the Running Back depth chart. It wouldn't have been easy for Washington to help establish the run, but it looks even more difficult without him against a Hoosiers Defensive Line which has held teams to 3.8 yards per carry over their last three games as they look to move into a position to finish with a winning record.

Adrian Martinez can help with his ability on the ground, but if he is not back at 100% then I think we are going to see someone who is prepared to try and be a pocket passer. That won't be ideal if the Cornhuskers see their running game clamped down on because the Offensive Line has struggled in pass protection and Indiana do have the players to get to Martinez if he is a little more than a statue in the backfield.

Wan'Dale Robinson being banged up at Receiver is not helping the Cornhuskers and I think they are going to struggle to move the chains for long drives.

Indiana might be another team missing a key starter with Michael Penix expected to miss out at Quarter Back. In usual years you would say being down a starting Quarter Back is a huge blow, but Peyton Ramsey is still on the roster and he proved in 2018 he can be a very effective dual-threat from the position having had almost 3000 passing yards and 350 rushing yards that season.

Ramsey's experience could be vital, but importantly he is likely going to have a strong running game to support him here. Stevie Scott has been improving at Running Back and will be going behind an Offensive Line which has produced 5.5 yards per carry in the last three games. The Indiana Offensive Line will face a Nebraska Defensive Line which has allowed 6 yards per carry in their last three games and I do like the approach Indiana can have to this game which gives them a chance of the upset.

Neither team really has the best record against the spread at home/road respectively, but I do think Indiana are playing the better Football of the two in recent weeks. Nebraska might have a big opportunity out of the Bye Week, but I can't help feel the public are overrating them here and Indiana can be backed with the points in Week 9.

Virginia Cavaliers @ Louisville Cardinals Pick: No one ever doubted that Bronco Mendenhall would be a success as Head Coach of the Virginia Cavaliers and the winning season in 2018 was the first since 2011. The Head Coach is in his fourth year with the Cavaliers and Mendenhall and his team could be ready to surpass the eight wins secured in 2018 having begun the 2019 season with a 5-2 record.

They are heading up the ACC Coastal Division with a 3-1 record within the Conference and Virginia will be looking to take the next step by not overlooking the overachieving Louisville Cardinals. The Week 1 win over Pittsburgh could be a huge tie-breaker in the Division which could lead to the ACC Championship Game, but Mendenhall won't want the Cavaliers to be complacent going into Week 8.

The Cavaliers blew out the Duke Blue Devils to beat another Divisional rival in Week 8, but now they get set to take on the Louisville Cardinals who are 4-3 and have doubled the win total from 2018 already. Scott Satterfield is in his first year as Head Coach of Louisville and so the improvement from a 2-10 2018 season is quite surprising, although Satterfield himself won't be satisfied until he sees how the season plays out.

Even now there is no guarantee that Louisville will earn the two wins they need to become Bowl eligible, but an upset is not off the table in this one. They won in that position on the road at the Wake Forest Demon Deacons so the Cardinals players should head into this game with plenty of belief in their abilities even off the blow out loss to the Clemson Tigers.

The Cardinals will be looking to run the ball against a strong Virginia Defensive Line which will set things up for the Quarter Backs to make the plays they want to through the air. We saw against the Clemson Tigers that Louisville can perform against some of the best Defensive Lines in College Football so they will believe they can at least get something going against a Virginia team allowing just 3.9 yards per carry in their most recent games.

Malik Cunningham and Evan Conley are going to need a strong running game to aid them in Week 9 because they are playing against a Virginia Secondary which has played the pass very well. They have a pass rush which can get to the Quarter Back and Louisville have not been strong in pass protection, and I do think the Cardinals will have some problems moving the ball consistently in this one which will put pressure on the Defensive unit to get things right.

They actually might not match up too badly with Virginia on that side of the ball because the Cavaliers have not been able to run the ball very well and that might make it difficult to expose the Louisville Defensive Line. The Cardinals have allowed 6.3 yards per carry up front in their last three games, but Bryce Perkins has proved to be much better throwing the ball than running it this season.

Perkins did have three Touchdowns on the ground against Duke last week which may be a sign that things are turning around for Virginia and they will need him again this week. Establishing the run will just ease things in every area for Perkins including playing behind an Offensive Line which has had its issues in pass protection.

There are some big holes in the Louisville Secondary which can be exposed though and I expect Perkins to have a big game. He will need the Defensive unit to step up and I think turnovers are going to be a big part of this one in Week 9 with the feeling that Virginia can win in that category too.

The Cavaliers are 4-1 against the spread in the last five against Louisville and it is Virginia who the stronger trends in recent games. With the momentum behind the road team, I think they can do enough to pull away and clear this number narrowly as the favourite.

Bryce Perkins has to make sure he limits his mistakes and allow his Defensive unit to set him up for the win ahead of what could be the one stumbling block on the way to the ACC Championship Game.

MY PICKS: Iowa State Cyclones - 10.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
Navy Midshipmen - 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Penn State Nittany Lions - 5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
Indiana Hoosiers + 2 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Virginia Cavaliers - 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish - 1 Point @ 1.95 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Boston College Eagles + 35 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (1 Unit)

Week 8: 4-4-1, - 0.47 Units (9 Units Staked, - 5.22% Yield)
Week 7: 3-3, - 0.24 Units (6 Units Staked, - 4% Yield)
Week 6: 2-5, - 3.18 Units (7 Units Staked, - 45.42% Yield)
Week 5: 6-1, + 4.40 Units (7 Units Staked, + 62.86% Yield)
Week 4: 3-2, + 0.73 Units (5 Units Staked, + 14.60% Yield)
Week 3: 3-5, - 2.18 Units (8 Units Staked, - 27.25% Yield)
Week 2: 5-7, - 2.57 Units (12 Units Staked, - 21.42% Yield)
Week 1: 3-2, + 0.67 Units (5 Units Staked, + 13.40% Yield)

Season 2019: 29-29-1, - 2.84 Units (59 Units Staked, - 4.81% Yield)

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