College football picks against the spread: Stewart Mandel’s Week 9 picks

Last week was not my best hour. Did I really pick Iowa to cover against the state of Ohio?

I feel much more confident this week. Really. I do.

Last week: 5-6 against the spread

Season: 44-43-1 against the spread

(All point spreads are from BetMGM, click here for live odds, all Eastern kickoff times.)

Syracuse lost a heartthrob to Clemson, but gained a lot of respect nonetheless. QB Garrett Shrader is a gamer and the defense went after Tigers QB DJ Uiagalelei. Clemson eventually cut the Orange to the ground. Notre Dame is aiming for such a hasty attack, but it has been inconsistent for much of the season.

Syracuse 27, Notre Dame 20Choose: Syracuse -2.5

no. 2 Ohio State (-15.5) at No. 13 Penn State, Noon, Fox

Penn State’s secondary, led by CB Joey Porter Jr., has helped Penn State take 5th nationally in passing efficiency defense and gives the Nittany Lions hopes to at least beat Buckeyes star CJ Stroud and his receivers. to slow down. It’s just hard to imagine that Sean Clifford and Penn State’s offense could last four quarters.

Ohio State 35, Penn State 24Choose: Penn State +15.5

No. 7 TCU (-7.5) in West Virginia, 12 noon, ESPN

TCU is going to lose at some point, and a trip to Morgantown on the heels of four consecutive Top 25 opponents has what it takes to make a trap. But Max Duggan and the Horned Frogs love to shoot, and the West Virginia defenses can’t stop them for the most part. The Mountaineers are ranked 108th nationally in more than 20 yard plays allowed (39).

TCU 38, West Virginia 28Choose: TCU -7.5

No. 20 Cincinnati at UCF (-1), 3:30 p.m., ESPN

UCF has been all over the map this season. In their last two games, the Knights took 70 points off Temple and then were eliminated 34-13 in East Carolina. QB John Rhys Plumlee threw three picks and was sacked four times by the Pirates. Luke Fickell’s defense, led by LB Ivan Pace Jr., will come after him.

Cincinnati 21, UCF 16Choose: Cincinnati +1

Number 1 Georgia (-22.5) vs. Florida, 3:30 p.m., CBS

Florida QB Anthony Richardson had a miserable first career start against the Dawgs last season. He’ll have to ball to give the Gators a chance in this one. Florida’s defense is just awful (105th nationally), and Georgia’s offense is particularly problematic thanks to matchup nightmares like TE Brock Bowers.

Georgia 44, Florida 20Choose: Georgia -22.5

It’s Oklahoma State’s third straight game against a ranked opponent, and the first two — a 43-40 overtime loss to TCU and a 41-34 comeback win over Texas — were both nail biters. While QB Adrian Martinez’s precarious status makes it difficult to handicap K-State, it looks like the Wildcats could catch the Cowboys if they’re a little worn out.

Kansas State 33, Oklahoma State 30Choose: Kansas State -1.5

No. 19 Kentucky at No. 3 Tennessee (-12.5), 7 p.m., ESPN

Kentucky QB Will Levis is the more highly regarded NFL draft prospect, but I have significantly more confidence in Vols star Hendon Hooker. Levis made it clear in a press conference that the Wildcats’ plan is to go on long drives to keep the ball away from Tennessee’s offense, but the Vols score so fast I’m not sure if that matters.

Tennessee 41, Kentucky 27Choose: Tennessee -12.5

Mel Tucker is 2-0 against Michigan, and the Spartans have won 10 of the last 14 editions of this rivalry – which seems like a setup for the Wolverines to take away a lot of frustration in this one. The state offense is a shell of last year’s Kenneth Walker III-led version, and the defense is 105th nationally. While Michigan is good at everything.

Michigan 42, Michigan State 14Choose: Michigan -22.5

No. 15 Ole Miss (-2.5) at Texas A&M, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network

This line just begs us to take the 3-4 Aggies home, and you know Jimbo really wants this one after a few of Lane Kiffin’s potshots. But I’ve seen too much of that terrible transgression and I can’t ignore it. The Aggies don’t have a dynamic quarterback like LSU’s Jayden Daniels, who exposed the shortcomings of Ole Miss’s previously untested offense.

Ole Miss 24, Texas A&M 20Choose: Ole Miss -2.5

Pitt at No. 21 North Carolina (-3), 8 p.m., ACC Network

I’ve been saying for weeks that UNC isn’t as good as its record (6-1) and ranking. Vegas seems to agree with me as the Tar Heels are just three-pointer home favorites over a 4-3 Pitt team with losses to Georgia Tech and Louisville. But Panthers QB Kedon Slovis seemed unable to exploit UNC’s biggest weakness, the pass defence.

North Carolina 34, Pitt 27Choose: North Carolina -3

Angry Special: UAB (-5.5) at FAU, 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network

I have no Xs and Os insight into this. I just saw FAU advertise this game as “The Biggest Halloween Party in Boca Raton”, and that sounds like a scary place to be if you’re 5.5-point favorite UAB.

FAU 26, UAB 20Choose: FAU +5.5

(Photo: Rick Osentoski/USA Today)

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