Crunch time is approaching for teams with national championship aspirations with the first College Football Playoff Rankings set for this coming Tuesday. Though there are three major rivalry showdowns involving top-five teams on Saturday, none feature spreads at less than two touchdowns. As such, if upsets occur, they will be significant ones.
Bookending the day are a couple of significant Big Ten rivalries. No. 2 Ohio State opens at No. 13 Penn State in the Buckeyes’ first legitimate test of the season, one in which they are nevertheless 15.5-point favorites, according to Caesars Sportsbook. While the Nittany Lions have already suffered a loss on the campaign, they do have homefield advantage against a rival they have struggled to take down over the last decade. In the night cap, no. 4 Michigan hosts Michigan State as a 22.5-point favorite. The Spartans are simply hoping to keep their season from totally collapsing, while the Wolverines are focused on remaining undefeated ahead of their showdown with the Buckeyes in the regular-season finale.
Sandwiched between is the SEC on CBS Game of the Week with No. 1 Georgia and Florida meeting in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. The 22.5-point spread in favor of the Bulldogs is the largest in rivalry history, and they enter coming off a bye week the Dawgs got to enjoy after outscoring Auburn and Vanderbilt by a combined 97-10 the last two weeks. The Gators’ only losses this season are to currently ranked teams — all of which they played tough — but they have yet to rekindle past glory under new coach Billy Napier.
By the time Saturday’s action concludes, we will have a much more clear picture as to what the initial CFP Rankings will look like once Tuesday rolls around. Be sure to stick with CBS Sports throughout the day for college football coverage from the opening kickoff onward. Let’s take a look at our expert picks for the best games in Week 9.
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook | All times Eastern
No. 2 Ohio State at No. 13 Penn State
Featured Game | Penn State Nittany Lions vs Ohio State Buckeyes
Noon | fox, fuboTV (Try for free) — Penn State is at its best when it can run the ball. Ohio State’s defense has been incredible this season, and the Buckeyes should be able to limit what Penn State does on the ground. That puts a ceiling on Penn State’s offensive production. That said, Penn State matches up better with Ohio State on the defensive end than most other teams, and it could force the Buckeyes to turn to the run game more than usual. So, if I’m betting anything here, I’m taking the under. Prediction: Under 61 –Tom Fornelli
Florida vs. No. 1Georgia
Featured Game | Georgia Bulldogs vs Florida Gators
3:30pm | cbs, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports app — Georgia will take the win and do it rather handily. The Florida defense will have no answer for what Bulldogs offensive coordinator Todd Monken drew up during the bye week, and it’s impossible to create a scenario in which Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson finally develops a downfield passing game. With that said, Georgia coach Kirby Smart will likely take his foot off the gas as quickly as possible, which will allow Florida to keep this within three touchdowns. Prediction: Florida +22.5 — Barrett Sallee
No. 9 Oklahoma State at No. 22 Kansas State
Featured Game | Kansas State Wildcats vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys
3:30pm | fox, fuboTV (Try for free) — This matchup could go down as the game of the weekend and an eliminator in the race to rematch with TCU in the Big 12 Championship Game. Both teams are banged up, and there’s questions about who will even start at quarterback for Kansas State. Last weekend proved, however, that both Adrian Martinez and Will Howard are up to the task of leading this offense. If both teams have to rely on quarterback depth and supporting cast, give me K-State’s at home over Oklahoma State. Prediction: Kansas State -1.5 — Shehan Jeyarajah
No. 19 Kentucky at No. 3 Tennessee
Featured Game | Tennessee Volunteers vs Kentucky Wildcats
7 p.m. | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) — These teams combined for 87 points last season, and they should score plenty again. Though the Wildcats have struggled offensively at times this season, QB Will Levis should be closer to 100% coming off a bye week. Kentucky is also expected to get leading wide receiver Tayvion Robinson back from a leg injury and right tackle Jeremy Flax back from a hamstring issue. The weather is supposed to be great, and that means conditions will be ripe for scoring. Prediction: Over 62.5 –David Cobb
Michigan State at No. 4Michigan
Featured Game | Michigan Wolverines vs. Michigan State Spartans
7:30pm | ABC, fuboTV (Try for free) — Jim Harbaugh has still not beaten Mel Tucker since the latter arrived at Michigan State. That changes Saturday. The Wolverines are the deeper, more talented and more physical team at every level coming into this matchup. Really, trying to find a single advantage for Michigan State in this game is a fool’s errand. There’s always the potential for weird rivalry game noise, but Michigan State simply might not be good enough to even make things interesting. Prediction: Michigan -22 — Jeyarajah
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 9, and which top-20 favorite will go down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $3,000 in profit over the past six-plus seasons — and find out.
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