College football Top 25 betting cheat sheet: Week 9
Rice Owls at Houston Cougars (-27.5, 70.5)
Why Rice will cover: The Owls scored 20 or more in all but one game (at Texas A&M), which means Houston would have to put up 50-plus to cover that spread.
Why Houston will cover: Houston has the top-ranked pass offense (442 ypg) and top-ranked scoring offense (49.3 ppg). Rice’s defense ranks in the bottom 25 in every category.
Points: The under has hit in Rice’s last three and in two of Houston’s last four games.
Purdue Boilermakers at Michigan Wolverines (-13, 52.5)
Why Purdue will cover: The Boilermakers are led by a defense that doesn’t allow big plays, which is how the Wolverines have been winning.
Why Michigan will cover: The team has something to prove after the meltdown two weeks ago at Michigan State. The defense still ranks No. 8 in scoring (14.8 ppg). The home team is 8-2-1 ATS in the last 11 in this series.
Points: Both teams are led by defenses that bend but don’t break.
Michigan State Spartans at Nebraska Cornhuskers (-4, 49.5)
Why Michigan State will cover: The Spartans beat a Wisconsin team that spanked the Huskers earlier this season. MSU is 4-0 ATS recently and 8-2 in its last 10 against teams with a winning record, while NU is 2-5 ATS this season.
Why Nebraska will cover: Nebraska is a new team, outscoring Ohio State 28-7 in the second half of a win and rolling at Minnesota last week. The Huskers don’t lose often at home.
Points: With a Big Ten division title possibly in the balance, both teams are due for breakout offensive games.
Missouri Tigers at Texas A&M Aggies (-11.5, 61.5)
Why Missouri will cover: Texas A&M ranks dead last against the pass, but if the defense is focused on stopping Mizzou’s 39th-ranked pass game, its 12th-ranked run game will get it.
Why Texas A&M will cover: The Aggies offense averages better than 40 ppg and the defense, while poor against the pass, is No. 5 against the run.
Points: The over is 4-3 for both teams, and both teams seem poised to put up yards.
Arkansas Razorbacks at Vanderbilt Commodores (+10, 52)
Why Arkansas will cover: Arkansas’ offense can go off at any moment. The team is 11-3 in its last 14 SEC games, while Vandy is 2-8 in its last 10.
Why Vanderbilt will cover: Vandy’s defense has been reliable, and the offense can run the ball and grind the clock if it gets a lead.
Points: If Vandy gets an early lead, the under could hit. If Arkansas comes out firing, the over is favorable.
Virginia Tech Hokies at Duke Blue Devils (+15, 53.5)
Why Virginia Tech will cover: The Hokies run the ball and stop the run for success. Duke won’t be able to run, and a one-dimensional offense isn’t going to get it done.
Why Duke will cover: Duke’s run defense is decent, and if the Devils get down, they have shown the ability to move the ball through the air.
Points: The under is 8-1-1 in Duke’s last 10 and 10-4-1 in Va. Tech’s last 15.
Washington State Cougars at Oregon Ducks (-36.5, 69)
Why Washington State will cover: That’s a monster spread for a BCS conference game. Especially against a WSU team ranking 10th in passing and 32nd in scoring (34 ppg).
Why Oregon will cover: The banged-up Ducks are getting healthier every week. Washington State can’t stop them, and the defense doesn’t allow big points.
Points: That’s a big total, but Oregon games have hit higher.
Oklahoma Sooners at Kansas State Wildcats (13.5, 58.5)
Why Oklahoma will cover: The Sooners still have an ultra-explosive offense that ranks No. 4 in passing (379 ypg) and No. 7 in scoring (44.3 ppg). OU is 7-3 ATS against teams with a winning record.
Why Kansas State will cover: K-State is 6-0 ATS in its last six because its defense is solid at every level and QB Collin Klein has emerged as a hard-to-handle dual-threat.
Points: The over has hit in four of the last five for both teams.
West Virginia Mountaineers at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (6.5, 53.5)
Why West Virginia will cover: The Mountaineers average 374 yards with the pass. Rutgers’ offense, meanwhile, has been inconsistent at best.
Why Rutgers will cover: Rutgers’ defense has kept teams within distance; the team is 5-2 ATS this season. The Knights saw how Syracuse dismantled WVU last week.
Points: The over is 6-0 for West Virginia in its last six, but the under is 4-0 in Rutgers’ last four.
Baylor Bears at Oklahoma State Cowboys (-14, 79)
Why Baylor will cover: Baylor can score on anyone, averaging 549 ypg (No. 2). The defense isn’t great, but neither is OSU’s.
Why Oklahoma State will cover: OSU’s offense is third in yards, second in pass yards and second in scoring nationally. Baylor’s defense is in the bottom-third in every major category. The favorite is 11-1 ATS in the last 12 meetings.
Points: The over is 10-1 in Baylor’s last 11 in conference. There could easily be 1,000 yards of offense.
Illinois Fighting Illini at Penn State Nittany Lions (-4.5, 40.5)
Why Illinois will cover: While Penn State’s offense can’t do much, Illinois can run the ball well. PSU is just 2-6 ATS.
Why Penn State will cover: The Lions’ defense is in the top 20 in every category, including fifth in points allowed. Illinois’ offense has been shut down in the last two weeks.
Points: Both teams rely on stout defenses for success.
Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs (-3, 49)
Why Florida will cover: The Gators are 7-1 ATS in its last eight neutral site games (this one’s in Jacksonville). The defense has been stout, especially against the pass.
Why Georgia will cover: Florida will struggle to throw on Georgia, so if the Bulldogs can build a lead early, they might win handily.
Points: This game could be a grind-it-out slugfest.
Colorado Buffaloes at Arizona State Sun Devils (-30.5, 56)
Why Colorado will cover: Colorado has struggled, but that’s a good-sized spread against an ASU team that isn’t necessarily lighting the world on fire.
Why Arizona State will cover: ASU’s numbers aren’t terrific, but it still ranks No. 31 in points scored and No. 36 in points allowed. Colorado simply can’t keep up.
Points: ASU piles up the points at home, but can it score enough knowing Colorado isn’t likely to help much?
Iowa State Cyclones at Texas Tech Red Raiders (-15, 66.5)
Why Iowa State will cover: The Cyclones have a balanced offense that can keep an undisciplined defense on edge. If ISU has a strength on defense, it’s defending the pass.
Why Texas Tech will cover: Confidence must be high after winning at Oklahoma last week. ISU won’t be able to keep up in a shootout. The Cyclones are 2-6 ATS in its last eight road games.
Points: The over has hit in six straight for TTU and three of the last four for ISU.
South Carolina Gamecocks at Tennessee Volunteers (3.5, 43.5)
Why South Carolina will cover: USC’s defense is No. 1 against the pass, and Tennessee can’t run the ball.
Why Tennessee will cover: After playing LSU and Alabama in the last two weeks, anything else will feel like a breather. Its defense has been decent against teams not named Alabama or LSU.
Points: The over is 12-4-1 in UT’s last 17 at home.
Stanford Cardinal at USC Trojans (7, 60)
Why Stanford will cover: The Cardinal have covered every game this season, and this is the smallest spread for the squad that ranks No. 3 in scoring and No. 4 in scoring defense.
Why USC will cover: USC has shut down offenses not from Arizona or Arizona State, and has an offense led by a strong pass game that is never out of it. We’ll see what Stanford really has.
Points: If USC gets going offensively, the over could be hit by the end of the third quarter.
Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio State Buckeyes (7, 50.5)
Why Wisconsin will cover: Wisconsin wants to prove it can rebound from the Hail-Mary loss to Michigan State and has the horses to punish OSU. If Wisconsin gets ahead and OSU is forced to rally, the Buckeyes rank just 115th in passing. UW is 8-1 ATS in its last nine.
Why Ohio State will cover: The Buckeyes’ defense has no weaknesses, and if the run game can get established, anything can happen, especially at home.
Points: The under is 8-2 in OSU’s last 10, but the over is 4-0 in UW’s last four.
Southern Mississippi Eagles at UTEP Miners (10, 57)
Why Southern Miss will cover: The Eagles are balanced on both sides, ranking 21st in scoring offense and scoring defense. USM is 5-0 ATS in its last five.
Why UTEP will cover: If the Miners can get their ground game going, they have a chance to win SU. UTEP is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 against teams with winning records.
Points: The under has been hitting for both teams.
Clemson Tigers at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3.5, 63.5)
Why Clemson will cover: The Tigers are 6-0 ATS in their last six and show no signs slowing offensively. Georgia Tech’s offense has been exposed in recent weeks. We’ll see if Clemson can take advantage.
Why Georgia Tech will cover: Georgia Tech can still run the rock, and Clemson ranks 76th at stopping it. Clemson’s main strength – passing – matches up well with Tech’s top defensive strength.
Points: The over is 7-2 in Clemson’s last nine and was 5-0 in GT’s first five before the under has it in the last three. Could see some major points scored.