Super 8: Week 9 College Football Picks

By: Matt Doherty and Liam O’Brien

Liam: Vanderbilt vs. Arkansas over 53.5

This is the worst SEC matchup we might get all season.

But, that does not mean we can’t take advantage of a point total that is much lower than it should be.

Both of these defenses leave much to be desired as each allows upwards of 400 total yards per game. The Razorbacks’ fatal flaw is their pass defense. This is music to the ears of the Commodores as 63 percent of their yardage comes through the air.

Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur, who has thrown for 12 touchdowns compared to five interceptions this season, should have a field day in Fayetteville. His ability to produce has been limited by tough defenses such as Kentucky, Florida and Georgia in recent weeks.

Defensively, the Commodores have been underwhelming both in stopping the rush and the pass. This is good news for the Razorbacks, who pride themselves on maintaining a balanced approach. Arkansas is a team that can put up some points, evidenced by the combined 64 they scored in losses to Alabama and Ole Miss earlier this month.

Matt: Texas A&M (+2) over Mississippi State

I don’t understand this line. The Aggies only losses this season came against the two best teams in the country (Alabama and Clemson) and they have impressive wins over Kentucky and South Carolina.

On the other side, Mississippi State’s offense has been an absolute joke recently, averaging (gasp) 9.75 points in the last four games. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is completing passes under 50% and the Bulldogs strength is running the ball, which A&M defends really well.

A&M is the far better team and them being underdogs is a mistake. Capitalize on it and sit back and watch Mississippi State struggle to reach double digit points… again.

Liam: Virginia (-9) over North Carolina

The Cavaliers carried me last week so it’s only right that I ride with them again.

UNC’s defense is horrendous. The Tar Heels allow 34.8 points and 411 yards per game. In recent weeks, they have allowed 40 points to Syracuse, 47 to Miami in a 37-point defeat and 35 to Pitt. UVA quarterback Bryce Perkins should have room to operate and continue the momentum he garnered from running for two scores and throwing for one against Duke last Saturday.

Virginia enters the game soaring after holding Miami and Duke to a combined 27 points over their last two games, both of which have ended in victories over tough conference foes.

The Tar Heels offense does not stand a chance. They put up just 23.3 points per game, ranking 109th in the nation.

This game should be over after the first quarter.

Matt: Florida State (+17) over Clemson

Love me some Florida State this week as a 17-point home dog. I know these aren’t the Seminoles of the good ol’ Jameis Winston days but this team still has a lot of talent and they’ve been playing well recently. The Noles have won three of four (the one loss by a point to Miami) and this is a perfect let down spot for Clemson.

Here’s a nice stat: Clemson has only beaten FSU by 17 point or more once in the series history AND have never beaten them by more than 7 in Tallahassee. Expect the Noles to keep this one close.

Liam: Houston (-7.5) over USF

These Bulls are not as good as their No. 21 ranking suggests.

They burned me last week after beating a futile UConn squad by just eight points at home. The week before that, they beat 1-6 Tulsa by just one point. ECU and Illinois are a combined 5-9 and the Bulls beat those two teams by a combined 13 points.

Their dream of making a New Year’s Six bowl out of the AAC ends on Saturday afternoon against one of the best offenses in the country. Houston ranks second in the nation with 48.7 points per game and third with 555 yards per game. It’s hard to believe anybody has an offense with a higher motor than the Cougars, but that is just how good Alabama and Ohio State are offensively.

South Florida’s defense is mediocre, not the type of unit suited to quell such a forceful offense. They are especially vulnerable to quarterbacks who can get out of the pocket and run. Houston’s D’Eriq King can do just that. He scrambled for 117 yards against Tulsa three weeks ago and rushed seven times for 56 yards against Navy last week.

Matt: Iowa (+6.5) over Penn State

Kirk Ferentz and his Iowa Hawkeyes are not getting the credit they deserve right now. They are 6-1 overall and in the Top 25 in both offensive and defensive efficiency according to FPI. Penn State has been struggling as of late and although they are in a good bounce back spot at home, four of their seven games have been decided by a touchdown or less.

With Iowa’s disciplined style of football, they’ll be able to keep this one within a touchdown and possibly pull out the win in Happy Valley.

Liam: Washington State (+3) over Stanford

The Cougars took care of business last week, pummeling 12th-ranked Oregon by two touchdowns.

Their ability to demolish an opponent through the air is unmatched in the Pac 12. Quarterback Gardner Minshew is second in the country is pass yards and fifth in touchdown passes. The Cardinal defense is soft against the pass, allowing 252.1 yards per game in air which ranks 98th in the nation.

Minshew has managed to put up numbers against better passing defenses such as Wyoming, Utah and USC.

On the other side, people are sleeping on the Washington State defense. They rank 18th in the nation against the pass and should be able to limit KJ Costello’s ability to toss the ball around the yard.

Matt: Nevada (+3) over San Diego State

Talk about playing with fire. Each of SDSU’s last five games have been decided by a possession or less, with them coming out on top each time. That’s just not sustainable. The Aztecs are due for a loss and this is a perfect spot for that to happen. Reno is always a tough place to play (just ask Boise State) and the Wolfpack also get quarterback Ty Gangi back from injury.

Give me the Pack as home dogs.

Season Records:

Matt: 10-10

Liam: 16-12

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