The Six Pack: Ohio State vs. Penn State, Texas vs. Oklahoma State among best Week 9 college football picks

This Saturday is Halloween, but it’s somewhat of a depressing Halloween. With the pandemic going on, kids won’t be trick-or-treating nearly as much (if at all). That stinks for both the children and me because every year, we order far more candy than we’re going to need to hand out to trick-or-treaters. It’s a move that ensures there’s plenty of candy leftover for me to snack on over the next couple of weeks.

But this year there won’t be any candy. It’s going to be The Worst Halloween Ever, which is why to keep the day from getting too depressing, I will have a perfect week in The Six Pack instead. Who needs candy when you can hand out winners instead?

Let’s get to it.

Odds below provided via William Hill Sportsbook

Games of the Week

No. 3 Ohio State (-12) at No. 18 Penn State: This spread is larger than it would’ve been had Penn State not lost to Indiana last week. So why am I not trying to take advantage of it? Simple, even if it’s larger than it would’ve been, it’s still not large enough. Penn State has been a thorn in Ohio State’s side the last three seasons, keeping games close, but I don’t think the 2020 version of Penn State is up to the challenge. Not only have the Nittany Lions suffered injuries at running back that has left them thin there, but they lose the advantage of playing this game at home in front of 100,000 fans this year.

Furthermore, even if Penn State is a talented team — and it is — there’s just too large of a gap between these teams at the quarterback position. That was the story last season, and it will be the case again this year. Don’t forget that 10 of the 17 points Penn State scored against the Buckeyes last week came on drives that covered 23 total yards after Ohio State turnovers. Outside of those four minutes, the Buckeyes dominated the game. I think they’ll dominate again Saturday. Ohio State 38, Penn State 20

Texas (+3.5) at No. 6 Oklahoma State: Hey, betting against Oklahoma State as a 3.5-point favorite worked last week, right? Seriously, that’s not the reason I’m here. The truth is that, as good as Oklahoma State has looked so far this year, I’m still not convinced. It was nice to get Spencer Sanders back at quarterback last week, but while he’s capable of making big plays, he’s just as capable of making mistakes. I’m expecting this to be a lower-scoring affair because Oklahoma State’s defense is legit, but it’s going to be windy in Stillwater, Oklahoma, which could impact each team’s ability to move the ball in the air.

Plus, I can’t get past the fact that this is a matchup of an unranked team coached by Tom Herman going against a top-10 team. These are the games Herman lives for! It’s these games that got him the job at Texas to begin with! I don’t know if Texas will pull off the upset, but I think it keeps this game tight and, much like last week, that hook could come up clutch. Oklahoma State 30, Texas 27

Lock of the Week

Northwestern (+2.5) at Iowa: Northwestern’s offense looked better than it had in a long time last week, but I don’t know how much of that is Northwestern and how much of it was Maryland. Whatever it was, I still think the Wildcats are being underestimated in this spot. The Iowa offense was more impressive than the 20 points it scored might suggest (it averaged 6.13 yards per play), but this Northwestern defense is better than Purdue’s, so I expect life to be more difficult. 

While I don’t expect Northwestern to be a team scoring 40 points per game suddenly, the offense did look impressive last week, particularly on the ground. With Drake Anderson and Isaiah Bowser combining with Peyton Ramsey, I think the Wildcats will control the pace of this game with their offense. That will put them in a position to cover at the very least, if not win outright. Plus, I can’t just glance past Pat Fitzgerald’s overall record ATS in these spots. Fitzgerald’s Northwestern teams have gone 51-33 ATS as an underdog, and that includes a mark of 44-28 ATS as a road dog. Their style of play travels well. Iowa 24, Northwestern 23

Under of the Week

LSU at Auburn (Under 66.5): This total strikes me as being too high and based more on an LSU offense with Myles Brennan than one being led by T.J. Finley. In three games with Brennan at QB, LSU averaged 43.7 pass attempts per game. Last week, with Finley, they attempted 21 passes. Fewer passes mean fewer clock stoppages, and I don’t expect LSU to be able to match the 52 points it put up against South Carolina last week. Then there’s the Auburn offense, which has struggled all year. Auburn has had difficulty moving the ball through the air, which is the one spot the LSU defense is vulnerable (12th in SEC in defensive pass efficiency). LSU has done a much better — though still not great — job of stopping the run, so I’m not confident Auburn will be able to put together a lot of touchdown drives in this spot. Plus, the under has gone 14-6 in the last 20 meetings. LSU 28, Auburn 23

Disrespected Felines of the Week

Kansas State (+4) at West Virginia: My eyebrows were raised when I saw this line. I didn’t understand it. I don’t want to put too much stock in Kansas State bum-rushing Kansas last week because, well, you know, it’s Kansas. Still, Kansas State, even without Skylar Thompson, has played well this year. Will Howard has done a respectable job filling in for Thompson. I figure this is based on the West Virginia defense allowing only 4.31 yards per play, ranking first in the Big 12 and 8th nationally. But how much stock should be put into that number when four of the Mountaineer five games have come against Eastern Kentucky, Baylor, Kansas and Texas Tech? Oklahoma State put up 27 points and 5.43 yards per play against it, and last week Texas Tech scored 34 points while averaging 5.19 yards per play. Kansas State will score enough to cover here at a minimum. Kansas State 27, West Virginia 24

Gross Overreaction of the Week

Michigan State (+24.5) at Michigan: This was almost my lock of the week, but I couldn’t pull the trigger on putting that much faith in Rocky Lombardi. Still, this line is a major overreaction. Yes, Michigan State lost to Rutgers last week, but it turned the ball over seven times. Those seven turnovers played a significant role in Rutgers scoring 38 points, as the five touchdown drives the Knights had covered an average of 35.6 yards per drive. Only one of them was longer than 60 yards. On the other side, Michigan looked very impressive against Minnesota, but its average starting field position was the Michigan 41-yard line. It’s only one game, but Michigan’s field position margin of +12.9 on the season is the biggest in the country. That played a significant role in how the Minnesota game turned out, as did the Gophers being down several key starters. Michigan is going to win this game. It’ll probably win with relative ease. But it’s not going to cover a 25-point spread while doing it. Take the points and get ready for a miserable 3.5 hours of hoping for the best. Michigan 38, Michigan State 21

SportsLine Pick of the Week

Mississippi State at No. 2 Alabama (-31, O/U 64): I’ve run out of room in The Six Pack, but I have one more play I like a lot this week. If you want to see how I feel about Alabama hosting Mike Leach and Mississippi State this Saturday, head over to my SportsLine page.

Last Week

Season

Games of the Week

1-1

7-7

Lock of the Week

0-1

3-4

Overall

3-3

21-21

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