Eight weeks down, nine undefeated teams remain. The midseason power consolidation continues with writers and coaches in agreement on the order of the top seven teams in the land, though the discrepancy in first-place votes is worth noting.
Georgia has yet to vacate the top spot in either poll all season. Michigan has been the team looking over their shoulder since the preseason, although they have risen to within 36 points of the lead in the AP poll this week.
The Wolverines received 19 first-place votes, the most of any team other than the Bulldogs, and have a bye in Week 9 before the season's final stretch. Ohio State and Florida State each got three votes from the writers to solidify the top four.
According to the coaches, however, it’s Georgia or bust. The two-time reigning champions garnered 58 of 64 votes in the Coaches poll, compared to four for Michigan and two for OSU. For now, Kirby Smart’s peers look to believe more in his team than AP voters. The Bulldogs are 1-5-1 ATS entering a road game in Gainesville, where they’re 14.5-point favorites.
Ranked teams facing more tenuous road situations in Week 9 include Tennessee (-3.5) at Kentucky and Oregon State (-3.5) at Arizona. Both will be sizable favorites next week, so lack of focus shouldn’t be an issue, but upsets are very much in play.
The Oregon Ducks are favored by a touchdown in Salt Lake City this Saturday, but the Utes have won three of five meetings since 2018. College Gameday will be on-site for a pivotal Pac-12 matchup, likely eliminating the loser from conference contention.
Our prop plays are on a 5-1 run over the last two weeks! Read on for this week’s best bets as spooky season ramps up in college football.
Claiborne had one of his best games of the season in the Deacs’ win over Pitt last Saturday, gaining 96 yards on 14 carries (6.9 ypc) and finding the endzone twice. He’s split carries with Justice Ellison throughout the season but has the slight edge in rushing average and has scored five touchdowns to Ellison’s zero.
Where his opportunity to contribute may fall apart is the matchup with an FSU defense that has struggled to defend running QBs but hadn’t had much of an issue against designed runs until last week against Duke.
With the frailty of the QB situation at Wake, we expect Florida State to load the box and force throws, which will make Claiborne and Ellison unlikely to get the opportunities needed for an over to cash.
Waters was not the back who achieved success against Florida State last week, and he went without a touchdown for the first game all season while managing 39 yards on 13 carries. He has one fewer carry over the last two weeks than backfield mate Jaquez Moore, and the Blue Devils face the harsh Cardinals rush defense on the road in Week 9.
Louisville is 20th in opponent yards per carry, better than any team Duke has seen in 2023. They allow 97.1 yards per game on the ground and have no more room for error after a stunning loss to Pitt in Week 8.
It will be tough for Waters to regain his form this week, and we’ll play his under in this challenging spot.
It’s not whether Air Force will pour on the rushing yards this Saturday against Colorado State; it’s who accounts for them that matters. Quarterback Zac Larrier has two 100-yard games on the ground since September 30 and mixed in a 94-yard touchdown pass in the Falcons’ 17-6 win against Navy a week ago.
Michel has been the bell cow for Air Force, though. He ranks ninth in the country in rushing attempts in six total games, averaging more than 25 per game in his last five. As a fullback, a lot of his yards are gained on physical runs between the tackles.
His longest rush of the season is only 22 yards, but Colorado State is 132nd of 133 teams in total defense and gives up more than 155 rushing yards per game. Michel and Air Force will run wild against the Rams, even if it’s five yards at a time.