The return of the Big Ten brought the drama and storylines we were all hoping for, but now it’s time to turn the page to Week 9.
It was bound to happen at some point, and Week 8 was that time. I had a losing week for the first time in 2020. I went 2-3 on the week, with a few total plays in the Big 12 not working out as I anticipated. When you can’t rely on the over hitting in Big 12 games, you know 2020 is a weird year.
At 21-17 overall, I’m still having a pretty good year. Let’s get back on track in Week 9.
(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
Minnesota at Maryland
Time: 7:30 p.m. (Friday) | TV: ESPN | Line: Minnesota -20.5 | Total: 61.5
Maryland was always going to be one of the weaker teams in the Big Ten in 2020, but there weren’t many who expected a 40-point loss to Northwestern to open the year. The Terps barely cracked 200 yards of offense, turned it over four times and allowed the Wildcats to rush for 325 yards. Minnesota is dealing with its own issues, but it was able to run the ball pretty well in its season-opening loss to Michigan. I’m a little leery about laying 20.5 points, but I’ll gladly take the under here. 61.5 is way too high.
Pick: Under 61.5
No. 16 Kansas State at West Virginia
Time: Noon | TV: ESPN2 | Line: West Virginia -3.5 | Total: 46.5
I’m just going to keep fading West Virginia until oddsmakers notice that its defensive statistics are a bit fraudulent. WVU is No. 5 nationally in total defense, but that is bolstered by the fact that WVU played a bad FCS team, an Oklahoma State team with a backup QB, a Baylor team that is wholly inept on offense and Kansas.
I bet against the Mountaineers as a road favorite against Texas Tech last week and they lost outright. This week, I’m backing Kansas State, and nothing about KSU’s win over Kansas last week factors into that pick. The Wildcats have won four straight, including road upsets over Oklahoma and TCU. They also beat that same Texas Tech team that WVU lost to by 10 points. And to top it all off, K-State is 5-1 against the spread as a road underdog under Chris Klieman.
Pick: Kansas State +3.5
No. 5 Georgia at Kentucky
Time: Noon | TV: SECN | Line: Georgia -14.5 | Total: 42.5
Kentucky cannot throw the ball. The Wildcats are averaging a measly 124 yards through the air per game, worst in the SEC. UK has the second-best rushing offense in the conference, but that approach won’t work against Georgia. UGA has one of the most talented defenses in the country.
Kentucky has lost its last 10 games against Georgia, including all seven matchups during Mark Stoops’ tenure as UK head coach. The only time UK has covered the spread vs. Georgia under Stoops was last year … when Kentucky lost 21-0 as 24-point underdogs.
Georgia is itching to get back on the field after the loss to Alabama and then a bye week. I think the Bulldogs roll. Under Kirby Smart, Georgia is 7-3 ATS after a loss and 5-2 ATS after a bye.
Pick: Georgia -14.5
Northwestern at Iowa
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN | Line: Iowa -2.5 | Total: 46.5
After 12 seasons, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald finally moved on from offensive coordinator Mick McCall. It was long overdue as the Wildcats’ plodding offense was falling behind in just about every way. The new offensive coordinator, Mike Bajakian, had a strong debut in last weekend’s 43-3 win over Maryland. As noted above, Maryland is not a good team, but I was very encouraged by the Wildcats’ use of tempo with new quarterback Peyton Ramsey leading the way.
Iowa, meanwhile, lost its opener to Purdue despite putting up 460 yards of offense. The Hawkeyes were plagued by penalties and untimely turnovers but still showed some positive signs of life on offense. The total is just 45.5 on this game, which is more reflective of the Big Ten West of recent years — not 2020.
Pick: Over 45.5
LSU at Auburn
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: CBS | Line: LSU -3 | Total: 64.5
LSU beat South Carolina 52-24 last week. That’s the same South Carolina team that beat Auburn 30-22. Perhaps that explains this point spread, but I think the wrong team is favored. Auburn, which is 8-2 against the spread as a home underdog under Gus Malzahn, gave the South Carolina game away when it strayed way too far from its running game and was doomed by three Bo Nix interceptions.
The score of LSU’s win over the Gamecocks is misleading as 14 of LSU’s points came via a pick-six and a kick return TD. LSU’s defense didn’t take any major strides. South Carolina’s running backs gained more than nine yards per carry, Collin Hill averaged more than 10 yards per attempt and South Carolina’s kicker missed three field goals.
Pick: Auburn +3
Ole Miss at Vanderbilt
Time: 4 p.m. | TV: SECN | Line: Ole Miss -16.5 | Total: 63.5
Ole Miss is ready to beat up on a bad team. Lane Kiffin and the Rebels are upset with the SEC after last week’s officiating controversy in the loss to Auburn. It was the team’s third-straight loss, and a trip to Nashville to face lowly Vanderbilt should be just the recipe.
I know Vanderbilt hasn’t played in three weeks and this is Ole Miss’ sixth game in six weeks, but I’m still more than willing to lay the points with the Rebels. Vandy has been terrible in spots like this. The Commodores are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games as a double-digit home underdog.
Pick: Ole Miss -16.5
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