College football Week 9 best underdog bets, picks and predictions: Our expert is 14-9-1 this season!

Arizona State Sun Devils running back Cameron Skattebo (4) breaks a table attempt by Washington Huskies safety Makell Esteen (24) while rushing during the fourth quarter at Alaska Airlines Field.
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Sam Avellone


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Long-time suffering Browns fan born and raised in the greater Cleveland, Ohio area who now resides in SEC country. University of South Carolina alum. Sports handicapper for close to 10 years with a primary focus on NCAAB while enjoying NFL, PGA, NCAAF, NBA, and Soccer. For Sam Avellone media enquiries, please email
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Underdogs made some noise in the national spotlight last week. Utah defeated USC outright for the third straight time, Miami snuck by Clemson in double overtime and Virginia stunned North Carolina in Chapel Hill to ruin the Tar Heels’ perfect season. Also winning outright as underdogs were Minnesota, Oklahoma State and Mississippi State, all of whom won on the road against conference opponents. Elsewhere, Arizona State held Washington to its lowest scoring output of the season while catching 28 points, and Houston climbed all the way back into a 1-score battle with Texas following a 21-0 first half deficit. 

Despite the success underdogs had last week, we had our first losing week since Week 2 and missed a 2-1 result by the hook thanks to Ole Miss’ 7-point loss at home when catching 6.5. All is not lost though, as we are still 14-9-1 in these weekly underdog picks. Let’s get back on track this week with a few under-the-radar ‘dogs that appear to be a bit undervalued. Make sure you also read our NCAAF picks for all the biggest games this week.

Best College Football Week 9 underdog bets

UConn Huskies +14 over Boston College Eagles (-110)

I understand Boston College won on the road in their conference by double digits last week, but that result was a bit skewed by a defensive touchdown and 2 other interceptions thrown by Haynes King. The Eagles still yielded more than 7 yards per carry and 452 total yards to a Georgia Tech offense that rates similarly to UConn’s according to BCFToys’ adjusted efficiency metric – outside the top 100. Their win over the Yellow Jackets was their first of more than 3 points this season and now they are laying 14? This is a Boston College team that lost to NIU at home in Week 1 and barely managed to get by FCS Holy Cross a week later.

UConn may be 1-6 SU, but the Huskies have lost just 2 of those 6 by more than 14 points – 1 of which was against Duke. Quarterback Ta’Quan Roberson has been solid in his first season as a full-time starter with just 5 turnover-worthy plays in 194 dropbacks and a PFF passer grade of 84.4 – which ranks 16th nationally among qualified FBS quarterbacks. Compare that to King’s 14 turnover-worthy plays and 64.6 passer grade and you will likely agree that Roberson is much less prone to give Boston College 3 free possessions this week. 

Since Week 4, Boston College is 117th in defensive PPA, 103rd in defensive success rate and 125th in points per opportunity allowed. I don’t think the Eagles should be laying this many points to very many, if any FBS teams – so I will take UConn catching 2 touchdowns in this northeastern, non-conference matchup. For what it’s worth, I power rate this game more around 9.5 points than 14.

Purdue Boilermakers +2.5 over Nebraska Cornhuskers (-110)

The Boilermakers have lost 5 games this season, but they come into this game in a seemingly advantageous spot. They were off last week, yet they are catching points against an extremely banged-up Nebraska team that picked up 3 injuries along the offensive line last week as well as an injury to wide receiver Billy Kemp IV. The recent injuries pile onto existing injuries Nebraska has to key offensive playmakers like Gabe Ervin Jr, Isaiah Garcia-Casteneda and Marcus Washington, as well as defensive back DeShon Singleton. Not to mention, another defensive back in Tommi Hill is questionable. With so many inexperienced pieces expected to get substantial minutes on Nebraska’s offense, I find it difficult to lay points with the Cornhuskers. 

Schematically, Purdue’s offense is more dependent on the pass than it is on the run. Quarterback Hudson Card has completed about 60% of his passes for just over 1,600 yards and 7 touchdowns per PFF. While he has struggled against some of the better defenses on his schedule like Ohio State, Iowa and Wisconsin, Card is an experienced signal-caller who can find success against Nebraska’s pass defense. For reference, the Cornhuskers are outside the top 65 in PPA per pass and pass success rate allowed since Week 4 despite 3 games in that span being against struggling pass offenses like Louisiana Tech, Illinois and Northwestern. Purdue should put itself in a position to win this game, so I will take the points with the Boilermakers.

Read our full Purdue Boilermakers vs Nebraska Cornhuskers predictions

Arizona State Sun Devils +6 over Washington State Cougars (-110)

The Sun Devils are just 1-6 SU, but they have shown signs of life in their last 4 games – especially last week when they held the Washington Huskies to just 15 points at home as 28-point underdogs. It was an inspiring performance for Arizona State, especially being on the road following 2 hard-fought 3-point losses in a row against Cal and Colorado. This week, the Sun Devils will host the Washington State Cougars, who are in a funk themselves. The Cougars have lost 3 straight and have yielded 82 points in their last 2 games combined. Since Week 4, Washington State is outside the top 90 in havoc created, defensive PPA, rush success rate and pass explosiveness allowed. Furthermore, the Cougars have failed to finish drives defensively in recent weeks, allowing 30 opposing drives to cross their 40-yard line while yielding 4 points per scoring opportunity. 

Arizona State’s defense held Washington to just 288 total yards last week, as defensive coordinator Brian Ward had a great game plan that was successful in slowing down Heisman-hopeful Michael Penix Jr. Interestingly enough, Ward was Washington State’s defensive coordinator last year before making a lateral change in the offseason. Given his prior experience in Pullman, I expect Ward to have another solid game plan in place this week for a familiar Cougar quarterback in Cameron Ward (unrelated).

The Sun Devils’ defense has played very opportunistically since Week 4 with a top 15 rating in havoc created, which is a good trait to have against Ward. He may have thrown just 3 interceptions thus far, but Ward has 15 turnover-worthy plays – which is the most in the Pac-12 and tied for 5th-most nationally among qualified quarterbacks. This is a difficult travel spot for the Washington State Cougars, going against a team with a defensive coordinator that is familiar with their quarterback’s tendencies. Meanwhile, Arizona State is trending in the right direction with 3 no-doubt covers and 1 push in its last 4 games. We missed the best of the number, but I like this down to +4.

Don’t miss our college football expert’s FOUR NCAAF best bets for this week

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