Week 8 was painfully close to pulling off some huge outright upsets. Kansas State was in control of its matchup against TCU before the Horned Frogs stormed back again for a 38-28 win, and Syracuse led Clemson for half of a 27-21 loss. Had those hit, they would have delivered +743 return value. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be and we're back in the red. Thankfully, Oklahoma State's upset over Texas hit and salvaged a tough week.
Most of the ranked teams in Week 9 play either incredibly tight games with little betting value or easy opponents. No matter, that just means we'll happily head down the board to the Group of Five ranks where upsets can completely shift the balance of power in a conference race. The Mountain West and Conference USA races could shift with upsets this week. Here are five games to keep an eye on for money line picks.
"Upset" is defined by odds, not rankings. All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook. Lines may shift after publication.
No. 14 Utah at Washington State
When: Thursday, 10 p.m. | Where: Clarence D. Martin Stadium -- Pullman, Washington
The first upset alert of the week sends us to the Pacific Northwest as Utah comes off the bye to play a feisty Washington State. The Cougars lost a tough one against Oregon State, but played Oregon and USC down to the wire in impressive showings. Quarterback Cameron Ward has come into his own over the past four weeks, averaging more than 300 yards passing per game with eight touchdowns.
Utah showed its potential with a massive 43-42 win over No. 10 USC thanks to a late 2-point conversion to reenter the top 15. While the Utes have massive upside, however, losses on the road against Florida and UCLA prove they're still gettable when they travel outside of Salt Lake City. Wazzu coach Jake Dickert will have a strong game plan to slow this offense. Pick: Washington State (+228)
When: Saturday, 2 p.m. | Where: Rice Stadium -- Houston, Texas
The 49ers became the first Group of Five team to fire their coach, Will Healy, after a 1-7 start to his fourth season. Still, for all the struggles -- a 34-15 loss to FIU in Week 8 being the most recent and devastating -- they've been salty with quarterback Chris Reynolds in the lineup; with him, Charlotte has its only win of the season against Georgia State.
Rice is not far at all from being 6-1 with only a loss to USC on its schedule; losses to FAU and Houston came by single scores. But it works the other way, too; wins against UAB and Louisiana Tech also came by single scores. Basicaly, the Owls have been susceptible on the right day. A motivated Charlotte team mixed with a truly massive line creates more than enough value to take a chance. Pick: Charlotte (+550)
Old Dominion at Georgia State
When: Saturday, 3 p.m. | Where: Center Parc Stadium -- Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia State earned a spot as the most hyped 0-4 team in the country after narrow losses against South Carolina, North Carolina and Charlotte. Finally, the expectations paid off with a solid win over rival Georgia Southern on Oct. 8. However, the Panthers are still shaky at best and yet to string together quality offensive performances.
The Monarchs' schedule has aged exceptionally well as losses to East Carolina and Liberty no long look anywhere near as troubling. Wins over Virginia Tech and Coastal Carolina show the legitimate quality this team has to offer when things are rolling. Keep an eye on ODU receiver Ali Jennings III, who already has more than 900 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. Pick: Old Dominion (+143)
Northwestern at Iowa
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. | Where: Kinnick Stadium -- Iowa City, Iowa
How low, exactly, does this Iowa offensive machine go? The Hawkeyes turned the ball over six times in a 54-10 loss to Ohio State. A week earlier, Iowa was held to six points by Illinois. A week before that, it was held to 14 by Michigan. The program leads only Colorado among Power Five schools at 14 points per game, and the offense has not scored a touchdown in two games.
Look, Northwestern isn't good, but the Wildcats played Maryland, Wisconsin and Duke close in losses. The only blowout came at the hands of Wisconsin, which is finding its rhythm under interim coach Jim Leonhard. With an offense as impotent as Iowa's, every game is a virtual coin flip, even one against 1-6 Northwestern. Pick: Northwestern (+345)
When: Saturday, 10:30 p.m. | Where: Bulldog Stadium -- Fresno, Texas
San Diego State might have found something after converting defensive back Jalen Mayden back to quarterback. The dynamic junior has accumulated 478 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns in wins over Nevada and Hawaii. Now, he faces his biggest test yet.
The Bulldogs have been inconsistent since losing quarterback Jake Haener. Freshman Loan Fife is expected to start again, but outside of a 41-9 explosion against 2-6 New Mexico, Fresno State is averaging just 17 points per game with Fife. Mayden can out-duel him. Pick: San Diego State (+260)
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 9, and which top-20 favorite will go down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $3,000 in profit over the past six-plus seasons -- and find out.