SabreBetrics: Week 9 CFB Betting Guide – The Home Stretch

With approximately one month remaining in the college football regular season, it’s time for teams to make their final push for conference superiority.

National programs like Tennessee, Michigan, and Penn State all have opportunities to stake a claim for College Football Playoff bids with home victories over hated rivals. For the Virginia Cavaliers, four consecutive home games provide a chance to salvage bowl eligibility. Though sportsbooks incorporate homefield advantage into their lines (usually between 2-3 points), there can still be value in choosing home teams under the right conditions. This week, we are fading road teams and hoping that hostile crowds can lead us to profitability.

Virginia Week 9 Forecast

Virginia +2 vs. Miami, Under 48.

Miami started the season with sky-high expectations. Between the heralded arrival of Mario Cristobal, a stellar recruiting class, and the return of talented quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, the Hurricanes were the consensus favorite to win the ACC Coastal Division. However, expectations have not aligned with reality this season. Last week, Miami fell to 3-4 on the season after a humiliating 24-point home loss to Duke. The Hurricanes committed 8 turnovers, the most in a Power 5 conference game since 2009. The Blue Devils’ average starting field position was their own 46 yard line, and four of Duke’s drives started inside Miami’s 30-yard line. It was, in short, a disastrous performance for the Canes, and capped a three-game home losing streak for the first time since 2007.

Adding injury to insult, Van Dyke hurt his throwing shoulder in the first half and did not return. At the time of this writing, no status has been given about his injury. For what it’s worth, the short line provided by sportsbooks seems to indicate a general skepticism that he will play. His replacement, Jake Garcia, accounted for five of the eight turnovers against Duke. Garcia is certainly more capable than his performance last week would suggest, but it is safe to say that Miami’s offense will not be as potent without Van Dyke under center.

I fear that Cristobal’s recruiting prowess will eventually vault Miami back into college football’s elite programs. Purely from a talent perspective, the Hurricanes have more blue-chip caliber players than Virginia. If Van Dyke plays and is healthy, I give Miami a significant edge. However, coming off the best defensive performance of the season, I am going to pick the Cavaliers at home against a faltering back-up quarterback. Hopefully, this year’s game won’t come down to a last second field goal. Virginia over Miami, 23-21.

Week 9 Best Selections

  • Season record: 19-19-2. After a third consecutive 3-2 week, I am squarely at .500 for the season. Whoever said that you can’t go home was sorely mistaken. All five of my best bets this week are home teams that should overperform expectations.

Nebraska +7.5 vs. Illinois: I have picked against Illinois a couple times this year and it has been to my detriment. Bret Bielema’s program has surpassed all preseason expectations and is ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since 2011. In contrast, the 3-4 Huskers have dramatically underachieved in 2022, leading to the midseason firing of head coach Scott Frost. Still, I’ll take Nebraska and the points at home. Since Frost’s departure, the Cornhuskers won games against Indiana and Rutgers and lost narrowly at Purdue. The Illini have only played twice on the road this season. One of those games was an inexplicable loss at Indiana. Nebraska will score enough points on the Illinois defense to keep it close.

Central Florida vs. Cincinnati (Pick ’em): Sometimes, good teams just play poorly. That’s certainly true of UCF’s first true road game of the season – a three-touchdown loss at East Carolina last Saturday. Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee threw three first half interceptions in his worst outing of the season. I’m expecting a bounce-back performance this weekend from the friendly confines of Orange County. At home, Plumlee has a quarterback rating of 159 with 10 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. He will need help from his offensive line, as Cincinnati leads the nation in sacks and tackles for a loss. Fortunately, the Knights have an offense that averages 495 yards per game with a potent ground game that can counteract the Bearcats’ tendency to blitz.

Texas Tech -2.5 vs. Baylor: The Red Raiders steamrolled West Virginia on Saturday, running 103 offensive plays without a turnover. As impressive as the offense looked – scoring is rarely in short supply in Lubbock – it was the defensive performance that stood out. Texas Tech forced four turnovers and kept JT Daniels under 200 yards passing. Baylor’s quarterback Blake Shapen has struggled in his last three games, throwing four interceptions and he’s recovering from a head injury that knocked him out of a road loss in Morgantown. Though I try not to make head-to-head predictions based on performances against common opponents, the recent games against West Virginia show that Texas Tech is simply playing better football at this point in the season.

Kansas State -1.5 vs. Oklahoma State: Kansas State looked primed to hand TCU its first loss of the season, leading 28-17 at the half. However, quarterback injuries eventually doomed the Wildcats, who could not get any offensive traction in the second half. Starter Adrian Martinez, who leads Big 12 quarterbacks in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and yards per attempt, will be a game-time decision for Kansas State. If Martinez can play, he figures to have another effective offensive performance. Oklahoma State’s defense concedes 486 yards per game and ranks 130th in the nation in passing yards allowed per game.

North Carolina -3 vs. Pittsburgh: The Tar Heels have the most explosive offense in the ACC, averaging just over 39 points per game and converting 96% of possessions in the red zone. Unfortunately for Mack Brown, his defensive unit allows almost 500 yards per game. Still, Pittsburgh’s offense is not clicking well enough to fully exploit Carolina’s defensive ineptitude. Following a 24-10 loss against Louisville, Pat Narduzzi faced pressure to move on from starting quarterback Kedon Slovis. Slovis has taken 5 sacks and thrown four interceptions in his last three games and has not scored a QBR over 50 since the season opener.  This line is suspiciously low given the trajectory of both programs, but I’m going to stick with my gut and take the Tar Heels.

Parlay/Teaser of the Week

  • Season record: 2-6

Last week also provided a much-needed breakthrough on parlays. With my favorite home selections provided above, I’ll use a teaser to bet on two of the best teams in the Pac-12.

  • Utah -0.5 at Washington State (teased down from -7): Pullman can be a difficult road trip for even the most experienced teams. Just ask the Oregon Ducks, who escaped with a three-point victory in late September. However, homefield advantage can only take you so far, and Utah has more talent on both sides of the ball. The Cougars have allowed 26 sacks this season, and average only 89.4 yards rushing per game. Conversely, Utah has the best passing defense in the Pac-12, allowing only 208 yards per game.
  • USC -9.5 at Arizona (teased down from -15.5): Lincoln Riley’s squad has had two weeks to stew over the one-point loss to Utah that may have knocked the Trojans out of the playoff picture. I expect USC to take out all its frustrations on an overmatched Arizona team. The Wildcats defense gives up nearly 38 points per game and allows opponents to complete 70% of their passes. Arizona might be able to put some points on the board, but there will be no answer for Caleb Williams and the high-octane Trojans offense.

Random Fact to Impress Your Fellow Tailgaters

It’s no secret that teams tend to play better at home than on the road. Most of the time, home favorites end up winning their games even if they do not cover the spread. In fact, only 10 teams this year have lost home games as a favorite of 17 or more points. Unfortunately for Notre Dame fans, the Fighting Irish are repeat offenders with losses to Marshall and Stanford in South Bend. Miami accounts for another of these upset defeats, losing to Middle Tennessee State at home despite being a 26-point favorite. These are the kinds of performances you do not want to try at home.

SabreBetrics is a Virginia graduate and longtime fan of The Sabre. The opinions expressed in this article are not directly associated with The Sabre and are intended for recreational use only. Sports betting should be a fun activity, not a stressful one. Please do not bet more than you can reasonably afford to lose.