College Football Week 9 Picks: Auburn-LSU, Michigan-Notre Dame and More

Another exciting slate of college football games are on deck in Week 9, but who will take home a critical victory?
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Notre Dame vs Michigan predictions Week 9

Week 9 of the college football season brings another top-10 showdown in Death Valley, as LSU hosts Auburn, while Ohio State hosts its toughest test yet in Wisconsin. At night, Michigan hosts Notre Dame in a primetime showdown, with the Wolverines looking to avoid back-to-back losses after last week's defeat in Happy Valley. Who will win those games and nine more of Week 9's best? Our writers and editors have made their picks.

Season-Long Standings

Lorenzo Arguello: 18–6 (75%)
Max Meyer: 72–25 (74.2%)
Michael Shapiro: 71–26 (73.2%)
Molly Geary: 68–29 (70.1%)
Laken Litman: 68–29 (70.1%)
Ross Dellenger: 63–34 (64.9%)

No. 13 Wisconsin at No. 3 Ohio State (12 p.m. ET, FOX)

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Ohio State

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Laken Litman picks Ohio State: This was supposed to be a top-10 matchup, but then Wisconsin was stunned by Illinois last week in a one-point road loss. The Badgers still have the nation’s No. 1 defense, but haven’t faced anyone as dangerous or talented as QB Justin Fields, who leads the Big Ten with 22 touchdowns to just one interception. Meanwhile Ohio State’s second-ranked defense, which is holding opponents to 2.5 yards per rush, is gearing up for its shot at Jonathan Taylor. The major question for the Buckeyes now as they enter the midway point of the season at 7–0 is can they avoid a Purdue-style upset? The Boilermakers shocked then-No. 2 Ohio State, 49–20, this time last year. And Wisconsin is coming off a bad loss looking to prove itself against the best team in the Big Ten. But the Buckeyes haven’t lost at home since September 2017 (Oklahoma) and haven’t lost a conference game at home since November 2015 (Michigan State).

No. 5 Oklahoma at Kansas State (12 p.m. ET, ABC)

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Molly Geary picks Oklahoma: K-State's defense, which ranks fifth nationally in passing yards allowed per game (152.5), could make things tricky for Jalen Hurts & Co. through the air, but they're much more vulnerable on the ground, ranking 102nd nationally with 195.2 yards per game. Oklahoma has a mobile QB and one of the nation's most potent rushing attacks, so expect its offense to take advantage. But even if the Wildcats are able to muck things up a bit, they simply don't have the offense to keep up with the Sooners here. 

No. 9 Auburn at No. 2 LSU (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

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Ross Dellenger picks LSU: QB Joe Burrow spoke the truth after the Tigers' 36–13 win at Mississippi State last week. He said that if LSU plays against Auburn like it did against the Bulldogs, it'll lose. Burrow's squad shouldn't need any motivation for a home game against Auburn, the only team standing in the way of a No. 1-verse-No. 2 showdown in Tuscaloosa with Alabama on Nov. 9. The Tigers get a bye after the AU game before getting the Crimson Tide.

No. 6 Penn State at Michigan State (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

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Penn State

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Penn State

Max Meyer picks Michigan State: Georgia and Wisconsin have dropped from the undefeated ranks in consecutive weeks—could Penn State be next? Michigan State is coming off a bye week, but before that, the Spartans lost in embarrassing fashion at the hands of Wisconsin. Penn State, meanwhile, is coming off an enormous home win over Michigan. Looking at these teams’ statistical profiles, an upset doesn’t make much sense. However, how often does college football make sense? If Michigan State wants to salvage its season, it’s going to need to retain the Land Grant Trophy at the end of this rivalry game, which the Spartans have won in five of the past six meetings. Both of these defenses are outstanding, but I trust senior quarterback Brian Lewerke to come up with more plays than his counterpart Sean Clifford, a sophomore in a tough environment. I’ll go with a Sparty upset here.

No. 15 Texas at TCU (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX)

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Lorenzo Arguello picks TCU: After barely escaping a scare from Kansas at home last week, Texas travels to Fort Worth to take on a TCU team looking to play spoiler in the Big 12. The Longhorns have proven they can light up the scoreboard, but continue to have issues stopping opponents—especially through the air. Luckily for Texas, the Horned Frogs don’t have a very good aerial attack. TCU does have a formidable running back coming off consecutive 150-plus yard performances, however, in Darius Anderson. If TCU can slow down Sam Ehlinger & Co. even just a tiny bit, it has a chance to practically end whatever New Year’s Six hopes Texas still has. We’ll say the guys in purple pull it off and take TCU in a small home upset.

Oklahoma State at No. 23 Iowa State (3:30 p.m. ET, FS1)

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Laken Litman picks Iowa State: Cyclones RB Breece Hall, a true freshman, is rolling right now. In the last two games—wins against West Virginia and Texas Tech—he rushed 72 times for 315 yards and five touchdowns. He’s bringing a little something extra to an already potent offense, led by QB Brock Purdy. The Cyclones are 3–1 in Big 12 play (the loss just by two points to undefeated Baylor) and are still realistic contenders to win the conference.

Virginia at Louisville (3:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network)

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Ross Dellenger picks Louisville: Scott Satterfield has maybe done the best job of any first-year coach so far. The Cardinals are 4–3 a year after going 2–10 and losing their last five games of 2018 by at least 20 points. We predict that they'll get the upset at home Saturday against a Virginia team that began the year 4–0.

Indiana at Nebraska (3:30 p.m. ET, BTN)

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Lorenzo Arguello picks Indiana: If you only looked at basic counting stats and conference standings, you’d think Indiana and Nebraska are similar, middle-of-the-pack Big Ten teams. Advanced metrics would beg to differ. The Hoosiers boast a top-20 offense and special teams to go along with a top-40 defense, according to S&P+—putting them right inside the top-25 overall. (Nebraska falls outside the top 40 on both sides of the ball and has one of the worst special teams in the country by S&P+ standards, for what it’s worth.) Along with those disadvantages, the health status of Huskers QB Adrian Martinez is still up in the air. If Martinez can’t go, or he simply can’t go at his usual mobile pace, Nebraska will struggle. Based on everything we know at the moment, we’ll take Indiana to improve to 6–2.

Tulane at Navy (3:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN)

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Michael Shapiro picks Navy: Memphis hung 47 on Tulane on Oct. 19, and I don't see the Green Wave slowing down Navy on Saturday. The Midshipmen average 37.3 points per game, boasting a rushing attack that generates 345.3 yards per contest. Expect Navy to control the clock and bruise its way past Tulane in Annapolis. 

UCF at Temple (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

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Molly Geary picks UCF: A week after getting torched in Dallas by Shane Buechele and the SMU offense, Temple has Dillon Gabriel and UCF's steady attack coming to town. The Owls' defense is better than what it showed last weekend, but the Knights are a team you have to put points up against to have a chance, and their defense is better than SMU's. Don't expect another blowout, but we like UCF to get the win on the road. 

No. 8 Notre Dame at No. 19 Michigan (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

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Michael Shapiro picks Notre Dame: Jim Harbaugh will fall to 1–13 against top-10 teams at Michigan with a loss to Notre Dame on Saturday, and the Fighting Irish should take care of business on the road. Notre Dame will expose the bad Shea Patterson, creating an uphill battle for the Wolverines against a top-15 defense. A four-loss regular season looms for Harbaugh & Co. 

Washington State at No. 11 Oregon

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Max Meyer picks Oregon: This seems like a classic letdown spot for Oregon after an emotional comeback road win over rival Washington this past weekend. And I actually think Washington State’s offense can present problems for Oregon’s stingy defense. The Cougars are second in tackles for loss allowed, which thanks to a multitude of quick throws in Mike Leach’s Air Raid, strong offensive line play and rarely running the ball. But with star linebacker Troy Dye and starting cornerback Deommodore Lenoir are both expected to play after getting dinged up last game, which is enormous for the Ducks. This would be an intriguing upset pick if this was in Pullman, alas, I’m going with Oregon to win in an affair that ends up being much closer than expected.