It's already the final weekend of October which means the college football regular season is approaching the stretch run. We're a little over a month away from conference championship matchups. In the meantime, there is still plenty to be decided. Week 9 of the college football season features three ranked matchups, including a tricky one in the SEC. Which teams are getting the most betting action ahead of kickoff?
Sportsbooks need Kentucky on Saturday
With their win over Alabama a few weeks ago, Tennessee made themselves a player on the national stage this season. Next weekend, the Volunteers have a trip to Georgia on their schedule that could have a significant impact on the national landscape. However, Tennessee can't look ahead as they have a dangerous and pesky Kentucky team on deck this weekend in Knoxville.
Tennessee is currently a 12.5-point favorite this weekend at home against Kentucky. Their offense has been firing on all cylinders, led by Hendon Hooker, who currently has the second best odds to win the Heisman at +200. As a result, no team has received more bets this weekend than Tennessee. They've received the second highest betting handle of any team on the slate. In total, 58% of bets are backing Tennessee. "The public loves the Volunteers vs. the Wildcats, with Kentucky currently being our biggest need this weekend," said BetMGM's Seamus Magee.
Both teams have been absolute money against the spread this season. Tennessee has covered in six of seven games. The lone game they didn't cover was against Florida where a late touchdown got the Gators through the backdoor. Kentucky is 5-2 against the spread this season.
Both Hooker and Kentucky's Will Levis project as potential first-round picks in the upcoming NFL draft. Levis is no stranger to the underdog role, and he's performed well in the spot. In six career games as a betting underdog, Levis is 6-0 against the spread and 4-2 straight up. That includes this season where he beat Florida and Mississippi State as an underdog while losing close to Ole Miss. Sportsbooks certainly hope Levis can continue this run on Saturday.
Bettors like Ohio State to roll, Michigan State to keep it close
There's plenty of betting action in the Big Ten ahead of Saturday's kickoffs.
In Happy Valley, Penn State is a 15.5-point home underdog against C.J. Stroud and Ohio State. The line opened with Ohio State laying just 14 points, but a boatload of Buckeye action has moved the line 1.5-points. Overall, 61% of bets and 70% of money is backing Ohio State to cover the spread. No team this week has received more money backing them than the Buckeyes.
Penn State looked like they had the potential to make some noise in the Big Ten this season, but a lot of that hope came crashing down when they were crushed by Michigan a few weeks ago. The Nittany Lions rebounded well last week against Minnesota, but based on what we saw from them against Michigan, it's fair to wonder if they can keep pace against Ohio State. Ohio State is 4-0-1 against the spread in their last five games, scoring over 56 points per game over that span.
Elsewhere in the Big Ten, there's the rivalry game between aforementioned Michigan and Michigan State. Michigan State is coming off a win against Wisconsin and a bye week, but prior to that, it was a massive struggle. The Spartans are just 3-4 on the season while Michigan is a perfect 7-0. As a result, oddsmakers have installed Michigan as a 22.5-point home favorite.
However, in rivalry games, you often have to throw records and statistics out the window. Wild things happen. It was less than a year ago where Michigan State beat the Wolverines to improve to 8-0. Obviously, Michigan State isn't having nearly that level of success this season and Kenneth Walker, who had five touchdowns in that game, is in the NFL. However, bettors are hoping that Michigan State gets up for the big rivalry game and keeps it close.
Overall at BetMGM, 59% of bets and 60% of the money is backing Michigan State as an underdog of over three touchdowns. Michigan State is the second most popular bet in terms of number of bets and third most popular bet based on amount of money wagered. Additionally, 79% of bets and 89% of the money is on this game to go over 55 points.
Other popular bets
Which other teams are receiving a large majority of the betting action ahead of Week 9?
South Carolina is now ranked and has won four straight games, but bettors are fading them this week. At BetMGM, 70% of bets and 84% of money is backing Missouri as a 3.5-point road underdog. The line is down two points after opening at 5.5-points. Additionally, 92% of the money is on the game to go under 45.5-points.
The total for West Virginia-TCU is set at 69 points, and 81% of the money is on the over.
Bettors are hoping Florida can keep it close against Georgia. Currently, 65% of the money is on Florida to cover as a 22.5-point road underdog.
Oregon is coming off a big win against UCLA last week, and bettors are forecasting a bit of a let down against California. At BetMGM, 73% of bets and 82% of money is on California to cover as a 17.5-point home underdog.
In a battle of good Group-of-Five teams, UCF is a 1.5-point home favorite against Cincinnati. Bettors are siding with UCF, as 75% of bets and 90% of money is on the home team.
USC is coming off a loss and a bye week, and bettors are expecting them to get back on track. USC is a 15.5-point road favorite against Arizona, and 80% of bets and 87% of the money is on the Trojans to cover.