You wouldn’t be wrong to say we are in the midst of “Separation Saturday” because there’s a very high likelihood big changes could be coming to the landscape of college football by the end of the day. Teams get one more chance to impress before first College Football Playoff Rankings, which loom just on the horizon Tuesday. Even though many of the nation’s top teams have soared through the first half of the season — there are nine remaining undefeated teams past the midway point — this is the time of year where upsets become more frequent and the playoff picture clarifies.
There will undoubtedly be a lot of attention on Saturday’s two premier afternoon games. Florida and No. 1 Georgia rekindle their rivalry as the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party takes center stage as the SEC on CBS Game of the Week. While the Bulldogs are still undefeated, they are hardly as impressive as they’ve been the last two seasons. Plus, star tight end Brock Bowers — the Dawgs’ top offensive playmaker — will miss his first of a handful of games.
Georgia surely spent the bye week preparing its offense to succeed in Bowers’ absence, but Florida had the same preparation time coming off a momentum-building come-from-behind win two weeks ago at South Carolina. Gators quarterback Graham Mertz has (somewhat surprisingly) emerged as one of the most accurate passers in the nation, and while UF still has a ways to go to catch up with UGA, we have certainly seen unexpected fireworks in this game before.
There will also be a Pac-12 elimination game on deck as No. 8 Oregon visits No. 13 Utah. While the Utes have remained dominant at home and are coming off an upset of USC, the Ducks are seeking a rebound win after their loss to No. 5 Washington. Taking down Utah and cementing itself as a top-two team in the Pac-12 will be key as Oregon hopes for a shot at redemption in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Be sure to stick with CBS Sports all day Saturday for college football coverage from the opening kickoff onward. Let’s take a look at our expert picks for the best games in Week 9.
Odds via SportsLine consensus | All times Eastern
No. 1 Georgia vs. Florida (Jacksonville)
3:30 p.m. | CBS, Paramount+ with Showtime, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App — Georgia is 1-5 against the spread this season, and that trend will continue this week against a Florida team can draw even with the Bulldogs in the race for the SEC East title if it can spring the upset. The Bulldogs offense will struggle a bit without Brock Bowers in the lineup, and that should allow Gators quarterback Graham Mertz to keep his team in the mix into the fourth quarter. In the end, the Dawgs” depth and versatility will shine through, and they’ll get the win. This feels like a 10-point game and a Florida cover. Pick: Florida +14.5 — Barrett Sallee
No. 8 Oregon at No. 13 Utah
3:30 p.m. | Fox, fubo (Try for free) — The trends of Utah at home are so strong it feels irresponsible to step on the other side, but I do think that Oregon is a more balanced and well-rounded team that would be favored by double-digits on a neutral site. But college football is not decided in a vacuum with neutral conditions, so Utah clearly has a better chance to win given the setting in Salt Lake City. Still, I think Utah poured it out last week against USC while the Ducks were able to get healthy and bounce back from the Washington loss, so maybe some of that home-field advantage is negated by Oregon being a little bit fresher. Pick: Oregon -6.5 — Chip Patterson
No. 3 Ohio State at Wisconsin
7:30 p.m. | NBC, fubo (Try for free) — Betting the under has been an extremely profitable proposition with the Buckeyes. It’s gone 6-1 in their first seven games because the market hasn’t seemed to catch onto the fact that the offense isn’t great and the defense is elite. The average betting total in Ohio State games this yea has been 56 points. The average Ohio State game has finished with 43.7 points, nearly two full touchdowns below the betting line. This week’s total is much lower, but I still expect we’ll see these teams struggle to reach it. Pick: Under 44.5 — Tom Fornelli
Indiana at No. 10 Penn State
Noon | CBS, Paramount+ with Showtime, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App — Look for Penn State to play angry and inspired football after its ugly performance in a loss at Ohio State last week. As a one-loss team that gets a crack at Michigan in a couple of weeks, the Nittany Lions still harbor lofty ambitions and should waste little time returning to the dominant ways they enjoyed in the season’s first half. Indiana has shown it can hang around with quality opponents for a half, but it’s overmatched offensively and won’t have the firepower to keep up in the second half once the Nittany Lions begin physically imposing their will. Pick: Penn State -32 — David Cobb
No. 6 Oklahoma at Kansas
Noon | Fox, fubo (Try for free) — The Jayhawks will sorely miss Jalon Daniels’ playmaking abilities. The Sooners defense has allowed more than 20 points just twice all season, but both teams had their starting quarterbacks, including a UCF squad last week that returned John Rhys Plumlee from injury. Meanwhile, the Kansas defense isn’t quite good enough to limit Oklahoma’s offense, especially if the Sooners can get the run game going again. Kansas has the potential to keep this one close for a while, but eventually, Oklahoma’s depth on both sides of the ball will take over and the Sooners will pull away. Pick: Oklahoma -10 — Will Backus
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 9, and which underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned more than $2,000 in profit over the past seven-plus seasons — and find out.