Adam Kramer's College Football Locks and Top Bets for Week 9

Adam Kramer@kegsneggsNational College Football Lead WriterOctober 29, 2020

FILE - In this Sept. 12, 2020, file photo, Texas head coach Tom Herman shouts to his team during the first half of an NCAA college football game against UTEP in Austin, Texas. Texas’ Herman and Baylor’s Dave Aranda are old friends and college teammates who will meet for the first time Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, as opposing head coaches. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

Perfection. It's what I strive for. The goal of this weekly staple isn't to just hit enough winners to be respectable. The goal is to be perfect with these college football picks against the spread, week after week, despite knowing how unrealistic that goal may be. 

Last week, however, Locks of the Week were perfect.

Five wins, zero losses.

Not a single blemish.

If you thought we were hot heading into last weekend, well, things have escalated quickly. This season, Locks of the Week are now 11-3. I'll pause momentarily so everyone can let that soak in. 

Take your time.

Overall, our total picks last week finished an exquisite 7-2. For the year, they are now a lovely 16-10. At the moment, business is good. 

Before we move on to this week's selections, let's digest the good and the bad from the week that was.

The Good, ALL OF IT OR AT LEAST MOST OF IT: Fine. I'll narrow it down some. The most satisfying win last weekend was the Ohio State-Nebraska over. To hit it, it required the Buckeyes to score a touchdown with their backup quarterback in a blowout with only 18 seconds left. Head coach Ryan Day actually apologized for running plays rather than taking a knee after the game. No need to apologize here, Ryan. Job well done. 

The Bad, VERY LITTLE, OBVIOUSLY, BUT I'LL GO WITH FRESNO STATE: There were only two losses on the card, but this was the worst one. I thought we'd see a much better Fresno State at home to start the year, although Hawaii was in complete control the entire game. Not going to dwell on it, but this one missed the mark. We can do better.

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Is perfection a possibility for an encore? Let's find out. 

Here are the Week 9 selections, using point spreads provided by DraftKings.

     

Week 9 Locks of the Week

West Virginia (-4) vs. Kansas State 

Ask the most dedicated college football fan in your life to name three players featured in this game. In fact, ask them to name both head coaches—or even just one. You will likely be greeted with dead air.

But this is a solid, important Big 12 game that is slightly less important after West Virginia fell last week to Texas Tech. Kansas State is cooking after dropping its opener to Arkansas State.  

Here's why I believe that ends. For starters, the game is in Morgantown. This won't be the normal couch inferno that is pretty much all of West Virginia's home games, but it is an environment in which this team seems to thrive. 

I also like the two-man punch that QB Jarret Doege and running back Leddie Brown can offer for the Mountaineers. They were one late fumble away from making this a matchup between ranked opponents.

Don't let the No. 16 ranking attached to Kansas State scare you; the Wildcats are deserving of their current status, but West Virginia is plenty up for it. 

(Note: If you're going to incinerate your couch after winning this game, West Virginia fans, please do so safely. Socially distance yourselves. Don't light yourself on fire. Etc.)

     

Iowa (-2) vs. Northwestern 

Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

I've watched a lot of Iowa games over the years. More than I'd like to publicly admit, frankly.

I can tell you firsthand that the matchups between these two teams are often a) extremely weird b) rife with mistakes and c) generally unpredictable. The fact that this game is being played on Halloween is, frankly, perfect.

That sets the table following a week that saw Northwestern beat Maryland like it was Savannah State (no offense, Savannah State) and Iowa lose a bit of a heartbreaker to Purdue in the final moments.

Anyone who watched those two games—or even glanced at the two box scores—will tell you that Northwestern is the play. I get it. That offense looked electric against Maryland. The problem, however, is it was Maryland. And while Iowa isn't exactly Alabama-esque, this will be a better opponent and the game will be played away from home. 

Call me a homer. Call me a doofus. But the Hawkeyes will win a close, ugly football game with Halloween weirdness sprinkled throughout.

     

Syracuse (+11) vs. Wake Forest

Syracuse, good for you. I mean that.

You were nearly a seven-touchdown underdog against Clemson last weekend and, at least for a while, put up a fight against the Tigers. You returned a Trevor Lawrence interception for a touchdown—becoming the first in the sport to do so. You ultimately still lost by 26, although that was well within the 46.5-point spread. Golf clap.

We're going to ride that effort into this week against a team, Wake Forest, that is feeling its oats after a nice win. The Demon Deacons just beat Virginia Tech outright as a double-digit underdog. It's a nice win, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. 

Wake has played just one road game this year—a loss. It'll play its second this weekend, and I envision a mild letdown. 

Plus, Syracuse has played UNC, Clemson and Liberty (actually a really good team) through six games. That doesn't fully explain the 1-5 start—this team hasn't been great at times—but it's an important footnote.

Syracuse won't win, but it will put a scare into an opponent once again.

     

Virginia (+7) vs. North Carolina 

Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

We stay in the ACC and target another underdog. Remember last week when I told you Indiana would beat Penn State? Remember how few of you believed it was possible? This has the ingredients to be that kind of game and upset. 

Now, I know what you're thinking. "But, Adam, Virginia is on a four-game losing streak. How could it possibly upset the No. 15 team in the country?"

I'm glad you asked, friend. Virginia has indeed taken its lumps, although the Cavaliers nearly upset Miami last weekend and looks to be figuring it out. 

North Carolina, one of the most hyped teams entering the season, is just a couple of weeks removed from losing outright to Florida State. While the Tar Heels looked better last week against North Carolina State, the road could once again be an issue here.

Virginia plus the points. Virginia on the moneyline. You know the drill.

     

Western Kentucky (+29) vs. BYU

If you've followed this weekly staple, you know this is not normally the type of play I like to make. But I'm going to make an exception this week because there's value to be had amid the BYU mania.

Make no mistake about it, the Cougars are legit. Quarterback Zach Wilson is torching teams and blossoming into a national star. He will likely do that again.

That might seem like an odd thing to say when you're picking the other team, but the objective here isn't to stop Wilson.

There's a reason this spread is nearly 30 points. BYU is going to win. But Western Kentucky is a quality enough team with a quality offense. Plus, the Hilltoppers have played Louisville, Liberty (Hugh Freeze again) and Marshall along with UAB—pretty quality football teams. 

Am I concerned that they are 0-6 against the spread this season? Or that BYU is 5-1 ATS this season? 

That first cover has to come at some point. Why not now?

     

Other Plays That Will Be on the Card

Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

Indiana (-10.5) vs. Rutgers: The rare double-hangover game. Love it. Rife with good vibes and fun storylines, Indiana and Rutgers were the talk of the Big Ten after Week 1. But this number speaks volumes to the gap in talent, and I like Indiana to validate its hot start with another big victory.

Michigan vs. Michigan State (Under 52.5): This game could get ugly. I didn't know what to make of a spread of nearly four touchdowns, but I do think we could see a lopsided game in Michigan's favor—one that features plenty of points for one team and not many for the other. I'm envisioning a 35-10 kind of day.

Tulsa vs. East Carolina (Over 59.5): Tulsa can really play. East Carolina is so much better than it's been over the past few years. The end result is a game that could be fun despite a point spread approaching three touchdowns. Would not be a shock to see this go 75 or 80 points, with Tulsa doing much of the heavy lifting. 

Texas (+3) vs. Oklahoma State: [Insert "Texas is back" joke here.] No, Texas isn't back. The Longhorns have had a strange season. But Oklahoma State feels a smidge overvalued at the moment, and Texas still has talent. The Longhorns win in what is likely to end up being one of the best games of the weekend. 

     

Adam Kramer covers college football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @KegsnEggs. Lines accurate as of 4 p.m. ET Wednesday. 

     

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