-- Every Wednesday during the college football season, we will give "Stanford Steve" Coughlin of ESPN Radio and the "SVP & Russillo" show and Chris Fallica of ESPN Stats & Information and "College GameDay" their shot at picking the weekend's top college football games.
Here are their against-the-spread picks ( in bold) for Week 9, along with a confidence level of 1-10 for each:
Note: All odds courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.
Ole Miss Rebels (-3.5) at LSU Tigers
Coughlin: Is this the game where we see "Bad" Bo Wallace? Will he show up again? It seems like everyone thinks everything in Baton Rouge is fixed after two wins, and the young Bayou Bengals are moving forward. Don't get me wrong, LSU is my favorite college campus in America, and it's a night game in Tiger Stadium. But I just see the youth of LSU still being a factor, especially against what I think is the nation's best defense. The strength of LSU is its offensive line, but I see the Ole Miss defense being too much for Cam Cameron and that LSU offense. It won't be pretty, but I think the Rebels get the job done here.
ATS pick: Ole Miss 20, LSU 15 (confidence: 6)
Fallica: If Ole Miss isn't the best defense in the country, it sure is close to it. The Rebels have allowed just six TDs in 93 opponent drives this year, and two of those came in garbage time in the win at Texas A&M. LSU hasn't shown it can move the ball on the best teams it has faced. Against Wisconsin, Mississippi State and Auburn, the Tigers scored seven TDs on 43 drives. Anthony Jennings is a 48 percent passer against Power 5 teams, so the Rebels' secondary should be good enough to handle the LSU passing game, meaning Ole Miss can commit more resources against the run. The Rebels stay unbeaten as the defense carries the day.
ATS pick: Ole Miss 27, LSU 17 (confidence: 5)
Ohio State Buckeyes (-13.5) at Penn State Nittany Lions
Coughlin: The Buckeyes come into this game red-hot, led by redshirt freshman QB J.T. Barrett, who has thrown 17 TD passes in his last four games. The Nittany Lions are coming off a bye, during which they had plenty of time to look back at last year's historically bad 63-14 loss in Columbus. They are also coming off two ugly losses to Northwestern and Michigan. The key to this game is the Penn State offensive line versus the Ohio State defensive line. I know the Buckeyes have won their last three trips to State College and seven of the last nine meetings, but those night games at Penn State provide an even greater home-field advantage. The fans will be crazy and they'll probably have one of those amazing "white outs." I think Penn State keeps it within the number.
ATS pick: Ohio State 31, Penn State 20 (confidence: 3)
Fallica: It's hard to gauge whether Ohio State really is improved, or if the statistical leap is a byproduct of playing a poor schedule. Since a home loss to Virginia Tech, the Buckeyes have outscored their opponents by 38.8 PPG and outgained them by 313 YPG. But Kent State, Cincinnati, Maryland and Rutgers have combined for five wins vs. Power 5 teams and are among the worst defenses in the nation. It shouldn't matter here, though; Penn State is 102nd nationally in offensive efficiency and will not be able to match Ohio State point for point.
ATS pick: Ohio State 38, Penn State 15 (confidence: 6)
USC Trojans (-1) at Utah Utes
Coughlin: I believe the winner of this game will represent the Pac-12 South in the conference title game. Both teams come in off impressive wins, as the Utes needed overtime in Corvallis to beat the Oregon State Beavers and the Trojans got a school-record seven TD passes from Cody Kessler in their impressive win over Colorado. USC has rushed for more than 200 yards in four consecutive games for the first time since 2005, but the Utes come in averaging only 114 rushing yards allowed per game on the ground (second in the Pac-12). Kyle Whittingham's defense also comes into this game as the nation's leader in sacks with 33. I'll go with the home team in Salt Lake City in a close game.
ATS pick: Utah 24, USC 21 (confidence: 2)
Fallica: The Trojans would be right in the thick of the national title race if they could defend a Hail Mary or stop a simple running play. Still, USC remains in the chase for the Pac-12 title. Utah would be unbeaten if it didn't blow a lead at Washington State. The Utes have had trouble moving the ball against USC the last few years and there could be more of the same here. Expect a close, low-scoring game and USC to pull it out.
ATS pick: USC 23, Utah 21 (confidence: 3)
Arizona State Sun Devils (-3.5) at Washington Huskies
Coughlin: Sometimes things just don't make sense when you look at a line for a game between conference teams. Arizona State comes in off a dominant effort at home, beating Stanford 26-10, and that same Stanford team already went to Seattle and beat the Huskies by 7 earlier this season. So don't you think the Sun Devils should be giving a lot more than 3.5? I won't try to figure this line out, because the guys in the desert know a whole lot more than I do, but I will take the home team that should be getting more points in what I expect to be a close game.
ATS pick: Arizona State 31, Washington 28 (confidence: 4)
TCU Horned Frogs (-23) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Over/under: 70.5 (via Pinnacle)
Coughlin: I will start out by saying that I think this Horned Frogs team is the best one-loss team in the country. Along with that, I feel Texas Tech has been the biggest disappointment in the Big 12. The Red Raiders' defense is flat-out terrible, while I think the TCU offense is as balanced as any in the country. My only worry is the Kliff Kingsbury-led squad will be able to find the end zone a couple of times to help the cause here. That will keep me away from playing the spread, but I think this will be your typical Big 12 track meet. Take the over.
ATS pick: None. Take the over (confidence: 5).
Washington State Cougars (+2.5) vs. Arizona Wildcats
Fallica: The small number here suggests Washington State is the right side. The Cougs already have three losses by a TD or less, while the Cats have four wins by a TD or less. I think the odds balance out a bit here and it's Washington State that comes away with the win.
ATS pick: Washington State 44, Arizona 40 (confidence: 7)
Texas Longhorns (+10) at Kansas State Wildcats
Fallica: The Longhorns have showed some life in recent weeks and will head to Manhattan a confident group. Tyrone Swoopes has a pair of 300-yard games under his belt, and if K-State QB Jake Waters is not 100 percent after an injury at Oklahoma last week, the Cats might find themselves in a battle.
ATS pick: Kansas State 27, Texas 24 (confidence: 7)
Colorado Buffaloes (+13.5) vs. UCLA Bruins
Fallica: UCLA continues to get public support based on lofty preseason expectations. But until the Bruins stop turning the ball over, they won't be a good favorite. In its last three games, UCLA has turned it over six games and has forced just one TO -- the game-saving interception last week at Cal. Outside of a blowout loss last week at USC, Colorado has been competitive this year in Pac-12 play. The Buffaloes will score and stay within the spread.
ATS pick: UCLA 38, Colorado 31 (confidence: 8)
Fallica: 22-15 ATS (59.5 percent)
Last week: 3-2
Coughlin: 28-12-1 (68.3 percent)
Last week: 4-1