Now past the midpoint of the 2019 season, there are a trio of top-25 matchups ahead in Week 9 that could shake the foundation of the sport as we head toward the first College Football Playoff Rankings release in about 10 days. With one in each broadcast window, fans will get to see some of the best teams in the nation go head-to-head with a Big Ten showdown early in the day, a key SEC battle in the afternoon and another test for Notre Dame as it travels to the Big House to face Michigan in the night cap.
With action starting early in the day and continuing late into the night, let’s take a look at the biggest games on the schedule Saturday along with our college football picks and predictions for what will transpire in those contests. Our CBS Sports college football experts have picked every game both straight up and against the spread, giving you ample opportunity to decide how to make your picks ahead of kickoff.
All times Eastern
No. 13 Wisconsin at No. 3 Ohio State (-14.5) – Noon on Fox: I don’t think last week’s loss to Illinois says anything about Wisconsin being a mirage. That’s just the kind of loss that can happen to anybody. Just ask Ohio State about its road trip to Purdue last year. The thing is that I thought Ohio State was a lot better than Wisconsin before last week happened. I think Ohio State is a lot better than just about everybody else in the country save for a handful of teams. Wisconsin isn’t one of them. I’m not saying Wisconsin can’t make a game of this, but I think Ohio State’s more likely to win by three touchdowns than fewer than two. Pick: Ohio State (-14.5) — Tom Fornelli
No. 9 Auburn at No. 2 LSU (-10.5) — 3:30 p.m. on CBS: This defense will be the toughest test for LSU this season considering it has had two weeks to prepare for the Joe Burrow Experience. With that said, Burrow has shown tremendous ability to stand tall in the face of pressure, deliver the ball deep downfield and keep his composure in tough situations. Auburn’s defensive backs are put on islands quite a bit and won’t be able to keep Burrow and Co. from scoring at least 30 points. Can Bo Nix keep up? It would take the best game of his career by far, and that won’t happen in Death Valley. LSU will run and hide late and cover the spread. Pick: LSU (-10.5) — Barrett Sallee
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No. 6 Penn State (-5.5) at Michigan State — 3:30 p.m. on ABC: College football is weird, man. There are some things that defy explanation. Other than one down year, Mark Dantonio’s had James Franklin’s number. I worry about the Spartans being outclassed yet again, but Dantonio’s a good coach, and coming off an open week usually means something there. Michigan State is motivated and this has been a letdown spot for Penn State in the past. The exact line might make some people go with Penn State to cover, but there really hasn’t been a lot of movement. Sparty makes it a game. Pick: Michigan State +5.5 — Ben Kercheval
Arkansas at No. 1 Alabama (-33.5) — 7 p.m. on ESPN: Alabama is nearly a 34-point favorite despite the quarterback drama. That’s how bad things are in Fayetteville. It seems crazy to pick the Crimson Tide considering we haven’t seen Mac Jones as the true No. 1 with time to prepare, but that’s exactly why you should side with the Tide. Coach Nick Saban is going to leave his first-teamers in as long as possible so that Jones can get comfortable with what’s being asked of him if he does have to play vs. LSU on Nov. 9. That will allow those receivers to get those all-important yards after catch and run away from the Hogs in the second half. Pick: Alabama (-33.5) — Barrett Sallee
No. 8 Notre Dame at No. 19 Michigan (-2.5) — 7:30 p.m. on ABC: I think Michigan might have turned a corner offensively and will have an opportunity to build on that success against a Notre Dame defense that is good, but not elite, particularly against teams with top-tier athleticism. Harbaugh probably won’t win the Big Ten or even beat Ohio State this year, but this can be the kind of signature, back-against-the-wall win that showcases the culture he’s established in the program. Pick: Michigan (-2.5) — Chip Patterson