As Week 9 rolls around there is still lots to look forward to on the NCAA calendar and the Top 25 is loaded with Canadian talent, all vying for spots in high profile bowl games and the College Football Playoff.
My record as a prognosticator might not be good enough for the New Year’s Six, but I’ll happily take the Idaho Potato Bowl. Last week, I nailed the spread on the “Battle of Brampton” and hit on 18-of-23 Canadian game picks. That brings me to 68-of-91 on the year.
This week was a particularly tough week to choose a highlighted game. It should be noted that No. 15 North Carolina at Virginia might have the Canadian matchup of the week with Ottawa corner Patrice Rene covering Vancouver’s Terrell Jana.
Unfortunately, Rene is a game-time decision after missing last week with a lower body injury, so we’ll air on the side of caution here. That just leaves us with one of the most exciting Big 12 games of the week.
Texas at No. 6 Oklahoma State (-3.5)
Location: Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK
Kickoff: Saturday, October 31 at 1:00 p.m. PST/ 4:00 p.m. EST
Where to View: Fox
Longhorns and Cowboys have developed into one of the best matchups on the college football calendar annually, a constantly competitive, back-and-forth rivalry. Four of the last five games between these two schools have been decided by less than a touchdown.
The same number of games have been won by Oklahoma State, though the underdog Longhorns pulled off the upset this time last year and it’s crucial that they do again. While Oklahoma State remains the Big 12’s best hope for the College Football Playoff, unranked Texas could be down and out for good if they slip to 3-3.
The problem for the Longhorns has not been on offence. Dual-threat QB Sam Ehlinger is one of the most exciting players to watch in the game, a heart and soul player whose teams are never out of the hunt. Protected by highly-touted left tackle Samuel Cosmi, Ehlinger presents the greatest passing threat that the top-ranked Oklahoma State defence has faced all season.
They boast a loaded secondary that has yet to be properly tested, led by All-American Kolby Harvell-Peel, swiss army knife Tre Sterling and shutdown corner Rodarious Williams. If they can perform against Ehlinger, they will be proven the real deal.
Of course, when the mobile pivot takes off it will be Canadian Amen Ogbongbemiga tracking him down. The senior middle linebacker thrives when he’s asked to hunt quarterbacks and Saturday should be no different.
On the other side of the ball, Texas has struggled much more noticeably. They lack a pass rush, get burnt down the field and have a troublesome run defence. Sure, they are only giving up 3.5 yards per carry, but when a back gets a volume of touches against them, it spells disaster. In games where the opponent has rushed for 200 yards or more, the Longhorns are winless. When they allow less than that, they are undefeated.
Enter Chuba Hubbard.
The Canadian Cowboy has finally found his stride the last two games and Mike Gundy has never been afraid to give him the number of touches needed to make something happen. He’ll hit the Longhorns early and often, so this might be the game where we see Hubbard finally put up the type of gaudy numbers we got used to when he was chasing the Heisman in 2019.
He’ll have help as well. Since returning from injury, quarterback Spencer Sanders has been great with his legs and that opens up lanes for his backfield teammate. All it takes is one run for Hubbard to get free, as we saw on his touchdown last week, and Texas will be focused on shutting the Canadian down to ensure victory.
The Cowboys are the better team here and they matchup well against the Longhorns. Oklahoma State is the pick, but I expect this to be a close contest that could come down to the last possession.
Pick straight-up: Oklahoma State
Pick against the spread: Texas (-3.5)
Other Week 9 NCAA games featuring Canadians
Colorado State at Fresno State
CanCon: Alex Dumais, DT, SO (FrSt), Dontae Bull, OT, JR (FrSt)
Result: 38-17 Fresno State
Minnesota (-19.5) at Maryland
CanCon: Benjamin St-Juste, CB, JR (Minn), Tyrell Lawrence, OL, FR (Minn)
Hawai’i at Wyoming (-1)
CanCon: Nick Mardner, REC, SO (HI)
Boston College at No. 1 Clemson (-28)
CanCon: Ezechiel Tieide, REC, SO (BC), Ajou Ajou, REC, FR (Clem)
Memphis at No. 7 Cincinnati (-7)
CanCon: Bruno Labelle, TE, SR (Cin)
Michigan State at No. 13 Michigan (-24)
CanCon: Luiji Vilain, DE, SR (Mich)
No. 16 Kansas State at West Virginia (-4)
CanCon: Alonzo Addae, FS, SR (WV), Akheem Mesidor, DE, FR (WV)
Pick: West Virginia
No. 20 Coastal Carolina (-3) at Georgia State
CanCon: Enock Makonzo, WLB, JR (CC), Wilt Gabe II, DE, SO (CC)
Pick: Coastal Carolina
Purdue (-7) at Illinois
CanCon: Chase Brown, RB, SO (Ill), Sydney Brown, FS, JR (Ill)
Wake Forest (-12) at Syracuse
CanCon: Geoff Cantin-Arku, MLB, SO (Syr), Matthew Bergeron, LT, SO (Syr), Tyrell Richards, OLB, JR (Syr), Ben Labrosse, FS, FR (Syr), Patrick Davis, OL, SR (Syr), Damian Alford, REC, FR (Syr)
Pick: Wake Forest
UCF (-3) at Houston
CanCon: Olivier Charles-Pierre, NT, SR (Hou)
No. 17 Indiana (-11) at Rutgers
CanCon: DK Bonhomme, LB, SO (Ind)
UAB (-12) at Louisiana Tech
CanCon: Gabe Siemieniec, PK, SR (LATech)
Northwestern at Iowa (-2.5)
CanCon: Alaric Jackson, LT, SR (Iowa)
Ole Miss (-16.5) at Vanderbilt
CanCon: Tavius Robinson, OLB, JR (Miss), Deane Leonard, CB, SR (Miss)
Pick: Ole Miss
No. 25 Boise State (-14) at Air Force
CanCon: Isaiah Bagnah, OLB, FR (BSt)
Pick: Boise State
Mississippi State at No. 2 Alabama (-31)
CanCon: John Metchie III, REC, SO (Ala)
No. 3 Ohio State (-12) at No. 18 Penn State
CanCon: Jonathan Sutherland, FS, JR (PSt), Jesse Luketa, LB, JR (PSt), Theo Johnson, TE, FR (PSt), Malick Meiga, REC, FR (PSt)
Pick: Ohio State
Missouri at No. 10 Florida (-13)
CanCon: Lamar Goods, DT, FR (Flo)
No. 15 North Carolina (-7) at Virginia
CanCon: Patrice Rene, CB, SR (UNC), Terrell Jana, REC, SR (Vir)
Pick: North Carolina
Louisiana (-16.5) at Texas State
CanCon: Samuel Obiang, NT, SO (TexSt)
San Diego State (-7.5) at Utah State
CanCon: Daniel Okpoko, DE, SO (SDSt)
Pick: San Diego State