Friday night football is always exciting, and Week 9 of the college football season is no exception.
Following a fantastic Thursday slate that included an ACC/Sun Belt doubleheader and a rare Thursday night edition of Pac-12 After Dark, we have three more games on the schedule for Friday.
It all starts in the Ivy League, with Yale traveling to New York to face Columbia in a Friday night Ivy League matchup. Things only get more exciting from there, as East Carolina travels to Provo, Utah, to face BYU, and Louisiana battles FIU in more Fun Belt action.
So, read on for our complete breakdown of Friday night’s college football games — and come back tomorrow for even more NCAAF betting coverage of Saturday’s massive slate.
College Football Picks for Friday
The team logos in the table below represent the matchups that our college football staff is looking for from today’s schedule. To navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article, click the team logos for one of the matchups below.
Columbia vs. Yale
Yale is back on the road this week after falling to Penn in its first Ivy League game of the season last Saturday. Many predicted a close game between the two, as both were undefeated in conference play. They did not let us down.
Penn took the lead with 20 seconds left in the game, winning 20-13. Despite the loss, Yale established itself as one of the best defensive teams in the Ivy League. The Bulldogs limited the Quakers to 67 yards rushing and recorded two sacks.
They now turn their attention to Columbia, which has the best defense in the conference, allowing only 16.8 points per game.
Columbia will play its fourth home game in five weeks on Friday night, but the Lions appear to have little home-field advantage. This season, Columbia is 1-3 at home and has yet to cover the spread in Wien Stadium.
The Lions’ defense is among the best in the FCS, but that doesn’t matter if they can’t win games. Do they have what it takes to outlast the Bulldogs on defense and earn their first conference victory of the season?
Yale University Bulldogs
Last week, the Bulldogs had no answer for Penn’s passing attack. Penn threw for 351 yards and averaged 11.7 yards per completion against the Bulldogs.
Penn got a new set of downs on nearly every completion, which irritated Yale supporters. The Quakers had more first downs as a result of a pass than the Bulldogs as a whole.
The good news for Yale is that Columbia passes the ball nearly 20% less than the Quakers — and not nearly as well.
One of Yale’s main concerns will be maintaining its success running the ball against the Ivy’s best rush defense. The Bulldogs dominated Penn, gaining 180 yards on the ground but failing to capitalize on their few trips to the red zone.
Penn has the best red-zone defense in the conference, so this is understandable. Columbia, on the other hand, ranks last, allowing teams to score on 82.4% of their trips.
If Yale does not make the most of its trips inside the 20, it may lose this game.
Lions of Columbia
The Lions are the best FCS team in the country at stopping the run. Columbia limits opponents to 54.5 rushing yards per game.
Along with that, it has one of the nation’s most potent backfield threats in defensive lineman Justin Townsend.
Townsend is tied for fifth in the FCS with six sacks this season. He is also sixth on Columbia’s single-season list, with four games remaining. In 2018, Daniel Delorenzi set a single-season record for the Lions with 10 sacks.
Columbia hasn’t been terrible on offense, but it hasn’t been spectacular either. The run is the Lions’ life and death. They have the conference’s sixth-leading rusher but rank eighth in tackles for loss allowed.
Columbia’s most significant offensive advantage is its lack of errors. With only 29 flags this season, it leads the Ivy League in both third-down conversions and penalties. However, there is concern that it will struggle to convert on third down against a Yale defense that only allows conversions on 37.6% of attempts.
In terms of yards per punt, the Lions rank second-to-last in the Ivy League, averaging only 33.9 yards per kick.
Pick for Yale vs. Columbia
The 100th meeting between these two Ivy League founders will take place on Friday night. Yale leads the series 75-22-2, and the Bulldogs are also 13-5 at Wien Stadium.
However, the Lions defeated them 17-10 on their previous visit in 2018.
I have no doubt that both defenses will perform admirably in this matchup. My only concern is how much this Columbia team can slow down Yale’s best rushing offense in the conference.
Dartmouth ranks last in nearly every offensive category in the Ivy League and still managed to beat the Lions by 27 points.
Meanwhile, Yale has struggled to distance itself from its opponents and maintain a lead. The Bulldogs are the superior team, but I wouldn’t put money on them as more than a touchdown favorite.
Choose Yale at -6.5 or higher
FIU vs. Louisiana
In a Conference USA showdown between two of the nation’s bottom-tier teams, Florida International travels to face Louisiana Tech.
Over the last month, Florida International has pulled off some thrilling upsets. To begin October, the Panthers defeated New Mexico State by two touchdowns as 16-point underdogs, and then defeated Charlotte by 19 points as 14-point underdogs last week.
These victories have helped Florida International improve to 3-4 on the season. Despite those victories, the Panthers are still ranked 130th in our Collin Wilson’s Power Rankings.
They will have another chance to pull off an upset this week when they face Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs have faced their own set of difficulties, starting the season 2-5 and being outscored by 16 points per game.
More importantly, in this game, the Bulldogs will start third-string quarterback Parker McNeil.
How does Louisiana Tech cover this number with a quarterback injury and a non-existent defense?
Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech
Louisiana Tech’s season has officially come to an end.
Let us begin with the defense. This season, the Bulldogs have allowed 43 points and over 520 yards of total offense per game to FBS opponents, placing them among the bottom two teams in the country.
Opponents are averaging 6.8 yards per carry and 286 yards rushing per game. They don’t fare much better when it comes to pass defense, allowing 7.5 yards per attempt and 235 yards per game.
Every FBS opponent has scored more than 31 points against the Bulldogs, and that trend is expected to continue in this game.
This program has been carried by the offense, particularly McNeil, for the first two months. McNeil has 15 touchdown passes while averaging nine yards per attempt. However, both he and backup Matthew Downing were injured against Rice, potentially forcing true freshman Landry Lyddy to start at quarterback.
Lyddy threw two touchdown passes in six attempts against Rice, but they were mostly 50-50 jump balls that the receiver caught.
Lyddy won’t be comforted by the rushing game, as the Bulldogs average only 2.4 yards per carry against FBS competition. The team ranks 126th in the country, averaging only 71 yards per game.
Panthers of Florida International
Last week, Florida International defeated Charlotte 34-15 in its best game of the season. The Panthers jumped out to a 34-0 lead before halftime, totaling 450 yards.
Quarterback Grayson James had his best game of the season, throwing for 300 yards and completing 26 of 34 passes. He also rushed the ball 10 times for 53 yards and scored twice.
FIU’s offense did not look like the same unit that ranks 124th in scoring in the country (15 PPG). The Panthers methodically moved the ball up and down the field, accumulating 27 first downs.
I expect a similar effort against a defense that has yet to stop a nosebleed.
The Florida International defense is also nothing to brag about. The defense allows 33 points per game and just under 390 total yards per game. It has held up against the run, allowing 3.8 yards per carry, but has been exposed through the air on occasion, allowing 7.5 yards per attempt.
But it now faces a third-string quarterback in Lyddy, who is a bit of a wild card this week.
Fortunately for the Panthers, they have a pass rush that ranks seventh in the country. As it faces the 119th-ranked pass-blocking unit, that unit will be able to apply consistent pressure to the freshman.
Getty Images/Michael Chang The FIU Panthers are pictured.
Betting Prediction for Louisiana Tech vs. FIU
If Louisiana Tech’s starting quarterback does not play, the Tigers are in big trouble. McNeil is the only reason the Bulldogs have been competitive in their defeats. If he’s out, it puts a lot of pressure on a rookie third-string replacement.
And he’ll be under pressure all night against the Panthers’ seventh-ranked pass rush.
Despite the fact that Florida International’s offense has struggled this season, we saw it come together last week against Charlotte. It should be able to repeat that performance against a LA Tech defense that allows seven yards per play.
According to PFF, Louisiana Tech’s defense ranks 129th in the country in tackling.
As double-digit underdogs, the Panthers have won two convincing games in the last two weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised if they pulled off another upset this week.
East Carolina vs. Brigham Young
+3.5 for East Carolina
The BYU Cougars look to snap a three-game losing streak when they host the East Carolina Pirates on Friday night in Provo.
East Carolina has been up and down this season, but won a season-defining game against UCF last Saturday in Greenville, 34-13. The Pirates are now 5-3 on the season and need just one more win to qualify for a bowl game.
They have games against Cincinnati and Houston coming up, so if they lose this game, it may come down to the final week against Temple to determine whether the Pirates will go bowling or not.
After being ranked in the preseason top 25, BYU entered the season with high hopes and expectations. However, it appears that the Cougars have reached rock bottom after a 41-13 loss to Liberty in Lynchburg.
The defense has been terrible, the offense has struggled to move the ball, and bowl eligibility appears to be in jeopardy.
Pirates of East Carolina
Offense of the Pirates
This season, the Pirates offense has been extremely effective. East Carolina ranks 26th in the FBS in yards per play (6.2), 30th in EPA/Play, and 42nd in Success Rate.
In 2022, quarterback Holton Ahlers is having his best season by far. He’s averaging 8.1 yards per attempt, has an 84.0 PFF passing grade, and has only eight Turnover-Worthy Plays to 13 Big-Time Throws.
He annihilated Memphis and UCF in his previous two games, so what do you think he’ll do to BYU’s defense?
East Carolina has a great running back in Keaton Mitchell, who is having a fantastic season. He’s scored eight touchdowns, has an 88.4 PFF rushing grade, and has 26 runs of at least ten yards, all while averaging 6.8 yards per carry.
Against this BYU front seven, he should have a field day.
Defense of the Pirates
On the surface, this East Carolina defense appears to be struggling, as it allows 5.8 yards per play, ranking 98th in the country. However, in the most important defensive metric, Finishing Drives, it has been outstanding.
The Pirates have allowed their opponents to drive inside their 40-yard line 30 times, but they are only allowing 3.26 points per opportunity, which ranks 25th in college football.
The East Carolina front seven has been extremely stout, and BYU will struggle to establish a consistent rushing attack.
Power Success Rate Allowed, Stuff Rate, and Defensive Line Yards rank the Pirates among the top 30 in the country. East Carolina also ranks 32nd in EPA/Rush Allowed and only allows 3.3 yards per carry this season.
The East Carolina secondary struggles in terms of Success Rate, but it does not allow many big plays. The Pirates are ranked 28th in Passing Explosiveness Allowed, and BYU quarterback Jarren Hall has a PFF passing grade of 67.8 on throws under 10 yards.
Offense of the Cougars
This season, Hall has struggled as BYU’s quarterback. He is coming off a game against Liberty in which he averaged 5.5 yards per attempt and had a PFF passing grade of 62.1.
That’s been typical of his season as a whole.
Hall has a PFF passing grade of 74.8, with 14 Big-Time Throws and nine Turnover-Worthy Plays. Furthermore, his adjusted completion percentage is 73%, which is slightly lower than the national average.
He has BYU ranked 45th in Passing Success Rate and Explosiveness this season.
BYU’s rushing attack relies heavily on explosive plays, ranking 106th in Rushing Success Rate but fifth in Rushing Explosiveness. As a result, facing a top-30 front seven is not a recipe for Cougar success on the ground.
Cougars Defensive Line
Because of their poor defense, the Cougars have lost three straight games. BYU ranks 114th in Success Rate Allowed, 121st in EPA/Play, and, most importantly, 130th in Finishing Drives Allowed, allowing 5.8 yards per play (95th in FBS) (only Arizona is worse).
I wish I could blame just one unit on the defense, but everyone is to blame.
Arkansas and Liberty both averaged more than 6.0 yards per carry against BYU’s front seven over the last two weeks, which isn’t surprising given that BYU ranks 123rd in Defensive Line Yards, 113th in Stuff Rate, 107th in EPA/Rush, and 122nd in PFF run defense grade.
The secondary at BYU hasn’t been much better. The Cougars are 114th in EPA/Pass Allowed, 112th in Passing Success Rate Allowed, 94th in Passing Explosiveness Allowed, and 94th in EPA/Pass Allowed.
As a result, I’m not sure how they’re going to slow down this East Carolina offense.
East Carolina vs. BYU Prediction
Given how bad the Cougars’ defense is, there’s no reason for BYU to be favored over East Carolina right now.
If Hall and the Cougars can’t consistently move the ball through the air, they’ll be in trouble because their rushing attack is so reliant on explosive plays.
East Carolina is projected as a 6.4-point favorite, so I like the Pirates at +3.5.
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