Week 9 betting lookahead: Purdue better than its record

Purdue receiver David Bell has stepped in Rondale Moore's absence. Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

College football lookahead is the essential grab bag of numbers, trends, reads and concepts each Monday throughout the season.

In Week 9, we identify a Big Ten team to buy down the stretch and a surging favorite in Conference USA. We'll also look at a pair of matchups between coaches with some history in which the underdog has dominated against the spread, and we'll ponder if this is a bad as it can get for poor Rutgers.

All lines and totals from Circa Sportsbook as of Sunday.

Portfolio checkup

Which teams we're buying or selling and why.

Buy: Purdue Boilermakers

Purdue has been hit hard by injuries, but the defense is getting healthier and stud wideout Rondale Moore will return to action soon. In the meantime, David Bell has stepped up at wide receiver and become a worthy go-to playmaker, while even drawing comparisons to Jerry Rice(!) from his head coach. Injured quarterback Elijah Sindelar is not close to returning, and Jack Plummer has been up and down in his place; but that position is benefiting from the continued development of third-stringer-turned-backup Aidan O'Connell. The sophomore has made strides since Sindelar's injury allowed him more practice reps, and O'Connell is becoming a far more prepared option if Plummer struggles than he was when Sindelar first went down.

Aside from the injuries, Purdue's issues have been at the line of scrimmage. The run game has not been a threat, and pass protection has been an issue, with 18 sacks allowed through the first seven games. The past four games have been against three teams in the top 50 in sacks, plus Iowa, which doesn't blitz enough to generate high sack totals but gets good pressure with D-line personnel befitting a team with more sacks. The next five, save Wisconsin, are against teams outside the top 50 in sacks, and Purdue quarterbacks should be under less duress down the stretch than they have been during the first two months.