College Football Odds, Best Bets: Our Favorite Picks for Week 8’s Early Games, Including Texas Tech vs. Kansas State (Saturday, Oct. 23)
John E. Moore III/Getty Images. Pictured: Charles Esters III (49), Jalen McCoslin (47) and Eric Monroe (11) of the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
- Another week, another college football Saturday.
- Our staff came prepared with their best bets for Saturday's noon kickoff window, including Texas Tech vs. Kansas State.
- Check out each pick and breakdown for our team's favorite games below.
There’s nothing quite like a college football Saturday. But they’re flying by this season, so we must take advantage of each opportunity we get.
This week is no different.
As is typical week in and week out, the action starts at noon ET. The first kickoff window of the game features everything from close matchups where we see moneyline value to expected blowouts in which we’re betting a huge spread.
We’re wagering on everything from Wake Forest vs. Army and Kansas State vs. Texas Tech to Central Michigan vs. Northern Illinois and Florida State vs. UMass.
Check out our top four picks from the early kickoff window below, and be sure to take a look at our best bets from the afternoon and evening windows as well.
Saturday College Football Best Bets for Week 8
Our Top Picks for Saturday’s Noon Kickoffs
The set of college football team logos below reflects each of our college football staff’s best bets for games kicking off at noon ET.
Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific pick discussed in this article.
Check Out All of Our Staff’s Best Bets for Week 8
Looking for more of our college football staff’s top picks for Week 8? Check out our best bets for each of Saturday’s three kickoff windows:
Kansas State vs. Texas Tech
Texas Tech lost starting quarterback Tyler Shough to injury, but backup Henry Colombi has come in and been just as effective for the Red Raiders. Both have had over 100 dropbacks, but Colombi’s 84.5 PFF passing grade has been comfortably better than Shough’s 73.0.
Overall, Texas Tech ranks ninth as a team in yards per passing attempt this season. Receivers Erik Ezukanma and Kaylon Geiger have been the go-to guys for whoever is under center, with the duo combining for 61 catches and nearly half of the team’s total receiving yards.
This is where the Red Raiders will have a big edge in this game. Kansas State’s defense ranks 122nd in expected points added (EPA) per throw and in terms of PFF grade, its coverage unit has graded in the 40s in three straight games.
While the edge in the ground game won’t be as significant, Texas Tech should still be able to move the ball just fine there, with a rushing attack that ranks 12th in terms of success rate.
Running back SaRodorick Thompson has really turned it on recently after starting the season out with an injury, totaling 281 yards and three touchdowns on 34 touches over his past two games. He’ll look to keep it going against the 86th-ranked unit in PFF run defense grade.
Overall, a Texas Tech offense that ranks 10th in EPA per play has a very advantageous matchup with a Kansas State defense that ranks outside the top 100 in EPA per play allowed.
It’s true that the Red Raider defense hasn’t been much better than Kansas State’s, but this Texas Tech offense is the strongest unit in this matchup and will look to continue putting up numbers against a forgiving defense on the other side.
Pick: Texas Tech -105
Northern Illinois vs. Central Michigan
Give Northern Illinois a ton of credit. The Huskies are 5-2 this season and have already cleared their preseason win total. They’re much better than people expected, but this is a bad matchup for them.
It’s no surprise that head coach and former NIU star running back Thomas Hammock has pretty much exclusively relied on the run game. The Huskies attempt just 21 passes per game — only five teams in the country throw it less often.
When NIU does throw the ball, Rocky Lombardi is completing just 56.8% of his passes for six touchdowns and six interceptions.
That plays right into the hands of a Central Michigan defense that ranks 22nd in Rushing Success and sixth in the country in Stuff Rate. The Chippewas are allowing just 3.5 yards per carry, the best in the MAC.
Once CMU stops the run on early downs, Northern Illinois ranks 115th in the nation in Success Rate on passing downs.
Central Michigan rotated quarterbacks early in the season, but last year’s starter Daniel Richardson has seemingly reemerged as the guy. He is averaging 8.1 yards per attempt and has 11 passing touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Richardson has three dynamic weapons to throw to in Kalil Pimpleton, Dallas Dixon and JaCorey Sullivan, while running back Lew Nichols III leads the MAC in rushing.
The Chips will be able to move the ball and create big plays with their offensive weapons against a Northern Illinois defense that is 95th in defensive Success Rate and 103rd at defending explosiveness.
Pick: Central Michigan -4.5
No. 16 Wake Forest vs. Army
I’ll continue fading Wake Forest’s defense until it shows it can stop an opposing offense.
The Demon Deacons have allowed fewer than 30 points per game over the last three, but they’ve been sliced up for a mind-bending average of 514 yards per contest.
There’s no push up front — Wake ranks bottom 20 in both Pass Rush and Havoc Rate — and that spells trouble against a triple-option attack right in the heart of the schedule.
Army, meanwhile, played a 38-35 shootout the last time it matched up with a high-powered spread attack (Western Kentucky, Week 2).
Wake’s put up 35 points in all four conference games this season. It shouldn’t have any problem scoring in what’s a seriously-soft total in Week 8.
Pick: Over 52.5
UMass vs. Florida State
This is a tailor-made “buy low” situation.
When teams are flying below the radar, that’s when I love to play them. Florida State is fitting that bill right now. The Seminoles haven’t won three straight since 2017, and just registered back-to-back wins over a pair of Power Five opponents for the first time since Willie Taggart was the leading man in Tallahassee.
But enough about FSU’s previous depths. After an 0-4 start, the ‘Noles have scored 68 points in their last two games while securing a pair of upset wins over Syracuse and North Carolina.
The Seminoles offensive line has played significantly better, thanks in large part to the return of a few previously sidelined starters. Maurice Smith at center has particularly helped the ‘Noles prevent a single sack against UNC last week.
With more continuity and talent up front, Jordan Travis has had time to operate. The dual-threat quarterback accounted for 510 total yards and seven touchdowns in those two wins.
UMass, meanwhile, is still the same team that can’t seem to stop anyone defensively. The Minutemen rank 122nd in plays from scrimmage that go for 20 yards or more and 118th in that same metric at 30+.
Offensively, UMass is a triple threat, in that its offensive metrics are all in the triple digits. It’s 103rd or worse nationally in yards per game on the ground, completion percentage, third-down conversions and points per game.
With a pop-gun offense, this game sets up for FSU to hit plenty of long gains and hang north of 50 on UMass as it marches toward bowl eligibility.
Pick: Florida State -35.5
Check Out All of Our College Football Best Bets for Week 8
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