College Football Expert Picks: Our Staff’s 12 Favorite Bets for Week 8

College Football Expert Picks: Our Staff’s 12 Favorite Bets for Week 8 article feature image
Credit:

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: USC quarterback JT Daniels

  • Our college football experts give their 12 favorite betting picks for Week 8 of the 2018 season.
  • You'll find a few picks on the marquee matchups of the day and a few under-the-radar gems.

It’s Week 8 of the college football season and we now only have eight remaining undefeated teams:

  • #1 Alabama
  • #2 Ohio State
  • #3 Clemson
  • #4 Notre Dame
  • #10 Central Florida
  • #16 NC State
  • #20 Cincinnati
  • #21 South Florida

That list will at least be cut down to seven teams after this weekend, as NC State (+17) visits Clemson for our last regular-season meeting between two undefeated Power 5 teams. The Wolfpack are looking for their first win at Clemson since Philip Rivers was under center way back in 2002.

That’s just one of many appetizing games on the betting menu this weekend. To help you come up with your final college football card for this weekend, we asked a group of our staffers for their one favorite Saturday pick for Week 8.

Regardless of your betting style, you should find something that catches your eye — or at least helps you make more informed betting decisions for Week 8 — in the picks below.

We’ll waste no time getting things started with four bets that kick off at noon ET — and then hit a few other games before closing things out five quick grabs. We hope you take at least one key piece of information away that can help guide you toward a winner or away from a loser. Let’s jump in.

In case you’re curious, our staff’s favorite college football bets are 48-40-1 (54.5%) on the season

*All odds pulled overnight on Oct. 19.


PJ Walsh: Illinois-Wisconsin Under 56.5

Noon ET on FS1

Both Illinois and Wisconsin run the ball effectively, ranking 22nd and sixth in rushing yards per game, respectively. When two teams that average at least 215 yards per game on the ground match up, the under is 228-174-7 (56.7%) since 2003, according to Bet Labs.

The current forecast also calls for swirling 21 mph winds, which should limit explosive plays through the passing game. Since 2003, college football games played in winds of at least 20 mph have gone under 64.3% of the time.

Collin Wilson: Miami Ohio +8 (at Army)

Noon ET on CBSSN

If you listened to the latest episode of The Action Network Colleges podcast or read my weekly CW column, or even read our moneyline underdogs piece, you know my love for Miami Ohio this week knows no bounds.

The RedHawks have the rush defense to contain Army’s triple-option rushing attack. They rank in the top 30 nationally against the rush, allowing 3.29 yards per carry.

On the other side of the ball, Miami ranks 16th in rushing explosiveness, going for 200 yards in each of its past four games. Quarterback Gus Ragland, who led this team to six straight wins and a near upset of Mississippi State in 2016, has continued to play more efficiently in recent weeks.

John Ewing: Michigan-Michigan State Under 41

Noon ET on FOX

The market expects a low-scoring game between Michigan-Michigan State, as the over/under of 41 points is the lowest on the Saturday slate.

The Wolverines rank No. 1 in defensive S&P+, while the Spartans are 21st. Not only should this rivalry game be a defensive slugfest, but the weather will impact scoring, as well. The forecast calls for 17 mph winds during the game, which will impede both passing offenses and kicking games. Since 2005, the under is 471-341-12 (58%) when the average wind speed was 13 mph or stronger.

Casual bettors are ignoring the defensive matchup and the weather as 68% of tickets are on the over. Michigan-Michigan State is one of the most bet games on the slate. Historically, the under has been a profitable play in heavily bet games with low totals.

Steve Petrella: Temple -3 (vs. Cincinnati)

Noon ET on ESPNU

What’s the old adage? When an unbeaten, Top 25 team is an underdog at Temple, you back Temple without thinking twice? Yeah, that’s it.

Cincinnati is a year ahead of schedule thanks to an excellent defense. That unit is legit. But the offense’s numbers have been propped up by a weak schedule. And despite ranking No. 20 in the AP Poll, the Bearcats are No. 73 in our power ratings. They’re just not this good.

This is by far the stiffest test Cincy’s offense will face thus far. Temple’s defense ranks 15th in S&P+ and fifth in yards per play. It’s been tested by far better offenses in Buffalo, Maryland and Boston College, so those numbers are not inflated.

Temple has played much better since dropping its opener to Villanova and dominated inferior opponents the last few weeks. The number is accounting for Associated Press voters overrating Cincinnati, but I think the Owls win a defensive struggle by about 10 points, so take a look at the under, too.

Danny Donahue: Mississippi State +6 (at LSU)

7 p.m. ET on ESPN

After Saturday, LSU has two weeks to rest and prepare for a home game against Alabama that will make or break its season. Not an ideal time to be playing the top scoring defense in the nation that will be fresh off a bye week.

And even if the Tigers are able to keep their focus and come away with a victory, the low total in this game is going to make a seven-point win hard to come by. I’ll take the points.

Stuckey: Mississippi State +6 (at LSU)

7 p.m. ET on ESPN

I completely agree with Danny. This is not only a great situational spot to back the Bulldogs, but I like some of the things they should be able to do schematically. I think their dominant defensive front can disrupt the LSU offense and they should be able to get their run game going — similar to what Florida did in its win over LSU when the Gators ran for 215 yards.

This is just a few points too high, which doesn’t surprise me in Death Valley — historically one off the most overvalued home-field advantages in all of college football. I played +7 (-120) earlier this week, but still like it down to +6.

Ken Barkley: USC +7 (at Utah)

8 p.m. ET on PACN

Just a couple too many points, that’s all.

You might say this is some kind of revenge spot, because Utah blew the game after having USC on the ropes last year in LA. However, that angle is usually overblown and generally irrelevant in my eyes.

What’s really happening here is Utah is being given a huge bump from its last two games, when a huge bump was not particularly deserved. The Utes’ big win against Stanford was a product of the confluence of Stanford being worn out, not having Bryce Love, and also committing horrific turnovers. Stanford was basically going in to score on its first three drives of that game, and Utah ended up by two touchdowns. Almost an impossible thing to accomplish.

Combine that misleading score with a thorough domination of Arizona, which was playing with an injured Khalil Tate, and then Rhett Rodriguez, and I’m not sure what kind of credit we should be giving Utah at all. The Utes couldn’t handle Washington at all at home, and now the other most talented team in the conference comes in on an upswing.

I’ll take the Trojans with what I think is a little line value.


Quick Grabs


Jason Sobel: Colorado +17.5 (at Washington)
Peter Jennings: SMU moneyline +230 (at Tulane)
Jack Settleman: Maryland +10 (at Iowa)
Lauren Joffe: Charlotte +17 (at MTSU)
Sean Newsham: Memphis-Missouri Over 71