College Football Week 8 Odds, Best Bets: Our Top Noon Picks for Navy vs. Houston, Ohio State vs. Iowa & More
Ben Jackson/Getty Images. Pictured: The Ohio State Buckeyes.
Ah, yes. We've made it to another beautiful fall college football Saturday.
It's not a day for visiting pumpkin patches or making a trip to the apple orchard. It's a day for watching (and betting) college football, with wall-to-wall action starting at noon ET and going all the way through 11 p.m. ET.
Our staff is doing just that in Week 8. They came through with four bets for Saturday's early games, ranging from a Big Ten showdown like Iowa vs. Ohio State to a MACtion matchup between Northern Illinois and Ohio.
So, be sure to check out all 14 of our best bets, including picks for today's afternoon and evening kickoff windows. Let's have a day.
Saturday Noon College Football Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football staff is targeting from today's slate of games. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.|
Iowa vs. Ohio State
Iowa's offense is one of the worst in the Power Five.
Spencer Petras is not the reason Iowa's offense is as bad as it is. Iowa's biggest Achilles' heel this season has been the offensive line. The unit ranks 130th in pass blocking, 72nd in run blocking and 124th in Offensive Line Yards.
With how bad the offensive line has been, Petras has been under pressure on 37.5% of his drop backs, which is one of the highest marks in college football.
Iowa has the best defensive grade in college football at 93.9, per PFF. The Hawkeyes are allowing only 4.0 yards per play while ranking second in EPA/Play and first in Explosiveness Allowed.
The Iowa secondary is once again one of the top units in the country. The Hawkeyes are one of only two teams in college football to allow under 5.0 yards per attempt to opposing quarterbacks.
Along with reigning Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year Riley Moss, Cooper DeJean and Terry Roberts have been tremendous. They've combined to allow a 45% reception rate on 3.69 yards per target to go along with eight pass breakups and four interceptions on the season.
C.J. Stroud is now the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, and it's easy to see why. He's put up a whopping 10.9 yards per pass attempt, owns an 84.7 PFF passing grade and has thrown for 24 touchdowns and three interceptions.
However, he's due to turn the ball over, because even though Stroud has gaudy touchdown numbers, he has 10 Big Time Throws and seven Turnover Worthy Plays this season.
This Iowa secondary is not the unit to be taking chances against.
The Ohio State defense has been really good this season, allowing only 4.3 yards per play (8th in FBS) while ranking third in Success Rate Allowed and seventh in EPA/Play Allowed. I don’t know how Iowa is going to be able to move the ball.
These two teams are playing incredibly slow this season, with Iowa at 28.5 seconds per play (110th in FBS) and Ohio State at 27.9 seconds per play (98th in FBS).
Plus, you have two top-10 defenses going at each other, with Iowa's offense being one of the worst in the Power Five and Ohio State finally facing an elite secondary.
I only have 40.8 points projected for this game, so I like the value on under 49.5 points.
Cincinnati vs. SMU
The Bearcats will benefit a bit from coming off of a bye week, especially since they have a few injury issues, namely to starting quarterback Ben Bryant and leading receiver Tyler Scott.
However, I still think Cincinnati is ripe for an upset here.
Luke Fickell admitted Ivan Pace Jr. is still "dinged up from last week."
With injuries to Pace, QB Ben Bryant, WR Tyler Scott and RB Corey Kiner, the bye is coming at the right time for Cincinnati. Fickell expects Kiner to be ready after the bye. No word yet on Bryant and Scott. https://t.co/8NZfQnSx6m
— Keith Jenkins (@MrKeithJenkins) October 8, 2022
After starting out an expected 1-1 with a loss at Arkansas and a victory over FCS Kennesaw State, the Bearcats have won four straight but haven't looked great in doing so, especially if you dig a little deeper into each result.
- Despite snagging an early pick-six, they were in a battle at Tulsa but got a stop on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line late in the game.
- A bad Indiana team got back in the game before turning it over on downs late, which Cincy turned into a meaningless touchdown.
- They benefited from facing Miami Ohio's backup quarterback and eventually pulled away after a shaky first half.
- South Florida actually led in the fourth quarter at Cincy but eventually got stopped when trailing by four on a fourth-down attempt inside the Bearcat 30 before Cincy ran out the clock.
Cincinnati may also have some imminent regression coming its way after getting fairly fortunate in a number of high-variance stats so far. It has recovered eight of its 12 fumbles and converted 5-of-7 fourth-down attempts while holding opponents to just 1-of-11 on fourth-down tries for an FBS-low 9.1% conversion rate.
In contrast, opponents have converted 11-of-18 (61.1%) against SMU.
SMU has also played the much tougher schedule with losses against a trio of top-40 teams in Maryland, UCF and TCU with two of the three coming on the road. Meanwhile, Cincinnati has faced only one team that I have currently power rated as above average nationally.
Overall, I have SMU with a top-50 strength of schedule so far this season, while Cincy's sits outside the top 100.
Facing the best aerial attack they will have seen in 2022, the Bearcats may finally feel the impact of losing three defensive backs to the NFL. Plus, SMU's quick passing attack can neutralize a very strong Bearcat pass rush. On the season, Cincy's defense ranks third nationally in Sack Rate, but SMU's offense ranks 13th in that same category.
In fact, the aggressive SMU defense (32nd Sack Rate) actually might have more opportunities to create negative plays against a Cincy front that ranks 98th in Sack Rate.
Plus, the Bearcats have struggled to consistently run the ball (outside the top 90 in Rush Success Rate), which might provide a break for a porous SMU run defense.
Houston vs. Navy
It’s simple: If you’re betting Houston, you’re betting the number. If you’re grabbing Navy plus the points, you’re banking on the Midshipmen’s style to win out.
Still, I don’t see how you can’t take this discount on the Cougars at 3.
SMU and Houston are basically the same team – athletic with a high-upside offense and the ability to pull away quickly. Our own Collin Wilson literally dished both the Mustangs and Cougars a grade of 78.5.
SMU closed -12.5 vs. Navy. After adjusting for home field, I’m still not sure how we can line Houston nearly 10 points shorter.
Navy ranks 112th in tackling, 116th in pass coverage and is below average in special teams.
Houston, meanwhile, was the preseason AAC favorite and has played a tough slate to date. After a comeback win against Memphis, I don’t see this as any sort of hangover or trap spot.
When Dana Holgorsen finds a way to lose by 21, I’ll still go to bed knowing I took a cheap number on Houston.
Northern Illinois vs. Ohio
By Doug Ziefel
The Huskies are getting a ton of respect for a team that lost four of their last five and barely beat FCS Eastern Illinois in their opener.
This matchup is going to come down to who scores last, as each offense has significant edges in how they typically move the ball.
However, the Bobcats' passing attack has been sensational this season, as Kurtis Rourke has been shredding secondaries. He enters with over 2,200 yards passing and a 14:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
In this matchup, he'll go up against a Northern Illinois secondary that ranks 118th in yards per pass allowed and 99th in opponent completion percentage.
Rourke should have another banner day. Their success and explosiveness in the passing game will allow them to punch back after any Northern Illinois score.
Lastly, there’s excellent value here as we have the Bobcats projected as slight favorites at home. Take the home dog.