College Football Odds, Best Bets: Our Top 5 Saturday Night Picks, Including Cal vs. Washington, Alabama vs. Mississippi State

College Football Odds, Best Bets: Our Top 5 Saturday Night Picks, Including Cal vs. Washington, Alabama vs. Mississippi State article feature image

Photo by Jesse Beals/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Washington Huskies

  • It's been a great college football Saturday in Week 8, but it's not over yet.
  • Our staff came through with five more best bets for the evening slate, including picks for Cal vs. Washington and Alabama vs. Mississippi State.
  • Check out all five college football best bets for Saturday night below.

Mississippi State vs. Alabama. Minnesota vs. Penn State. Kansas State vs. TCU. And Washington vs. Cal in a Pac-12 After Dark affair.

Those are the four games our staff has targeted for this edition of Week 8 college football best bets — specifically featuring night games.

So, dive in below to find their five picks and the reasoning behind those selections.

Week 8 Saturday Night 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.

7 p.m. ET
Alabama -21
7:30 p.m. ET
Penn State -4
7:30 p.m. ET
Minnesota TT o19.5
8 p.m. ET
Kansas State +3.5
10:30 p.m. ET
Washington -7.5
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.

Mississippi State vs. Alabama

Saturday, Oct. 22
7 p.m. ET
Alabama -21

By Patrick Strollo

There probably wasn’t a tougher place to be in the college football world this week than Tuscaloosa after Alabama lost to Tennessee on a last-second field goal.

In the wake of the loss, Alabama head coach Nick Saban characterized his team as tight and devoid of the normal energy it possesses when coming out of the tunnel.

Over the last five years, Saban’s Tide have only lost four regular season games. In each of the subsequent matchups after a loss, Saban’s Tide have not only bounced back and won, but they have also covered the spread every time.

Almost exactly a year to the date, Alabama lost to Texas A&M and then faced Mississippi State the following week on the road. Alabama got the win, 49-9, easily covering the 18-point spread.

In what is just terrible luck, Mississippi State has drawn the short straw again this year by getting Alabama immediately after an outright loss.

This is a brutal spot for Mississippi State — it has to hit the road to face one of the most talented and well-coached teams in the country this weekend.

The Crimson Tide will be looking to make a statement in this game. Alabama’s back is against the wall right now, but all of its goals are still very much within reach. Expect Saban to once again have his team laser-focused in this bounce-back spot.

Pick: Alabama -21 (Play to -22)

Minnesota vs. Penn State

Saturday, Oct. 22
7:30 p.m. ET
Penn State -4

By Thomas Schlarp

The White Out has arrived, and in walks a pair of limping Big Ten foes with injury questions at the quarterback position.

Minnesota’s Tanner Morgan is questionable with a head injury, and Penn State’s Sean Clifford left early against Michigan with a shoulder injury.

Clifford appears to be a much surer thing —  especially given this will be the final White Out of his career — while Morgan will likely be a game-time decision.

Quarterback was a sore subject last week for the Gophers, as Morgan and backup Athan Kaliakmanis combined for just 38 total passing yards in a 12-point loss to Illinois.

In what will be a revenge game for Minnesota offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca, he’ll likely dial up the ground game with talented running back Mohamed Ibrahim, who has 694 rushing yards on the season.

In a vacuum, that’s not a bad idea, as Penn State allowed 418 rushing yards at Michigan last week.

This game isn’t being played in a vacuum, however, as the Nittany Lions will be able to sell out to stop the Gophers’ running game.

Minnesota has been inconsistent in the passing game, even when Morgan is healthy. Two weeks ago against Purdue, he threw three interceptions.

Kaytron Allen and Nick Singleton should be in for rebound performances after combining for just 35 yards against Michigan. Minnesota has allowed 220 and 160 yards rushing in the last two weeks to Illinois and a pass-first Purdue team, respectively.

Penn State has won three of the last four White Outs — games against top-25 teams — by at least a touchdown. I suggest locking this number in sooner rather than later because if you wait until Minnesota officially announces Morgan is out, it will likely move closer to a touchdown spread.

Penn State needs this win badly to avoid dropping three straight for a third consecutive season, but don’t lay any more than four points.

Pick: Penn State -4

Minnesota TT Over 19.5

By Action Analytics

Minnesota is an extremely interesting offensive team.

It has a great Success Rate on offense (seventh in the country), and it excels at punching the ball in the end zone when it crosses its opponent’s 40-yard line, ranking 16th in Offensive Finishing Drives.

Unsurprisingly, the Golden Gophers excel at staying out of passing situations. They rank fifth in the country in Standard Down Rate and excel at converting on third downs.

In fact, I expect them to convert at an even more prodigious rate due to their advantage running the ball. Just take a look at these discrepancies (Minnesota is on the right, Penn State is on the left):

All in all, I expect the Golden Gophers to put up 21 points on the Nittany Lions without too much trouble.

Pick: Minnesota TT Over 19.5

Kansas State vs. TCU

Saturday, Oct. 22
8 p.m. ET
Kansas State +3.5

By Kody Malstrom

After weeks of skating by on just offensive production alone, TCU’s Big 12 championship dreams may be coming back down to reality.

Fielding one of the worst defensive units in football, the Horned Frogs will be hard pressed to limit Kansas State’s offense, as the Wildcats come in healthy and well rested off of a bye week.

Adrian Martinez and Deuce Vaughn are poised for monster games, as TCU is horrific at limiting the run, ranking well below average in Defensive Stuff Rate and Rushing Success Rate.

Even while successful at open-field tackling, the Frogs are routinely gashed on the ground for decent chunks at a time.

During a track meet against Kansas and an emotional double-overtime win against Oklahoma State, I saw zero improvement on the defensive side of things, and I have little reason to believe TCU will figure it out for this one.

To make matters worse for the Horned Frogs, Kansas State is also elite at Defensive Finishing Drives, which will potentially stall out the vaunted TCU offense.

Take the Wildcats at no lower than +3 in what will be an exciting Big 12 showdown.

Pick: Kansas State +3.5 (Play to +3)

Washington vs. Cal

Saturday, Oct. 22
10:30 p.m. ET
Washington -7.5

By Cody Goggin

The fact that Washington is only favored by 7.5 against Cal is a bit perplexing to me. Washington started off the year with some major buzz at 4-0 and defeated a ranked Michigan State team.

We’ve since found out that Michigan State was not deserving of that ranking whatsoever, but this Washington offense has still been legitimately good.

Washington’s offense ranks ninth in the country in Offensive Success Rate and second in EPA per play. The Huskies have the 11th-best Success Rate when passing the ball and 18th-best when rushing.

Michael Penix Jr. has been electric, averaging 0.37 yards per drop back. The Huskies have scored 32 points or more in every game this season.

On the opposite side, Cal has a terrible defense. The Golden Bears are 118th in the country in Success Rate, ranking 97th against the pass and 124th against the run.

Part of this is due to the quality of offenses that they have faced this year, but Washington has a great offense as well, so things will likely not improve this weekend.

In order to beat Washington, you have to either stop its offense or outscore it in a shootout. Seeing as Cal likely won’t be able to stop this Washington offense, it will need to score in bunches.

Unfortunately for the Bears, they rank 82nd in Offensive Success Rate and 98th in Passing Success Rate. SP+ ranks this as the 108th-best offense in the country. Washington’s defense is its Achilles’ heel this year, but this will probably not be the team that is able to capitalize on that.

If this matchup results in a positive game script for Washington, the advantage that the Huskies have on the ground and the Golden Bears’ ineptitude when passing the ball will both be on full display.

Things could get ugly in Berkeley and end up as a blowout.

Pick: Washington -7.5 (Play to -9.5)

How would you rate this article?

This site contains commercial content. We may be compensated for the links provided on this page. The content on this page is for informational purposes only. Action Network makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information given or the outcome of any game or event.