Saturday College Football Betting Odds & Picks: Collin Wilson’s Best Bets for Week 8 (Oct. 24)
UA Athletics/Collegiate Images/Getty Images. Pictured: Alabama Crimson Tide football team.
With the Big Ten and Mountain West entering the fold for Week 8 of the college football season, there will undoubtedly be surprises up and down the board throughout Saturday.
Ohio State will return to the gridiron looking to snag a spot in the College Football Playoff despite a shortened season, while Wisconsin needs to replace a number of players on both sides of the ball as it attempts to repeat as West Division champions.
While no game has the star power of the Alabama-Georgia battle we saw last week, there are still a number of high-quality games populating the schedules and betting cards.
My College Football Betting Card for Week 8
Here’s a rundown of my favorite betting spots on Saturday’s slate of games:
- 12:00 p.m. ET | Nebraska at (5) Ohio State
- 3:30 p.m. ET | Iowa at Purdue
- 4:00 p.m. ET | (2) Alabama at Tennessee
- 10:15 p.m. ET | Texas State at (12) BYU
All odds listed below are as of Thursday night and via DraftKings. Specific bet recommendations at the end of each matchup breakdown 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.
Nebraska at Ohio State
|Nebraska Odds||+26 [BET NOW]|
|Ohio State Odds||-26 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+950/-3335 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||68.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||12 p.m. ET|
The Scott Frost era in Lincoln could be described as self-impeded. Nebraska had a chance to qualify for a bowl at 5-6 heading into the season finale against Iowa. Before the end of the first half, the Hawkeyes ran a kickoff back for a score and intercepted quarterback Adrian Martinez to bury those hopes. A 14-3 lead on Indiana evaporated after a fumble and missed field goal. An early-season overtime loss to Colorado was a result of fourth-quarter drives that ended with a fumble, fumble and interception.
Game of the week:
Nebraska at Colorado
Former Big 12 foes played a classic at Folsom Field. Nebraska was up 17-0 at the half, but the Buffs came storming back to send the game to OT. Colorado hit a FG, but Nebraska K Isaac Armstrong hooked his FG right to give the Buffs a win. pic.twitter.com/fYNnch8UfK
— CFB Blitz (@BlitzCfb) September 10, 2019
Nebraska finished 123rd in Havoc allowed, including an FBS low of 27 fumbles lost. If anyone believes that is one-year variance that will bounce back, consider that the Cornhuskers had 28 fumbles lost in 2018. Frost is now 9-14-1 against the number during his coaching tenure.
The defense has also had a rough go under Erik Chinander’s 3-4 concept that loves to blitz. Nebraska finished 85th in Line Yards and 125th in Power Success Rate last season, allowing any rushing attack with a pulse to move the ball.
For the amount of heat that Chinander likes to bring — blitzing at a 30% rate — there should be more than two players with double-digit quarterback hurries. Khalil Davis and Carlos Davis accumulated 12 sacks in 2019. Both of those players are in the NFL, leaving behind a remaining roster that combined for only 14 sacks last season.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Running back J.K. Dobbins has moved on to the NFL, but quarterback Justin Fields still has plenty of weapons at his disposal. Master Teague III averaged six yards per carry in 2019 and will be joined in the backfield by Oklahoma graduate transfer Trey Sermon.
Trey Sermon is going to be a PROBLEM 😈🌰 pic.twitter.com/OHAWBsNLZc
— Barstool OSU (@BarstoolOSU) March 22, 2020
The offensive line may be down two starters, but there were plenty of plays for the reserves last season. Nicholas Petit-Frere, Harry Miller and Gavin Cupp each recorded at least 170 snaps. There are weapons missing among the wide receiver corps, but Chris Olave’s 76 targets were one shy of K.J. Hill. We may see an increase in the usage of 12 personnel this season with the return of tight ends Luke Farrell and Jeremy Ruckert, who combined for six touchdowns in 2019.
The defensive front garnered most of the headlines this offseason with the loss of Chase Young to the NFL. There are a number of players returning to the Buckeyes defense, but none held a statistical torch to Young. The defensive end finished the season with 16.5 sacks and 43 quarterback hurries.
Ohio State’s top returning starting pass-rusher is defensive end Tyreke Smith, who recorded just eight hurries in 2019. New defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs will be looking for players to generate chaos from the first snap.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Nebraska rushed for 184 yards at 4.7 per carry and still lost to the Buckeyes by 41 last season. The game had all the ingredients a gambler would come to expect with Nebraska — a 56-yard run from Martinez along with three interceptions. Throwing out drives that ended the half, Ohio State scored on 8-of-9 possessions.
The handicap in this game is about whether or not the new faces on the Buckeye defense can generate takeaways against a team that historically gives the ball away. With an Action Network projection of Ohio State -19, the current market is inflated for Ohio State backers. Anyone playing on the Cornhuskers will need the points with the assumption that Martinez is incapable of a clean box score.
The safest investment in this head-to-head is a slow-paced first half, as Fields has new faces on the outside and Frost opts to run the ball. Although Nebraska ran 54% pass out of 11 personnel last season, the Cornhuskers had 39 rushing attempts versus 17 passing plays against Ohio State. Bank on the team that takes care of the ball in the first half.
Pick: Ohio State First Half -14.5
Iowa at Purdue
|Iowa Odds||-3 [BET NOW]|
|Purdue Odds||+3 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-162/+125 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||52.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||3:30 p.m. ET|
|TV||Big Ten Network|
Editors Note: This article was published before Rondale Moore was ruled out.
The Hawkeyes will feature plenty of new faces on both sides of the ball in their return to play this weekend, following an unsettling offseason of roster turnover and program turmoil. A 25-point victory in the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl kicked off the offseason on a positive note until an investigation unearthed racial bias within the program. As of this week, eight former players are suing the school for $20 million and want Kirk Ferentz to resign over racial discrimination.
If the off-field distractions weren’t enough, Iowa must replace plenty of holes. Quarterback Nate Stanley departs an offense that returns 50% of its starters and ranked 45th in Success Rate last season. Spencer Petras takes over the reins under center with a promising pedigree but only a handful of snaps from 2019 to serve as experience. Ihmir Smith-Marsette returns at wide receiver after collecting 76 targets and five touchdowns last season.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette goes 98-yards to the 🏠!
Iowa (+1.5) go up 21-14 🚀
— PointsBet Iowa (@PointsBetIA) December 28, 2019
Iowa finished last season ranked 108th in seconds per play with an offense that ran as much 12 and 21 personnel as 11. Offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs moves along to the NFL, but the Hawkeyes have six players that received at least 100 snaps in the trenches in 2019.
The defense ranked 35th in Success Rate last season and returns 56% of its production. AJ Epenesa has moved on to the NFL, leaving behind 11.5 sacks and 41 hurries. The defense still returns plenty in the front seven, with Chauncey Golston forcing 26 hurries and defensive back Jack Koerner being the top tackler last year.
Chauncey Golston (@2live57) continues to be a nightmare for opposing offensive lines. After 2.5 tackles for loss and an interception, Golston is now up to 6 tackles for loss on the season.#WNSFilm pic.twitter.com/dP1j8xMP9b
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) October 28, 2019
Purdue’s biggest offseason news was Rondale Moore opting back in to play for the Boilermakers. Limited in action due to injury in 2019, Moore became a household name in the college football world with an upset of Ohio State in 2018.
— Anthony Treash (@PFF_Anthony) May 4, 2020
The standout wide receiver returns to a loaded roster with two quarterbacks that have each logged significant playing time. Both Jack Plummer and Aidan O’Connell had over 100 attempts in a season lost to injury up and down the roster.
With wide receiver David Bell also in the fold, Purdue has the returning production to be the most explosive passing attack in the Big Ten.
The Boilermakers also return 73% of their 2019 production on the defensive side of the ball. Edge rushers George Karlaftis and Derrick Barnes return, along with their combined 14 sacks and 60 hurries. The defense needs to improve, or Purdue may be a weekly over target. The Boilermakers ranked 115th in Success Rate against the rush, 107th in Havoc and 101st in Sack Rate.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The news of Jeff Brohm testing positive for COVID-19 is worth a minimum of two points to the spread. Other coaches have tested positive, and it has been an auto-move on the point spread. When a coach like Nick Saban is sidelined with COVID-19, it may not have the impact the market expects. Saban does not call plays on either side of the ball, but Brohm has called every play at every stop of his career. Offensive coordinator Brian Brohm is up for the challenge for the first time in his career.
The handicap relies on whether or not the Iowa secondary can contain two of the best receivers in the conference. The Hawkeyes will be without defensive backs Michael Ojemudia and Geno Stone, who combined for 98 opponent targets last season. In 67 targets against Ojemudia, opponents scored just one touchdown and netted only 76 yards after catch.
A bet on Purdue is backing Brian Brohm’s play-calling to get the ball in the hands of Moore and Bell against a relatively inexperienced Iowa secondary.
Pick: Purdue +3
Editors Note: This article was published before Rondale Moore was ruled out.
Alabama at Tennessee
|Alabama Odds||-21 [BET NOW]|
|Tennessee Odds||+21 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-3335/+800 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||66 [BET NOW]|
|Time||3:30 p.m. ET|
Alabama Crimson Tide
The national average for percent of Available Yards gained is 40%. Available Yards is a statistic that captures the difference between how many yards can be gained during the entire game from a team’s starting field position to the end zone. Alabama has yet to finish below 60% and gained 91% of available yards against Ole Miss. Georgia was considered the best defense college football had available to face the Tide. The Alabama offense responded with a 38% explosive drive rate (national average is 13%) and a 58% overall Success Rate.
DeVonta Smith is really, really good…that's really all you can say. pic.twitter.com/rIYop9K6zM
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 18, 2020
The advanced box score also shows a Crimson Tide defense prepared to make a statement. Alabama recorded three turnovers and only allowed two passes of 20 yards or more. Georgia had just one explosive drive, ending 7-for-16 on third downs with an average distance over six yards.
The season numbers will take a few more games for the defensive splits to normalize after the Ole Miss game. Alabama is still a top-25 team in defensive Finishing Drives, allowing 3.14 points per opponent opportunity.
This week’s Havoc ratings took an exclusive look into Tennessee’s breakdown over its last six quarters of play. Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano may be hearing footsteps with his recent flurry of interceptions, as the senior has already taken 11 sacks through 111 passing attempts this season. The celebrated Vols offensive line is 46th in Sack Rate but has gotten the job done in the rushing game with a rank of 17th in Line Yards.
The Volunteers defense has been serviceable through four games. It has allowed only four rushing attempts of more than 20 yards, and it owns a top-20 rank in Power Success and Stuff Rate. The pass defense has not fared as well against the likes of Kentucky, Georgia, Missouri and South Carolina. The Vols are 49th in defensive Passing Success Rate, and they have managed remarkably few pass-breakups (PBUs). Tennessee has recorded 11 PBUs through four games, which ranks 55th in FBS.
Betting Analysis & Pick
There may not be a bigger buy-low, sell-high spot on the Week 8 board. Tennessee is coming off a gut-wrenching offensive performance in a loss to Kentucky, while Alabama dominated the No. 1 defense in the country. From a projections standpoint, the number should be closer to Alabama -18.5, even though the eyeball test says this is an easy Tide cover.
This is an obvious hangover spot for Alabama after failing to cover in previous road trips to Missouri and Ole Miss. The formula for Tennessee to cover is to take the volatility out of the offense, namely electing to run twice as much as attempting a pass. This is an area where the Volunteers may have success against the Alabama front seven; as Georgia continually averaged five yards a carry.
This was Vols offensive coordinator Jim Chaney’s plan of attack last season in a 35-13 loss that easily went under the total. Wait for Alabama steam to take this number over three touchdowns, where the edge will be on Tennessee. The Vols can cover if they eliminate mistakes and attempt to slow down the Tide.
Pick: Tennessee +21.5 or better
Texas State at BYU
|Texas State Odds||+28.5 [BET NOW]|
|BYU Odds||-28.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||N/A [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||60.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||10:15 p.m. ET|
Texas State Bobcats
This is not where Jake Spavital expected his team to be come late October.
A 1-5 record, including a 1-2 mark in conference play, leaves plenty of work to be done for the Bobcats to exceed last year’s mark. Quarterback Brady McBride has not presented nearly the upgrade that gamblers banked on versus Tyler Vitt. Even with McBride under center, the Bobcats still rank a paltry 62nd in passing Success Rate.
McBride hasn’t had much protection from his offensive line or bouts with COVID-19, but when he does leave the pocket, explosive plays can happen.
Brady McBride finds K-Dot Sheread for 36 yards (they should not have taken his towel!). South Alabama called for facemask on the play. Brock Sturges finishes the drive on a 1-yard TD. Extra point is good @smdrsports #TXST 17#USA 17
7:57 left in the 3rd pic.twitter.com/P0YTaUIclm
— Drew King (@drewking0222) October 17, 2020
The defense has been fantastic at limiting pass explosiveness. Limiting SMU to just six passes over 20 yards was a victory for the secondary in its season opener. In recent games, the Bobcats allowed just one pass to exceed 20 yards against Boston College and South Alabama. The defense also tightens up in the red zone, ranking 31st in opponent scoring percentage.
With three minutes left in the third quarter, BYU had no answers against Houston, which had scored 23 straight points and taken a 12-point lead. Heisman candidate Zach Wilson led touchdown drives on four of the next six drives to easily obtain the road victory. A ‘chip-9‘ onside kick buried gamblers with Houston tickets.
BYU SURPRISE onside kick
Houston was caught soooooo off guard 💀💀 pic.twitter.com/6tOvVUYMzP
— i Reporter Liam 🦖 (@Blutman27) October 17, 2020
As Wilson’s Heisman hype continues to ascend alongside Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, so too has BYU exceeded in the polls, leaving a debate whether an undefeated Cougars team should be in the College Football Playoff. The offense is top-20 in success rate, sack rate and finishing drives.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and one view of the Pace Report on Success Rate and seconds per play clearly places BYU among the most efficient offenses in college football.
The Cougars defense is also worth a mention, specifically in the red zone. BYU allows only 2.17 points to opponents who cross the 40-yard line. Both Zac Dawe and Tyler Batty rank in the FBS Top 30 for individual tackles for loss. The one knock on the Cougars defense would be pass explosiveness, but six of the 14 passes to exceed 20 yards came in a single game against Houston.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The BYU undefeated season continues, with all eyes on a Nov. 6 trip to Boise State. Until then, the Cougars will look to stay in rhythm against Texas State and Western Kentucky, who both travel to Provo, Utah, over the next two weeks. There should be no resistance in the Wilson passing attack against a Texas State defense that ranks 66th in passing Success Rate.
Our Pace Report projects a total of 62 points, which is spot on with the current market. The Action Network also projects the spread at BYU at minus-28, giving a slight edge to Texas State at the current number. This will be the first time BYU plays in front of home crowd, as 6,000 fans are expected to populate Lavell Edwards Stadium.
The handicap in this game comes down to Texas State leaning on 12 personnel. BYU struggled in a short victory over UTSA as 35-point favorites, as Kalani Sitake mentioned issues against a two-tight end set. Texas State has run 12 personnel on 20% of its plays this season, with tight ends Jackson Lanam and Blake Aragon collecting seven receptions each.
On the other side of the ball, BYU may sit a few players who sustained injuries in the Houston game.
Wide receiver Gunner Romney is dealing with a hamstring issue while starting center James Empey deals with an ankle. Linebacker Kavika Fonua left the Houston game with injuries while starting defensive back Micah Harper must sit out the first half after a targeting call against Houston.
Sitake will do his best to get Wilson his numbers, but the play-calling may be more rush than pass given the Cougars’ numerous injuries. The value is on Texas State with any number more than four touchdowns.
Pick: Texas State +28.5 or better.