College Football Odds & Picks: Our Top Friday Bets, Including Memphis vs. UCF & Washington vs. Arizona (Oct. 22)
Steph Chambers/Getty Images. Pictured: Washington Huskies wide receiver Nick Juran (32).
- Friday night means plenty of college football action.
- Our staff broke down all four games in Week 8's final weekday, including UCF vs. Memphis and Washington vs. Arizona.
- Check out all four breakdowns and betting picks and predictions below.
Friday Night Lights. Few things are better on a beautiful October night.
Here at The Action Network, we’ll take as much football as we can, whether it’s a MACtion Tuesday, a Fun Belt Friday, a loaded Thursday slate, or a phenomenal Friday. So, we’re more than happy with college football under the lights tonight.
The action features four games and opens with UConn vs. Middle Tennessee and UCF vs. Memphis for the early part of the night. Then, when the sun goes down for the night, we’ll be lucky enough to see a Mountain West battle between Colorado State and Utah State and a Pac-12 After Dark matchup in Washington vs. Arizona. And yes, it’s all on a Friday.
So, start getting ready for a big college football weekend. Because we’re already prepared.
Week 8 College Football Picks for Friday, Oct. 22
Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific betting preview for Friday evening’s Week 8 college football slate.
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.
Photos via Getty Images.
6 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
By Shawn Burns
UConn won its first game in 721 days last Saturday with a hard-fought win over Yale. The Huskies jumped out to a big lead and held on for the 21-15 win. The win ended their 11-game losing streak and gave interim head coach Lou Spanos his first career win.
Middle Tennessee had a bye last week and needs to bounce back after falling to Liberty, 41-13, in its last game. The Blue Raiders have winnable games ahead starting with Connecticut as they try to qualify for their first bowl berth since 2018.
They are heavy road favorites, and the Blue Raiders haven’t played well away from home, going 0-4 overall and 0-4 ATS.
Even though UConn is a 15-point underdog, this is its best opportunity to capture another win this season. It closes its season against Clemson, UCF, and Houston, which all have much stronger squads than Middle Tennessee.
Chase Cunningham took over at quarterback in the second half of the UTSA game in Week 3, and the junior has 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions over the past four games.
Cunningham has improved the passing game, but the running attack has struggled all season, averaging 90 yards per game and only 2.88 yards per carry. Against Liberty, it recorded only 35 yards rushing on 21 carries.
Connecticut has the 116th-ranked rushing defense in the nation, so Middle Tennessee should have much more success on the ground against the Huskies.
Middle Tennessee has had major problems defensively all season, allowing 31 points per game and 5.60 yards per play. It ranks 104th in the country in total defense. The Blue Raiders have given up a lot of points, but they have been exceptional at forcing turnovers.
They are No. 1 in the nation in turnover margin and No. 2 in turnovers forced with 18, behind only Iowa. UConn will need to take care of the ball and contain Jordan Ferguson, who leads Conference USA with five sacks and has nine tackles for loss to rank 14th in the nation.
The Huskies have been abysmal this season on multiple levels. They rank 125th in total offense, 125th in points per game, 119th in passing yards per game and 114th in turnovers. They have been shut out twice and haven’t scored more than 28 points in a game all season.
It’s obviously been a challenging season, but the offense has shown major improvements the last four games, especially in close losses to Wyoming and Vanderbilt. Running back Nathan Carter struggled against Yale but had over 100 yards against Massachusetts and Vanderbilt.
Defensively, UConn has struggled for much of the season, allowing 35 points per game and coming in at 122nd in the country in red-zone defensive efficiency.
The Huskies have allowed the second-most first downs in the country, only behind Missouri, and they’ve allowed over 200 yards rushing per game.
The numbers aren’t pretty, but much like the offense, the defense has improved as the season has progressed. This unit has already forced 10 turnovers, which has it ranked in the top 50 in the nation.
Over the past four games, the defense has given up on average 374 yards per game, and it was competitive in all four games. Spanos has done an incredible job keeping the defense engaged under tough circumstances.
Middle Tennessee vs. UConn Betting Pick
Middle Tennessee and Connecticut have combined to play four straight unders, and the total opened at 54 points and was steamed up to 56.5 points. Both offenses have had major issues due to their inability to consistently sustain any semblance of a rushing attack.
The Connecticut offense is 123rd in the country in creating big plays, and the Blue Raiders’ defense has done a great job of not allowing explosive plays.
Middle Tennessee clearly has its issues on defense, but its last four opponents are all ranked in the top 50 in the country in total offense. This will be a refreshing matchup and one it can take advantage off.
The Huskies have performed better defensively in the second half of the season and will have much-needed confidence after last week’s win.
The Blue Raiders throw the ball on over 50% of their offensive plays, and UConn’s secondary has been a bright spot during a grueling season. The signs point to a low-scoring matchup on a chilly Friday night in Hartford.
Pick: Under 56.5
7 p.m. ET
There are places in college football that stand out from the rest of the crowd: the Big House at Michigan against Ohio State, tailgating on boats at Washington, The Grove at Ole Miss, a Penn State whiteout, and the Bounce House on a Friday night at UCF.
It can be hard to even hear yourself think when the UCF crowd gets the Bounce House going, but Memphis will need to figure it out if it wants put together a winning streak after a solid performance against Navy last week.
No team has faced quite the extreme highs and extreme lows of this season yet quite like Memphis. After starting 3-0 capped off by an upset over Mississippi State, the Tigers lost their next three games, two of which they were favored in.
But they aren’t alone in the ups and downs of college football, UCF has had more challenges than Gus Malzahn could have ever predicted in his first year.
After losing starting quarterback Dillon Gabriel and wide receiver Jaylon Robinson to injury in the Louisville game, UCF’s points per game total has dropped from 45 to 24, and it has lost three of its four games since if you count Louisville.
Can the Tigers break away from the trends this season — 0-3 ATS on the road while 1-2 straight up? Or will the Bounce House revive the Knights offense and keep their home win streak alive?
Fingers cant be pointed at the Tigers’ offense for the struggles of this season so far.
They enter this week ranked second in the AAC in total offense and fourth in scoring. They are led by quarterback Seth Henigan, who isn’t quite breaking into the Heisman race but is instead effective with the talent around him.
That talent is running back Brandon Thomas and wide receiver Calvin Austin.
Thomas ranks second in the AAC behind only Cincinnati’s Jerome Ford with 642 yards this season.
While Austin isn’t just one of the best wide receivers in the conference, he’s one of the best in the country. Ranked sixth in the country by PFF, he’s recorded 857 receiving yards and eight touchdown catches.
This offense should be able to put numbers on the board against a UCF defense that ranks outside the top 100 in points allowed per game.
If Memphis wants to win and cover the spread on the road for the first time this season, it will need its defense to take a giant leap.
The Memphis defense has allowed five of its seven opponents so far this year to score at least 28 points. It has struggled significantly against the pass, allowing 290 pass yards per game — second-worst in the AAC and 116th in the country.
Fortunately for the Tigers, since the injuries at quarterback and wide receiver, the Knights have leaned heavily on the run. With two of the best tacklers in the AAC, they have been somewhat better, limiting opponents’ rushing attacks to 157 yards per game on the ground.
Back home after being routed by Cincinnati, 56-21, last week, Malzahn looks to move forward and improve in the second half of the season.
As previously stated, this offense has taken a hit with injuries this season. However, running back Isaiah Bowser will aim to get back on track in his second game back from injury after being essentially shut down last week by Cincinnati.
I expect him to get more than enough opportunities to do so with how quarterback Mikey Keene has performed since taking over for Gabriel.
Keene has completed 62% of his passes, but the Knights have lost most, if not all, of their explosive ability as Keene averages just six yards per attempt and has struggled to move the ball down the field.
He may be able to build some confidence against the lacking Memphis secondary with the home crowd behind him, though.
So far this year, the Knights’ defense has been somewhat mediocre, but it is undoubtedly a different unit at home vs. on the road.
They allow opponents to score an average of 44 points per game on the road, but that number is cut in half at home, where they have limited teams to just 20.3 points per game.
While there is truth in the fact the Knights’ defense excels at home, they’ve played only three games there, and one was against FCS Bethune Cookman.
The Memphis offense will be their toughest test yet at home and I don’t see this UCF defense slowing them down much, even with the home-field advantage.
Memphis vs. UCF Betting Pick
I don’t trust either of these teams with how up and down their seasons have been this year. However, I am confident in what both defenses have lacked.
Both rank outside the top 100 in opponent red-zone scoring percentage, and both have allowed opponents to score on average 30+ per game.
The over is 4-1 in the Knights’ last five conference games and 5-1 in their previous six games.
At the same time, all three Memphis road games have gone over this year.
I bet the over at 65 early in the week and got possibly the worst number, as its gone down to 63.5. I’m confident in the over even with the drop in the total and would bet it up to 66.
Pick: Over 63.5 (Play to 66)
9:30 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
A Friday night Mountain West classic kicks off at 7:30 p.m. as Colorado State travels to Logan, Utah to take on Utah State.
This game opened as a pick’em and has since moved toward the Rams past the key number of three, as they are getting healthier and have won two consecutive games against San Jose State and New Mexico.
The Rams’ defense has carried them to those wins and has allowed just 21 points in its last two games. The unit also held nationally-ranked Iowa to 24 points in September.
Utah State picked up a post-bye week road win at UNLV, 28-24, to snap its two-game losing streak at the hands of Boise State and BYU. Friday night is a strength-on-strength matchup as the Aggies’ efficient passing offense goes against one of the better pass defense units in the country.
Colorado State Offense
The Rams’ offense is a fast-paced unit that ranks 16th in pace, but it’s not a particularly efficient group.
The unit is relatively balanced but maintains a slightly run-first attack. The Rams rank 104th in Rushing Success Rate and 81st in Line Yards. They have a relatively even matchup on the ground against this average Aggies run defense.
Colorado State should be able to find some offensive success through the air against a bad Aggies pass defense that’s poor in coverage, mediocre in tackling and allows a lot of explosive plays.
CSU is excellent at preventing Havoc from its opponents and the Rams are usually able to stay in front of the chains on standard downs. They may rank just 81st in Passing Success Rate and 92nd in Big Plays, but they do have the edge in both categories against Utah State.
One issue for the Rams’ offense has come through finishing drives, where CSU is bottom-10 at converting yards into points.
This particularly cost them against Vanderbilt in Colorado State’s bad loss at home, but this tends to be a noisy indicator in the short term and should align more with the Rams’ average offensive indicators going forward.
Colorado State Defense
The Rams overcame some injuries and suspensions in their 22-6 win against Toledo as 14-point underdogs. Head coach Steve Addazio isn’t known for his great defenses in the past, but he’s got the best unit in this game with his defensive squad.
Some of the numbers are schedule-driven, but the numbers are impressive regardless. CSU ranks top-10 in Rushing and Passing Success Rate allowed and its defensive line generates a ton of push with a seventh-ranked Line Yards metric.
The strength of the Aggies is in passing offense, but the Rams are 31st in PFF coverage grades and 30th in tackling grade, which suggests the Success Rate and big-play numbers are not a fluke.
The pass rush should be able to get home on passing downs after the run defense forces Utah State into third and long. It’s very hard to see how Utah State will be able to sustain drives or hit big plays against the Rams.
CSU is also excellent defensively in the short field, protecting its own red zone with a top-20 Defensive Finishing Drives ranking.
Utah State Offense
Utah State’s most impressive win of the season came in the opening game, a 26-23 road win in Pullman against Washington State.
The Aggies did beat UNLV last week on the road, but they took advantage of a less than 100% Doug Brumfield in that game as UNLV was unable to consistently pass against a bad Aggies defense.
Utah State’s offense found a lot of success through the air against a bad UNLV pass defense but will face significantly more resistance in this game on Friday night.
No one has been able to pass on the Rams all season and despite Utah State’s 11th ranking in Passing Success Rate, CSU is disciplined defensively and doesn’t allow many big plays.
Utah State should get dominated in the trenches with significantly worse ratings in both Line Yards and Pass Blocking.
The Rams should be able to get pressure on graduate transfer Logan Bonner, who won the job of camp and has performed well against mediocre defenses on the Aggies’ schedule but really struggled when they faced BYU.
Utah State Defense
The Aggies’ defense has had a hard time with tackling, coverage and discipline this season and it has had some bad defensive results.
Utah State ranks outside the top 100 in both Passing and Rushing explosiveness allowed, which should provide relief for a Rams’ offense that has had trouble sustaining drives at times.
Colorado State vs. Utah State Betting Pick
Even though the market has moved past the key number of three, I still like the Rams in this spot on the road.
Despite the short week and a second-consecutive road game for the Rams, their defense should be able to limit a mediocre Aggies offense. CSU’s defense is as healthy as it’s been all season and that’s the most dominant unit in this game.
While there are concerns about this CSU offense as a road favorite, the Aggies’ defense allows a ton of explosive plays and should get dominated in the trenches.
Both of these teams play at a really fast pace, which keeps me off the under, but also means there will be plenty of possessions for the Rams to gain separation and win this game by at least a full score.
I wouldn’t play anything past four because the number gets too expensive at that point, but at -3.5, the Rams are the side.
Pick: Colorado State -4 or better
10:30 p.m. ET
Pac 12 After Dark on a Friday night? Yes, please.
The conference of champions will give us a matchup that only a bettor could get excited for: winless Arizona hosting 2-4 Washington.
The Wildcats aren’t just winless this year; they’ve lost 18 straight overall. That losing streak actually started back in 2019 against these same Huskies. Arizona went into that game boasting a 4-1 record, but it’s been all downhill since.
Washington has started 2-4 on the season, including a home loss to FCS Montana. This is primarily due to a lackluster offense that just can’t seem to find its footing.
The Huskies dealt with some injuries at wide receiver earlier in the season and then lost stud tight end Cade Otton for a few games due to COVID-19 protocols.
However, not much changed with all of them back in the mix last week against a suspect UCLA secondary.
The running game has also stalled out so far this season, but the primary culprit of the offense’s woes has been quarterback Dylan Morris, who has an equal amount of touchdowns and interceptions (eight) on the season with a sub-seven yards per attempt average.
I’m not sure why head coach Jimmy Lake hasn’t made a change yet. Even if he doesn’t want to burn the redshirt of five-star Sam Huard, Washington did bring in transfer Patrick O’Brien, who started games at Colorado State.
Defensively, Washington has been fine but definitely not up to the standards of a typical Huskies defense.
You still can’t throw on the Huskies, who have one of the best cornerback duos in the country, led by future pro Trent McDuffie.
Speaking of future pros, Washington received some recent good news with the return of outside linebacker Zion Tupuola-Fetui, who will likely get drafted in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.
He was expected to miss the entire season after tearing his Achilles six months ago but returned last week against UCLA and had seven pressures in 10 snaps.
Expect a much more generous snap count this week for the menace off of the edge who makes this defense much more formidable.
It’s not pretty in Tucson, as new head coach Jedd Fisch has a complete rebuild on his hands.
Like Washington, Arizona also lost to an FCS school at home when it fell, 21-19, to Northern Arizona. That was the last game Will Plummer started before giving way to promising freshman Jordan McCloud.
Well, McCloud was lost for the year to injury one week before Gunner Cruz went down for the season. That leaves Plummer and walk-ons playing behind an atrocious line and an offense that just lacks talent overall.
As for the defense, it’s not much better. It allows 32 points per game, tied for 25th in the country.
Washington vs. Arizona Betting Pick
From an adjusted EPA per play perspective, Arizona has the worst offense in the country when you account for opponent and home-field advantage.
The Wildcats are just below a Rice team that seems to get shut out on a weekly basis. Now, they’re down to their third quarterback on the depth chart after losing two to injury in the past two weeks.
I’ll make the Wildcats prove they can score more than two touchdowns against an extremely talented Washington defense that won’t give up explosive plays, nor make it easy for Arizona to finish off drives in the red zone.
Arizona shouldn’t get anything through the air. I wouldn’t be shocked if Arizona gets shut out for a second straight week, assuming Washington shows up for this one.