Week 8 NCAAF Picks, Predictions: 3 Situational Betting Spots for Saturday Evening, Including East Carolina vs. UCF & More
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Pictured: California Memorial stadium, home of the California Golden Bears football team.
- Saturday's Week 8 college football slate rolls on as Stuckey turns his attention to the evening games.
- He found three more situational betting spots for Saturday night, including Texas A&M vs. South Carolina, UCF vs. East Carolina and Cal vs. Washington.
- Check out his analysis for all three evening games below.
Week 8 NCAAF Situational Spots ⋅ Saturday Evening
Over the first six weeks of the season, I highlighted 10 situational spots I had circled on each Saturday. With conference play now in full swing, there may not be as many on a weekly basis.
Ultimately, the actual spread value still reigns supreme. No matter how great a situational spot appears on paper, you still have to factor in how much value the number holds. A good or bad spot may sway me to bet or not bet when I'm on the fence for a particular game, for but it's certainly more art than science.
Hopefully, I can help you make one or two of those same tough wagering decisions while sharing some key angles, matchups and injury situations for each particular game.
Last week, I identified seven spots that fortunately went 6-1. This week, I have nine college football matchups circled on Saturday — three games from each of Saturday's major kickoff windows.
This particular article focuses on Saturday evening's kickoffs (7:30 p.m. ET or later). Click either of the links below to navigate to my noon or afternoon situational betting spots on Saturday:
South Carolina +3.5 vs. Texas A&M
I listed South Carolina as one of the best situational spots two weeks ago at Kentucky. Despite pulling off that upset, I still believe the Gamecocks remain undervalued in the market.
Their season-long defensive metrics are negatively skewed after dealing with injuries to as many as eight defensive starters at once earlier this season.
However, a two-week break against Charlotte and South Carolina State provided them an opportunity to get much healthier (on offense too) which directly led to a much better output in Lexington.
Meanwhile, I haven't been impressed by Texas A&M at any point this season. It got statistically outplayed in its only two FBS victories over Miami and Arkansas with the former win looking much worse than it did at the time.
The Aggies did hang around against Alabama, but the Tide started a backup quarterback and tried to give that game away with multiple turnovers that led to short fields for Jimbo Fisher's bunch. The offense, now without its best weapon in Ainias Smith, remains extremely limited.
We'll see who ends up starting at quarterback with Max Johnson injured and Haynes King dealing with some bumps and bruises. Add in King's struggles, and Jimbo might be inclined to go to the highly-touted freshman Conner Weigman.
Regardless of who lines up under center, I don't envision the Texas A&M offense lighting up the scoreboard for the first time all season, especially on the road against a now-healthy South Carolina stop unit that has promising early-down metrics that signify good results on the horizon.
On the other side of the ball, the talented but inexperienced Texas A&M defensive front just hasn't lived up to the hype.
For the season, the Aggies rank outside the top 100 in both Line Yards and Opportunity Rate. That could spell trouble against an underrated rushing attack that ranks in the top 30 in both EPA per Rush and Rush Success Rate, spearheaded by explosive running back MarShawn Lloyd.
This also sets up as a potential sleepy spot for Texas A&M even with both teams coming off of a bye. With their season-long goals already washed away, the Aggies could get caught off guard in Columbia with undefeated Ole Miss up next.
Meanwhile, this is an extremely important game for the South Carolina program. Plus, I'm sure Williams-Brice Stadium will be rocking in primetime.
South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer is a perfect 3-0 SU and ATS with extra time (8+ days) to prepare with a trio of outright upsets over Florida, North Carolina and Kentucky as 17.5, 12.5 and 4.5 point underdogs, respectively.
East Carolina +5 vs. UCF
After scoring 70 on Temple last week, it might be time to sell high on the 5-2 Knights, who will actually be leaving the state of Florida for the first time this season.
This also popped up as a potential lookahead spot with a massive game against Cincinnati on deck in the Bounce House.
Week 8 will also mark only their second road game of the season with the first coming at Florida Atlantic. ECU represents a much tougher challenge in a significantly more difficult environment.
ECU's defense actually matches up fairly well with the explosive UCF RPO attack, led by dual-threat quarterback John Rhys Plumlee. The Knights are most dangerous on the ground, ranking inside the top 20 in yards per carry, EPA per Rush and Rush Success Rate.
Well, the ECU defense ranks in the top 20 in all three categories as well. Head coach Mike Houston finally has his desired bulk up front on the defensive line.
The Pirates have struggled in the secondary at times, but Plumlee is a very inconsistent passer. If teams can shut down his running ability, the offense goes into a shell. The Louisville game was a perfect example of that
On the other side of the ball, quarterback Holton Ahlers should have plenty of time to throw against a UCF defense that doesn't excel at generating pressure.
I'm not sure if we get the good or bad Ahlers, but I'm much more comfortable backing him as an underdog in a great spot.
Since 2005, UCF head coach Gus Malzahn has thrived against the number as a road conference favorite with a 16-7 ATS (69.6%) record. That makes him the sixth-most profitable coach (of 324) when laying points against a league foe over that span.
California +7.5 vs. Washington
This is a prime buy-low spot on California after an embarrassing loss at winless Colorado (which I had in last week's spot column).
I wasn't even that shocked by the outright loss. Cal has been inconsistent all season and seemingly always plays to the level of its competition under head coach Justin Wilcox.
In fact, last week marked the third time in the past five years that Cal lost to a team that started 0-5 or worse.
Good morning Cal fans.
Justin Wilcox drops to 0-3 against teams that started the season 0-5 or worse, averaging 7.7 points per game.
2018: 0-5 UCLA, 7-37
2021: 0-8 Arizona, 3-10
2022: 0-5 Colorado, 13-20
— Avinash Kunnath (@avinashkunnath) October 16, 2022
How did the Bears respond after both of those losses?
- 2018: won at Oregon State by 42
- 2021: won at Stanford by 30
I'm not saying they will blow out the Huskies. However, I am saying this is a good bounce-back spot for an inflated home dog.
For reference, home conference dogs that lost outright as double-digit favorites the week prior have hit at a 63% clip since 2005.
You should get Cal's best effort in this spot. It also may have revenge on its mind after suffering a devastating OT loss last year at Washington in a game that ended with Cal fumbling at the 1-yard line.
I'm also fading Washington's defense, which ranks outside the top 100 in EPA per Play and Success Rate. Its secondary has particularly struggled after losing three starters to the NFL, ranking in the bottom 10 nationally in many metrics.
Covering over a touchdown in conference play on the road is a tall task for this reeling defense. In its only two games away from Seattle, Washington lost outright to Arizona State (+13.5) and UCLA (+2.5) with each scoring at least 40 points.
Cal's West Coast offense can get stuck in the mud way too often but should move the ball here. Meanwhile, its top-40 defense can take away explosive passing plays over the top.
That's the most effective way to at least slow down quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and the high-flying Washington offense.
Cal head coach Justin Wilcox boasts an impressive 22-9-1 ATS (71%) record as an underdog, covering by an average margin of 4.4 points per game. That includes an absurd 16-3 ATS (84.2%) mark when catching seven-plus points (6-0 at home). In contrast, he's just 8-15-1 ATS (34.8%) as a favorite.