Every week throughout the season we’ll give you a college football viewing guide by highlighting the five best games of the coming weekend. We will pick those five games against the spread and highlight some other matchups that caught our eye from a betting perspective.
The college football schedule is pretty interesting this week.
There are no true marquee matchups, but there are several games where ranked teams are underdogs against unranked opponents. Iowa State is favored over No. 8 Oklahoma State, UCLA is favored over No. 10 Oregon, Air Force is favored over No. 22 San Diego State and Wisconsin is favored over No. 25 Purdue.
That can create some much-needed intrigue on a weekend without a single game between two ranked teams. On top of that, there are games that could have big impacts on conference races across the country.
(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
Time: Noon | TV: CBSSN | Line: Wake -3.5 | Total: 52.5
Wake Forest is the final undefeated team remaining in the ACC. The Deacs are 6-0 for the first time since 1944 but should be on high alert on the road against Army. Wake is coming off a bye, so it has had an extra week to prepare for Army’s vaunted option offense. Wake won its two most-recent games by just three points apiece while allowing a combined 562 rushing yards in the process.
Army started the year 4-0 but has lost its last two games to Ball State and Wisconsin, both on the road. The Black Knights hung tight with Wisconsin and even had a chance to take the lead late in the game in an eventual 20-14 loss. Wake’s rush defense is nowhere near as tough as Wisconsin’s, so this one could be even closer.
Sam: Army +3.5, Nick: Wake Forest -3.5
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: Fox | Line: ISU -7 | Total: 47
Oklahoma State keeps on winning close games. Now 6-0, the Cowboys rallied last week to beat Texas 32-24 in Austin. OSU trailed 24-13 late in the third quarter before scoring the game's final 19 points. The Cowboys are really strong on defense and have relied on a ground attack led by Jaylen Warren, who has 659 yards over the last four games.
Iowa State, meanwhile, started the season 2-2 after being ranked No. 7 in Week 1. Since then, the Cyclones blew out Kansas and had a convincing road victory over Kansas State. There were some early struggles on offense, but the Cyclones have looked much better in recent games. If ISU has turned the corner, it’s very possible Matt Campbell’s group could be a factor in the Big 12 race.
Sam: OSU +7, Nick: OSU +7
Time: 3:30 | TV: ABC | Line: UCLA -2 | Total: 60
Oregon’s upset over Ohio State in Week 2 is starting to look like a significant outlier. Since then, the Ducks had just a five-point, fourth-quarter lead in a win over Arizona, lost to Stanford and needed a last-second goal-line stand to avoid overtime with one-win Cal. Oregon, which has dealt with an array of injuries, is now an underdog on the road against UCLA. If they want to remain in the CFP picture, the Ducks can’t afford another loss.
UCLA had a notable win over LSU early in the year, but has gone 3-2 in its five games since. Chip Kelly’s Bruins got blown out at home by Arizona State earlier this month, but bounced back with road wins over Arizona and Washington. With a 3-1 record in Pac-12 play, the Bruins are still major contenders in the Pac-12 South and could jump back into the Top 25 with a win over the Ducks.
Sam: UCLA -2, Nick: UCLA -2
Time: 3:30 | TV: CBS | Line: Ole Miss -9 | Total: 76
It’s been an eventful week in Baton Rouge. On the heels of ugly losses to Auburn and Kentucky, LSU upset No. 20 Florida at home. LSU struggled running the ball all year but exploded for 321 yards in the 49-42 win. A day later, the school announced that Ed Orgeron won’t return as head coach next fall. Orgeron will coach the rest of the season, but how will the team respond?
On the other side, Ole Miss is off to a 5-1 start in Lane Kiffin’s second season in Oxford. The last two games have been rather eventful. Two weeks ago, the Rebels got a stop on a two-point conversion to pull out a 52-51 win over Arkansas. Last week, Ole Miss avoided an upset by beating Tennessee 31-26 in Kiffin’s return to Knoxville. The Rebels have a high-powered offense but will need to play much better defense than Florida to avoid an upset.
Sam: Ole Miss -9, Nick: Ole Miss -9
Time: 3:30 | TV: ESPN | Line: Pitt -3.5 | Total: 48
For the first time in five seasons, Clemson is an underdog in a regular season game. Clemson is 4-2, but is struggling mightily on offense. The Tigers are last in the ACC in scoring and second-to-last in total offense and yards per play. Conversely, Clemson leads the ACC in scoring defense and yards per play allowed and is third in total defense. If the offense can take even a marginal step forward, Clemson’s ACC title streak could very well extend to seven.
Pitt has felt like a program treading water under Pat Narduzzi but it could be on the verge of a big step forward this year. The Panthers have lost at least five games in all six of Narduzzi’s seasons, but are off to a 5-1 start in a wide-open ACC. The story for Pitt thus far has been the ascending play of Kenny Pickett. Pickett, a fifth-year senior QB, has thrown for 1,934 yards and 21 TDs while completing 69.8% of his throws.
Sam: Pitt -3.5, Nick: Clemson +3.5
Head-to-head ATS: Sam: 19-16, Nick: 17-18
Week 8 best bets
Nick Bromberg (Last week: 1-2, Overall: 12-9)
Tulane at No. 21 SMU (-14): The Mustangs are undefeated and are outscoring teams by an average of 40-22 so far this season. Tulane is averaging over 30 points per game but that’s skewed by 69 points against Missouri State. The Green Wave have scored 22 or fewer points in three of the last four games. The total is too high. Pick: Under 70.5
Northwestern at No. 6 Michigan (-23.5): The Wolverines are averaging 5.5 yards a carry and running the ball on two-thirds of their plays. Northwestern is giving up 5.5 yards a carry and nearly 250 rushing yards per game. This is a terrible matchup for the Wildcats. Michigan wins this game easily in a relatively low-scoring affair. Pick: Under 51
No. 10 Oregon at UCLA (-2): The Ducks have scored 24 points in each of their last two games while UCLA has given up a combined 33 points to Arizona and Washington in two consecutive wins. This feels like a Pac-12 slugfest and why not go for three unders again? It worked the last time I did it. Pick: Under 60
Sam Cooper (Last week: 2-1, Overall: 10-11)
No. 16 Wake Forest (-3.5) at Army: Army's going to be able to run the ball on Wake Forest's run defense, which ranks No. 92 nationally. That will limit possessions and keep this game low-scoring. Pick: Under 52.5
LSU at No. 12 Ole Miss (-9): Ole Miss is dealing with some injuries on offense and I have a hard time believing LSU is going to have another big game on offense, especially running the ball. Pick: Under 76
West Virginia at TCU (-4.5): Coming off a bye, West Virginia’s offense should be able to put some points up against a struggling TCU defense. At the same time, TCU’s offense has been able to hit big plays all year. I’m envisioning a high-scoring game. Pick: Over 56.5
For other Week 8 picks from Sam Cooper, click here.
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