Another week of winners in the books! Aside from failing to cash on the Southern Mississippi-UTEP game thanks to a late postponement decision, we cleaned up on our college football picks in Week 7. South Carolina not only covered the spread but won outright as a short home dog against 15th-ranked Auburn. North Carolina State was in a dogfight with Duke for much of the game, but the Wolfpack outscored the Blue Devils 10-0 in the fourth quarter to win and cover. The 2-0 week brings this column’s season-long record to 11-7 entering Week 8 of the College Football season.
This week, we get to welcome the Big Ten and Mountain West conferences to the party. That leaves only the Pac-12 and Mid-American conferences as those yet to start their 2020 seasons. With seven weeks of the season behind us, you may notice some familiar themes emerging amongst these College Football picks week to week. With certain teams continuing to be over or underrated on the betting market, it only makes sense to capitalize. In an effort to do just that, here are my best College Football picks for Week 8.
Week 8 College Football Picks
All odds courtesy of Bovada Sportsbook
Auburn at Ole Miss (+3)
Picking against Auburn worked great last week, so why not do it again in about as similar a spot as it gets? Despite tumbling out of the AP Top 25 rankings, Auburn is once again laying points on the road as a short favorite at Ole Miss. The expert College Football picks for this game have already seen the line move drastically against the Tigers, down from the opening 6-point spread to the current line of -3.
The Tigers’ loss to South Carolina this past weekend marks the perfect example of a game in which the box score fails to tell the whole story. Despite Auburn dominating the game in terms of first downs and total yards, the Gamecocks were able to recover from a slow start and ultimately win by a full eight points. The primary reasons lie in a 50-yard advantage in terms of penalties and a +2-turnover margin. Auburn quarterback Bo Nix once again turned in a disappointing effort as his 272 passing yards were undermined by 3 interceptions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Nix is starting to lose the confidence of some of his Auburn teammates.
New head coach Lane Kiffin has the Ole Miss offense flying high in his first year on the job. Quarterback Matt Corral has played brilliantly for the most part, minus a 6-interception game against Arkansas last week. I’ll consider that performance to be an anomaly given Corral had only thrown 1 interception all season prior to last Saturday. The running back tandem of Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Conner has been impressive as well. Unfortunately, the Rebels are forced to try and win by outscoring people as the defense is allowing an average of 47.0 points per game, ahead of only North Texas among teams that have begun their seasons at this juncture.
Ole Miss comes into this game at 1-3 and lost as slim road favorites in their own right against Arkansas. It’s worth noting that if not for an officiating blunder, Arkansas should’ve beaten Auburn as well. I have much more confidence in the Rebels offense than I do either unit of the Tigers. Points will be scored by both teams, but I will continue betting against Auburn until they give me a better reason not to. With the 3-point line shaded to Auburn, expect 3.5 to once again be in play at Bovada Sportsbook as the week rolls on.
Virginia Tech (-10) at Wake Forest
Both Virginia Tech and Wake Forest are coming off of big ACC wins and will be looking to keep the momentum going on Saturday. The Hokies have already been a popular choice amongst the Week 8 expert College Football picks. The spread for this game opened at Virginia Tech -6.5 and has been bet up a full 3 points to the current -10. While this might normally be a potential buyback spot, I would much rather keep the Va Tech train rolling this week.
The dual-threat capabilities of Hokies quarterback Hendon Hooker were on full display in the team’s throttling of Boston College last week. BC brings a stingy defense to the table, but Hooker had no problem piling up 275 total yards (111 passing, 164 rushing) and 4 total touchdowns in his second game back from being sidelined due to COVID-19. Even without Hooker for their first two contests, the Hokies have scored 38+ points in every single game and are proving to be an offensive juggernaut. Saturday’s win was far and away the best defensive effort Virginia Tech has put forth this season.
After stumbling out of the gates to an 0-2 start, Wake Forest has earned back-to-back wins including their first ACC win by 17 points over Virginia last week. I liked the Demon Deacons as one of my College Football picks short in that game as Virginia has been far from impressive on the heels of losing quarterback Bryce Perkins. Given that Wake not only covered but won that game going away, it’s no surprise that they are being overvalued by the market at the current price. Quarterback Sam Hartman leads an offense that has scored 40+ points in every game minus a season-opening loss to Clemson (go figure). Unfortunately, the Demon Deacons defense is yet to truly impress, unless 14 points allowed to FCS opponent Campbell counts for anything.
Virginia Tech and Wake Forest have one common opponent between them thus far on the young season. The Hokies beat North Carolina State by three touchdowns on the first weekend of ACC play. And that Va Tech team was without Hooker. The Demon Deacons lost to the Wolfpack by 3 the following Saturday. Even after the line movement, this is still a buy-low opportunity on Virginia Tech in my eyes. Act quickly while the even 10 is still in play at Bovada Sportsbook.
Virginia at Miami (-11.5)
Two teams that appear to be headed in opposite directions will clash in primetime on Saturday when Virginia travels to South Beach to tangle with 11th-ranked Miami. The expert College Football picks have sided mostly with the home favorite to this juncture. After opening as 10-point favorites, Miami has been bet up to the current spread of -11.5 at Bovada Sportsbook.
2020 has been far from the season Virginia had envisioned as an ideal encore to their ACC Championship Game appearance a year ago. The Cavaliers have lost three straight games and could very easily be winless if not for seven Duke turnovers aiding in an 18-point UVA win in the season-opener four weeks ago. Virginia is clearly missing Bryce Perkins under center. Brennan Armstrong was so bad over the first three weeks that he was benched after two early picks against North Carolina State. Lindell Stone hasn’t fared much better in his place. On top of that, Virginia’s defense is allowing an average of 34.7 points per game.
What might have been forgotten two weeks ago in a blowout loss to the current No. 1 team in the country is that Miami is a very good football team. The Hurricanes managed to get back to winning last week with a grind-it-out style win against a strong Pittsburgh defense. D’Eriq King continues to be the difference-maker for a Miami offense that has scored 30+ points in every game but the loss to the Tigers. Miami also boasts one of the ACC’s best defenses, far better than any unit Virginia has run into this season minus Clemson. The U ranks 19th nationally with an average of 23.8 points allowed. The coveted Turnover Chain continues to make several appearances on the sideline weekly.
When it comes down to it, I just don’t see Virginia being able to hang with Miami. Add in the home field and the fact that the Hurricanes seem to always play better under the lights and the -11.5 line at Bovada Sportsbook just doesn’t seem high enough. Look to back The U at home as one of your Week 8 College Football picks in a game that I could see them winning by two touchdowns or more.
Bonus Pick: (18) Michigan at (21) Minnesota (+135)
I had to get the Big Ten into this week’s College Football picks article somehow, and I’ll opt to go with the primetime showdown between Michigan and Minnesota. ESPN College Gameday will be in Minneapolis ahead of this top-25 battle. While Jim Harbaugh and Michigan have the track record, I am very high on what P.J. Fleck is building at Minnesota. Quarterback Tanner Morgan headlines a whole host of returning contributors on offense, while the same can be said on the defensive side of the ball. Right guard Curtis Dunlap and safety Tyler Nubin are the only sophomores listed as starters on the team depth chart. Michigan meanwhile will see redshirt sophomore Joe Milton make his first collegiate start at quarterback. With an unknown at the most important position, look for the Golden Gophers to defend the home turf, albeit with a vastly reduced crowd size.