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College Football Week 8 picks, predictions against the spread

We love college football, and we love gambling. Here’s our favorite plays on the board this week.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

College football isn’t just one of the best sports to watch on a Saturday afternoon, it’s also one of the best to find ways to make plenty of cash as a sharp sports bettor. Each week we’ll find the best value for NCAA football games against the spread, total, and on the moneyline so you can make plenty of cash. No touts, no fees, and just the best numbers we can find.

Here are our best picks on the board to get all the dollars in Week 8 of FBS football. All lines are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Collin Sherwin: 2023 Record 11-9-1

Air Force -10.5 vs. Navy

This isn’t your Dad’s navy, and Air Force is a legitimate contender for the Group of Five spot in the New Year’s Six. Troy Calhoun’s Falcons are 60th in SP+ offense, but more importantly 20th in defense. This game wasn’t a blowout last year in Colorado Springs, which is artificially keeping the total a bit closer here because of the history of this rivalry.

But Navy is trying to open it up with very limited success so far thanks to the firing of Ken Niumatalolo and the new blocking rules, while Air Force is legitimately one of the best teams in the country. That No. 22 ranking by their name is legit (5.6 yards per carry), and they should be a favorite the rest of the way.

Utah +7 vs. USC

The USC defense actually played pretty well in South Bend last week, but a bevy of turnovers and an inability to run the ball doomed them against Notre Dame. Now bring in the Pac-12’s Cover Machine in Kyle Whittingham to take on a team that is still in control for a conference championship, but might have thrown its national championship hopes away.

The Utes force 1.7 turnovers per game, and hold opponents to 2.5 yards per carry. Those are just dangerous numbers for Lincoln Riley and company.

Kansas State -6.5 vs. TCU

How’s this still under a touchdown? TCU is in rebuild mode after their national championship run last year, and expect them to be in the mix for the Big 12 title next season. But K-State now has two quality quarterbacks in Will Howard and Avery Johnson, and the 12th-best offense by SP+.

Meanwhile TCU feasted on BYU and SMU, but their last two Big 12 games were losses to the rather vulnerable Iowa State and West Virginia. The advanced stats like them more than the eyeball test, but for a K-State team with dreams of playing in Jerry World the first Saturday in December, this is must win where they can begin to control the second half of their schedule. Cats win big, but we’re very much in on TCU in 2024.

Nick Simon: 2023 Record 11-8-2

Penn State +4.5 vs. Ohio State

Ohio State has held control of this rivalry since 2006 and the last time PSU won in Columbus was in 2011. I think that changes here. The Nittany Lions have quietly handled its business and are a perfect 6-0 against the spread heading into this game. The offense has been excellent with Drew Allar, Nicholas Singleton, and Kaytron Allen leading the way.

Where I think this game is going to be decided is Ohio State’s ability to run the ball. The Buckeyes’ overall run game hasn’t been great this year and TreVeyon Henderson has been dealing with an injury for the past few weeks. Meanwhile, Penn State’s run defense has been awesome, giving up just 72.5 rushing yards per game on 2.4 yards per carry. While Ohio State can press the Marvin Harrison button at any time, I think its offense is going to sputter at times because of their struggle to establish a consistent ground game. Give me the Nittany Lions to cover and outright win.

Tennessee +9 vs. Alabama

I think this game ends up being really tight, but not quite the fireworks show it was last year. Both teams are very close in categories like SP+, third-down conversion percentage, and red zone conversion percentage. Both teams also have good, but flawed quarterbacks that are capable of making at least a few explosive plays in every game. We have been too eager to write Alabama off a month ago, but I think they’ll continue to grind out close games like they’ve done the past few weeks. Give me the Vols to cover here.

Florida State vs. Duke Under 49

I don’t think Duke has the firepower to keep up with this Florida State team, and that’s with or without Riley Leonard playing. Doak Campbell Stadium at night is an extremely tough environment to play in and I think FSU can cover as a 14-point favorite. However, I don’t think the Noles totally destroy the Blue Devils here. We know Mike Elko is a hell of a defensive coach and Duke comes into this matchup with the the 14th ranked defense in SP+. I think they can force a few turnovers off Jordan Travis and make the Noles work a little bit harder for their points. I think the final score will be in the range of 31-14, so give me the under here.

Grace McDermott: 2023 Record 6-13-2

Michigan -24.5 vs. Michigan State

The Wolverines have been taking care of business this year against an admittedly mediocre slate of teams. While the Spartans are nothing to write home about this year, a rivalry matchup with national attention will be a good opportunity for Michigan to step up and prove that they can continue winning the way they have been when the stakes are higher. MSU has now lost four games in a row and can expect a blowout here.

Miami +4 vs. Clemson

Miami’s loss in Week 6 was very unfortunate, but it just as easily could have been a win if not for a baffling decision from Mario Cristobal. They lost to North Carolina last week, but honestly, I like Miami in this matchup. Clemson has struggled against any team worth the time of day, and even against teams that shouldn’t be — their win over Wake Forest was extremely ugly. As they hit the road to Hard Rock Stadium, I think Clemson falls back into some early-season issues and Miami covers.

Florida State -14 vs. Duke

Ugh, I hate this pick so much. I was really rooting for Duke in the ACC this year after their big start against Clemson, but this just doesn’t feel realistic for the battered Blue Devils. Quarterback Riley Leonard, the key to much of Duke’s success, is day to day coming into the game and may still be feeling the effects of three weeks off and an ankle injury if he does play. Duke’s defense will be overwhelmed by Jordan Travis, and I think FSU makes this one a statement game on the road to the ACC Championship Game.

Chris Landers: 2023 Record 8-7-3

Florida State -14 vs. Duke

This line would seem to suggest that oddsmakers don’t have much faith in Duke QB Riley Leonard returning on Saturday — and for good reason, considering he’ll be just three weeks removed from suffering an ugly high ankle sprain at the end of the loss to Notre Dame. All due respect to Mike Elko and the job he and the Devils have done so far this season, but I think they’re in major trouble without their signal-caller against the No. 4 ‘Noles.

You may look at the box score of last week’s 24-3 win over N.C. State and think that Duke didn’t miss a beat with backup Henry Belin IV, but you’d be mistaken. The Devils ripped off two huge plays, a 69-yard pass to Jalon Calhoun and an 83-yard run by Jordan Waters. On their other 40 offensive snaps, however, they gained a whopping 149 yards (good for a brutal 3.7 yards per play) against a Wolfpack defense that isn’t nearly as fearsome as the Florida State team they’ll be facing on Saturday. FSU is fast and fierce, and Belin IV — who only had to throw the ball 14 times in his first career start, completing just four of them — is in for a steep learning curve, especially in a night game at Doak. Elko and this defense will do their best, but eventually the flood gates will open, and I don’t think Duke scores enough points to keep this within two scores.

Texas Tech vs. BYU over 51

The Red Raiders enter this game as 4.5-point favorites, implying a final of something like 28-24 — which just feels far too low given the defenses involved. BYU, in particular, has been a dumpster fire on that side of the ball in their four games thus far against Power 5 opponents: 424 yards, 5.7 yards per play to an Arkansas team without Raheim Sanders; 351 yards and 6.3 yards per play to a Kansas team that needed just 36 carries to rack up 221 rushing yards; 498 yards and 5.9 yards per play to a Cincinnati team that only managed 10 points against Iowa State last week; and, last but not least, getting shredded for 447 passing yards and 6.8 yards per play by TCU’s backup QB this past Saturday.

The Cougars will likely face another backup this weekend, as a shoulder injury to Tech’s Behren Morton could force third-string freshman Jake Strong under center. That’s likely a big reason behind the depressed total here, but I’m not buying it: Strong looked game enough after getting thrust into action against Kansas State last week, and that’s a far better D than the one he’ll be facing in Provo. Plus, Strong can always just hand the ball to Tahj Brooks, who’s put up 786 yards and 6.0 yards per carry on the season and should encounter very little resistance. Tech has cleared this total in five of its seven games this year, BYU in each of its last five; don’t overthink it here, QB injuries or not.

Miami +4 vs. Clemson

In spite of everything, I remain a (tentative) believer in this Miami team. Do your best to wipe that Georgia Tech debacle from your memory; they should be 5-1 right now, and a close loss on the road to a seemingly legit UNC team is hardly anything to hang your head about. Having lost two in a row, one of which came in the most agonizing fashion imaginable, the ‘Canes are a wounded dog, and now they head back home to take on a Clemson team that still gets every team’s best punch. I still have a ton of questions about this Tigers offense, most recently seen slogging through a 17-12 win over a dreadful Wake Forest team in which they averaged less than five yards per play. Miami’s defense has been uniformly great against everyone not named Drake Maye, and I think they’ll get after Cade Klubnik on Saturday night. Say what you will about Hard Rock, but it’s still an electric atmosphere when a big name comes to town, and I think Tyler Van Dyke makes just enough plays for the U to get a desperately-needed win. At the very least, getting more than a field goal is simply too much at home between two teams that are far more evenly matched than this line would suggest.

Chinmay Vaidya: 2023 Record 9-9-3

Utah +6.5 vs. USC

We saw the generic script for beating the Trojans and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams courtesy of Notre Dame, but Utah has perfected it. The Utes took down USC twice last season and have effectively found ways to win without quarterback Cam Rising. I would feel comfortable taking Utah on the moneyline as well in this game.

Florida State -14 vs. Duke

FSU -13.5 (-135) is probably what I’ll actually bet in a parlay with another result, just to protect against anything late from the Blue Devils. The Seminoles are a legit national title contender and should be getting Johnny Wilson back for this primetime matchup. Riley Leonard’s injury status will impact this number, so this will be a line to watch heading into the weekend.

Michigan -27.5 vs. Michigan State (+116)

The spread is 24.5, but this is a great spot to get some extra value out of the Wolverines. Michigan State is a disaster right now, and even a rivalry game isn’t going to magically save the Spartans. Michigan has won every game by 24 points or more, including two wins by 42+ points in the last two weeks. Take the Wolverines to lay an absolute beatdown on the Spartans before they head into the bye week.

Teddy Ricketson: 2023 Record 7-10-1

Tennessee +9.5 vs. Alabama

The Vols go on the road to take on the Crimson Tide in a heated rivalry. This is not the usual Alabama team we are accustomed to seeing, and even though they are at home, the Tennessee defense won’t just roll over in this game. The Volunteers are coming off a seven-point win over Texas A&M (Bama beat them by six), and Crimson Tide most recently beat Arkansas by only three at home. Joe Milton III should be able to help Tennessee at least cover.

Penn State vs. Ohio State over 47.5

This is a big week in college football, and these undefeated Big Ten teams get it started at Noon. Ohio State is favored by four points, but I’m focusing on the point total. The Buckeyes are scoring 36 points per game and scored at least 37 in consecutive games. The Nittany Lions are putting up 44 points per game, but that is inflated by 63-point performances against Delaware and UMass. Each team has a solid defense that has limited their opponents on the scoreboard, but I think we will see an offensive shootout on Saturday.

Iowa -3.5 vs. Minnesota

Does anyone force their opponents to their pace of play quite like Iowa? The Hawkeyes defense has allowed 36 points over its last three games. The concern with this best is trusting the offense to score enough points to win by at least four, but they have tallied at least 15 points in three consecutive games. The Hawkeyes should be able to subdue the Minnesota offense enough to cover.