During the college football season, the Stadium staff will provide weekly betting picks and advice in this roundtable. Here are our thoughts on the Week 8 slate.
Note: Ben and Nate will discuss all of their college football and NFL bets on the Sharp Lessons podcast. Subscribe on Spotify and Apple for episodes and follow Stadium Bets on Twitter for more sports betting content.
Alex Symonds, Stadium Senior Producer: Boise State +3 over Air Force.
Boise State has had a subpar season by the program’s lofty standards. The Broncos lost to Oregon State to open the season and even dropped a 27-10 decision to UTEP as a 16.5-point favorite. In addition, quarterback Hank Bachmeier left the program, and head coach Andy Avalos fired offensive coordinator Tim Plough after the UTEP loss. With former Boise State and NFL head coach Dirk Koetter taking over as the play caller, the Broncos have put up their two best point totals of the season in victories over San Diego State and Fresno State, while rushing for 6.6 yards per attempt with seven rushing touchdowns.
Despite the issues in non-conference play, the Broncos still control their own fate in the Mountain West race and play an Air Force defense that’s in the middle of the pack in the conference by allowing 4.4 yards per rush attempt. I’m betting on the Broncos to keep the chains moving in a close game coming off their bye.
Ben Wittenstein, Stadium Social Media Producer: LSU -2 over Ole Miss.
Sometimes when lines get tighter as the year goes on, you have to target situational spots as opposed to specific teams. This is a good situation for LSU, as they’re coming off a big win in the Swamp against Florida in a game that saw their offense produce 528 yards. After a somewhat rocky start, the Tigers have settled in (plus their loss to Tennessee doesn’t look as bad after last weekend).
With Jayden Daniels playing his best football of the year, LSU should take advantage of a somewhat banged-up Ole Miss defense. This being an afternoon game in Baton Rouge only adds to my confidence level in the Tigers.
Nate Jacobson, Stadium Sports Betting Analyst: Kansas State +3.5 over TCU.
I bet on TCU in this section the last two weeks, but now I’m going against the Horned Frogs. TCU is coming off four big wins in a row against SMU, Oklahoma, then-undefeated Kansas and top-10 Oklahoma State. Now they are forced to get up for another huge game against Kansas State, who is coming off a bye.
Last week, TCU got bet up from -3.5 to -5.5 on game day with whispers that Oklahoma State QB Spencer Sanders had a shoulder injury. It’s not a good sign for TCU that Sanders played well against them in the first half and the Horned Frogs were trailing by 14 points going into the fourth quarter. I have Chris Klieman’s team going into Fort Worth and winning on the field.
AS: Pitt (+120) over Louisville.
I have a simple rule when it comes to betting games featuring Pat Narduzzi’s Pitt Panthers: If Pitt is an underdog, bet the Panthers — but if Pitt is a big favorite, fade the Panthers into oblivion. This season the “Nard Dog” is 2-4 against the spread with ATS losses to West Virginia (7.5-point favorite), Rhode Island (32.5-point favorite) and Georgia Tech (outright loss laying 21.5 points!). The Panthers haven’t been a road underdog yet this season, but under Narduzzi, Pitt is 16-8 against the spread in that situation.
When it comes to this specific game, Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham returns this week from a head injury and will have a Panthers defense that has 19 sacks in six games chasing him all night long. I’m hopeful Pitt takes an early lead while Cunningham shakes off the rust and the Panthers defense helps put this one away late.
BW: Under 48 in Indiana vs. Rutgers.
I almost threw up thinking about these two offenses, that’s how gross they are. IU is a whopping 107th in the nation in points per play while Rutgers sits at 124th! Just incompetence all around. And while IU has the (slightly) better offense, Rutgers’ defense has actually been quite solid, ranking in the top 50 of scoring defense. This is going to be an ugly snooze-fest of a game with little scoring and plenty of dumb turnovers. Scoring up to 48 points seems like a stretch.
NJ: LSU -2 over Ole Miss.
Ole Miss is solid, but they aren’t as good as their No. 7 ranking indicates. The Rebels are 7-0 in large part because of their schedule so far. The only Power Five team they played in non-conference was Georgia Tech when Geoff Collins was still there. They opened SEC play with a narrow win over Kentucky in a game that Wildcats QB Will Levis played through with a finger injury, and they beat Vanderbilt and Auburn unconvincingly in their last two conference affairs.
Now the gauntlet of Ole Miss’ schedule begins with a trip to LSU against an improving Tigers team. LSU lost two weeks ago to Tennessee, but there’s no shame in losing to the Volunteers after their win against Alabama last week. Brian Kelly’s team bounced back with a 45-35 win at Florida, and the Tigers offense had their best performance of the season. I’m expecting LSU to continue to play better as players start becoming familiar with the new coaching staff. At under a field goal, LSU is the side in this game.
AS: Marshall (+360) over James Madison.
My colleague Nate faded James Madison in this spot last week in the Dukes’ first game as an AP Top 25 team against Georgia Southern and came away with a winning bet. Well, this will be the Dukes’ first game as an FBS team after dropping out of the AP poll, so maybe I’ll get the same luck? Seriously, I think this line (JMU -12.5) has gotten out of control and should be closer to a field goal. Marshall has had extra time to prepare for this matchup, and I think the Thundering Herd have a much better chance to win this game on the field than the +360 price implies.
BW: Oklahoma State (+200) over Texas.
The Cowboys looked so good in the first half against TCU. The defense was strong, the offense was rolling. But then the second half happened. Blame it on Spencer Sanders’ nagging injury, blame it on a defense that got worn out, but it looked like OK State simply ran out of gas. Being back at home after a debilitating loss puts the Cowboys in a solid position. Texas snuck past Iowa State but didn’t really instill any confidence in the win. This could be the ideal spot for a bounce-back game in Stillwater against an unreliable Texas program.
NJ: California (+240) over Washington.
I hate doing this because I bet Washington over 7.5 regular season wins before the season and could really use them winning this game to move to 6-2. But Washington has played poorly outside of Seattle with losses on the highway against UCLA and Arizona State (as 13.5-point favorites). I don’t trust the Huskies defense, and the team’s signature win of the season against Michigan State hasn’t aged well with what’s going on in East Lansing.
California losing outright as 15.5-point road favorites to lowly Colorado last week creates a tempting price at +7.5 and +240 to win outright. I don’t trust the Golden Bears under head coach Justin Wilcox as a favorite, but I don’t mind backing them as an underdog. This goes against what I thought about these teams going into the season, but I’ll have to side with the home underdog.
AS: Clemson -13.5 over Syracuse.
Clemson has mostly flown under the radar this season and looks to be slowly rounding into form after some cringe-worthy performances in September. The Tigers have put up 30-plus points against NC State, Boston College and Florida State over the last three weeks while allowing just 4.6 yards per play.
I’m confident Clemson will keep rolling when an undefeated Syracuse team comes to town on Saturday, and I believe this point spread should be closer to Clemson -17. However, Clemson’s bye and the trip to Notre Dame over the next two weeks worry me. I want to bet the Tigers here but the potential look-ahead spot will probably keep me away.
BW: Alabama -20.5 over Mississippi State.
Somehow the Crimson Tide always end up in this section for me — I just can’t get a good read on this team. They’re coming off a loss to a good Tennessee team, and now they have a homecoming matchup against a Mississippi State program who they’ve beaten up in recent years. Yet, Bama hasn’t convinced me they can be this massive of a favorite against a decent SEC team. The defense has glaring holes, the o-line isn’t strong, and they haven’t displayed the dominance that we’ve come to know. Nick Saban has a spotless ATS record after a loss, but I can’t bring myself to put a bet on the Tide.
NJ: Minnesota +4 over Penn State.
Going into this week I thought Minnesota would be a pick in one of the three sections above. They were catching Penn State at the right time, as the Nittany Lions played at Michigan last week and have a huge game on deck against Ohio State. But injury questions to the starting quarterbacks on both teams have me off this game for now.
Minnesota’s Tanner Morgan left the game against Illinois last week while Penn State’s Sean Clifford exited early against Michigan. Penn State has a promising backup QB in five-star freshman Drew Allar, so they could be fine without Clifford, but I need confirmation that Morgan is cleared to start in order to bet on them.