During the college football season, Stadium’s staff will provide weekly betting picks and advice. Here are our thoughts on the Week 8 slate:
1. What is your favorite pick against the spread?
Alex Symonds, Stadium Senior Producer: Baylor (+3.5) over Oklahoma State. Matt Rhule getting more than a field goal in a conference game is pretty much an auto-bet. But here are a few reasons why I like the Bears in Stillwater on Saturday: Baylor’s defense is 20th in the FBS in havoc rate (percentage of plays where a defense records a TFL, forced fumble or pass defensed) and Oklahoma State is 88th in allowing havoc. In addition, I expect Baylor to grind out long drives (the Bears are 22nd in the FBS in converting on 3rd down while OK State’s defense is 82nd nationally) to keep Chuba Hubbard and the Pokes off the field. Baylor on the moneyline looks pretty tasty too.
Dan Vasta, Stadium “Stats Guru”: Oklahoma State (-3.5) over Baylor. Baylor has been one of the more impressive under-the-radar teams out there thus far. While I liked the Bears as a Top 25 team this year, they are going to lose a few games this season — and this is one of them. Coming off a bye, the Cowboys will be pumped for their homecoming, plus Mike Gundy has won seven of his last nine against AP Top 25 foes.
Andy Wittry, Stadium College Sports Writer: Arizona State (+13.5) over Utah. Arizona State Head Coach Herm Edwards has coached 19 games with the Sun Devils and 13 have been decided by seven points or less. That’s the kind of stat you’d see for an NFL team and given Edwards’ background, maybe that shouldn’t be too surprising. Arizona State’s worst loss in the last two seasons was by 11 points and the rest were by seven or less.
Nate Jacobson, Stadium Sports Betting Analyst: Washington (+3) over Oregon. It would feel fitting if Washington defeated Oregon here and pretty much put an end to the Pac-12’s College Football Playoff hopes by Week 8. Washington was expected to be competing for a spot in the top four, but two early losses on their schedule ended their chances. Washington still has a chance to win out and win the conference, so I don’t think they should be underdogs at home against an Oregon team that has struggled on the road in recent years. The line for this game was Washington -3 before their second loss in Week 6, so there’s enough line value for me to take the Huskies.
2. What is your favorite total (over/under)?
AS: Over 68.5 in Florida State-Wake Forest. Wake Forest QB Jamie Newman exited last week vs. Louisville with a left (non-throwing) shoulder injury, which is likely why this total opened below 70. While his status is still up in the air, even if Wake starts Sam Hartman (nine career starts) this offense will still move fast and look for the big play. On the other side, FSU doesn’t move at hyperspeed like the Demon Deacons (second in the FBS with 512 total plays this season), but the Noles and OC Kendal Briles use tempo frequently and should be able to exploit Wake’s leaky pass D with plenty of play action. Grab this number now because it will move up if Newman gets cleared.
DV: Under 50 in Oregon-Washington. The Ducks defense has arguably been one of the three most productive in the FBS, while Washington’s offense has been inconsistent this season. Oregon, who will be without TE Jake Breeland, has hit the under in five of their first six games on the season which almost guarantees that this should be a close game where field position is critical.
AW: Over 68 in Baylor-Oklahoma State. There’s nothing like betting the over in the Big 12. Oklahoma State’s offense ranks No. 8 in the SP+ rankings and Baylor is No. 22. The Cowboys are averaging 36.6 points against Power Five competition this season, while the Bears check in at 34.2. This feels like a game that’ll be played in the mid-30s, if not higher.
NJ: Under 44.5 in TCU-Kansas State. I like the under in this game, and it’s correlated with also liking Kansas State to cover as 3.5-point home underdogs. Both teams are coming off their second bye week of the season, and I love that element for the Wildcats because first-year Head Coach Chris Klieman was able to use the extra time to teach players his schemes. Klieman is a defensive-minded coach, so if KSU plays well in this game it’ll likely be because they stopped TCU’s offense.
3. Which underdog of six points or more has the best chance of an outright upset?
AS: Michigan (+9) over Penn State. I know this won’t be a popular pick (Penn State bets have moved this game to 9 after it opened 7.5), but I still don’t believe in QB Sean Clifford (3-9 for 41 yards with 3 sacks on passing downs against Iowa last week) and Penn State’s offense when matched up against an elite defense (17 points against both Pitt and the Hawkeyes). If you throw out the Wisconsin game, Michigan DC Don Brown’s defense has given up less than two yards per carry on the ground and is 13th in the FBS with 21 sacks. I know the Michigan offense has been dreadful, but this is too many points and I’m going to take a shot on the moneyline with the Wolverines.
DV: Georgia State (+6.5) over Army. Due to their lofty expectations, the Black Knights have been a disappointment this season, already racking up three losses. Georgia State has a potent rushing attack (10th in the FBS) and is riding serious momentum having won two in a row, while Army is coming off a tough loss to Western Kentucky. This is a great spot for the Panthers to cover and possibly even win.
AW: Temple (+7.5) over SMU. SMU is ranked just one spot ahead of Temple in the SP+ rankings, which say the Mustangs are 0.8 points better. The Owls feel like a great bet to cover, and they could win outright thanks to their top-20 defense.
NJ: Ole Miss (+6.5) over Texas A&M. I wrote about this being a potential spot to fade Texas A&M off their headliner against Alabama in Week 7. Despite a 3-4 record, I really like some of the recent signs I’ve seen from Ole Miss. Dual-threat quarterback John Rhys Plumlee has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the last three games, and the freshman appears to be a better fit for OC Rich Rodriguez’s system than Matt Corral. If Plumlee plays more snaps than Corral then the Rebels will have a chance to win this football game at home.
4. What is one bet you are tempted to make this week, but know you probably shouldn’t?
AS: Oregon (-3) at Washington. I really like Oregon in this spot. The Ducks have the #1 defense in FBS per SP+ and finally let Justin Herbert let it rip last week against Colorado (28 pass attempts in the 1st half vs. 17 rushes). Oregon has advantages all over the field in this matchup, but on the sideline I can’t back Mario Cristobal here against Chris Petersen. In his 20 games in charge of the Ducks going back to the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl, Cristobal has a knack for falling short with enormous talent advantages (the aforementioned bowl game, both Stanford and Arizona last season, and Auburn to open this year come to mind). I may back Oregon as a favorite on the moneyline, but I’m definitely not laying the points.
DV: Michigan (+9) at Penn State. I am waiting for Penn State to fall short in a game that everyone is banking on them winning. However, Jim Harbaugh is 0-7 as an underdog at Michigan and is also 0-8 on the road/at neutral sites against AP Top 15 squads. That should be enough to make you stay away in this one, especially since the Michigan offense has struggled to find an offensive identity.
AW: Michigan (+9) at Penn State. The Wolverines haven’t inspired a ton of confidence this season, even in recent wins against Iowa and Illinois. But the SP+ rankings see about a 5.5-point separation between these two teams — in favor of Penn State — and with two top-10 defenses competing, this feels like a game played in the high teens to mid-20s with a small margin of victory.
NJ: Michigan at Penn State (-9). It feels like this game could get ugly. Michigan’s offense has struggled when they have to step up in class, and facing the Penn State defense on the road will be a challenge. There’s also a chance that James Franklin will have the Nittany Lions run up the score if possible because the Wolverines won 42-7 when these two teams squared off in Ann Arbor last season. That being said, I think the spread for this game is fair, and I can see one last stand from Jim Harbaugh’s squad to salvage their season.