Week 8, College Football Picks 2017: Spread & Predictions

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Upsets are to college football what beer is to pizza. Sure, you could have one without the other, but then you would be indulging in a relatively bland experience that is made significantly more enjoyable by the complimentary addition of something a little extra. While watching a competitive game regardless of the outcome is usually an exciting experience, the end result of an unbelievable victory by a double-digit underdog makes this already tremendously engaging viewing experience that much more satisfying. If this week’s matchups are anything like what we witnessed in week 7, fans will once again get to overindulge their college football addiction as both ranked teams and unranked competitors step up to prove themselves as the season wears on.


1. Memphis Tigers (25) vs. Houston Cougars

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There is no way to get around it, the offense of the Tigers is spectacular. They have scored below 30 points only once this season, and the connection between quarterback Riley Fergurson and stud wideout Anthony Miller has been one of the best offensive tandems in college football. However, while the Tigers offense has been great, there was one instance where it was almost completely shut down against a formidable UCF defense. Although the Cougars defense may not be as elite as that of the UCF Knights, it’s still potent enough to hold teams to 21 points per game (tied 39th in college football) while having an offense that’s not great but receives decent production from quarterback Kyle Postma and running back Duke Catalon. While this will be a unique challenge for the Tigers, their persistent offense will give them a slight edge against a Cougar team that has struggled on both sides of the ball recently.
Final Score: Tigers 31 Cougars 29 Spread: Houston -3.0


2. Iowa State Cyclones vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders

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Out of all of the unranked matchups this week, this one could prove to be one of the more intriguing contest. Both teams have strong passing games and have been difficult to stop once they establish a confident rhythm offensively. However, the similarities end there, as Iowa State is much sound defensively, while the Red Raiders have a much more impressive running game that is led by senior rusher Justin Stockton (6.7 yards per rush). While Red Raiders quarterback Nic Shimonek has been far more prolific than Cyclones passer Jacob Park, Texas Tech has lost two games to respected Big 12 opponents because their defense has been one of the more penetrable units in college football. For this reason, I’m giving the edge to the Cyclones as they have proven that their defense and offense are sufficient enough to dispatch one-dimensional opponents.
Final Score: Cyclones 34 Red Raiders 30 Spread: Texas Tech -6.0


3. Oklahoma State Cowboys (10) vs. Texas Longhorns

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If you’re a Longhorns fan, it’s been a season of fluctuating emotions from one week to the next. This has been especially true for the Longhorns against ranked opponents where they have lost by a combined total of eight points. While the Longhorns defense is not elite, it has played well enough to keep them in games to give freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger opportunities to make plays down the stretch. Oklahoma State, on the other hand, has been one of the most consistent teams in college football offensively, as Heisman candidate Mason Rudolph and veteran wideout James Washington have made opposing defenses look silly. However, for how good the Cowboys have looked on offense, they have looked equally poor on defense as they have been susceptible to breakdowns against solid offenses. While the wins and losses for the Longhorns have not been pretty this season, this is a team that is hungry for a big win and considering they play at home this week, I have them pulling off the upset with some timely scores down the stretch.
Final Score: Cowboys 37 Longhorns 40 Spread: Texas -1.0


4. Indiana Hoosiers vs. Michigan State Spartans (18)

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When you think of great defenses, the likes of Michigan, Clemson and of course Alabama immediately come to mind. However, the Spartans have been one of the most formidable and gritty teams defensively this year, as they have allowed only one team (Notre Dame) to score more than 30 points against them. While their inept passing game leaves a lot to be desired, dual-threat quarterback Brian Lewerke has been shifty enough to maneuver out of the pocket to extend plays while relying on the physicality of running back of LJ Scott to keep the offense churning. Although the Hoosiers gave everything they had against a tough Wolverines defense last week, it’s hard to imagine a team that is not particularly strong on defense or offense pulling off a similar feat in back-t0-back weeks. While I love the tenacity of the Hoosiers in outperforming their mediocre numbers from time to time, I just don’t see it happening here, especially on the road in a hostile environment.
Final Score: Hoosiers 19 Spartans 29 Spread: Michigan State -7.0


5. UCF Knights (20) vs. Navy Midshipmen

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Throughout this season, the Knights have quietly been one of the best teams in college football on both offense and defense. Impressively, the Knights are tied for first with Oklahoma State in points per game (48.8) while having a defense that is better than the likes of Michigan State in terms of points allowed per game (16.8, 14th in college football). While some of these numbers are due in part to playing in a mid-major conference, the Knights do have impressive wins against strong offenses in Maryland and, most notably, Memphis (w0n both games by 28 and 27 points respectively). Although the Midshipmen boast the top rushing attack in college football, it was slightly exposed against a dreadful Memphis defense that was able to hold Navy to just 27 points. Given the fact that the Knights are far and away better on defense than the Tigers, it seems inevitable that the persistent albeit predictable offense of the Midshipmen will be stifled throughout most of this game.
Final Score: Knights 39 Midshipmen 23 Spread: UCF -6.5


6. Oklahoma Sooners (9) vs. Kansas State Wildcats

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After winning a nail-biter against Texas last week, the Sooners come into this particular matchup hoping that their defense can look like what it was when it defeated Ohio State in dominant fashion earlier in the season. Against a Kansas State team that is solid defensively but wildly inconsistent offensively, the Sooners may get a chance to assert themselves in more ways than one. While this can hardly be considered prove it game for the Sooners, it should at least give them a morale boost heading into their next three games where they face Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and TCU. This is not to say that the Wildcats are a pushover, in fact, they are arguably one of the most well-coached teams in college football. However, the ailing offense has prevented the Wildcats from being competitive against powerhouse programs and will likely inhibit their ability to intimidate the Sooners in this contest.
Final Score: Sooners 34 Wildcats 17 Spread: Oklahoma -12.5


7. USC Trojans (11) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (13)

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Although both the Trojans and Fighting Irish are close in terms of rankings, the current trajectory for each of these competitive programs is very different. While the Trojans overcame a tough Utah defense on Saturday night, Sam Darnold struggled yet again in locating his receivers. Conversely, Notre Dame has looked fantastic on both sides of the football ever since they lost a heartbreaker to Georgia in week 2. Despite struggling to throw the football effectively, Fighting Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush has used his impressive athleticism to gash opposing defenses on the ground. On top of that, running back Josh Adams has been an explosive weapon for the Fighting Irish as he has averaged nine yards per rush attempt. While the Trojans won’t get completely pushed over in this contest, their turnover-prone offense combined with an inferior defense will cost them a must-win game down the stretch.
Final Score: Trojans 23 Fighting Irish 33 Spread: Notre Dame -4.0


8. Michigan Wolverines (19) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (2)

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For everything that the Wolverines do well defensively, they almost completely nullify it with the ineptitude of their offense. While their conundrum at the quarterback position is unsurprising, it is their less than impressive rushing game led by Ty Isaac that has made scoring especially difficult for this program. Coming off a bye week, the Nittany Lions have the top-ranked defense in terms of points against (nine points allowed per game) and are surgical when it comes to moving the ball downfield. Whether they run or pass the football, the Nittany Lions are not heavily reliant on one aspect of their offense, which was made especially evident when running back Saquon Barkley struggled to rush the football against Northwestern (Nittany Lions still won by a score of 31-7). While ranked matchups are usually fairly competitive affairs, this one has the makings of a blowout at the hands of the dynamic and well-rested Nittany Lions.
Final Score: Wolverines 10 Nittany Lions 31 Spread: Penn State -10.0


9. Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

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Overshadowed by the two aforementioned contests, this ACC clash between two dominant defensive programs will be one of the more competitive matchups this weekend. With both teams coming off of losses to ranked opponents, the ramped up tension between these programs will be palpable and could result in a highly competitive albeit fairly ugly affair. While Wake Forest has the noticeably better defense, Georgia Tech has a triple-option offense that loves to play fast and wear down even the most disciplined defenses in college football. Although Wake Forest will have the edge in the first half because of their well-rested and stout defense, the persistent rushing attack of the Yellow Jackets will find a way to break through the Deamon Deacons defensive front enough times to win a close game.
Final Score: Demon Deacons 14 Yellow Jackets 21 Spread: Georgia Tech -7.0


10. Colorado Buffaloes vs. Washington State Cougars (15)

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The nightcap for week eight features two vastly different teams that will meet in the battle of flash vs. consistent. If you have watched any game that involves the Cougars, it becomes immediately apparent that this team likes to pass the football….a lot. This is made even more evident when you discover that they are at the bottom of the rankings in rushing yards (74.1 rushing yards per game), something that didn’t seem to matter until the Cougars were manhandled on Friday night by the California Golden Bears. The Buffaloes couldn’t be more different in that their not overly reliant on any one aspect to succeed while simultaneously failing to excel on either defense or offense. While the Buffaloes have a solid passer in quarterback Steven Montez, the offense runs primarily through running back Phillip Lindsay, who is proficient as both a rusher and receiver. Although the Buffaloes could pose a problem for the Cougars initially in terms of lacking a severe weakness, Washington State has the advantage in having a highly efficient albeit very predictable passing attack.
Final Score: Buffaloes 26 Cougars 34 Spread: Washington State -10.5

Mia Khalifa, Host Of New Sports Show, Gets Kicked Out Of Sporting Event
Mia Khalifa, Host Of New Sports Show, Gets Kicked Out Of Sporting Event
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