NCAA Football Predictions: Week 8 Opening Line Report and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 10/13/2014
Pretty solid Week 7 on my college football early-week picks . That Central Florida -3.5 line was one of my favorites of the year at home against BYU. The Knights saved me some embarrassment by winning by a touchdown in overtime. I think Penn State (+1) would have beaten Michigan if not for an absolutely horrible offside call after the Lions recovered a late onside kick. Mississippi State easily came through for me against Auburn as did LSU at Florida. So long Will Muschamp. Notre Dame nearly got caught in a huge trap game but escaped the Heels. UNC did easily cover the +16 as I projected. I even got Arizona at +2.5 at home against USC. Oh, I thought the Wildcats would win and they would have but missed a 36-yard field goal at the end of the game. But they did cover by a half point. There is simply no conference more fun to watch than the Pac-12. Seems that every game comes down to a final play for a win.
Here are some Week 8 games and opening lines from BetOnline that caught my eye.
No. 10 Georgia at Arkansas (+3.5): The big news in college football last week was the suspension of Dawgs running back Todd Gurley. He had been the Heisman Trophy favorite at all sportsbooks. Currently all Heisman odds are off the board as the books no doubt are waiting for Gurley's official punishment from the NCAA. The Dawgs didn't miss him on Saturday in thumping No. 23 Missouri 34-0 in its own house. Nick Chubb, one of a few five-star tailbacks on that Georgia team, rushed 38 times for 143 yards and a score. Most reports have Gurley missing anywhere from two total games to the rest of the season, so it's very unlikely he plays this week. Could it be a bit of a trap game for the Dawgs ahead of a bye week? The Hogs are one of the nation's best teams running the ball and probably should have beaten Alabama in Week 7. The pick: Woo Pig Sooie!
No. 4 Baylor at West Virginia (+7.5): I can't honestly tell if the Bears are lucky or good. They had no right beating TCU on Saturday, rallying from 58-37 deficit in the fourth quarter for a stunning 61-58 win. Baylor had 227 yards in scoring the game's last 24 points in the final 11:38 of the game. By comparison, TCU, which couldn't be stopped all day, had 48 yards. Baylor finished with an obscene 782 yards overall against a Top-10 opponent. This is a very dangerous letdown game. WVU played well in its two losses, coming to Alabama and Oklahoma. This total might come close to 80 when released. The pick: WVU to cover.
No. 24 Clemson at Boston College (+7): I think this really sets up well for a BC straight up victory although I will hope for a half-point bump on the line. The Eagles are much better this season and are terrific running the ball. Clemson, meanwhile, plays its first road game in a month and won't have star freshman QB Deshaun Watson. He broke his hand in Saturday's win over Louisville and will miss around a month. Cole Stoudt replaced Watson against the Cardinals despite dealing with a separated shoulder. He had to take an injection just to play. He's a downgrade pretty significantly from Watson. The pick: Boston College.
Missouri at Florida (-5): Muschamp says the Gators will use two quarterbacks this week. Freshman Treon Harris was suspended for last week's home loss to LSU but then suddenly cleared of sexual assault charges and has been reinstated. For some reason, Muschamp still may start Jeff Driskel and use him on a timeshare even though Driskel is one of the worst quarterbacks in the SEC. It's really amazing the Gators, surrounded by so much high school talent in that state, have never been able to adequately replace Tim Tebow. Mizzou can't afford another loss and still hope to repeat as SEC East champion. The pick: UF in what should be an ugly defensive battle.
No. 8 Michigan State at Indiana (+14.5): If I'm a Spartans backer, this game terrifies me. Michigan State has had a problem with putting away teams the past two weeks, letting Nebraska and Purdue rally in the fourth quarter and make what should have been two stress-free victories much closer than they should have been. Plus, MSU's next two games are huge: Oct. 25 vs. Michigan and Nov. 8 against Ohio State. Easy to look past the Hoosiers. This will be strength against strength as Indiana ranks seventh nationally against the run while Sparty is one of the nation's best teams at stopping it. The Hoosiers officially ruled out starting QB Nate Sudfield for the rest of the season on Monday. He was hurt in Saturday's loss to Iowa. Freshman Chris Covington will take over under center. He has thrown only 12 passes this season. So that makes me feel better if I'm backing Sparty as the Hoosiers will probably be one-dimensional now. The pick: Like that half point. Could see IU sticking within 10-14 points.
No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 2 Florida State (-11): Rather bummed that FSU dropped from No. 1 this week as I remember well the last time the Irish played the top-ranked Seminoles, beating them 31-24 in 1993 in one of that decade's biggest regular-season games. The Irish were No. 2 that year yet got squeezed out of the national title game behind Florida State after Notre Dame lost the next week against Boston College. The Heisman is potentially there for the taking for Irish QB Everett Golson if he can end FSU's school-record 22-game winning streak. The pick: Florida State, assuming no Jameis Winston suspension.
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