Week 8 best bets for Duke vs. Florida State, South Carolina vs. Missouri
With six or seven data points for nearly every team around the country, we should be able to have a better handle on what to expect. That won’t always be the case because of the inherent volatility of college football with so many teams and such a big talent spread, but the hope would be that things get more predictable with each passing week.
That’s something I wrote about in my College Football Power Ratings article for this week and also tackled quite a few situational spots that may come into the equation, so check those out since they shape a lot of the bets that I like for this week.
Here are my favorite picks for Week 8:
(odds as of October 19 , 6:10 p.m. PT)
Northwestern comes off the bye to take on Nebraska in this one. The Wildcats are coming off of a rather uninspiring performance against Howard, but their three losses this season are to Penn State, Duke, and Rutgers in the season opener. That game was a weird one because that was the first without Pat Fitzgerald and the team was in a major state of flux to begin the season.
They’ve beaten a Minnesota team that seems comparable to Nebraska. The Cornhuskers are on extra rest and prep as well coming off of their bye, but they’ve got plenty of questions of their own. The QB position is still in turmoil and the quarterback, Heinrich Haarberg, has been the leading rusher in three of the last four games.
In this game, the 12-point spread seems like a lot given the low total and wind is in the forecast to compress the scoring even more. I’ll take a two-score head start in a game that looks to be pretty ugly.
Pick: Northwestern +12 (would play to +10.5)
Mike Elko said on his Wednesday radio show that there is a chance that Riley Leonard is able to come back and play this week. It might be gamesmanship, it might not be, but the Blue Devils are a feisty, very well-coached bunch heading down to Tallahassee. The Seminoles don’t have a lot of data points against good teams, but they very easily could have lost to Clemson.
In some respects, it feels like Florida State had been living on that second half against LSU for a while, but the recent blowouts of Syracuse and Virginia Tech have bumped up their perception once again. I think it’s too high at this point. I have Duke +13 without Leonard here. I don’t think he’ll be at full strength, but Elko is a tremendous coach and the Blue Devils have the 11th-ranked defense by yards per play allowed.
While the Blue Devils haven’t played the same caliber of schedule that Florida State has played, the 14-point spread feels like too many here, even if Leonard isn’t able to go.
Pick: Duke +14.5 (would play to +11.5)
Wind could be a modest factor in Saturday’s game between the Columbias, as South Carolina and Missouri meet in the Show Me State. I’m not sure anything short of hurricane-force winds could help the Gamecocks defense. Head coach Shane Beamer was discouraged to say the least with his defense last week against Florida and I’m not sure it gets any better this week against Missouri.
The Tigers rank in the top 25 with 6.69 yards per play. To their credit, the Gamecock offense ranks 46th with 6.18 YPP. They’ve done a good job of moving the ball, especially with explosive plays in the passing game from Spencer Rattler and Xavier Legette. Missouri has a stud WR of their own in Luther Burden III and I think both guys are able to run free and have big games here.
After last week’s abominable performance from the Gamecock defense, I’m sure Brady Cook is excited to take his shots against the beleaguered bunch. SC is now 110th in the nation in yards per play allowed and they have allowed over 6.4 yards per play in conference action.
Missouri’s defense has better numbers for the season, but not necessarily against the SEC, where they’ve allowed 6.48 yards per play, which is actually higher than South Carolina. Missouri really shut down FCS South Dakota in the first game, but they’ve been average to bad defensively in a lot of their other games.
Wind be damned, I like Over 60 here.
Pick: Over 60 (play to 62)
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