Welcome to Week 8 of the college football season.
Each week, our VSiN experts will combine to give their best bets on select games.
We had a 6-6 showing in Week 7 and we’re looking for better results in Week 8. Odds are from DraftKings (unless noted) as of Wednesday night.
Season record: 34-38-1
UAB Blazers at Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (-1.5, 57.5)
Friday, 8 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: There are 131 FBS teams. Western Kentucky has played the 131st-ranked strength of schedule thus far and UAB has played the 138th per Jeff Sagarin. And, yet, these two teams are 4-3 and 4-2, respectively, to this point.
Western Kentucky scored at least 35 points in each of its four wins and allowed at least 30 points in each of its three losses.
These two defenses both rank in the top 15 in yards per play allowed but are stepping up in class against better offenses in this matchup. UAB is actually 12th in the nation in yards per play with 6.92, which makes its 4-2 record that much more interesting. Western Kentucky is 31st in the nation in yards per play with 6.56 and has a passing attack better than any UAB has seen.
I’m inclined to think there is more staying power in the offensive numbers than the defensive numbers relative to the strength of schedule rankings, so my thought is the defenses get a rude awakening Friday night. The weather looks pretty good for this one and that means points should be in the forecast.
Pick: Over 57.5
Syracuse Orange at Clemson Tigers (-13.5, 49.5)
Saturday, Noon ET
Tim Murray: It’s not surprising to see Clemson rebound after a three-loss season in 2021, but Syracuse went just 5-7 a year ago and 2-6 in the ACC. The Orange are off to a 6-0 start and have already surpassed their preseason win total of 5.
Despite the unbeaten start, it’s still fair to wonder: Just how good is Syracuse? The Orange have played just one road game so far and it was in front of a sparse crowd at UConn. Last week, Syracuse topped NC State 24-9, but Wolfpack starting quarterback Devin Leary was out due to injury. The Orange defeated Purdue in a wild 31-29 game in September, but Syracuse was outgained 485-306 and had a postgame win expectancy of 18.2%. The following game, the Orange needed a field goal with 1:14 to play to slip past Virginia 22-20.
Clemson does not look like a vintage Clemson team, but the Tigers are certainly improved from last year’s 10-3 squad. Last week, Clemson gave up two fourth-quarter touchdowns in Tallahassee but held on to defeat Florida State 34-28. The Tigers allowed 206 rushing yards against FSU (a season-high), but they still rank fourth nationally in rushing yards allowed per game (82.7) and fifth in yards per carry (2.78). Clemson’s defensive line is its strength, and following the performance against FSU, defensive line coach Nick Eason was not happy. Eason said he was going to challenge his players after the defense had 24 missed tackles against Florida State. “It starts inside your heart,” he said this week. “I’m not the Wizard of Oz or Jesus, some things you have to be born with. But it is my job to make sure guys are ready.”
The challenge this week for Clemson’s defensive line is Sean Tucker. Syracuse’s All-ACC running back rushed for 157 yards against the Tigers last year. Tucker’s numbers are a bit down this year. In Syracuse’s four games against Power 5 opponents, Tucker is averaging 73 yards per game and 3.95 yards per carry. I expect an extra-motivated Clemson line to shut down Tucker and make QB Garrett Shrader beat them.
Syracuse has exceeded oddsmakers’ expectations this season, going 5-1 ATS. Saturday, however, reminds me of a game in 2018 when No. 12 Syracuse played No. 3 Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium. The Orange (+ 10) were a popular underdog that day in the eyes of the betting public but were crushed 36-3. Despite being a top-15 team again, oddsmakers make the Orange a double-digit underdog — again. There is a reason for that. I expect Clemson to roll Saturday afternoon.
Pick: Clemson -13.5
Ole Miss Rebels at LSU Tigers (-2, 67.5)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Wes Reynolds: Unbeaten and No. 7-ranked Ole Miss travels to Baton Rouge as an underdog against LSU. Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin led the Rebels to their first victory over the “Bayou Bengals” since 2015 with a 31-17 win last year in Oxford.
LSU has played the much tougher schedule, having faced No. 3 Tennessee and No. 24 Mississippi State, plus Florida State and Florida teams that were ranked at one time this season. Ole Miss has only played one ranked team, barely escaping against No. 8 Kentucky.
The Rebels currently rank No. 3 nationally in rushing offense (behind only Air Force and Army) and ran for 448 yards last week on 69 carries in a 48-34 victory over Auburn. However, Ole Miss gave up a lot on the ground as well (301 yards at a rate of 6.3 a clip). LSU is better up front on both sides of the ball than Auburn.
LSU comes off a 45-35 victory at Florida in which Arizona State transfer quarterback Jayden Daniels had his best game as a Tiger, throwing for 349 yards and three touchdowns and also rushing for three scores.
The Ole Miss defensive numbers are inflated because of soft, nonconference competition. The Rebels gave up 28 points and 403 yards at Vanderbilt plus 34 and 441 to Auburn. Kiffin actually had to call an onside kick in the third quarter to steal a possession because his defense couldn’t stop Auburn, a team currently starting its backup quarterback.
The oddsmakers are telling us that Ole Miss is a bit overrated and I am inclined to agree.
Pick: LSU -125 ML
Tim Murray: The betting line in this game is quite suspicious. The unbeaten Rebels opened as 2-point favorites Sunday at Circa Sports. By Monday morning, unranked LSU (with two losses on the season) was the favorite, and by Thursday night, the Tigers were favored by 2.5 points at Circa.
As Wes stated in his writeup, LSU has been more tested than Ole Miss to this point. The Rebels have played the 109th-toughest schedule in the country. The Tigers have played Florida State, Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi State. Ole Miss did defeat Kentucky 22-19, but Wildcats QB Will Levis dislocated his finger in the second quarter. Levis finished the game but was sidelined the following week.
Additionally, Baton Rouge will be the most challenging road atmosphere the Rebels have seen this year. Their two road games so far were at Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt.
The past two weeks, the Ole Miss defense has been a bit leaky, as Wes noted, while LSU put up 528 yards of offense and 45 points against Florida in the Swamp. QB Jayden Daniels was terrific and All-American WR Kayshon Boutte had his best game of the season (six catches for 115 yards).
Last week, 4-2 Utah was favored over 6-0 USC. The Utes beat the Trojans 43-42. According to ESPN’s Chris Fallica, it was the 16th time a team 6-0 or better was an underdog to an opponent with at least two losses. Those 16 undefeated teams have gone 3-13 straight up. I expect that trend to continue Saturday with 5-2 LSU defeating 7-0 Ole Miss.
Pick: LSU ML (-125)
Georgia Southern Eagles at Old Dominion Monarchs (-2.5, 67)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: Old Dominion is coming off of a massive, possibly program-changing win over Coastal Carolina, but the Monarchs have another tall task this week against Georgia Southern. ODU is third in the nation with 25 sacks and got to Grayson McCall six times last week, but McCall still threw for 358 yards and three touchdowns in the losing effort.
Georgia Southern has only allowed two sacks through seven games. Kyle Vantrease has gotten the ball out very quickly in the first year of the Air Raid offense in Statesboro and has had pretty good returns with over 2,500 passing yards and 17 touchdown passes. He’s also thrown 12 interceptions, though, which is part of the reason why Georgia Southern’s games have been so high-scoring.
The Eagles defense is awful, allowing over 485 yards per game and ranking 122nd in the nation in yards per play allowed. To make matters worse in this matchup, they’re also 125th in yards per carry allowed.
Despite all of the sacks, Old Dominion’s defense ranks 84th in the nation with 5.73 yards per play allowed. When they don’t get to the quarterback, they give up yards in bunches. This should be a shootout up and down the field to continue the run of high-scoring games for both of these teams.
Pick: Over 67
Purdue Boilermakers at Wisconsin Badgers (-2.5, 50.5)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: Wisconsin’s one-game bump under interim coach Jim Leonhard came against a horrible Northwestern team that looks like the worst member of the Big Ten West. The Badgers followed that up by promptly losing in double overtime to the worst version of Michigan State that we’ve seen in a few years.
Purdue has rattled off five wins in a row and it looks like Aidan O’Connell is pretty close to 100%. After missing the two-point win against Florida Atlantic, O’Connell came back against Minnesota to lead a win on the road and then followed that up with two excellent performances against Maryland and Nebraska.
The Badgers have beaten Illinois State, New Mexico State and Northwestern. Purdue has played a lot of tight games, with losses to Penn State and Syracuse, but could very well be 7-0. This game may be close, but Purdue’s program is in a better place right now and those types of teams typically win the close ones. I have this line flipped with Purdue -2.5 in my power ratings, so I think the wrong team is favored in this one.
Pick: Purdue + 2.5