College football picks against the spread: Stewart Mandel’s Week 8 picks

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Unfortunately, my Upset Special streak ended in humbling fashion last week — TCU not only covered against BYU but won 44-11. On a positive note, I finished above .500 for the second week in a row. And yes, I realize that’s not some otherworldly accomplishment.

Last week: 6-5 against the spread
Season: 36-40-1

Check out Bruce Feldman’s picks.

(All point spreads come from BetMGM; click here for live odds. All kickoff times Eastern.)

I could see it going either way. Ohio State’s shaky offensive line is a huge concern going against the No. 1 defense in the country (3.4 yards per play allowed) by a sizeable margin. Similarly, Penn State has struggled to produce big runs and is going against a strong Buckeyes front seven. In a toss-up, I usually take the home team.

Ohio State 17, Penn State 14
The Pick: Penn State +4.5

No. 22 Air Force (-10.5) at Navy, Noon, CBS

Air Force is undefeated but got bad news this week that QB Zac Larrier will miss time. Ominously, replacement Jensen Jones had a botched handoff and another fumble on his first two series last week. Vegas seems unconcerned, perhaps because Navy has its own QB issues and may be starting a freshman, Braxton Woodson.

Air Force 24, Navy 10
The Pick: Air Force -10.5

Washington State at No. 9 Oregon (-20.5), 3:30, ABC

Wazzu got off to such a good start, knocking off Wisconsin in Week and beating top-15 foe Oregon State in Week 4. Since then, it’s come crashing down with a loss to UCLA and, last week, a horrific 44-6 home defeat to Arizona. Oregon can score points like Arizona, and expect the Ducks defense to come after Cam Ward.

Oregon 48, Washington State 24
The Pick: Oregon -20.5

No. 17 Tennessee at No. 11 Alabama (-8.5), 3:30, CBS

It seems like every week, you can find a reason why this isn’t a good matchup for Alabama. In this case, Tennessee has the nation’s seventh-best defensive pressure rate (42.6 percent) while Alabama ranks 120th in pressure rate allowed (39.5 percent). That does not bode well for Jalen Milroe. And yet … I can’t pick against the Tide.

Alabama 20, Tennessee 16
The Pick: Tennessee +8.5

Minnesota at No. 24 Iowa (-3.5), 3:30, NBC

It would be fun to pick the over/under (31.5) instead of the score, but people still care more about who wins or loses the football game. We all know the drill by now. The Hawkeyes have zero ability to complete forward passes, but they can dominate on defense and special teams and break a couple of long runs. Which is exactly what they’ll do here.

Iowa 12, Minnesota 3
The Pick: Iowa -3.5

Oklahoma State at West Virginia (-3.5), 3:30, ESPN

Ever since Mike Gundy stopped screwing around by playing three different QBs, Oklahoma State, led by Alan Bowman and stud running back Ollie Gordon II, has been a different, more competent team. But the Mountaineers have been the Big 12’s biggest surprise. They’d be 5-1 right now if they hadn’t allowed a Hail Mary by Houston. And they’re at home.

West Virginia 26, Oklahoma State 21
The Pick: West Virginia -3.5

No. 13 Ole Miss (-6.5) at Auburn, 7 p.m.,ESPN

Auburn is 0-3 in the SEC, with an offense that is averaging 16 points per game. This does not bode well in facing an Ole Miss team that has scored at least 27 in all but one game (against Alabama). Auburn’s defense isn’t particularly great, either. Never question Vegas, but I’m struggling to see how this will be a one-score contest.

Ole Miss 27, Auburn 14
The Pick: Ole Miss -6.5

No. 16 Duke at No. 4 Florida State (-14.5), 7:30 p.m., ABC

FSU is undefeated, has an explosive offense and has dominated all but two opponents (Boston College and Clemson). So why do I still have questions about the Noles? The defense, ranked 51st in yards per play (5.3), has struggled at times. Meanwhile, Duke is allowing just 9.8 points per game. FSU should win at home, but the spread seems too high.

Florida State 26, Duke 20
The Pick: Duke +14.5

No. 14 Utah at No. 18 USC (-7), 8 p.m., Fox

The Trojans had been living dangerously and finally got exposed last week at Notre Dame — but in weird fashion. Who could have seen Caleb Williams melting down like that? The guess here is Williams rebounds at the Coliseum. USC’s defense remains highly gettable, but Utah’s offense isn’t necessarily built to exploit it.

USC 35, Utah 27
The Pick: USC -7

Clemson (-3) at Miami, 8 p.m., ACC Network

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Canes, while Clemson was off resting last week. Miami QB Tyler Van Dyke is banged up. And yet … I just have no faith in Clemson. Wake Forest, a team that has lost 30-16 to Georgia Tech and 30-13 to Virginia Tech, held the Tigers to 17 points and 4.8 yards per play in a 17-12 loss. Something’s not right.

Miami 24, Clemson 20
The Pick: Miami + 3

Mandel’s Upset Special
Georgia State at Louisiana (-3.5), 8 p.m., ESPNU

Sure, let’s dip into the FunBelt, where a 5-1 Georgia State team with convincing wins at Coastal Carolina (30-17) and vs. Marshall (41-25) visits a 4-2 Louisiana team with not much to show for it. Case in point: The Ragin’ Cajuns are 2-5 against the spread. Dual-threat QB Darren Grainger will lead State to its first-ever win over Louisiana.

Georgia State 34, Louisiana 20
The Pick: Georgia State +3.5

(Photo of Kyle McCord: Joseph Maiorana / USA Today)

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