College football Week 8 best underdog bets, picks and predictions: Post-bye blunders from Oklahoma and Ole Miss
While there weren’t too many notable upsets across the college football landscape last week, there are always a couple underdogs who steal the spotlight from their opponent and make oddsmakers look silly. We were on 2 of those teams last week — both from Iowa, as the Cyclones and the Hawkeyes each won outright to give us our third 2-1 week in a row. There were a handful of other teams that won outright, as well, despite catching more than a touchdown. Illinois, Pitt, Arizona, Colorado State and Stanford didn’t need the extra points to cash bettors’ tickets. Meanwhile, Arkansas was close to handing Alabama its second home loss of the season — losing by just 3 points despite catching 19.
Following our success last week, we are 13-7-1 on these weekly underdog picks – but we aren’t satisfied yet! Let’s find more winners on the Week 8 card, shall we? You can also read our NCAAF picks for all of Saturday’s biggest games.
Best Week 8 underdog bets
UCF Knights +17.5 over Oklahoma Sooners (-110)
This one is a stinky one, but I believe the mutual week off benefits UCF more than it does Oklahoma. The Knights will have starting quarterback John Rhys Plumlee back on the field after missing a few games with a knee injury sustained in the game against Boise State, which will be crucial for the Knights’ offense. Plumlee is a true dual-threat quarterback (and dual-sport athlete) who has above average rushing capabilities for someone that plays his position. Last season Plumlee accumulated close to 1,000 rushing yards and scored 11 touchdowns while forcing 37 missed tackles and gaining 3.44 yards after contact per attempt. He has carried the ball less than 20 times this year due to his time missed, but he has almost 165 yards and is averaging over 6 yards after contact per attempt. His presence should open up rushing lanes for UCF’s talented running back duo in RJ Harvey and Johnny Richardson, and his pocket escapability should come in handy against Oklahoma’s defensive pressure. Plumlee can also hit the deep passes if his wide receivers get behind defenders who may be peaking too much into the backfield, as he had 37 explosive passes last year despite missing a game.
Oklahoma’s win over Texas was impressive, but the Sooners were out-gained and benefitted from a +3 turnover differential in addition to some interesting coaching decisions by Steve Sarkisian. The Sooners are outside the top 50 in points per opportunity since Week 3 and have been far less explosive offensively than the Knights in that time despite Plumlee not playing. Furthermore, Oklahoma is 56th in rush success rate allowed and 80th in rush explosiveness allowed since Week 8, so the Knights should be able to maintain drives and thus limit Oklahoma’s possessions. The Knights may not win this one outright, but I think the line should be more like +14 rather than +17.5.
Read our full UCF vs Oklahoma predictions
Penn State Nittany Lions +5.5 over Ohio State Buckeyes (-118)
This is one of the games all Big Ten fans have been waiting for, as the Nittany Lions will travel to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes in what will be Penn State’s first matchup against a team that has legitimate College Football Playoff aspirations. Both teams are a perfect 6-0 SU, and while Ohio State has been more “tested” than Penn State with a win in South Bend on their resumé, the Buckeyes have been underwhelming offensively. In fact, so have the Nittany Lions. These offensive limitations can be attributed to inexperienced quarterback play. Ohio State and Penn State both have first year starters under center in Kyle McCord and Drew Allar, respectively.
Unlike the offensive units, these defenses have been elite. This matchup represents a battle between 2 of the best defensive coordinators in the country leading top 8 units in opponent-adjusted efficiency. The Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions are both top 5 in points per drive allowed according to BCFToys, while maintaining top 10 marks in opposing drive efficiency as well as touchdown rate. This may be a home game for the Buckeyes, but in what should be a low-scoring, defensive battle I struggle to trust Kyle McCord laying points against a Penn State defense that is 2nd nationally in havoc rate since Week 3. He may have just 1 interception so far but has had 7 turnover-worthy plays, which could rear its ugly head on Saturday against the Nittany Lions. I am happy to take the points with Penn State down to +3 in this one.
Get our expert’s Penn State vs Ohio State best bet
Auburn Tigers +6.5 over Ole Miss Rebels (-105)
Following a week off, Ole Miss will head back on the road to Jordan-Hare Stadium to take on Auburn. This has been a difficult matchup for Ole Miss historically, as the Tigers are 18-5 SU against the Rebels since 2000. Before last year’s Ole Miss victory in Oxford, the Tigers had won 6 straight over the Rebels overall. Furthermore, Auburn has won 9 of its last 10 home games against Ole Miss. Theoretically, additional rest and preparation should be advantageous for Ole Miss in this matchup; the Rebels have been bad following their bye week in the last decade. Since 2013, Ole Miss has lost 9 of 12 games following a bye and is winless in 6 road games after being idle.
Auburn has lost 3 straight, but its home-field advantage is worth noting – especially at night. Such an edge was clear against Georgia a few weeks ago when the Tigers were tied at half and managed to keep the game within 1 score at all times, and it was noticeable in a few key home games last year even when the Tigers were underperforming under Bryan Harsin. The Tigers have not been lighting up the scoreboard in recent weeks, but they boast a top-20 defense according to BCFToys when adjusting for opponents in non-garbage time. So let’s fade the Rebs in another hostile environment since they have been unable to put together full, efficient performances away from home – converting just 4 third downs on 27 attempts at Tulane and Alabama. Ole Miss is outside the top 95 in PPA per rush allowed since Week 3, as well as outside the top 100 in rush success rate and stuff rate – so Auburn’s run-heavy attack should find some space against the Rebels’ front 7.
All eyes on our Ole Miss vs Auburn predictions