What college football games appear to be the best bets and the best picks against the spread going into Week 8? This week … the belief system will save the season.
I know what cold streaks are like, and this isn’t really one of them. However, before things start to get too chilly, we’re turning this around right here, right now.
I’ve gone .500 over the last two weeks following my 9-1 run – and the cocky attitude that followed – and that’s just not okay.
What do you do when everything starts to break down? You go with your core belief system to bail you out. So this week, here are ten picks that are based almost entirely on my beliefs of what I know to be right and true in this college football world.
And if that fails …
But it won’t, because I believe that with every fiber of my being that these ten picks are going to work … maybe.
Results So Far ATS: 48-32-1
Click on each game for the preview
10. Cincinnati at Navy
LINE Cincinnati -28
ATS PICK Cincinnati
I’m still honked after last week because I was absolutely right.
I knew the Wisconsin run defense was going to stuff the Army option offense – it allowed just 179 rushing yards.
I factored in the awful Badger offense along with the sure-thing one deep shot that Army would connect on, and all was going perfectly well for the amazing D to cover the 14 against the option O.
And then Army scored 14 in the fourth to wreck all our fun in a 20-14 Wisconsin win.
As the line goes, I screwed up, but it doesn’t mean I was wrong.
This is different than Wisconsin-Army, though, because the Navy option offense isn’t all that great and the defense is lousy.
The Cincinnati defensive front has yet to allow more than 170 rushing yards, it’s great at getting behind the line to stop this thing before it starts, and it’s got NFL talent in the defensive backfield that can tackle.
The Bearcats have beaten all four non-Power Five teams on the schedule by more than 30.
1-5 Navy is about to deal with a team desperate to show off in a College Football Playoff run.
LINE Texas A&M -20
ATS PICK Texas A&M
Texas A&M is nothing like I thought it would be.
The defense has been disappointing, the offense has sputtered, and it’s been a rocky season with horrible performances being offset by an all-timer against Alabama.
My core belief that this was going to be one of the best teams in the country isn’t right, but the defense appears to be finally starting to kick it in, and the offense is finding its pop.
Playing Missouri will help both of those things – the Aggies rolled easily last week in Columbia.
Now they get South Carolina, a plucky 4-3 team that pushed Kentucky and …
The Gamecocks don’t score enough.
It’s Texas A&M, so you’re going to have to sweat this out hard against a team with a solid defensive front, but South Carolina barely survived Vanderbilt, and East Carolina, and Troy. Two weeks ago it lost on the road to Tennessee by 25 and was dropped by Georgia 40-13.
The hope is for the A&M offense that scored 41 on Bama and 35 Missouri to show up. If that happens, the 20 is fine.
8. WKU at FIU
LINE Point Total 77
ATS PICK Under
If you’ve read this piece at all over the years, you know my unshakeable belief that you always go under on a point total of 80 or more, and you push that down a wee bit if needed.
75 or more, go under – too many things can go wrong to keep the teams from getting to the high 70s, and if they do, think of the lost investment as a worthwhile payment for the wild entertainment of a game played in the 80s.
I did this last week with Ole Miss-Tennessee set at 83. It wasn’t even remotely close in a 31-26 game.
The world was trying to sell you on Louisiana-Arkansas getting to 70 on Thursday night. 28-27 Ragin’ Cajuns.
This isn’t just some goofy belief – people like betting the overs, and in general, they’ll play up the total as the week goes on because they know what the offenses can do.
The last few FIU games – bad defense, high-powered passing game – were able to get into the high 70s, and WKU lost to UTSA 52-46 and Michigan State 48-31.
But FIU isn’t UTSA or Michigan State.
You’ll be nervous that WKU will crank up 60 on its own and make this easy, but if this one doesn’t work out and it does go over, then this next pick will make up for it …
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 7: Ole Miss at LSU
LINE Point Total 76
ATS PICK Under
Of course Lane Kiffin is sandbagging a bit when it comes to the health of star QB Matt Corral … I think. At the very least, No. 2 isn’t 100% and almost certainly won’t run the ball 30 times like he did against Tennessee.
LSU got into a wild 49-42 shootout last week against Florida, and the Ole Miss 52-51 thriller over Arkansas from a few weeks ago is still fresh, but the SEC is still the SEC. For all the high-powered offensive fun, there are still NFL guys on the defensive side.
The belief system would like the point total to get up to 78ish or so, but the under on 76 is still a shot worth taking considering both of these teams are banged up.
LINE NC State -3.5
ATS PICK NC State
This is about the core belief that Miami just isn’t very good at college football this season – at least after seeing it play Alabama.
Yeah, yeah, the Tide make everyone look awful, but the thought was that the win wasn’t that big a Bama-is-still-as-strong-as-2020 deal because the Canes just didn’t have the guys. Now they don’t have their quarterback.
Not having D’Eriq King isn’t the killer it seemed like it should’ve been – the O is still scoring with Tyler Van Dyke – but this team just doesn’t know how to close and the defense is shockingly mediocre.
There’s a halfway decent pass rush, but the big plays and takeaways aren’t there, and the inability to come through late has been a problem.
NC State is probably going to win the ACC title.
It’s playing better and with more confidence after beating Clemson, it was able to blast past Boston College 33-7 last week, and the 3.5 isn’t a lot to give away.
Granted, Miami lost the last two games by a total of five points, but the Wolfpack D will be much, much better than Virginia’s and North Carolina’s were.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 5: Northwestern at Michigan
LINE Michigan -23.5
ATS PICK Michigan
That’s a big, giant spread for a Michigan team that needed to work way too hard to beat a mediocre Nebraska and broke everyone’s point spread heart in a 20-13 win over Rutgers.
But it had two weeks off to rest up.
Consider this more of a I-don’t-believe-in-Northwestern thing than thinking Michigan is a be-all-end-all team.
It’s a tad concerning that Michigan State dominated the opener over Northwestern about as easily as possible and still only won by 17.
It’s a tad concerning that the Rutgers team that pushed Michigan lost to the Wildcats last week by 14.
It’s a tad concerning that Northwestern has an SEC quarterback in Ryan Hilinski who won’t be fazed by The Big House and has been okay over the last two weeks. On the other side …
It’s even more concerning that Michigan has had those two weeks off, Northwestern got obliterated on the road by Nebraska 56-7 a few games ago, and couldn’t stop a horrendous Duke team in Durham.
The Michigan offense will take over right away, and then it’ll be a question of whether or not the defense can hang on as Northwestern keeps trying when down a bazillion.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 4: Utah at Oregon State
LINE Utah -3
ATS PICK Utah
Utah was my call.
While Pac-12 friends were trying to sell me that Arizona State was the hot new thing the kids were all into, and one of them might still be right that UCLA is about to rise up and take over the conference. I believed Utah was going to make it three South titles in four years – and still do.
It’s changed a little bit since part of my belief was based on former Baylor QB Charlie Brewer stepping in – he left the program a few weeks ago – but Cameron Rising has been excellent.
More than that, the lines are starting to play like they’re supposed to – the run defense has been terrific over the last few games – as the Utes have fought through the tragedy of losing two teammates over the last year to put together an inspiring season.
Oregon State does a whole lot of things right – it starts with winning on third downs – however, expect more of the 30-21 loss to Purdue type of performance than the 45-27 win over USC.
Yes, Oregon State is 3-0 at home, but Utah really is playing just that well and it really is just that good.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 3: Ohio State at Indiana
LINE Ohio State -21
ATS PICK Ohio State
I was yelled at all throughout last year when I kept saying I believed Indiana was just okay – even the loss to Ole Miss and its miserable defense in the bowl game didn’t stop the ire.
I was yelled at this offseason when I kept saying Indiana wasn’t a top 25 team. I was yelled at when I thought it was going to get rolled by Iowa – it lost 34-6 – and on the other side, I was yelled at when I thought it might push Cincinnati.
I’m getting yelled at a lot when it comes to Indiana.
The problem is that this year’s offense just doesn’t score. Michael Penix Jr. was the catalyst last season, but he wasn’t right coming off a knee injury and there isn’t enough of a running game to help now that he’s out.
Not being able to get the O going is sort of an issue when going against the No. 1 offense in college football.
This year’s Buckeye team has found its groove. The defense will never be anything great, but Oregon is the only team the offense didn’t hang 41 or more on. Even then the passing game went off, and now CJ Stroud, his NFL receivers, and RB TreVeyon Henderson are rolling.
Just like the 4.5 was too light last week when Michigan State was favored over Indiana, the 21 is too low – there continues to be a Big Ten blind spot when it comes to the Hoosiers.
Penn State beat IU 24-0. Ohio State is better than Penn State.
Don’t yell at me. Okay, yell away – I can’t do anything about the Ohio State offense.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 2: Tennessee at Alabama
LINE Alabama -25.5
ATS PICK Alabama
This pick comes with a slight caveat.
Of course you’re never, ever wrong with picking Alabama, especially at home.
When it was locked in against Ole Miss, it won in a walk – although only by 21. After the Texas A&M debacle, Bama rolled by 40 over a Mississippi State team that has a good enough defense to have made that closer.
Tennessee is a bit different, and there’s a reason this pick is No. 2.
Is QB Hendon Hooker playing, and is he going to be close to his normal self?
Banged up against Ole Miss and out late, he’s been practicing a bit but there’s no word yet on if he’ll be able to go and if he can produce.
I don’t like this part of the Belief System thing because I never, ever believe in dogging a college player in any way, even if critiquing is sort of what we’re all supposed to do.
The Tennessee O won’t do a thing against this Bama D if Joe Milton is under center for a prolonged period of time.
It would be great to see him come up with something special after the way the Ole Miss game ended, but he’s just not accurate and consistent enough.
Tennessee is a bit overloved because it was so good against a bad Ole Miss defense, and because it rolled by a mediocre South Carolina, and because it blew away a miserable Missouri defense.
The Vols lost at Florida by 24. You’re asking for 26 from Alabama.
And finally, if all else fails, and everything else melts down, and I’m so screwed up by a lack of sleep over the last six weeks and a diet consisting of nothing but peanut butter and coffee that my prognostication abilities are way, way off, THIS will save us all.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 1: Oklahoma at Kansas
LINE Oklahoma -39
ATS PICK Oklahoma
This goes against everything I believe in.
I don’t care who it is. You never, ever, ever pick a Power Five home team to lose in conference by 40 points or more.
You never, ever, ever pick a home team to lose by 40 points or more unless the circumstances are so screwed up that it becomes a moral imperative.
Actually, if someone is giving you a 40-0 lead walking into any stadium, you take that gift and be thankful.
I believe that this Oklahoma team has a bizarre penchant for not being able to play a full 60 minutes – with the time off spread out over the course of the game.
And I believe that – nothing against you, OU – nothing would be better this college football season than for Kansas to stop its slide, obliterate its losing streak to Power Five programs, and give everyone who thought the Over on the win total of 1 was a brilliant play their moment.
But as I’ve mentioned for weeks, we’re dealing with forces beyond our control.
Kansas is 0-6 against the spread this season, and as The Kansas City Star pointed out the history-making nature of this streak, the program is making a push for an all-timer of an ATS losing run.
So beware, this pick has nothing to do with anything tangible. We’re dealing with mystical forces here.
If you believe in that sort of stuff.