Against the Spread Picks: Week 8

·18 min read



In the table below, you'll find the Adjusted Thor Line (ATL). ATL is a system based on power ratings, computer models and real-time betting data that I devised for determining line value.

All lines courtesy of PointsBet Sportsbook. My picks are in bold.

Day

Away

Home

PB Line

ATL

ATL side

Line value

Time CST

TV

10/22

Arkansas State Red Wolves

Appalachian State Mountaineers

-14

-12.0

Arkansas State Red Wolves

2.0

6:30

ESPN

10/23

Tulsa Golden Hurricane

South Florida Bulls

11

10.4

N/A

N/A

7:30

ESPN

10/23

Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns

UAB Blazers

2.5

-0.7

Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns

3.2

7:00

CBSSN

10/23

Illinois Fighting Illini

Wisconsin Badgers

-19.5

-23.0

Wisconsin Badgers

3.5

7:00

BTN

10/24

UTEP Miners

Charlotte 49ers

-14.5

-16.9

Charlotte 49ers

2.4

11:00

ESPN+

10/24

Syracuse Orange

Clemson Tigers

-46

-42.2

Syracuse Orange

3.8

11:00

ACCN

10/24

Georgia Southern Eagles

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

-5.5

-6.7

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

1.2

11:00

ESPNU

10/24

Oklahoma Sooners

TCU Horned Frogs

6.5

6.1

N/A

N/A

11:00

ABC

10/24

Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas State Wildcats

-20

-21.9

Kansas State Wildcats

1.9

11:00

FS1

10/24

Florida State Seminoles

Louisville Cardinals

-5

-6.9

Louisville Cardinals

1.9

11:00

ESPN3

10/24

Temple Owls

Memphis Tigers

-13.5

-16.1

Memphis Tigers

2.6

11:00

ESPN+

10/24

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Michigan State Spartans

-13.5

-10.4

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

3.1

11:00

BTN

10/24

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Ohio State Buckeyes

-26

-24.6

Nebraska Cornhuskers

1.4

11:00

FOX

10/24

NC State Wolfpack

North Carolina Tar Heels

-15.5

-12.6

NC State Wolfpack

2.9

11:00

ESPN

10/24

Auburn Tigers

Ole Miss Rebels

3.5

5.6

Auburn Tigers

2.1

11:00

SECN

10/24

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles

Liberty Flames

-11

-10.4

N/A

N/A

12:00

ESPN3

10/24

Tulane Green Wave

UCF Knights

-19.5

-16.0

Tulane Green Wave

3.5

1:00

ESPN2

10/24

Florida Atlantic Owls

Marshall Thundering Herd

-17

-11.6

Florida Atlantic Owls

5.4

1:30

---

10/24

Alabama Crimson Tide

Tennessee Volunteers

21

19.6

Tennessee Volunteers

1.4

2:30

CBS

10/24

Iowa State Cyclones

Oklahoma State Cowboys

-3.5

-3.9

N/A

N/A

2:30

FOX

10/24

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Pittsburgh Panthers

10.5

12.8

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

2.3

2:30

ABC

10/24

Penn State Nittany Lions

Indiana Hoosiers

5.5

7.8

Penn State Nittany Lions

2.3

2:30

FS1

10/24

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

Rice Owls

-3.5

-6.5

Rice Owls

3.0

2:30

ESPN3

10/24

Virginia Tech Hokies

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

8.5

8.9

N/A

N/A

2:30

ESPN3

10/24

Houston Cougars

Navy Midshipmen

14

6.4

Navy Midshipmen

7.6

2:30

CBSSN

10/24

Baylor Bears

Texas Longhorns

-9

-7.2

Baylor Bears

1.8

2:30

ESPN

10/24

Iowa Hawkeyes

Purdue Boilermakers

3

2.6

N/A

N/A

2:30

BTN

10/24

Georgia State Panthers

Troy Trojans

-2.5

0.7

Georgia State Panthers

3.2

3:00

ESPNU

10/24

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Boston College Eagles

-3.5

-3.9

N/A

N/A

3:00

ACCN

10/24

Kentucky Wildcats

Missouri Tigers

5.5

4.8

N/A

N/A

3:00

SECN

10/24

West Virginia Mountaineers

Texas Tech Red Raiders

3.5

3.1

N/A

N/A

4:30

ESPN2

10/24

South Carolina Gamecocks

LSU Tigers

-6

-5.4

N/A

N/A

6:00

ESPN

10/24

UL Monroe Warhawks

South Alabama Jaguars

-14.5

-7.1

UL Monroe Warhawks

7.4

6:00

ESPN+

10/24

Utah State Aggies

Boise State Broncos

-16.5

-19.3

Boise State Broncos

2.8

6:00

FS1

10/24

Wyoming Cowboys

Nevada Wolf Pack

4.5

0.9

Nevada Wolf Pack

3.6

6:00

CBSSN

10/24

Michigan Wolverines

Minnesota Golden Gophers

3

-2.2

Minnesota Golden Gophers

5.2

6:30

ABC

10/24

Maryland Terrapins

Northwestern Wildcats

-11

-13.6

Northwestern Wildcats

2.6

6:30

BTN

10/24

Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors

Fresno State Bulldogs

-4

-6.0

Fresno State Bulldogs

2.0

6:30

---

10/24

Virginia Cavaliers

Miami Hurricanes

-12.5

-16.8

Miami Hurricanes

4.3

7:00

ACCN

10/24

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

UTSA Roadrunners

2

2.9

N/A

N/A

7:00

ESPNU

10/24

Cincinnati Bearcats

SMU Mustangs

-2.5

1.0

Cincinnati Bearcats

3.5

8:00

ESPN2

10/24

Texas State Bobcats

BYU Cougars

-28.5

-26.2

Texas State Bobcats

2.3

9:15

ESPN

10/24

UNLV Rebels

San Diego State Aztecs

-14.5

-15.5

San Diego State Aztecs

1.0

9:30

CBSSN

10/24

Air Force Falcons

San José State Spartans

7

7.9

N/A

N/A

9:30

FS1

Minnesota Golden Gophers (+3) vs. Michigan Wolverines

ATL: Minnesota -2.2

Man it’s good to have Big 10 football back!

I think this is a bad number -- objectively, this game should either be priced pick ‘em or the Gophers should be the short favorites. Instead, Minnesota gets a free field goal for opposing a name brand.

To cover the field goal, Michigan’s remade offense is going to have to start quickly. How confident are you that that’s going to happen? Michigan just lost lost QB Shea Patterson, WRs Nico Collins, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black, and four starting offensive linemen. RB1 Zach Charbonnet and WR1 Ronnie Bell return. Not much else.

We’re expecting redshirt soph QB Joe Milton to start, though HC Jim Harbaugh hasn’t ruled out QB Cade McNamara. Milton’s ceiling is higher -- a big dual-threat who can push the ball down the field -- but we won’t what we’re getting with him or McNamara until we actually see them.

The Gophers’ defense is going to miss EDGE Carter Coughlin and S Antoine Winfield Jr. But you have to give that unit the head-to-head edge heading in due to all the moving parts Michigan is trying to lock into place offensively at the moment.

For its part, Michigan’s defense has an extremely difficult opening assignment. Minnesota QB Tanner Morgan is one of the nation’s most efficient returning signal-callers, RB Mohamed Ibrahim is an NFL talent, the offensive line, formerly young but enormous and ascending, should coalesce into a top-20 national unit… and WR Rashod Bateman is back!

Bateman, a potential top-15 pick in April, is impossible to cover one-on-one. His former running mate, Tyler Johnson, is now playing for the Tampa Bay Bucs. The Gophers’ attack should replace Johnson fairly seamlessly.

Johnson was a chain-mover out of the slot for multiple years, but between Bateman and Ibrahim, and PJ Fleck’s system, which is extremely receiver friendly -- Chris Autman-Bell and the up-and-comers on the depth chart will be schemed into open space with Bateman’s presence and RPO/play-action eye-candy alone -- Minnesota should be able to redistribute Johnson’s touches without losing much.

I like the Gophers to upset the Wolverines in the opener.

Indiana Hoosiers (+5.5) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

ATL: PSU -7.8

Devastating news out of Penn State this week when it was announced that redshirt junior RB Journey Brown could miss the entire 2020 season due to an undisclosed medical condition. Brown was the No. 1 RB on Dane Brugler’s 2021 draft board coming into this season.

The Nits will ride with Noah Cain and Devyn Ford at running back. That’s a strong duo -- but neither are Journey Brown. Not only that, but PSU suffered one of the biggest opt-outs in the country when consensus No. 1 2021 NFL Draft linebacker Micah Parsons pulled the plug on his season.

I like the Hoosiers this year. QB Michael Penix is a legitimate talent -- his emergence forced the grad transfer of Peyton Ramsey (to Northwestern), a top-15 finisher in QBR last year -- and he has toys to play with on offense. RB Stevie Scott is a headache to tackle.

Penn State is strong up front on defense, but its secondary has a long ways to go. The Nittany Lions finished second-to-last in the Big 10 in pass defense last year. Heck, these very same Indiana Hoosiers lit up PSU for 371 passing yards last season in a razor-close 34-27 loss.

This spread, priced below a touchdown, is surprising, and slightly fishy. I think Vegas expects what I expect: For the Hoosiers to give PSU everything it can handle and put itself in a position to spring the outright upset.

Baylor Bears (+9) at Texas Longhorns

ATL: Texas -7.2

In general, as a life rule, it’s a good idea to back Tom Herman as an underdog and to fade him as a favorite of over a touchdown. Perhaps you know this. Perhaps you already abide by this code.

Herman is 15-5 ATS with 11 outright upsets as an underdog over his career. As a favorite, totally different story. Especially at home. At Texas, he’s 6-11 ATS as a home favorite. Over his career, even worse: 9-19-1 ATS as a home fav.

A lesser-known Rhule that emerged over the past few years: You want to back Baylor as an underdog. The Bears are 8-1 ATS in their last nine as an underdog (and 5-1 in their last six as a road ‘dog, as well as 8-3 ATS in their last 11 road games)!

Baylor is healthier now than they’ve been all season. HC Dave Aranda announced earlier this week that his roster is officially COVID-free. The Bears struggled mightily with the virus previously, at one point having 28 active cases among players and 14 among staffers. The Bears saw postponements of games against Louisiana Tech (due to LTU’s COVID issues), Houston and, last week, Oklahoma State.

Baylor last played on Oct. 3 against West Virginia -- a three-week layoff. There was a two-week break from practices in there. The Longhorns, meanwhile, come off a bye following consecutive losses to TCU and Oklahoma.

I think Baylor’s layoff was a very good thing indeed: Not only did the roster shake itself of COVID, not only will we hopefully see Charlie Brewer healthier than he’s been all year (he’s struggled to push the ball down the field more than usual and appeared compromised), but the team had more time to acclimate itself to Aranda’s defense and Larry Fedora’s offense.

The Baylor-Texas game is a far bigger deal to the folks in Waco than it is to the folks in Austin. This is a game Baylor prioritizes. It’s not a surprise that Baylor is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 against Texas (including 5-1 ATS in their last six vs Texas on the road).

I wouldn’t be surprised if Baylor wins this game outright.

Navy Midshipmen (+14) vs. Houston Cougars

ATL: Houston -6.4

I don't understand this line at all. Navy was all over the place earlier this season, but they appear to have finally found their way with consecutive wins over Temple and ECU. Through two games, Houston has been about as we expected -- a team with a solid offense and a defense anyone can light up.

To be fair, Houston's recent 17-point loss to BYU was closer in reality. Houston finished with a higher offensive success rate (43% to 41%) but were done in late by an inability to prevent explosive BYU plays down the field. But BYU is one of those G5's most physical teams -- and now Houston has to turn around and defend the tricky triple-option.

The status of Navy senior QB Dalen Morris is important, here. Morris didn't start the opener, when Navy got blasted by BYU, and he sat out the Air Force game, where Navy was again blown out. Those are Navy's two losses. It feels like this team goes as he does.

Morris is currently in concussion protocol after a targeting hit in the third quarter of the ECU game on Saturday. But crucially, Navy HC Ken Niumatalolo sounded optimistic about Morris being able to bounce back quickly to take the field against the Cougars: "We expect him back and everything is good there,” Niumatalolo said earlier this week.

Houston isn't going to be able to stop Navy on the ground. The Cougars may well win, but this is an absurd amount of points for them to be laying on the road.

Cincinnati Bearcats (+2.5) at SMU Mustangs

ATL: Cincy -1.0

Speaking of bad AAC lines… ATL believes Cincinnati should be favored in this game.

Both teams are undefeated, Cincy at 3-0 and SMU at 5-0. But this line insinuates SMU is still humming. And I’m not so sure they are.

The Mustangs lost much-used platoon back RB TJ McDaniel and All-American candidate WR Reggie Roberson in a tough 30-27 win over Memphis at the beginning of the month. Last week, on Friday, SMU needed overtime to dispatch a mediocre Tulane team, 37-34.

Cincy has a 14-point win over No. 22 Army and a 21-point win over USF on its resume. It is the healthier team, and at this point, probably the more talented team as well. Cincy’s physical front-seven is going to make life difficult on breakout SMU star RB Ulysses Bentley, a true freshman who may wear down under the pounding and extra usage.

That would put a ton of pressure on QB Shane Buechele to beat the Bearcats without use of by far his best receiver, and without a strong defense behind him.

Kansas State Wildcats (-20) vs. Kansas Jayhawks

ATL: KSU -21.9

I mentioned last week that I would continue to bet against KU until they covered a game. Technically they did last week -- but boy was it a fluke. West Virginia, 22-point favorites, made a series of unforced errors during the game -- but still was covering as it kicked off with a 38-10 lead with under two minutes left in the game. KU could only cover with a TD -- and Pooka Williams ran the ensuing kick back for a score.

Not only did Kansas not deserve that cover, its first of the year, but it lost Pooka, its best player, since that game. Earlier this week, Williams announced he was opting out for the rest of the season due to concerns over his mother's health. KU’s toothless offense just lost its molars, and its special teams lost its one fireball.

Kansas State has won three straight games -- over Oklahoma, Texas Tech and TCU -- and has been rock-solid since it got upset in the opener by Arkansas State. Chris Kleiman's program is ascending quickly. Expect the Wildcats to drop the hammer on the rival Jayhawks on Saturday.

Virginia Tech Hokies (-8.5) at Wake Forest Demon Deacons

ATL: VT -8.9

Virginia Tech had starters out due to COVID once again last week but converted five Boston College turnovers into 20 points in a win.

The Hokies’ roster should be healthier than it has been all season. COVID has wreaked havoc on Virginia Tech this season. Virginia Tech was without 23 players against NC State due to COVID, out 21 the next week against Duke, and out 15 against North Carolina. QB Hendon Hooker also didn’t debut until last week after an undisclosed medical condition was discovered during COVID screening.

Virginia Tech has one of the better offensive lines in the nation. RB Khalil Herbert, a Kansas transfer, has been a revelation running behind it.

Wake Forest plays fast, and at times reckless. It is a finesse team. I don't believe the Demon Deacons are equipped to prevent the bullying Virginia Tech's physical offensive line typically vets out.

Virginia Tech rolls.

Louisville Cardinals (-5) vs. Florida State Seminoles

ATL: Louisville -6.9

The Seminoles are coming off a triumphant upset win over UNC. They needed a pick-six and some blocked punts to hold on by three.

Unfortunately, star WR Tamorrion Terry, who missed the UNC game, underwent left knee surgery and is expected to be out until sometime in November. FSU redshirt freshman QB Jordan Travis is expected to play through his leg injury, per HC Mike Norvell, but Travis is an inexperienced dual-threat whose best current attribute is his legs. A compromised Travis could hold the offense back.

The Seminoles are in for a letdown off the upset over UNC. Louisville, meanwhile, is better than its 1-4 record. The Cardinals lost by 13 to Miami, by three to Pitt and by five at Notre Dame. The Cardinals' explosive offense is going to be too much for FSU's defense to handle, and Louisville's defense should be able to bottle up Travis and take advantage of FSU's poor line play.

Boston College Eagles (-3.5) vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

ATL: BC -3.9

Since sneaking by Florida State 16-13 in the opener -- back when the Seminoles couldn't get out of their own way -- Georgia Tech has lost 49-21 to UCF, 37-20 to lowly Syracuse, and 73-7 to Clemson. Interspersed in there was an impressive win against Louisville that looks like an outlier.

Boston College's ceiling has risen with the emergence of Notre Dame transfer QB Phil Jurkovec. Wins over Duke and Pitt, and a near-miss four-point loss to UNC, have showed that BC is amid taking a step up in the ACC pecking order. I expect the Eagles to beat Georgia Tech by double-digits.

Auburn Tigers (-3.5) at Ole Miss Rebels

ATL: Auburn -5.6

Ole Miss is dealing with a COVID outbreak that's going make it impossible to field its most competitive roster.

HC Lane Kiffin said Monday that his team had more active COVID-19 cases than it did on Saturday, when the Rebels lost at Arkansas. That’s brutal news, because Ole Miss’ roster was already extremely compromised against the Razorbacks.

Two defensive starters -- Tariqious Tisdale and Jakorey Hawkins -- missed Saturday's loss. With more positive tests and the SEC’s contact tracing protocols, Ole Miss may be down even more on Saturday.

Auburn badly needs a win after it coughed away last week’s game against South Carolina. Things have gotten so bad for Auburn’s offense that OC Chad Morris is mediating between QB Bo Nix and his receiving corps.

Ole Miss has one of the nation's worst defenses. This is a get-right game for Nix and the Tigers, and I expect them to capitalize on what might be unfortunate circumstances on the other sideline.

Temple Owls (+13.5) at Memphis

ATL: Memphis -16.1

This is a letdown spot for Memphis after its dramatic rally to beat UCF in the waning seconds last week. It's also the week I expect to start to see Memphis begin to succumb to the devastating personnel losses it has suffered since the end of last season.

Memphis WR Damonte Coxie decided to opt-out in advance of the UCF game. In addition to Coxie, only the second receiver in school history to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons (Anthony Miller was the other), the Tigers have lost RB Patrick Taylor and OW Antonio Gibson to the NFL and star RB Kenneth Gainwell, one of the country’s top returning running backs, to opt-out before the season.

Coye Fairman and Tim Hart also opted-out, and La'Andre Thomas and John "Pop" Williams are on leaves of absences for undisclosed reasons.

Memphis CB1 TJ Carter didn’t play against UCF due to a hamstring injury. HC Ryan Silverfield, who replaced Mike Norvell over the offseason, said Wednesday that Carter is "day-to-day" in advance of this game. Carter was one of PFF's top-five graded returning cornerbacks in the nation.

Both of Temple's games have been decided by two points this season, a loss and a win. I think the Owls keep this one close as well.

2020: 21-18-1 (53.8%) ATS
Lifetime (2014-Present): 561-487-17 (53.5%) ATS

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