NCAA Football Review for Week 8

by Jason Armstrong
on October 24, 2017

Week 8 was a week where we saw a couple of teams prove that they don’t deserve to be in the playoff talk, in Michigan and USC, and a few more teams showed us that they absolutely need to be part of the conversation in Wisconsin, Miami, and Notre Dame.

While the truly elite teams flexed their muscles yet again with big-time wins from Alabama, Penn State, and TCU. As the season starts to wind to a close the playoff picture is getting clearer by the day. Here, I will recap all the week 8 betting action, and give you a couple of games to target for next week. Let’s get started!

Alabama is the Best Team in the Nation

I have been dancing around this fact all year long, Alabama is the best team in the Nation. This week the Tide hosted a solid Tennessee Volunteer team and blasted them 45-7, covering the borderline absurd 36.5 points.

I thought that maybe last week’s scare on the road at Texas A&M laid out the blueprint to beat Alabama. I was wrong.

Alabama is just so big and fast and physical that they can have an off game and still win, IE the Texas A&M game. The Tide host LSU after taking a week off next week and it should be a good test as the Tigers have looked solid recently and at 6-2 have found themselves back in the top 25.

I expect another outrageously inflated line with Alabama likely laying double digits at home. I will probably hate the line yet again and sit back and watch on Saturday as they cover it anyway. Roll Tide…

The U is Back Baby!

College football is just better when the Miami Hurricanes are good. The ‘Canes have played an admittedly soft schedule and have had their share of miracles to win games, but they are undefeated and gaining that Miami swagger with every win.

Many people counted them out when they lost starting running back Mark Walton for the year with an injury, but the next man up, Travis Homer, has been more than serviceable in his place. Homer has run for 265 yards and two TDs in his two games as the starter in Miami.

That soft run of schedule continues next week when the Hurricanes head to North Carolina to play a bad Tar Heels team, Miami is 20.5-point favorites.

The real test will come in the following two weeks when Miami hosts a very good Virginia Tech team and then a top ten Notre Dame team in back to back weeks. If Miami could even just get a split out of those two games, they would be in prime position for the playoff as the ACC is up for grabs at this point and if they win the ACC championship game, they would no doubt make the playoff. And who doesn’t love this?

Is Notre Dame a Legit Playoff Contender?

In short yes, yes, they are. The Irish have played a tough schedule and sit at 6-1 with their only loss coming by one point to a Georgia team that has looked unbeatable since that game. Notre Dame has plenty of meat left on their schedule, and if they run the table, there is no way they will get left out of the playoff party.

The beating they put on their longtime rivals from USC was truly stunning. The game wasn’t remotely competitive, and the Irish ended any talk of USC as an elite team this year. Notre Dame continues with the brutal schedule next week as the N.C. State Wolfpack come to South Bend. Notre Dame is for real, there is no doubt about that, but laying -7.5 points against a very good N.C. State team?

That stinks of an overreaction to this week’s lopsided score. N.C. State is a top 15 squad that is very in the mix for an ACC title and playoff berth themselves. Will the Irish win at home? Maybe. But -7.5? You can bet I will be snatching up those points and backing the Wolf Pack.

Saquan Barkley is Going to Win the Heisman

There, I said it. The Heisman Trophy is the highest individual honor in all of sports, and the race for it is all but over. No disrespect to Bryce Love, he is a beast, but the Heisman is Barkley’s to lose. Oh, and Barkley’s team, the Penn State Nittany Lions? They just might be the best team in the country too.

Barkley had another video game type stat sheet this week, rushing for 108 yards and two scores and catching three passes for another 53 yards and a TD, while his team absolutely pounded the Michigan Wolverines.

This was supposed to be a matchup of two of the best teams in the Big 10 and shed some light on who might win the Big 10 East Division.

Instead, it was a blowout and proved that Big Blue shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath as Penn State this season. I don’t completely trust Penn State QB Trace McSorley, but with Barkley leading the way Penn State can beat anybody.

The Big 10 East will basically be decided next week when these Nittany Lions travel to the Horseshoe to play the Ohio State Buckeyes. Ohio State is a -7-point favorite in a matchup of two elite teams. The Bucks are really, really, good at home in this rivalry but Penn State isn’t 7 points worse than any team in the country, so I am forced to jump on them and take the points.

Whether its Penn State, Ohio State, or Wisconsin coming out of the Big 10 they are going to be a very tough out in the college football playoff.

How About Them Badgers?

The Wisconsin Badgers are the quietest 7-0 team in the country. They play in what might be the best conference in the country this year, the Big 10, but have somehow managed to fly under the radar. Overshadowed by Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan this year in the Big 10, not many are taking notice of the Badgers.

Well, they should be. The schedule hasn’t been a tough one so far, and outside of playing what looks like a very beatable Michigan team in late November, it looks like Wisconsin will coast to the Big 10 West Division title and could very easily head into the Big 10 Championship game undefeated. Now, I’m not going to pretend that the West Division is anywhere near as good as the East is this year, but if the Badgers make the Big 10 title game anything can happen.

And you can guarantee that if they win the Big 10 Championship game, they will surely make the college football playoff. I think Wisconsin has probably gotten just a little bit overrated in the last couple of weeks as they feast on subpar competition, but they are no doubt a team to keep an eye on the rest of the year.

The Badgers will travel to play at a bad Illinois team next week as -26-point favorites. That is just too many points for me to comfortably lay on the road in conference. I will likely stay away from this one, but if I had to take a side, I would probably get on the other side of the public and take the home team and the points.

Virginia Tech Continues to Impress

The Virginia Tech Hokies are a good football team. Just how good are they? Well, I’m not sure that has been decided yet. But we are about to find out.

As I mentioned earlier, the ACC is up for grabs, Florida State turned out to be complete frauds, as did Louisville. The defending champions, Clemson, are banged up and reeling, and Miami has to run out of good luck eventually, don’t they? That leaves the door wide open for the Hokies to take advantage of the struggles and find themselves in the college football playoff.

They host a serviceable Duke team next week as -15.5-point favorites. After that, the Hokies will have to go on the road at Miami in a huge matchup and have another sneaky-tough matchup the following week on the road against Georgia Tech.

This week is a classic look ahead week for Virginia Tech.

Their entire season rides on the Miami game the following week, and it wouldn’t shock me to see the Hokies look flat for much of the game against Duke. As has been a recurring theme so far, I will be once again taking the points, and backing Duke on the road. The Hokies are going to win but by more than two touchdowns? As Lee Corso likes to say, not so fast!

UCF is the Best Offense in the Country?

Yep. The University of Central Florida Knights are the highest scoring team in the country this year at more than 47 points per game. The Knights are undefeated and poised for a showdown of two undefeated teams when they face South Florida on the last weekend of the regular season. If both teams hold up their ends of the bargain and enter that game undefeated, we could see a playoff crasher from the American Athletic Conference.

It would likely take several big conference schools to lose two games before the Knights get a real look at the playoffs, but this year has been anarchy up top, and it might be the year we see a small school crash the playoff party. Even if the big boys hold the Knights out of the playoff, they are a lot of fun to watch.

You can’t find a line for the Knights next game against Austin Peay, as the books probably couldn’t count high enough to lay a number I wouldn’t like! UCF plays a decent SMU team the week after that, but unless Eric Dickerson and his gold Trans Am show up for the Mustangs, you can bet that UCF is going to roll right through them.

That Other Team From the AAC

As I mentioned above, the South Florida Bulls are also undefeated and trying to make a case for a playoff berth. They don’t have the flashy offense of UCF, but they are no slouch either, as they are 13th in the country at over 41 points a game. They are led by a top ten nationally rushing attack that features three different runners with over 500 yards on the ground this year.

The Bulls are in the same boat as the Knights, they need to take care of business and run the table and hope some big conference teams slip up. Do I think either of these teams could match up with the likes of Alabama in a playoff game? Nope. But I didn’t think Boise State had a shot against Oklahoma either…

TCU is the Class of the Big 12

The TCU Horned Frogs are the best team in a loaded Big 12 conference. In a conference known for scoring points and playing no defense, the Frogs have been shutting people down. Over the course of the last two games, TCU has held their opponents to a total of just 6 points. They have been steamrolling through a very tough schedule that features big wins over West Virginia and Oklahoma State.

They have another tough one this week, as they have to play at a newly top 25 ranked Iowa State team. Iowa State started out the season struggling at 2-2, but since have won 3 in a row, including shocking the world when they beat the Oklahoma Sooners on the road as 38-point underdogs.

Iowa State looked great last week as well as they shut down the high-powered Texas Tech offense. It was a great run that put the Cyclones back on the college football map, but I think all those happy feelings end this week at the hands of the Horned Frogs.

TCU is laying just -7 points, and I think they are going to pound the Cyclones in this one. You all know by now I love taking the points for home underdogs, but TCU is really good, and I don’t expect this game to be overly competitive.

Cougs Get Back on Track

In the last game, I am going to touch on this week, the Washington State Cougars got their season back on track, easily beating the Buffaloes of Colorado 28-0. It was a game that was probably a little closer than the scoreboard showed, as the Buffalos hung tough for most of the first half.

There is nothing that can fully explain what happened two weeks ago to the Cougars. I guess it was a letdown game after beating Pac-12 powerhouses USC and Oregon back to back? Whatever it was it was embarrassing. They lost to a bad Cal team 37-3 and derailed what was once a very promising season. Mike Leach and company did a decent job at picking up the pieces and kept the dream alive in Pullman for the moment, but that one is going to be hard to forget.

Luckily for the Cougars, they still have a couple big games on the schedule to build their resume, with games against Stanford and UDUB still to go.

Unfortunately for the Pac-12, it feels like they might be the big conference left out this year as they just haven’t held up in the non-conference and no one team has separated from the pack. It’s a shame as the conference is very strong and deep, but somebody has to get left out, and I have a sneaking suspicion it is the boys on the west coast.

The Cougars are -3-point favorites against Arizona next week, and that feels like a tough cover. I will very cautiously back Washington State, but I don’t love it.

Wrap Up

It was another great week full of action and week 9 has some even better games on the slate. Look forward to my individual game break downs for next week in the coming days where I tell you which games to target and which side you want to be on. Week 9 has some really fantastic matchups including, OK State at West Virginia, TCU at Iowa State, Penn State at Ohio State and N.C. State at Notre Dame. Good luck and happy betting!

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