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College Football Picks ATS for Week 8

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Maybe an ugly slate of games makes my picks prettier

Syndication: The Greenville News Ken Ruinard / USA TODAY Network / USA TODAY NETWORK

Hopefully, you enjoyed your bye week last weekend enjoying what turned out to be another fun Saturday of college football for Florida State fans even without the Seminoles on the field.

The Gators got run over by an LSU team that fired its coach less than 24 hours after the win. Miami looked competitive against UNC with their backup QB and RB but they found a way to mess it up in the end.

FSU now comes out its bye with a snoozer that SHOULD (notice the emphasis on should) allow them to pad their win column against UMass and apparently the rest of the college football world is following their lead.

There are exactly ZERO head-to-head top 25 matchups this week.

Hopefully that allows me to pad the win column as well because last week certainly didn’t help. My picks went 3-7. That’s the worst week so far but there’s plenty of season left to do even worse. Overall, I’m at 34-41.

We did have a commenter do worse than me last week so huge thanks to them for making me feel a bit better about my dismal performance. And of course, the top commenter is Ukedadnole again (who should probably just take this column over at this point).

BUT NOT YET.

All lines are from Tallysight.com.

  • Illinois (+23.5) at No. 7 Penn State (Noon ET, ABC)

This week is so weird that I’m mostly going to stick to the games on national TV instead of trying to pick the best matchups because there aren’t any on the surface. But this one might be. The most interesting part of this game is the ‘will he or won’t he’ situation surrounding Sean Clifford’s playing status. The Penn State QB had them rolling over Iowa a few weeks back before he got hurt and the Lions really collapsed without him. He’s the key to everything they do, but head coach James Franklin says they’re still taking it day-by-day with him on Wednesday. He’s a huge key to this whole situation. I’m going to expect him to play as Penn State tries to fight back into the playoff picture.

Prediction: Penn State -23.5

  • Northwestern (+23.5) at No. 6 Michigan (Noon ET, FOX)

Has anyone seen Michigan this season? I feel like they haven’t played a single game of any importance so far, but they find themselves right in the thick of the playoff race at No. 6. What do know is that they’ve got a great running game lead by RB Blake Corum. Northwestern’s defense is the cornerstone of the team so I could see them slowing the Wolverines down but they don’t have the firepower to keep up in this one.

Prediction: Michigan -23.5

  • UMass (+35.5) at Florida State (Noon ET, ACCN)

I’ve had some success picking the FSU games this year, but I did not expect to include this one this week because I didn’t think I’d have a line available. But turns out I do. As I wrote in the staff predictions article, this is a game that Florida State SHOULD roll through easily, but with the Jacksonville State result I understand skepticism. I like the Noles to dominate this game. But I also think we could a late score or two against the young guys to give UMass the cover.

Prediction: UMass +35.5

  • LSU (+9.5) at No. 12 Ole Miss (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

LSU finds itself in one of the weirdest situation in college football history, being led by a head coach that has already been fired. It speaks volumes about the staff, especially the coordinators, that Ed Orgeron has brought in. The Tigers with their already fired coach travel to Ole Miss and will face the coach who is favored at some sportbooks to take Orgeron’s job in Lane Kiffin. Like I said, weird. The big problem for Kiffin’s group is their QB, Matt Corral, got pretty banged up against Tennessee last week (No, not by flying debris) so his status is unclear. Kiffin makes it sound like he’s out but reporting out of Oxford seems to believe he’ll play. I don’t trust Ole Miss’ defense to keep LSU out the endzone enough even if he does to cover a two score spread anyway so I’m going with the Tigers.

Prediction: LSU +9.5

When I tell you guys I was shocked by this line, I feel like I might be underselling it. This is a top ten team against an unranked opponent getting more than a touchdown. I planned to tell you before the line that I expected Iowa State to fight for the cover but Oklahoma State’s defense to make a play to put it out of reach. Clearly I don’t need to do any of that. I like Iowa State. They’ve got QB Brock Purdy and RB Breece Hall, which is enough to win any game. But I can’t say no to those points with a top-ten team even on the road.

Prediction: Oklahoma State +7.5

  • No. 10 Oregon (+1.5) at UCLA (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

As bad as this slate is, there are some potential top ten upsets all over this 3:30 window. Again, we’ve got a top-ten team getting points on the road. This one clearly not as lopsided as ISU but still shows the potential for an upset. Oregon is banged up on offense and defense, which led to their big scare last week against Cal. I believe UCLA is better than Cal and can finish the job.

Prediction: UCLA -1.5

  • Clemson (+3.5) at No. 23 Pittsburgh (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

This still looks so strange, but Clemson is rightfully an underdog this week against Pitt. The Panthers have looked great this season at 5-1 and Clemson has had to fight tooth and nail for every win. I expected the Tigers to have a different energy and attitude coming out of their bye week, but they did not. So why would it change this week?

Prediction: Pitt -3.5

  • No. 5 Ohio State (-21.5) at Indiana (7:00 p.m. ET, ABC)

I triple checked this one just to make sure Ohio State wasn’t going to be our third top ten road underdog this week, but this one looks pretty straightforward. Despite the hype coming off last season’s success, Indiana once again looks like Indiana. Meanwhile, Ohio State appears to be charging toward yet another College Football Playoff appearance. I think they clear this total easily.

Prediction: Ohio State -21.5

  • USC (+6.5) at No. 13 Notre Dame (7:30 p.m. ET, NBC)

Doesn’t the FSU-ND game feel like it was a decade ago? The Noles have seemingly hit rock bottom and built themselves back up since and Notre Dame has played pretty well since. The exception is the loss to Cincinnati, but it was a relatively close game. Clearly, the Irish aren’t top tier this season, but I don’t think they need to be to beat USC.

Prediction: Notre Dame -6.5

  • No. 18 NC State (-3.5) at Miami (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

I’ve slept on NC State quite a bit this season. I picked them to lose to Mississippi State, which they did. Since then though, they’ve made me look stupid over and over again. I know they lost some defensive starters earlier this year and I thought it would slow them down but it certainly hasn’t. They’re unbeaten and challenging to play in the ACC Championship Game. Miami put up a strong fight against UNC last week, but I’m joining the Wolfpack’s bandwagon.

Prediction: NC State -3.5