While the weekly AP poll rankings may not matter much in the grand scheme of things, they matter to certain programs when they make history with their rankings. The Cincinnati Bearcats are ranked second in the newest AP poll, which is the first time a non-power conference team has been ranked that high since 2010. In addition, Purdue sneaks into the poll at No. 25, the first time they have been ranked since 2007. Now, Kansas holds the dubious distinction of the longest power-conference school drought without being ranked, as their last appearance in the top 25 came back in 2009.
We are coming off a week where seven ranked teams lost, and five of those losses were to unranked teams. In addition, a top-three team has lost to an unranked team in three consecutive weeks, which means Cincinnati and Oklahoma need to be wary of Navy and Kansas, respectively. However, since Navy and Kansas are 2-10 SU combined, it will be interesting to see the betting splits from an ATS perspective in those matchups and if bettors will be scorned by the multitude of upsets recently.
Here are my top plays for Week 8 in college football.
Best Bets for Week 8: College Football
(Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
Last Season: 35-22 (+9.5 units)
YTD: 17-10 (+5.3 units)
Wake Forest at Army: OVER/UNDER 52
In retrospect, the under in last week’s matchup between Army and Wisconsin was too easy, even considering the game kicked off with one of the lowest totals at 37.5. The Black Knights and the Badgers play at two of the slowest tempos in the country, and each is content to punish the opponent with a ground attack.
This week, Army faces the polar opposite of Wisconsin in a high-scoring up-tempo Wake Forest team. The Demon Deacons rank 28th in the country in scoring (averaging 38.7 PPG) and have scored at least 35 points in all six of their wins to start the season. Though Wake Forest had a week off to prepare for Army’s triple-option attack, they still rank second-to-last in the ACC, allowing 173.8 YPG on the ground. That is a recipe for disaster when facing Army. On the other side, the Black Knights secondary will have no answer for Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman, who has thrown for 269 yards per game and has a 14:3 TD:INT ratio.
The over is 4-1 in Wake Forest’s last five road games, and they will make the most of their limited possessions by using their superior speed to do their part in the scoring.
PICK: OVER 52
Oklahoma State at Iowa State (-7)
The Iowa State Cyclones started the season as many experts’ best pick to oppose Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship. However, after early-season losses to Iowa and Baylor, they have been forgotten about. Despite their 4-2 record, oddsmakers are giving the Cyclones a ton of respect as seven-point home favorites against the No. 8 ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys. This line is very fishy, but that is why we are all over it.
Oddsmakers’ opinion of Oklahoma State with this line seems to be that the Cowboys are not as strong as their record indicates, and FPI backs that up, giving them a 22% chance to win this week. Oklahoma State has a 7.0 PPG differential, the third-smallest of any team that has started 6-0 in the AP poll era (since 1936). The other two were Penn State’s 4.0 PPG differential in 1985 and Notre Dame’s 4.8 PPG differential in 1939.
Texas had Oklahoma State down 24-13 in the second half last week, then seemed to take their foot off the gas and lacked aggressiveness offensively. The Cowboys defense forced four straight three and outs and a turnover on downs. They outscored Texas 16-0 in the fourth quarter and scored 19 unanswered to end the game.
There is no denying Oklahoma State’s talent defensively, as they rank in the top-three in scoring and yards allowed in the Big 12. However, quarterback Spencer Sanders still struggles throwing the football, and his 32 turnovers since the start of 2019 are the most in college football in that span. On the other side, Brock Purdy was an efficient 22-of-25 passing in a road win over Kansas State and was complemented by 197 yards on the ground and two touchdowns from Breece Hall.
As a favorite, Iowa State is 5-2 ATS in their last seven conference games and is 7-3 in their previous ten games. This is Oklahoma State’s first 6-0 start since 2015, but their undefeated season will come to an end in a big way this week.
PICK: Iowa State -7
Oregon at UCLA (-1)
This is our second straight pick of a “fishy line,” as the unranked UCLA Bruins are home favorites at the Rose Bowl against the No. 10 ranked Oregon Ducks. Oregon has the most impressive non-conference win of the season, beating Ohio State 35-28 at the Horseshoe. However, they have struggled the last two weeks as they lost at Stanford and needed a fourth-quarter comeback to beat California. Even though the Ducks have an extra day to prepare for this game, having last played on Friday night, their current form is problematic.
Ducks quarterback Anthony Brown has been inconsistent at best for over a month, as he completed less than 54% of his passes in three of the last five games. Unfortunately, two of those games were in the team’s two road games, and the Rose Bowl atmosphere will prove to be too big for him this weekend.
UCLA has been a hard team to assess, as they responded to a 19-point home loss to Arizona State with back-to-back wins at Arizona and Washington. The favorite is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings between these teams, and we think oddsmakers know something with making the Bruins small home favorites in this one.
PICK: UCLA -1
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