College Football Week 8 Preview – AP Top-25 Showdowns!

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TwinSpires Staff

October 18th, 2018

Following a 3-0 sweep in last week’s Top-25 games including a pair of outright underdog winners on LSU over Georgia and Oregon over Washington, we move on to college football Week 8 and try to tackle this week’s four marquee matchups between Top-25 teams.

The shakeup continued last week in the college football polls when four Top-10 teams lost – Georgia, West Virginia, Washington and Penn State. The latter two fell out of the national championship playoff picture as the Huskies and Nittany Lions suffered their second losses of the season. How will these teams bounce back this coming weekend?

No. 16 NC State at No. 3 Clemson (-18) – Both teams enter this ACC Atlantic division showdown off a bye week, and underrated NC State (5-0) remains unbeaten as they try to knock off league kingpin Clemson (6-0) in Death Valley. The Wolfpack have covered the last two meetings as double-digit dogs, losing each contest by 7 points including on this field in overtime 24-17 two years ago. Perception may become reality however this week as Clemson looks like they will have a solid advantage at the point of attack and in the running game, where teams that outrush their opponent by at least a 2-1 margin cover the point spread 75% of the time past decade including this season on a sample of more than 150 games. However, NC State does hold opponents to 93 rushing yards per game to rank top-5 in the country, but that number will rise following this contest as Clemson has one the nation’s strongest, most balanced offenses and a top-5 rushing attack at more than 285 yards per game. Still, Clemson’s defensive weakness is the passing game, and NC State QB Finley has led the passing attack at 335 YPG. Consider that Clemson allowed by Texas A&M to pass for 430 yards in a narrow 2-point victory and Syracuse passed for 250 yards before Clemson escaped with a late 4-point win on this field. Undefeated road dog fits some technical parameters and the Wolfpack have some stat profiles to support a play as well. Inevitably, this is too many points. 

College Football Week 8 Picks – North Carolina State +18.0

No. 22 Mississippi State at No. 6 LSU (-6.5) – The MSU Bulldogs trounced the LSU Tigers last year 37-7, and situation favors Mississippi State this year. The Bulldogs travel to Baton Rouge following a bye week, and also catch LSU in letdown and lookahead spot off the Tigers win over Georgia and next week’s showdown at home against No. 1 Alabama. Low total and ‘Dog role also points us to Mississippi State, who has held 5-of-6 opponents to 13 points or less and the Bulldogs defense bites hard allowing just 297 YPG and 4.7 yards per play. We cashed in with LSU last week in the big upset of Georgia, but Tigers not in a good situation this week against a defensive dog that also has a 1.2 net yards per play advantage.

College Football Week 8 Picks – Mississippi State +6.5

No. 6 Michigan at No. 24 Michigan State (+7) – Early kickoff in East Lansing between these two state conference rivals in what is expected to be a defensive duel. The total is extremely low at 41.5, but know the Spartans boast the nation’s No. 1 run defense allowing just 62 rushing yards per game while the Wolverines No. 1 overall defense (238 YPG) is allowing a mere 109 rushing yards per game. The Spartans pass defense is a weakness, and Michigan has the stronger and more balanced offense to compliment its elite defense. Michigan State has dominated the series the last decade going 8-2 SU and 10-0 ATS. And who can forget the Michigan State miracle in 2015 when these two ranked rivals battled in Ann Arbor and a muffed punt and fumble by the Michigan punter was returned 40 yards for a Spartans touchdown, leading to a  miraculous Michigan State victory, 27-23. Bad blood may finally go Big Blue’s way in victory, but value players will support Michigan State in this anticipated defensive grudge match knowing that Michigan State was a 1-point favorite on the preseason Games of the Year lines at the Southpoint Casino in Las Vegas. Roll the dice with Sparty.

College Football Week 8 Pick – Michigan State +7

No. 12 Oregon at No. 25 Washington State (-3) – The Pac-12 will be left out of the college football playoff party again this season, unless one of these teams runs the table and gets help from other upsets of Top-5 teams. Both teams are 5-1 and chasing Washington, and plenty of passes in Pullman Saturday between Oregon QB Herbert and Washington State QB Minshew. The Cougars dominated the Ducks in Eugene last season 33-10, limiting Oregon to 277 yards offense and one of its worst home losses in decades. Washington State is also off a bye for this key contest while Oregon enters off the huge home win over Pac-12 North leader Washington. Mike Leach continues to work wisely and produce wonderful results as coach of Washington State, and while the fundamentals, defense and running game support Oregon with a +1.8 net yards per rush advantage, we’re leaning towards Leach and the Cougars to prevail again.

College Football Week 8 Pick – Washington State  -3.0

Fairway Jay is a professional handicapper based out of Las Vegas. He focuses primarily on the four majors along with college football and college basketball. You can follow him on Twitter @FairwayJay.