Predicting All Top 25 Week 8 College Football Games Against the Spread

Alex Callos@@alexcallosCorrespondent IOctober 17, 2012

Predicting All Top 25 Week 8 College Football Games Against the Spread

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    The initial BCS rankings have been released, and the college football season is now in full swing. National championship talk has started, and as always, the SEC is at the top of the conversation.

    Week 8 is looking to be another exciting weekend of college football as 24 of the top 25 teams are in action. There are three games pitting top-20 teams against each other, and two of them are from the SEC.

    With nearly everybody in action this weekend, there is certainly going to be some movement in the Top 25 by Sunday.

    Among the biggest games of the weekend are South Carolina-Florida, Kansas State-West Virginia and LSU-Texas A&M. 

    Here are odds, predictions and analysis for all games featuring top-25 teams this weekend.

    *All rankings are based on the AP Poll

    *Odds Via; all times are Eastern

No. 2 Oregon vs. Arizona State

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    When: Thursday, Oct. 18, at 9 p.m.

    Line: Oregon -9.5

    The Oregon Ducks are the most dynamic offense in the country, and they will put points on the board against anybody.

    They do it with a perfect balance of the run and pass. The running back tandem of Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas is the best in the country, and the defense has been solid as well, allowing only 20 points a game.

    Arizona State on the other hand is also off to a fast start and looking to vault onto the national scene with a huge upset at home.

    The Sun Devils are 5-1, with their only loss coming 24-20 at Missouri. They are led by quarterback Taylor Kelly, who has thrown for 1,600 yards with 14 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

    Pick: It doesn't matter if Oregon is on the road or not, 9.5 points is not nearly enough. Ducks win by three scores and cover in the process.

No. 19 Rutgers at Temple

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20, at 12 p.m.

    Line: Rutgers -4

    Rutgers does it with defense and a solid running game. The Scarlet Knights are not a team to put a lot of points on the board but feature one of the best defenses in the nation. They are only allowing 11.5 points a game, good for third in the country. The group has held all but one opponent to 15 points or less.

    The offense is led by running back Jawan Jamison and his 665 yards and three scores this season. 

    Temple, on the other hand, has been playing very well as of late and comes in at 3-2 overall. The Owls have been led by the emergence of Boston College transfer Montel Harris. The running back rushed for 142 yards last week, after going for 133 the week before during a victory over South Florida.

    Pick: This one is going to be relatively close, particularly since it is at home for Temple and Rutgers does not allow a lot of points. Take Rutgers to win a close one but cover with a touchdown victory.

Virginia Tech at No. 19 Clemson

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20, at 12 p.m.

    Line: Clemson -8.5

    The Clemson Tigers are 5-1, with their only loss coming at Florida State, and have been able to put up points against anybody.

    The Tigers defense has been the big question mark, however. The group is allowing over 27 points a game and has given up over 30 each of the past three games.

    Virginia Tech has been a huge disappointment, but there is still enough talent to compete with the big boys in the ACC. Quarterback Logan Thomas has struggled at times against quality competition, but if he can play like he is capable of, the Hokies can hang around in this one.

    Pick: Clemson is at home and should be able to come out with a victory, but I see Virginia Tech covering the spread in this one. Take the Hokies and the points.

Purdue at No. 7 Ohio State

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20, at 12 p.m.

    Line: Ohio State -17

    The Buckeyes continue to climb in the rankings, despite not being able to participate in any type of postseason play.

    The offense has been dominant for Ohio State, and Braxton Miller has emerged as one of the leading Heisman contenders. The sophomore quarterback has passed for 1,271 yards with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions, while rushing for 912 yards and nine scores.

    Purdue, on the other hand, was expected to be a sleeper in the Big Ten but has struggled in recent weeks. The Boilermakers are 3-3 and 0-2 in conference play. 

    The defense has been a bit of an issue, allowing over 27 points a game (41 points in-conference).

    Pick: OSU will put up the points, but 17 is a lot to cover, particularly with how the Buckeyes defense has struggled in recent weeks. Take Purdue and the points.

No. 6 LSU at No. 20 Texas A&M

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20, at 12 p.m.

    Line: LSU -3

    South Carolina ran into the buzzsaw that is the LSU defense over the weekend, and the Tigers squeaked out a 23-21 victory at home.

    This week, LSU travels to College Station to take on a talented Texas A&M squad. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger continues to struggle, and he will need to do step up for the Tigers to come out with a victory in this one.

    Texas A&M, on the other hand, has been solid all season, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Its only blemish is a three-point loss to Florida.

    The offense averages 47 points a game, which is good for fifth in the country, and the defense should have no trouble slowing the average LSU offense.

    Pick: This game is going to be very close and likely played in the 20s. Look for Texas A&M to cover the three points and possibly come out with an upset.

No. 22 Stanford at California

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20, at 3 p.m.

    Line: Stanford -2.5

    The Cardinal are coming off a devastating overtime loss in South Bend to Notre Dame and will have to bounce back quickly against rival Cal.

    Stanford plays close with just about everybody, and this one should be no different. Once again expect a heavy dose of Stepfan Taylor and the run game as Stanford tries to dominate time of possession.

    California has played a very challenging schedule so far, and has improved in recent weeks with wins over UCLA and Washington State.

    There is a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball for the Golden Bears, led by wide receiver Keenan Allen, who already has 633 yards and five touchdowns on 52 receptions.

    Pick: This one is going to be close, and with Cal at home it could come down to the wire. Take the Bears and the points in this one.

No. 18 Texas Tech at TCU

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20, at 3:30 p.m.

    Line: Texas Tech -2

    No team looked more impressive last week than Texas Tech, as the Red Raiders took down No. 5 West Virginia 49-14.

    For the Red Raiders, it has been all about defense this season; the group has only allowed 16 points a game, which is good for 17th in the country. The offense has been dominant as well, averaging over 40 points a game. 

    TCU also had a huge victory, knocking off Baylor 49-21 on the road. The Horned Frogs may be better off without quarterback Casey Pachall, and the offense has been rolling lately, averaging 33 points a game for the season.

    The Horned Frogs do it with defense, though. The group only allows 14.5 points a game, which ranks 11th in the country.

    Pick: This game should be very close, and the TCU defense will give Texas Tech a little bit of trouble. The difference will be the talented Red Raider defense holding TCU in check. Take Tech to win and cover.

BYU at No. 5 Notre Dame

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20, 3:30 p.m.

    Line: Notre Dame -13.5

    Notre Dame has been one of the biggest surprises, so far, this season and comes into the game with national title aspirations.

    The Fighting Irish have done it with a defense that ranks second in the country, allowing only 8.7 points a contest. The offense has been a different story and has struggled to put points on the board at times. 

    BYU, on the other hand, has also struggled on offense but been solid on the defensive side of the ball. The Cougars are seventh in the country in allowing only 13.6 points a game, and have played some stiff competition, so far, with their three losses coming to Oregon State, Boise State and Utah.

    Pick: This game is going to be very low-scoring and 13.5 is a lot of points to cover, but BYU will have trouble putting any points on the board on this defense. Take Notre Dame and give the points.

No. 7 South Carolina at No. 3 Florida

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20, at 3:30 p.m.

    Line: Florida -3

    There is no question that this is the game of the week. This game could decide who wins the SEC East title.

    Undefeated Florida has one of the best defenses in the country and is only allowing 12.3 points a game (sixth in the country). No team has put more than 20 on the board against Florida.

    South Carolina may be one of the most talented teams in the country and is coming off a tough two-point loss at LSU.

    The Gamecocks defense is just as good as Florida and ranks fifth in the country, only allowing 12.3 points a game.

    Pick: This is going to be a very low-scoring contest with a lot on the line. Expect it to be very close and come down to the final possession. Take Florida at home to win and cover.

South Florida at No. 16 Louisville

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20, at 3:30 p.m.

    Line: Louisville -7

    Even though Louisville has not been overpowering for most of the season, the Cardinals are 6-0 and Big East favorites. The Cardinals, though, have not won any of their last four games by more than 10 points and continue to do what it takes to win.

    South Florida is only 2-4 and has been one of the biggest disappointments this season. The Bulls are falling apart a little earlier than they are used to. The problem for South Florida has been on both sides of the ball and four straight losses have the team headed in the wrong direction.

    Pick: Louisville is at home and seven points is not too much. Take Louisville to cover easily in this one.

UNLV at No. 24 Boise State

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20, at 3:30 p.m.

    Line: Boise State -27.5

    The Broncos are not the team most college football fans are used to seeing, but they are still 5-1 and poised for another double-digit win season.

    Defense has been the name of the game this year, as the Broncos are only allowing 14.7 points a game (12th in the nation). Offense has been a struggle, but UNLV will not pose much of a threat.

    The Rebels are one of the worst teams in the country and come in at 1-6, with their only win being a three-point victory over Air Force.

    UNLV almost knocked off Nevada last week and may be headed in the right direction. Still, Boise State is the toughest team on its schedule and a loss is inevitable.

    Pick: Boise State will win this one easily but does not have the talent offensively to cover the 27.5 points, even if it is at home. Take UNLV to cover.

Michigan State at No. 23 Michigan

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20, at 3:30 p.m.

    Line: Michigan -10

    This is a huge one for both schools, particularly the Wolverines as they try to stay in contention for a BCS bowl.

    Michigan has looked better in recent weeks, with wins over Illinois and Purdue, but still has to prove itself against a team with a little more talent. The Wolverines will get their shot against in-state rival Michigan State.

    The Spartans, however, have struggled, particularly on the offensive side of the ball and have lost three of their past five. Running back Le'Veon Bell has been excellent all season, and without him the Spartans would be in a world of hurt.

    Pick: Michigan is likely to come out on top, but take Michigan State and the points.

Colorado at No. 11 USC

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20, at 6 p.m.

    Line: USC -41

    Everybody is waiting for the explosive USC offense to come out of its shell and put some serious points on the board, but that has not happened yet.

    The group is only averaging 32 points a game, which is only good for 49th in the country. The offensive line has been the major problem, and until that is resolved, the Trojans will not reach their full potential.

    Colorado is arguably the worst team in the Pac-12 and may have trouble winning another game this season. The Buffaloes are awful on both sides of the ball, particularly defense, allowing over 41 points a game. Stopping USC will be no easy task for this squad.

    Pick: USC will win this one rather easily, but covering 41 points will be a lot to ask from a team that hasn't put up that many points in five weeks. Take Colorado and the points.

No. 1 Alabama vs. Tennessee

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m.

    Line: Alabama -20.5

    No team has looked better this season than the Alabama Crimson Tide. The group is winning its first six games by an average score of 40-7 and has the best defense in the nation.

    On offense, Alabama has been better than expected (17th in the country in points scored) with the two-headed running back tandem of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon.

    Tennessee, on the other hand, has struggled for most of the season against good teams and is in the midst of the most grueling portion of its schedule.

    Quarterback Tyler Bray has put up some huge numbers, throwing for over 1,700 yards with 16 touchdowns in the first six games of the season.

    Pick: This game is in Knoxville and used to be one of the biggest SEC games of the season. This, however, is just too many points to cover. Take Tennessee and the points but expect Alabama to win by two touchdowns.

No. 4 Kansas State vs. No. 17 West Virginia

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m.

    Line: West Virginia -3

    Kansas State has vaulted into the Top Five and now has legitimate national title aspirations. Led by do-it-all quarterback Collin Klein, the Wildcats are averaging nearly 41 points a game. Klein has rushed for 510 yards with 10 touchdowns and also thrown for 1,074 yards with seven touchdowns.

    West Virginia is coming off a devastating blowout loss to Texas Tech and saw its national title hopes dashed in the matter of a few hours.

    Geno Smith is still one of the Heisman front-runners, as his numbers are still the best in college football, with 2,271 yards passing, 25 touchdowns and no interceptions.

    Pick: West Virginia is at home and coming off a loss. The Mountaineers defense is awful, however, and three points is a lot to cover against a team like Kansas State. Take the Wildcats and the points.

Kansas at No. 10 Oklahoma

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m.

    Line: Oklahoma -35

    The Sooners looked awful impressive last week against Texas and looked like the team a lot of people expected them to be before the season began.

    They have scored over 40 points in three of the past four games, and the only blemish for the Sooners is a five-point loss to Kansas State.

    Kansas is the worst team in the Big 12 but has hung tough with a lot of opponents. The most recent of those was a 20-14 loss to Oklahoma State.

    The Jayhawks are only 1-5 but have lost four of their five games by two scores or less. Expect them to hang around with Oklahoma for a little while.

    Pick: The Sooners will win this one rather easily but won't cover the 35-point spread. Take Kansas and the points.

No. 13 Georgia at Kentucky

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m.

    Line: Georgia -28

    Georgia had a bye week to sit around and think about South Carolina's utter dominance over them. This week, the Bulldogs get to take out their frustrations on a pitiful Kentucky team. 

    The Bulldogs have quite an offense, led by quarterback Aaron Murray and the running attack of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Both should have no problem going over 100 yards on the day.

    Kentucky is one of the worst teams in the country. The Wildcats struggle on both sides of the ball with an offense that ranks No. 114 (averaging less than 19 points a game), and a defense that allows around 33 points a game.

    The Wildcats have questions all over the field, particularly the quarterback position, and Georgia is not the team to be playing with so many issues.

    Pick: Even though 28 points is a lot and Georgia is on the road, take the Bulldogs in this one.

Middle Tennessee at No. 15 Mississippi State

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m.

    Line: Mississippi State -20

    Some people are not yet believers in Mississippi State, but with the way the team has been playing, it is hard not to be.

    The Bulldogs are 6-0 and one of 12 undefeated teams remaining in FBS. They are solid on both sides of the ball and running back LaDarius Perkins has rushed for 600 yards and seven touchdowns on the year.

    Middle Tennessee is not as bad as some may think, coming in at 4-2. The Blue Raiders have wins over Georgia Tech and Florida International.

    This game will be relatively close for some time, as QB Logan Kilgore will be enough to keep Middle Tennessee in this one.

    Pick: Take Mississippi Stat to cover—but barely.

No. 21 Cincinnati at Toledo

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m.

    Line: Cincinnati -7

    This is one of the better games of the week and pits two teams who have a combined record of 11-1. The Bearcats are 5-0 and one of three undefeated teams from the state of Ohio.

    Cincinnati does it with a defense that ranks 10th in the country, allowing only 14.4 points a game. Quarterback Munchie Legaux has been very inconsistent but has hit the key throws when needed. Running back George Winn has also helped carry the Bearcats offense.

    The MAC's Toledo Rockets comes into the game 6-1, with its only loss coming in overtime at Arizona.

    The Rockets have a stud in quarterback Terrance Owens. Owens has passed for 1,900 yards with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions on the season. He will be tough for Cincinnati to slow down.

    Pick: This game is going to be close, particularly since it is at Toledo. Expect Cincinnati to win but Toledo to cover the spread. Take the Rockets and the points.

No. 12 Florida State at Miami

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20, at 8 p.m.

    Line: Florida State -18

    Florida State is certainly still stinging from the loss to North Carolina State, but rebounded nicely last week in a dominating victory over Boston College.

    There is plenty of talent to go around on the offensive side of the ball, and Florida State is averaging 46 points a game. On defense, the group is allowing less than 12 points a night.

    Miami has shown the past two weeks that it still has a ways to go. The Hurricanes are coming off back-to-back losses to Notre Dame and North Carolina. The Hurricanes struggle on defense, and that does not bode well with the talented Seminoles offense coming to town.

    Pick: Florida State has too much talent not to cover this spread, even if it is on the road against a major rival. Take the Seminoles.

Utah at No. 8 Oregon State

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20, at 10:30 p.m.

    Line: Oregon State -10

    The Beavers may be the most pleasant surprises in the country this season and have vaulted into the top 10 in national rankings, even with the injury to sophomore quarterback Sean Mannion.

    Even though there is nothing fancy about it, the Beavers have certainly been getting the job done and winning all season.

    Utah also suffered an injury to its starting quarterback and has struggled in recent weeks, losing three games in a row. The Utes have trouble putting points on the board, and that is not good news with the Oregon State defense awaiting.

    Pick: Ten points is not a lot, and Oregon State is at home. Take the Beavers to cover.