CFB Week 8: Laying the wood with unranked favorites in big games
The Texas Longhorns don't play this week, and that's good news for our weekly look-ahead at the biggest football games in the NCAA. Texas has collapsed in consecutive weeks after taking significant leads against each of Oklahoma's top programs. The Cowboys' comeback win was the only blemish on our slate in Week 7, as we went 4-1 to improve the overall season record to 15-10 (60%).
As gross as our last two plays on the Longhorns have been, if you want true hideousness, I invite you to peruse the Week 8 card in college football. Calling these huge contests is the biggest stretch of the year.
It's a weird time to be alive in the ACC. Clemson is not ranked, but Pittsburgh is?! Even though both teams are very much in the running for a trip to the conference title game, it doesn't feel like the Tigers are alive for anything, but they have at least managed to avoid a few near losses.
The Panthers got their collective heads out in front of the rest of the ACC Coastal with a win at Virginia Tech on Saturday. Kenny Pickett's starting to get some attention as Heisman voters search for a viable candidate, and he might be the best quarterback in town. This is Pickett's chance to show out against a brand-name defense, and if you think he can do it, 20-1 is still out there (down from 40-1) on the Panthers' passer.
Lean: Pitt -3
This matchup is only considered larger than Utah-Oregon State because of branding and its slot on national television instead of the conference network. Truthfully, Oregon and UCLA aren't in any better of a position to make the Pac-12 championship than their aforementioned brethren.
This game will affect the conference race if the Bruins can outscore the Ducks in a way that Cal couldn't in Eugene last Friday night. Anything under a field goal on UCLA feels like a worthwhile shot on Chip Kelly's current group versus his former squad.
Pick: UCLA -2
Speaking of a weird polling phenomenon, Iowa State got all the preseason hype, but it's Oklahoma State that is somehow still undefeated. However, it's telling that the Pokes are significant underdogs despite their single-digit ranking.
The Cyclones still have a strong path back to the Big 12 championship game, but they need to take care of business in this one at home, and I expect they will. It's just a matter of the price you're willing to pay, so I'd wait to see if this number can come off the full touchdown before pulling the trigger.
Pick: Iowa State (wait for -6.5)
I told you the card is grim this week, but Group of Five conferences matter too - especially when the two sides are a combined 12-1. We said Air Force was better than Boise State before the team went and won on the blue turf last week, but I had to do a double-take when I saw San Diego State is still undefeated. It hasn't been pretty in Mission Valley.
My people off Montezuma Road aren't going to like this, but the Aztecs finally get the loss they've somehow avoided here - and it might not be all that close. Atop the Mountain West, the Falcons may find themselves with a number by their name next week, potentially swapping spots with SDSU.
Pick: Air Force -3.5
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.