What are Andy Staples and Ross Dellenger's top SEC bets on the board in Week 8? Which ACC over does Joan Niesen think has a strong chance of cashing? All of our best bets this weekend are here.
There are several intriguing games this weekend as the calendar flips to November, and three of our college football staff's best bets come in top-25 showdowns. Here are the straight-up picks for every big matchup in Week 10.
No. 20 Texas A&M (+4) at Auburn
The home team has yet to win in the Texas A&M-Auburn series since the Aggies began SEC play in 2012. So don’t argue with history. Take Texas A&M and enjoy your four free points. — Andy Staples
No. 1 Alabama at No. 3 LSU (+14.5)
This spread seems wildly large for no other reason than Alabama pulverizing some bad teams. The Tide’s best win is against Texas A&M, and Bama has yet to face a defense better than the Aggies (24th nationally). Alabama’s other seven defenses faced are ranked 101st, 85th, 124th, 114th, 82nd, 84th and 61st. Now, many of them are in that position because the Tide rolled up 500-plus yards and 50-plus points. But still, LSU and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda provide the stiffest test, and we believe that’s the difference in the Tigers covering. — Ross Dellenger
Georgia Tech at North Carolina: OVER 63.5 Points
I'm taking the over here. The combination of one high-powered offense (Georgia Tech) and two bad defenses makes me think this one will hit the over by the third quarter. North Carolina scores even when it loses, and Georgia Tech, in an inconsistent year, has put up more than 60 points twice and more than 40 points four times. This will be a shootout. — Joan Niesen
Duke (+9.5) at Miami
As long as Malik Rosier remains Miami's starting quarterback, the Hurricanes aren't a safe bet to run away from anybody, even against a Duke defense that was just gashed on the road by Pitt. Blue Devils quarterback Daniel Jones has enjoyed feast-or-famine production when healthy; he can make enough plays to keep this game within single digits. Both teams have too much at stake (namely, bowl eligibility and ACC Coastal relevance) to play this one fast and loose. — Eric Single
No. 14 Penn State at No. 5 Michigan (-10.5)
Jim Harbaugh said this week that Penn State will be the best defensive line his team has faced this season. At first glance, that statement seems like a generous compliment given the fact Michigan has faced Notre Dame and Michigan State already. But the Nittany Lions boast the most sacks and the most tackles for a loss in the Big Ten. Watch out for defensive ends Yetur Gross-Matos and Shareef Miller, who have combined for 10 sacks and 21 TFLs. Michigan’s offensive line, which has had its fair share of problems this season, will have to keep Shea Patterson upright. Where Michigan’s offense can exploit the PSU defense, however, is its secondary. The linebackers have been fairly inconsistent—an issue James Franklin has cited since the beginning of the year. Michigan’s offense could find gaps in the middle or in the RPO game.
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley didn’t have a banner day last week against Iowa, going 11 of 25 for 167 yards with one passing TD, one rushing TD and one pick. He missed two series with a knee injury and is not 100% heading into this game against the nation’s top defense led by Chase Winovich and Devin Bush. If those guys can get pressure on McSorley, who is completing 52% of his passes compared to 66% from last year, the offense won’t be able to dominate like it once did with Saquon Barkley. Additionally, running back Miles Sanders hasn’t been as productive the last few weeks, getting stuffed by Indiana and Iowa for less than 100 rushing yards. Now he faces another stout rushing defense.
Speaking of last year, Michigan is on a revenge tour, striving to beat every opponent who crushed them last year. After taking care of Michigan State and Wisconsin, Penn State is next after the Nittany Lions pummeled UM 42–13 at Beaver Stadium in 2017. Michigan is fresh off a bye week and Penn State looked sloppy in a close win over Iowa last week. The Wolverines should have no problem covering at home. — Laken Litman
Stanford (+10) at Washington
Washington didn’t exactly take the Pac-12 by storm in October, losing on the road to Oregon and Cal while beating lowly UCLA and Colorado (which featured a limited Buffaloes offense without Laviska Shenault) by a combined 21 points. It got so ugly on offense in last weekend’s loss against Cal that senior quarterback Jake Browning was benched in the middle of the game. And this is the same offense that is laying double-digit points here.
Stanford isn’t playing great either, dropping three of its last four contests. But at least the Cardinal know what they are on offense; they rely heavily on deep 50/50 throws from K.J. Costello.
Even with Stanford’s disappointing defense, I still think this ends up being a low-scoring affair. And I will gladly take 10 points in that situation every time, especially going up against an offense as ghastly as Washington’s has been. — Max Meyer
No. 13 West Virginia (+2) at No. 17 Texas
The premature “Is Texas back?” national talk took a big hit last week in its loss to Oklahoma State, where the defense that had been keeping the Longhorns in games en route to a top-10 ranking suddenly forgot to cover, tackle and rush the passer.
In the 38–35 loss, the Longhorns gave up 502 yards and the defense was on the field for 85 plays.
That kind of performance will get them run off the field against West Virginia, which used its week after a loss to Iowa State to rout Baylor, averaging almost nine yards every time it snapped the ball.
The Mountaineers have been fairly consistent this season when picked against the spread, with a record of 5–2. The two-point spread doesn’t give bettors much confidence either way, so go with West Virginia in the outright win, keeping its Big 12 title hopes alive. — Scooby Axson
Bonus: Group of Five
Houston (-13.5) at SMU
In losses this year, the Mustangs have allowed 46, 42, 45, 48 and 26 points, along with a 30-pointer in an overtime win over 2–6 Navy. The Cougars have scored in wins this year 45, 45, 70, 41, 42, 49 and 57 points, along with a 49-pointer in a loss at Texas Tech. Go with Houston and surging Heisman contender D’Eriq King to win big in Dallas. — Ross Dellenger