College Football Best Bets for Week 8 (Trust Underdogs Syracuse, SMU)

Sep 10, 2022; East Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Garrett Shrader (6)
Sep 10, 2022; East Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Garrett Shrader (6) / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The thrilling college football games keep on coming with a loaded Week 8 card.

Syracuse takes their unbeaten record to Death Valley to face Clemson, who is thinking about a return to the College Football Playoffs. Meanwhile, SMU hosts Cincinnati in a game with massive American Athletic Conference implications, who has the edge in that one? We have all that and more covered for you in our college football best bets for Week 8:

Syracuse vs. Clemson Prediction and Pick

The Clemson offense looks much better than it did a year ago when Uiagalelei threw 9 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. This year he has 17 TD to just two picks, and is running for 4.2 yards per carry and has four touchdowns on the ground. Last week in their 34-28 win over a good Florida State team he went 15-for-23 for 203 yards and three touchdowns. 

The concern for the Tigers is that their defense is only 26th in total defense this year and they have the 61st total offense. That doesn’t really sound like a top five team in the country. Last year when their offense was a disaster, they at least had the second ranked defense behind Georgia. 

It’s actually Syracuse that has the dominant defense. They are sixth in the country in total defense and just outside the top 10 in run defense. They are even better against the pass and should keep this game pretty low scoring. 

Garrett Shrader will have to do enough because Clemson can stop the run. Shrader threw for 216 yards and two touchdowns against NC State last week. A performance like that will be enough for the Orange to cover the spread, but they aren’t ready to win in Death Valley. -- Josh Yourish

Pick: Syracuse +14.5 (-107)

Cincinnati vs. SMU Prediction and Pick

Cincinnati escaped with a win at home over a 1-5 South Florida team before it went into their bye last week. Granted that USF team seems to keep every game close before finding a way to lose it, but that wasn’t the most inspiring performance. SMU on the other hand, put up 40 on Navy before a backdoor cover 40-34. Both teams will be rested after the Bearcats had a bye week and SMU played on Friday night. 

Cincinnati isn’t really led by its defense this year like it was last season. The Bearcats have the 30th ranked defense in the country and the 21st ranked offense. That is a big change from the fifth ranked defense in 2021 and 11th ranked offense. We all knew this wouldn’t be the same Cincinnati team, but I think it's more vulnerable right now than most realize.

71% of the public money is on Cincinnati in this game even with the Bearcats as a road favorite. To me, this game comes down to Tanner Mordecai and Rashee Rice being better than anything Cincinnati has to offer on offense. Mordecai has thrown for over 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. Of those stats, 761 of those yards and four of those TDs have gone to Rice - who is averaging 15.5 yards per catch on very high volume. 

The weakness of SMU is its run defense. If Cincy can keep pace, it’ll be with Charles McClelland. He has 502 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 6.6 yards a carry this season. He’s been dynamic, but if there is a good passing attack against a good rushing attack, I’ll side with the passing attack and the quarterback every time. Even if Cincinnati gets ahead, the Mustangs will never be out of it. That's why I like them to cover and maybe win outright. - Josh Yourish

Pick: SMU +3.5 (-110)

West Virginia vs. Texas Tech Prediction and Pick

Both of these teams are prone to high scoring affairs and I think we see just that when they meet on Saturday. Texas Tech is top 10 in terms of plays per minute while West Virginia is a willing dance partner to participate in a track meet, 50th in that metric.

Texas Tech has had a trio of different quarterbacks lineup under center, and all three may be available on Saturday. Tyler Shough was the Week 1 starter and is at practice this week, while backup Donovan Smith was available before the Red Raiders bye week at Oklahoma State but was left on the bench for highly touted recruit Behren Morton, who played well in his first career start. Morton passed for 379 on the road ahead of the Red Raiders bye week.

All are talented and the game script will stay the same under offensive coordinator Zach Kittley, attack this vulnerable West Virginia secondary. TTU passes the ball at the highest rate in the country, 54 times per game and will be facing a WVU secondary that is 87th in defensive pass success rate.

On the other side, Daniels is playing well at quarterback for the Mountaineers, leading a unit that is top 30 in success rate. The offensive line is top 25 in sacks allowed and should give the Georgia transfer time to throw.

I expect points in this one in a total that should be lined in the 70's. Heavy winds brought this total down into the mid 60's, but the forecast is clearing up and buyback has started on Friday. With the WVU passing game using a ton of short passes, I expect we still see each team do their share to get over the total. -- Reed Wallach

Pick: 65.5

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.