Scully’s NCAAF Week 8 picks: Big favorites, dangerous underdogs

James Scully

October 17th, 2019

Most college football teams are entering the second half of their seasons in Week 8, and we will look to exploit some favorable matchups (all games Saturday).

#9 Florida (-5) at South Carolina, noon ET, ESPN

South Carolina has improved in recent weeks and frustrated Georgia’s offense last week, with big plays and four turnovers. The Gamecocks will now face a banged up opponent. Florida’s strength is defense, with a young offensive line and a backup quarterback forced into action, but give the offense credit for a fine showing at LSU last week, as the defense let the Gators down.

The Gators gave up 511 total yards, with no sacks or quarterback hurries, and forced LSU into only four third-down situations. After a pair of physical tests (Auburn and LSU), Florida is showing signs of wear and tear, with the loss of outstanding pass rushers Jon Greenard and Jabari Zuniga.

The Gators should be on upset alert in the second of back-to-back road games. South Carolina getting enough plays from quarterback Ryan Hilinski and running back Rico Dowdle, and the defense is coming into form.

Pick: South Carolina +5

Purdue at #23 Iowa (-17.5), noon ET, ESPN2

Kirk Ferentz and Iowa are the best in college football off a straight-up loss as the favorite, with a 6-0 ATS record over last three seasons. The Hawkeyes will be in a favorable situation Saturday, after couple of close losses to ranked teams. Purdue does not run the ball effectively (ranked 129th nationally at 64 rushing yards per game) and must face an outstanding Hawkeyes pass defense. Iowa held Michigan and Penn State down the last two weeks and ranks sixth nationally against the pass (159 yards per game).
Kudos to Purdue for a needed win last week, but the Boilermakers gained only 127 rushing yards on 37 carries. They were fortunate to play a Maryland team completely in shambles. Purdue won with a makeshift offensive line and backups at skill positions, but offensive production won’t come easily against Iowa. On the offensive side Iowa is averaging 38.5 points in three games against teams not ranked in the top 25.

Pick: Iowa -17.5

#22 Missouri (-21) at Vanderbilt, 4 p.m. ET, SEC Network

Vanderbilt has mailed it in. The Commodores lost at home, 34-10, to UNLV as a 15.5-point home favorite last week, and Missouri will treat every remaining game with importance, because the Tigers are not bowl eligible (although the school is appealing the NCAA sanctions). The Tigers bring a prolific offense to Nashville and have scored at least 31 points in every contest. They're capable of cleaning up defensive issues after they surrendered 13 fourth-quarter points and 204 rushing yards in win over Ole Miss.

Missouri had statistical advantage last week, as the Tigers outgained Ole Miss by a 562-440 margin, but failed to cover for only second time this season. They rebounded with a 31-point beat down after their previous ATS loss, when they forced three turnovers and held West Virginia to only 30 yards rushing. Missouri's defense ranks a 30th nationally against the run (121.6 yards per game). Vanderbilt gets little to no production from its quarterbacks and receivers, completed just 16-of-41 passes against UNLV and has scored 16 combined points in its last two games.

Pick: Missouri -21

#17 Arizona State at #13 Utah (-13.5), 6 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network

Arizona State has found a quarterback in freshman Jayden Daniels, who threw for 363 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions, in a comeback win last week. His development has been key for an offense featuring All-American caliber running back Eno Benjamin (season-high 137 yards, 7.2 yards per carry last week). The Sun Devils have become versatile, and increased their scoring average by 12 points per game over the last three weeks. The points are appealing here against defensive-minded Utah.

Utah is 1-4 ATS in its last five home games. Running back Zack Moss is the focal point of the offense and returned from injury with 121 rushing yards and two touchdowns on only five carries last week. The Utes aim for long, time-consuming drives built on the ground game and short passes. At 5-1 Arizona State is no pushover, with only a three-point setback on the résumé, and is brimming with confidence because behind Daniels' play. Since ASU hired Herm Edwards in 2018, the Sun Devils have lost only one regular-season game by more than a touchdown.

Pick: Arizona State +13.5

James Scully’s 2019 NCAAF record ATS on BetAmerica heading into Week 7: 17-13 (2-2 last week)