Week 8 college football picks against the spread recap with Jason McIntyre | WHAT DID YOU LEARN?
In theory, college football should be easier to gamble on than the NFL, right? The divide between the haves and have nots is much closer in the NFL than college football. The separation was laid out brilliantly by Miami (Ohio) coach earlier this season before his game against Ohio State, "It's kind of like going to recess and they have the first 85 picks."
In college football, there are a select few teams you can reliably bet on each week - first half or full game - and because the talent gap is so wide, you can feel comfortable. This applies to Clemson (5-2 ATS), Ohio State (6-1) and LSU (5-2).
Even with the haves, can you really predict what's going happen on a weekly basis with 18-19-20-year old kids? Wisconsin had been 5-1 ATS, blowing everyone out, and then they lost as 31-point favorites to unranked, underwhelming Illinois. Kids ... go figure.
1. The game isn't over until it's over
It seemed like a no-brainer betting Illinois +31. I honestly thought Illinois had zero chance to win this. Wisconsin had more 1st downs (by 5), more yards (by 105), and held the ball for a staggering 40:49. How’d they lose? Turnovers, of course.
The first turnover came in Illinois territory and the Illini responded with a 48-yard touchdown run. Later, leading 20-7, Wisconsin missed a 37-yard field goal, and on the next drive Illinois scored. The two 4th quarter turnovers sealed their fate: a fumble inside the Illinois red zone by top running back Jonathan Taylor (four plays later, Illinois scored a touchdown) and then an interception by quarterback Jack Coan set up the Illini’s game-winning field goal.
Could it be they were already thinking ahead to next week with Ohio State? Or could it be this was first close game the Badgers had played all season (the Northwestern win was a breeze; Wisconsin led 24-3 in the 4th quarter)? Either way, this loss was painful ... these kids better get their act together before Ohio State next week.
2. The Ohio State Buckeyes' defense makes Them the Best Bet in College Football
The Ohio State Buckeyes remain the best bet in college football (6-1 ATS, tied for 1st). They easily covered the spread of 17 in the first half, leading 31-3 at halftime.
The Buckeyes ran all over Northwestern ... three different running backs had carries of 50+ yards. The pass defense is ridiculous - Northwestern was 6-of-21 passing for 42 yards.
The Buckeyes' roster has been loaded under Urban Meyer, but Ryan Day’s first team is stacked. Wisconsin better regroup quickly after that loss because Jack Coan will have his work cut out for him against the Buckeyes next week.
The Nittany Lions held a huge lead (21-0) at home midway through the 2nd quarter ... but somehow failed to cover. Part of it was that Penn State’s offense lost its rhythm; but also Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines made adjustments that clearly made them the better team. Michigan finished with more first downs (12), more yards (134) and had more time of possession by a whopping 15 minutes.
Is it time to worry? It’s the 2nd week in a row Penn State hasn’t looked impressive offensively ... but they got the win. It’s also the first time since 2005 that Penn State has defeated ranked opponents in consecutive games.
But don't get too excited. After two straight difficult conference foes, the schedule doesn't get any easier against Michigan State next week. Sparty is coming off a bye, and as bad as Michigan State has been, a first half play could be the move.
4. Return to my first point: a game isn't over until it's O-V-E-R
If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’m living that #Dadlife spending Saturdays on the soccer field with my kids. I checked the Oklahoma State game score before heading to the field, and Oklahoma State led comfortably 20-10 in the third quarter. After a 3-0 start to the day, I was sitting pretty with my picks.
After my daughter’s soccer game was over, I checked the scoreboard and Baylor had won, 45-27. I was flabbergasted. How could this happen? Well, here's how ... the home team allowed 35 points in the 2nd half. The Cowboys defense, which we all knew isn't great, gave up three touchdown drives in the second half. The first: 2 plays, 83 yards in 53 seconds. The second: 6 plays, 93 yards. The kiss of death: 1 play, 73 yards in 12 seconds.
I knew it was a risky move to back a bad Oklahoma State defense, but you never expect any team to blow that sizable of a lead, especially at home. Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer was a bear on the attack: 13-for-17 passing for 312 yards and an impressive 18.4 yards per pass. Add in the three Cowboy turnovers, and that'll seal your fate.