Mr. 66 Percent: Top 25 NCAA Football Picks for Week Eight

Andrew LaBarberaContributor IOctober 22, 2009

TUSCALOOSA - OCTOBER 17:  Running back Mark Ingram #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide breaks through the line of scrimmage on a running play during the game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 17, 2009 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  The Crimson Tide beat the Gamecocks 20-6.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

Looking at the schedule there are no real marquee matchups this week although there are several good matchups. The best might be in the Mountain West Conference where TCU heads to BYU to take on the Cougars. If TCU wins this game convincingly they could put themselves in the BCS picture and vault themselves ahead of Boise State as the best non-big six school.

Last week we had a great week once again winning more than we lost for the fourth week in a row, and every week that I have picked so far. More of that to hopefully come this week.

Last Week's Record: 12-6

Season Record: 47-24

Saturday, October 24

Connecticut (4-2) at No. 23 West Virginia (5-1)—Line: WVU -7

The Mountaineers enter the BCS picture in the Top 25, but that's of no concern to them. They know they won't factor into the national championship picture so a Big East title is on their mind. Their last seven games are all in conference starting with this one.

The key to this game will be Noel Devine. Will they find creative ways to get him the ball? There's no doubt he's a play maker, but teams have been able to stack the box and limit his touches in games. He's averaging over 6.4 yards per carry and he should continue that against a sound Huskies rush defense. Mountaineers win and cover.

The Pick : WVU -7 Mountaineers 34 Huskies 21

South Florida (5-1) at No. 20 Pittsburgh (6-1)—Line: Pitt -6.5

The Bulls have been known for getting off to hot starts and then collapsing later in the year. Was that Cincinnati loss the start of that of will this be a different year? They have tremendous talent on defense with George Selvi leading the way; but their talent is more in their ability to rush the passed.

Pitt is a running team and that style will match up well against the Bulls of USF. Sensational freshman Dion Lewis will have a field day against the Bulls defense running the ball on delays and on screen plays against this aggressive defense.

The Pick: Pitt -6.5 Panthers 28 Bulls 17

Minnesota (4-3) at No. 19 Ohio State (5-2)—Line: OSU -17.5

OSU got embarrassed last week losing to a one-win team at Purdue. This week they're playing with a chip on their shoulder and home field advantage. That always seems like a recipe for success. Both teams have been playing poor as of late and the Buckeyes will take advantage of the Gophers poor play on both sides of the ball. This one will be over early. Blowout.

The Pick: OSU -17.5 Buckeyes 45 Gophers 7

No. 12 Georgia Tech (6-1) at Virginia (3-3)—Line: GaTech -5.5

This game feels sketchy to me. Georgia Tech comes off of a huge win at home against the Hokies and they're only 5.5 point favorites. Virginia looked awful at the start of the year and Al Groh was all but out as coach. The Cavs have turned their season around the last few weeks and are playing by far the best football they have all year. The Jackets should be on upset alert because this Cavaliers team is peaking at the right time in conference play. I think this game comes down to the wire wish Josh Nesbitt and the Jackets falling behind early, but wearing the Cavs down with their running game late.

The Pick: Virginia +5.5 Yellow Jackets 23 Cavaliers 21

No. 15 Oklahoma St. (5-1) at Baylor (3-3)—Line: Ok St. -10

This season has been all down hill for Baylor since Robert Griffin has gone down for the year. Over their last two games they have scored a total of 17 points, leading to an 0-2 record in those two with an embarrassing 24-10 loss to lowly Iowa State.

Oklahoma State is still without All American WR Dez Bryant, but that hasn't slowed down Zac Robinson. He's quietly playing himself into the Heisman picture.

The thing i wonder about this game is how will each team respond to their recent weeks? Oklahoma State has had two big wins in a row, but I think they look past this game to Texas next week and may be in trouble. The Bears are ripe for the upset and I think they get it done. Upset Alert!

The Pick: Baylor +10 Bears 27 Cowboys 24

Louisville (2-4) at No. 5 Cincinnati (6-0)—Line: Cincy -18

The Bearcats may be without Tony Pike in this matchup, and that's definitely of concern to them. It's not of concern to me though. Louisville is just plain bad, and the Bearcats are solid in all phases of the game. They defend both the run and the pass well and they can score on offense either throwing or running as they proved last week against the USF Bulls. Tony Pike or not the Bearcats will win by at least three touchdowns.

The Pick: Cincy -18 Bearcats 49 Cardinals 14

No. 11 Oregon (5-1) at Washington (3-4)—Line: Oregon -9.5

The Quack pack has been a different team since their season opening loss to Boise State on the blue turf. Jeremiah Masoli has been brilliant and they haven't been beaten since.

The Huskies have had a roller coaster season with wins against USC and Arizona, but losses against Stanford and Arizona State. They are a much better team at home and are 3-1 in Spokane. Their only loss was a close eight point defeat to the LSU Tigers.

Because of the home field advantage alone I think they make this game close enough to cover. Well, that and Jay Locker.

The Pick: Washington +9.5 Ducks 34 Huskies 28

No. 13 Penn St. (6-1) at Michigan (5-2)—Line: Penn St. -4

This is a huge Big Ten game for the Nittany Lions. If they want to keep any chance of a Rose Bowl berth alive this is a must win. The Wolverines and coach Rich Rodriguez have struggled in the secondary all year, but they have been more than respectable in stopping the run. The Nittany Lions feature a well balanced attack more focused towards running the football. Michigan will be stout in the trenches and with new weapon Denard Robinson running the show they will put up a huge game on the ground. Another Upset special here! Wolverines win.

The Pick: Michigan +4 Wolverines 38 Nittany Lions 31

Oklahoma (3-3) at No. 25 Kansas (5-1)—Line: Oklahoma -7

The Sooners are the unranked team, on the road, with the worse record, and they're favorites?!?! Well, this spread is surely based on pre-season expectations for the Sooners. They returned almost everyone including Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford.

Well now Bradford's season is all but over, and their shot at winning a national title, or even competing for the Big 12 Championship are over.

The funny thing about this game is that most people are still picking the Sooners to cover. Well, I'm not one of those people. I see the Jayhawks winning this game in the air and doing what the Long Horns were unable to do last week. Pass the football. Todd Reesing will have a big day and lead the Jayhawks to a big home win.

The Pick: Kansas +7 Jayhawks 34 Sooners 28

Clemson (3-3) at No. 10 Miami (5-1)—Line: Miami -5.5

Some might look at this spread and think why is Miami only giving 5.5 points at home to a 3-3 team? Well, Clemson might be 3-3 but their three losses are by a combined ten points. They lost at Georgia Tech by three, at home against TCU by four and at Maryland by three as well. They're coming off of a dominating 38-3 win over Wake Forest and are peaking at the right time.

Miami has had two cupcake games in a row and it may take them a while to get into big game mode. I think the 'Canes start slow again this week but respond in enough time to win. It will be a one score game, but the U wins by a TD.

The Pick: Miami -5.5 Hurricanes 31 Tigers 24

Tennessee (3-3) at No. 2 Alabama (7-0)—Line: 'Bama -14.5

This is the one team I can't figure out. I can't seem to win an Alabama game. I've lost their games three weeks in a row, and who knows what's going to happen this week. Time to flip a coin on this one (not really), but I'll go with the Tide to win easily.

The Pick: Alabama -14.5 Crimson Tide 38 Volunteers 14

Air Force Academy (4-3) at No. 18 Utah (5-1)—Line: Utah -9.5

Utah seems to be joining Boise State as the other non-power conference school to contend for a BCS bowl year in and year out. They enter this game in the top fifteen and if they win out in conference they'll surely make a BCS game.

The Falcons have been playing great defense all year, and are a surprising 4-3. They come off of a shutout of Wyoming and enter this game with confidence after having a close 7 point defeat against the Utes a year ago.

This looks like a trap game for the Utes, but I think they win a close one.

The Pick: AFA +9.5 Utes 23 Falcons 20

UCLA (3-3) at No. 22 Arizona (4-2)—Line: Arizona -7.5

The last few weeks it looks to me like UCLA has given up on their season. They've lost three straight, and haven't really competed in any of them.

Arizona comes into this game with their offense peaking. It took a while to get adjusted to life without Willie Tuitama, but they're now clicking on all cylinders after putting up 43 points on Stanford in a win last weekend. I think that offense continues to click and the Cats win this one going away.

The Pick: Arizona -7.5 Wildcats 34 Bruins 17

Vanderbilt (2-5) at No. 24 South Carolina (5-2)—Line: South Carolina -12.5

The Gamecocks offense looked awful last week. I think the main problem was that they got away from the run. They average 4.1 yards per rush (excluding sacks), yet they continued to throw the ball. Their defense kept the game close, but 'Bama was just too much for the other USC.

Vanderbilt has had a down year, and although their defense has played well at times, their offense hasn't done much all year. In five games against LSU, Mississippi St, Army, Mississippi and Georgia they average only 8.4 points per game. This week they might be facing the best defense they've played all year and it will show.

The Gamecocks won't do all that much on offense, but they'll do enough to win easily.

The Pick: USC -12.5 Gamecocks 27 Commodores 6

No. 6 Iowa (7-0) at Michigan State (4-3)—Line: Iowa -1.5

Here we go again. This is another game where Iowa is getting no respect by the odds makers. Sure, they haven't looked convincing in beating just about anyone all year, but they have beaten every team they've played, including a road victory at Penn State. They were underdogs to the Badgers last weekend in Wisconsin, and this week they're pretty much a pick em. Those odds mean the bookies know something, but I'm not buying it. Kirk Ferentz is simply too good of a coach to let them have a let down game against the Spartans. They win a low scoring, ball control game in the trenches AGAIN.

The Pick: Iowa -1.5 Hawkeyes 24 Spartans 20

No. 8 TCU (6-0) at No. 16 BYU (5-1)—Line: TCU -2.5

Did you ever think that the matchup of the week would be in the Mountain West Conference? Damn has this conference come a long way over the last few years. They have three top 25 teams and the winner of the conference is all but assured a birth in a BCS game.

TCU brings one of the best defenses in the country to BYU against the best offense in the conference. This game will live up to it's billing. The TCU defense will shut down Harvey Unga and the Cougars running game, but Max Hall will play well enough to keep BYU in the game throughout.

On the other side of the ball Andy Dalton has been playing well all year leading the TCU offense, and their running game has been phenomenal. The BYU defense is the most underrated part of their team and I think they'll surprise some people on Saturday and pull off the slight upset.

The Pick: BYU +2.5 Cougars 31 Horned Frogs 27

SMU (3-3) at No. 17 Houston (5-1)—Line: Houston -17

Case Keenum had a down week last week. Well, here are his numbers: 30-43 334 yards 2 TDs and 0 Ints. Yes, that really is a down week for him. His numbers are that good. They'll be even better on Saturday as he exposes the Mustang's defense. Houston rolls in front of their home crowd.

The Pick: Houston -17 Cougars 51 Mustangs 24

Auburn (5-2) at No. 9 LSU (5-1)—Line: LSU -7 .5

The matchup of Tigers features two teams usually known for their defense, but Auburn's defense is way down this year while the LSU defense is stout as always. The Tigers (LSU) offense hasn't been playing well but I think their bye week helps them out. They should win this one easily against a fast fading Auburn squad.

The Pick: LSU -7.5 LSU Tigers 31 Auburn Tigers 7

No. 1 Florida (6-0) at Mississippi State (3-4)—Line: Florida -22

This is a statement game for the Gators after their controversial win over Arkansas a week ago. With the leadership they have on that team they should be motivated and ready for a blowout. I know the Bulldogs have played close games against solid teams this year, but that won't be the case here. Tim Tebow comes out fired up from the start and the Gators will be covering early in the second quarter on their way to a blowout. Gators win HUGE.

The Pick: Florida -22 Gators 49 Bulldogs 3

No. 3 Texas (6-0) at Missouri (4-2)—Line: Texas -13

A lot of people are saying Texas should be on upset alert this week. I am not one of those people. They showed a lot of heart beating Oklahoma last week in the Red River rivalry, and although it wasn't pretty and they didn't play their best game, they won. This week Colt McCoy gets back on track and shreds the Tigers defense. He gets himself back in the Heisman race with a 4 TD zero pick performance as the Longhorns win.

The Pick: Texas -13 Longhorns 38 Tigers 17

Oregon State (4-2) at No. 7 USC (6-1)—Line: USC -21

Week after week it seems like the Trojans have absurd lines. Giving 21 points to a team that beat them last year returning their far and away best player seems out of whack. I think the Beavers should be able to run all over the Trojan defense and Jacquizz Rodgers will have another huge day. That doesn't mean the Beavers will win or even threaten to win, but they'll keep it close enough to cover. Barkley has looked poised and played very well as a true freshman and he will continue to mature this week. Trojans win a high scoring affair.

The Pick: Oregon State +21 Trojans 41 Beavers 31

No. 5 Boise State (6-0) at Hawai'i (2-4)—Line: Boise St. -24.5

Finally, the last game of a busy weekend of college football. The Warriors have lost four straight and haven't been playing old school Hawai'i football, putting up tons of points and hoping their defense does enough to win. They're having a down year and in those four losses they've averaged under 20 points a game. That's OK for great defensive teams, but not for a team that throws the ball forty-three times a game and tried to win shootouts.

Boise State hasn't looked great the last few weeks, but their extended week after playing a Wednesday night game at Tulsa last week should help. They need a blowout here to make a statement and have the pollsters notice them again.

I think Boise State dominates this game and finally gets the result they're looking for.

The Pick: Boise State -24.5 Broncos 52 Warriors 21

Another week of exciting college football in the books with a lot of upsets and close game predicted. Check back next week to see how I did.


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