NCAA College Football Week 8 Picks - Early Games

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NCAA College Football Week 8 Early Games

All times Eastern

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Week 7 results: Rick: 5-7; Coin: 4-8
Cumulative: Rick: 33-48-1; Coin: 30-51-1

Thursday, October 22

7:30 pm Arkansas State at Appalachian State (-13, 66 1/2) - The Red Wolves, 3-2, are 1-1 in conference play, but have issues on defense, though the offense can produce points. They'll have to against the Mountaineers, who haven't played a Sun Belt game yet, but are 2-1, allowing just 58 points in those three games.

Appalachian State's lone defeat came at Marshall, the undefeated (4-0) Conference-USA powerhouse, 17-7. That game offers better insight to the quality of the squad than does their wins over Charlotte and Campbell, both easy victories. The Mountaineers were 13-1 last year and may be as good as that 2019 team with Zac Thomas off to a solid senior season as the starting QB.

Arkansas State's offense has scored 109 points in it's past two games, both wins, but they'll be up against a very solid defense here and it's doubtful their defense will be able to slow the Mountaineers down much when the home team has the ball.

Coin Flip: Arkansas State

Prediction: Mountaineers 48 Red Wolves 30

Friday, October 23

7:30 pm Tulsa (-10 1/2, 51) at South Florida - When last seen on October 3rd, the Golden Hurricane was busy knocking off UCF, 34-26. Since then, an off week was followed by a cancellation of their game with Cincinnati, so Tulsa might be a bit rusty, but also rarin' to go.

South Florida's 1-4 mark is no fluke. They're just not that talented on offense, though they did put up a season-high in last week's 39-37 loss at Temple. A 52-0 loss at Notre Dame and a 28-7 defeat at Cincinnati shows at what level the Bulls are. Conversely, Tulsa's only other game this season was a 16-7 loss at Oklahoma State. They have a good enough defense to shut down the Bulls and let the offense roll up some points.

Coin Flip: Tulsa

Prediction: Golden Hurricane 37 Bulls 13

8:00 pm Illinois at #14 Wisconsin (-19 1/2, 51 1/2) - Finally getting into the action, the Big Ten opens their season this weekend and the Badgers are looking to improve on their 10-4 mark from 2019. RB Jonathan Taylor has moved on to the NFL, but QB Jack Can remains for his senior year. The Badgers will be looking to see which running back can be relied upon to carry the load behind their usually-large offensive line. The Badgers are expected to be solid defensively as well.

Illinois should have Michigan transfer, senior Brandon Peters for his senior year, though he's not a high-percentage passer. They can lean on their running backs and defense, which was improved last season, to hang with the Badgers.

These two met last October 19, with the Illini scratching out a 24-23 victory at home.

Coin Flip: Illinois

Prediction: Badgers 28 Fighting Illini 20

Saturday, October 24

12:00 pm Syracuse at #1 Clemson (-46, 61 1/2) - Coming into this game off a 73-7 thrashing of Georgia Tech, Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson crew shouldn't have much trouble pasting one on 1-4 Syracuse, which, incidentally, defeated the Yellow Jackets 38-24, a few weeks back.

Beating the same team the Tigers destroyed doesn't really mean much, as Clemson just has the look of a top team seeking a national championship. Can the Tigers shred Syracuse by more than six touchdowns, though?

Well, the Orange haven't scored more than 24 points in any of their losses, and Clemson's average score in their five wins is 48.4-12. Syracuse gave up 38 points in each of their last two games, to Duke and Liberty, not exactly offensive powerhouses. So, yes, Clemson can win going away.

Coin Flip: Syracuse

Prediction: Tigers 63 Orange 10

12:00 pm Nebraska at #5 Ohio State (-26, 67 1/2) - The Buckeyes are looking for a return to the national championship playoffs, and the journey starts at the Horseshoe, without fans or the Buckeye marching band.

Besides the stupidity of these COVID restrictions, Ohio State fields a team coming off a 13-1 season, their only loss a 29-23 defeat in the CFP Semifinal Fiesta Bowl to Clemson. QB Justin Fields returns at QB, but RB J.K> Dobbins now plays for the Baltimore Ravens. Not to worry, Ohio State usually has a few quality backs in reserve.

The Cornhuskers were a Big Ten punching bag last season, going 3-6 in conference play and 5-7 overall. The team was plagued by inconsistency on offense and lost five of their last six.

The Buckeyes topped Nebraska, 48-7, last season. The lack of fans, noise and this being the season opener for both teams probably works in Nebraska's favor, though not enough for a win or a cover.

Coin Flip: Ohio State

Prediction: Buckeyes 49 Cornhuskers 17

12:00 pm #23 NC State at #14 North Carolina (-16 1/2, 61) - A week ago, the Tar Heels were ranked #5, but that was prior to them being thoroughly outplayed by an improved Florida State squad, 31-28.

At 4-1, the Wolfpack are actually 1/2-game up on their 3-1 in-state rivals. NC State will be without starting redshirt sophomore quarterback Devin Leary, who broke his fibula in the third quarter last week in a 31-20 win over Duke. Bailey Hockman will start in Leary's place. Hockman, a junior, has experience and will get support from his teammates.

If the Wolfpack can force a turnover or two, they'll win. With an expected strong defensive effort, the offense should produce enough scores to stay close, at least. This is the first time both teams are ranked for their meeting since 1994.

Coin Flip: NC State

Prediction: Wolfpack 31 Tar Heels 24

12:00 pm Oklahoma (-6 1/2, 60) at TCU - The Sooners better not get too over-confident after their 53-45 4OT win over the Longhorns two weeks back. Neither Oklahoma nor Texas are very good this season. The Sooners' defense is especially ugly and unable to hold down any offense.

The Horned Frogs also beat Texas earlier in the year, 33-31, but that victory was sandwiched between losses to Iowa State (37-34) and Kansas State (21-14). With homecoming festivities cancelled due to COVID restrictions, this game is a big plus for the TCU faithful and they are good enough to put a pasting on the subprime Sooners.

Coin Flip: Oklahoma

Prediction: Horned Frogs 38 Sooners 31

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