NCAA Football: Week Eight ? Picks and Predictions

Last Week in Review By Dr. Senkbeil

Guess how many double digit favorites outright lost last week?  I lost count.  Auburn became the first top 10 team ever to lead by 20 and then lose to an unranked team.  Top 10 teams were 182-0 in that scenario.  It was a weekend full of upsets, but not much changed with us.  The coin went 8-7, I went 8-7, Sagarin went 7-8.  It is difficult to forecast nagging midseason injuries and other intangibles that might influence outcomes.  

After browsing the lines, I do not see many tasty meals this week.  Does my confidence have a statistically significant negative correlation with my success?  I don’t think so, but you can laugh at me if this week goes well.  Therefore, it is a week to consult the sagarin lines first and try to find the largest cushions between the sagarin predictions and the vegas lines and then maybe find a few places where we disagree.  Gotta pick 15

Weekend of 10/21/17 game lines as of Thursday 10/19 1am EDT:



  • Marshall -2.5 at Middle Tennessee

Prediction: Marshall 28 – 24

Sagarin: Marshall by 8

Coin:  MTSU

Marshall 72 overall (111,26) is all defense and MTSU is neither, 93rd overall.  It seems like an age of time since MTSU beat Syracuse in week 2 and they lost at UAB last week.  Marshall crushed Old Dominion 35-3 last week, but this team also only beat weekly punching bag Charlotte by 11.  Marshall grinds this one out and covers 2.5.      


  • Air Force -7 at Nevada

Prediction: Air Force 35 – 21

Sagarin: Air Force by 7

Coin: Nevada

The Fighting Falcons are 86 (44,110).  Nevada is one of the worst teams in the nation 121 (99,122).  Nevada will not be able to stop Air Force, and Air Force will stop Nevada a few times to create enough separation.


  • Iowa – 1.5 at Northwestern

Prediction: Iowa 24 Northwestern 17

Sagarin: Iowa by 1

Coin: Northwestern

Iowa 38(80,23) is a tough team that has only lost narrowly to Penn State and by 1 td to Michigan State on the road.  Northwestern 69(73,56) is simply average across the board.  They will not go down easily, but this spread seems too low for me.  Iowa should win by 3 to 7 points.


  • Tulsa -6 at UCONN
    Prediction: Tulsa 52 UCONN 38

Sagarin: Tulsa by 17

Coin: Tulsa

Bipolar Tulsa 108 (34,129)  was destroyed by Tulane 2 weeks ago and then last week came out and demolished a decent Houston team 45 Р17.  WHAT?  The extreme variance on both of those games means that their average ranking did not change much.  UCANT now CAN 119 (92,126) as they beat Temple last week 28-24 after giving up 70 points to Memphis 2 weeks ago.  Something has to give here and I like the Tulsa team that beat Houston.  Will that team take the field?


  • Purdue – 9 at Rutgers

Prediction: Purdue 27 Rutgers 13

Sagarin: Purdue by 13

Coin: Rutgers

Purdue 55(70,43) has struggled against elite defenses and overachieved against all other competition.  Rutgers 90(120,36) has a good defense but that offense is offensive.  This sounds like Purdue scoring between 20 and 27 and allowing about 10 to 14  


  • Idaho +14 at Missouri

Prediction: Missouri 42 Idaho 31

Sagarin: Missouri by 1

Coin: Missouri

I saw this after my initial pass over the lines and thought Missouri was a possibility.  The stats suggest otherwise.  Missouri 95(37,120) is all offense and Idaho 98(114,62) is mostly defense.  The line has been dropping which suggests that either some savvy money has been wagering Idaho, or Idaho fans are hitting this line hard.  The latter seems unlikely.        


  • Central Florida -7.5 at Navy

Prediction: UCF 48 Navy 28

Sagarin: UCF by 18

Coin: UCF

UCF 9(4,48) continues to be underrated despite being undefeated and covering the spread in every game this year.  The Golden Knights are the golden meal ticket.  Navy 57(23,94) is decent but overmatched here.  The 4th most efficient offense in the nation gets the 94th most efficient defense.  UCF is marching toward a showdown with USF for that group of 5 birth, yet USF is getting more publicity.    


  • SMU – 7.5 at Cincinnati

Prediction: SMU 51 Cincinnati 34

Sagarin: SMU by 15

Coin: SMU

SMU 42 (12,96) is a pretty good team with losses to TCU and Houston.  Cincinnati is headed in the wrong direction losing to USF 33-3 last week marking their 4th straight double digit loss.  7.5 seems too low in this one.  


  • Illinois at Minnesota -13.5

Prediction: Minnesota 31 – 14

Sagarin: Minnesota by 25

Coin: Illinois

Illinois 107(116,79) just got beat by Rutgers by 11 at home.  If you saw Rutgers’ stats above, then you can logically conclude that Minnesota 62(106,25) is a similar team to Rutgers but better and the Gophers are at home.  I bet they win by at least 15.   


  • Tennesse at Bama -36

Prediction: Bama 45 Tennessee 0

Sagarin: Bama by 42

Coin:  Tennessee

This is too high, but Tennessee 66(95,39) is really bad and in total disarray after losing at home to South Carolina after a bye week. ¬†Maybe the desperate volunteers will throw everything at Bama, or the Emperor will trot out the Death Star for a little demonstration to excite the Bama nation and they will sing that really annoying drunken Rocky Top parody all night long. ¬†Bama has a bye next week. ¬†‚ÄúFire at will, Commander‚ÄĚ. ¬†¬†¬†


  • Rice at UTSA – 20

Prediction: UTSA 34 Rice 7

Sagarin: UTSA by 25

Coin:  Rice

Rice 130(126,124) ewww you are not having a good year.  You are the worst FBS team, but you beat UTEP.  Does anybody know that UTSA 45(46,51) has almost the same numbers as Kansas State?  If this was Kansas State against Rice, would you take the 20?  UTSA has lost 2 very close games in the last 2 weeks.  Statistically that randomness should even out.

  • South Florida – 11.5 at Tulane

Prediction:  USF 35 Tulane 10

Sagarin: USF by 8

Coin: South Florida

Tulane 78(66,80)  laid an egg last week losing to FIU by 13.  USF 18 (31,15) is improving on defense rapidly under Charlie Strong.  Can USF defend the option attack?  YES! And 11.5 seems too small.         


  • Wake Forest +7 at Georgia Tech

Prediction:  Tech 27 Wake 24

Sagarin: Tech by 1

Coin:  Georgia Tech

Wake 29(72,14) has a very good defense and that bodes well for them against the Tech option.  They also had a bye last week.  Tech 27(33,35) is balanced and had Miami on the ropes last week.  Overall these 2 teams are ranked almost the same so it sounds reasonable to assume a close game where neither team breaks free by more than 7.  Wake and the points sounds good.   


  • Arizona -3 at Cal

Prediction:  Arizona 44 CAL 33

Sagarin: Arizona by 2

Coin:  CAL

CAL 87(104,61) was the beneficiary of 7 Wazzu turnovers and a 1 yard punt last week.  Will their home fortune stay that favorable?  Arizona 36(17,75) is suddenly on fire with their new qb Khalil Tate putting up incredible numbers (859 yards) in 2 games and 327 yards rushing against Colorado.  Does CAL have enough athletes to stop him?  What if he gets hurt at 6’1 185?  If he stays healthy then Arizona covers this.    


  • Kansas at TCU – 39

Prediction:  TCU 52 Kansas 7

Sagarin: TCU by 48

Coin: TCU

Another huge line to cover, but Kansas 120(112,119) is in freefall getting stomped by Iowa State 45-0 last week.  TCU 13 (14,20) is very good and 39 points will be easy if they want to get to 39.  They might rest with the heart of their schedule still to come.

Other Big Games:

  • ¬†Michigan at Penn State -9.5, PSU should cover that
  • ¬†USC at Notre Dame -3.5, leaning Notre Dame