NCAA Football: Clemson at Florida State

Well, the Week 7 slate was certainly fun, huh? I think I can still smell the cigar smoke from Knoxville, Tennessee, all the way up here in the Chicago suburbs. It was a week that saw six teams take their first loss of the season, including the last such teams from the Group of Five conferences. There are still nine undefeated teams remaining, so we are just beginning to narrow the field.

Each week, I use this space to tell you what I think are a few of the best bets heading into the weekend. I also throw in an upset of the week, which features a team that is at least a touchdown underdog that I am picking to win outright. I also give you picks on other games involving potential College Football Playoff teams. There are still a lot of teams in play for a spot in the CFP field, so I'll go with teams currently ranked in the top 12 of the AP Top 25. The list will likely be pared down once the CFP Rankings debut in November. 

I am due for a rebound and a break. Last week, I missed an under by two points after one starting QB got hurt. The other losses were just misses, including one I should have chosen for the upset of the week instead of the one I did choose. I will not be discouraged, however, so let's get to this week's picks. 

Week 8 picks

No. 14 Syracuse at No. 5 Clemson

Syracuse has lived something of a charmed life to get to 6-0, but undefeated is undefeated. This will be just the second time that the Orange have played on the road with the other being a 48-14 win at UConn. A game of this magnitude will be new to Syracuse, which has not played a game this important since the 2018 season at Clemson. The Tigers have been playing at a level that suggests they are College Football Playoff worthy, and this should be a decisive win for them. Pick: Clemson -13.5

Minnesota at No. 16 Penn State 

Penn State suffered a humbling loss at Michigan last Saturday, but all that really did was indicate that the separation between the top two and the rest of the league is still pretty pronounced. The second tier in the Big Ten still appears to be Penn State's alone. Minnesota's defense and running game are pretty good, but the Golden Gophers may be without senior QB Tanner Morgan, who left last week's loss at Illinois with an injury. I'd like the Nittany Lions by about a TD if Morgan plays and another TD if he doesn't. Pick: Penn State -5

Northwestern at Maryland

Northwestern has been playing low-scoring games for the most part this season. A big reason for that is the Wildcats' inept offense.  However, the last time out, Wisconsin lit up the Northwestern defense for 42 points. In this game, though, Maryland will likely be without QB Taulia Tagovailoa. As a result, the Terrapins offense may be somewhat limited as well. Pick: Under 52.5

Upset of the week

No. 20 Texas at No. 11 Oklahoma State

I may be making the same mistake two weeks in a row by picking the higher-ranked team despite it being an underdog. At least this week, the underdog is also at home. The Cowboys are my pick to win the Big 12, and victories in games like this are vital to that cause. Texas has improved since the return of QB Quinn Ewers, but the Longhorns struggled at home last week with Iowa State and are 0-1 on the road due to a loss at Texas TechPick: Oklahoma State +6, +196 ML

Other CFP candidates

Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 8, and which top-20 favorite will go down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $3,000 in profit over the past six-plus seasons -- and find out.