NCAA Football Week 8 Free Picks

Patrick Trudeau
Patrick Trudeau
College Football Free Picks
NCAA Football Week 8

After another week of ups and downs, upsets and covers, let’s get set for another weekend of watching football. As a bonus, the Big Ten schedule begins on Friday night and adds to a solid slate of weekend games. We’ve looked at the full FBS schedule and picked out the best bets for the best games. Let’s make some money!

Clemson will no doubt beat Syracuse, but will they cover the spread? Alabama should roll over Tennessee as Nick Saban once again faces a former assistant of his, and how will a new-look Wolverines team look under Jim Harbaugh as Michigan start their season in Minnesota?

Here are our best free picks of week 8

Free Pick: Total OVER 61.5 (-110) – Syracuse Orange at Clemson Tigers

Saturday, October 24th, 12:00 – Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC

Syracuse come into this game as the biggest underdog they’ve been in over 30 years (46 points), and while that is a big number, it’s somewhat justified. Not only did the Orange suffer an embarrassing defeat last week (38-21 vs Liberty), but they’re also down about 15 starters due to injury or COVID-related issues.

Clemson on the other hand, is on a tear. Trevor Lawrence is the current Heisman Trophy polls leader, and with a star running back in Travis Etienne beside him their offense looks very hard to stop. This has been on full display over the last two weeks, as Clemson crushed Georgia Tech last week 73-7 and Miami 42-17 the week prior. In fact, Clemson’s last regular season loss came all the way back in 2017 at the hands of, you guessed it, Syracuse.

Despite that, clearly all things point to Clemson winning this game handily. But what about the massive spread; can they cover that? Let’s look at some past numbers:

Clemson have been favored by over 46 points three times in the last three seasons (50.5 vs Furman in 2018, 48.5 vs Wofford in 2019, and 50.5 vs Citadel this year) and they are 0-3 against the spread in those three games.

Clemson will also more than likely pull their starters once up big in the second half, and while most of those replacement players are still excellent, the Tigers’ 2nd and 3rd string QB’s are both injured, leaving just a walk-on freshman to come in for Trevor Lawrence.

While this doesn’t give us enough confidence to make Syracuse a free pick for this game, we will give it to you as a bonus to consider taking if you’re up to the task.

Our advice: Hammer the OVER on the Game Total of 61.5 and root for points. Clemson could just put up that many by themselves.

Bonus Pick: Syracuse +46 (-105)

Free Pick: Alabama -21.5 (-110) at Tennessee

Saturday, October 24th, 15:30 – Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN

It’s been a tough week for the Tennessee Volunteers. First, they got blown out 34-7 at home vs Kentucky last weekend, resulting in the firing of both their defensive coordinator and co-defensive coordinator after the game. Now, they’re unsure who will start at quarterback.

Jarrett Guarantano played most of last week’s game and will likely get the nod once again, but only because J.T Shrout didn’t look any better in his brief stint last week.

On the other side of the field, Alabama comes in playing like, well, Alabama. They are a perfect 4-0, coming off a dominant 41-24 win against Georgia last weekend and riding a 13-game winning streak vs Tennessee. Alabama have also covered the spread in 8 of their last 9 meetings with the Volunteers.

One more Alabama stat for you: Nick Saban is 22-0 against former assistant coaches of his. This week Tennessee’s Jeremy Pruitt (came up under Saban) will add to that stat line, which will surely be 23-0 come Saturday evening.

Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones (currently 2nd in Heisman polls behind Trevor Lawrence) comes into action as the SEC player-of-the-week after 417 yards and 4 touchdowns, and will look for his fourth straight 400-yard game.

Helping add to those numbers are Alabama’s star receiving duo Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, and running back Najee Harris. Waddle has over 100 receiving yards in all four games this year, while Harris has one or more touchdowns in 11 straight games.

Look for the Tide to roll in this one: Take Alabama -21.5

Free Pick: Minnesota +3 (-110) vs Michigan

Saturday, October 24th, 19:30 – TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MIN

Big Ten football is back at last! And we have a matchup of two ranked teams to highlight the weekend slate. This will be the College Gameday featured evening game, and the winner (as is tradition in this rivalry) will receive the “Little Brown Jug.”

Michigan comes in with the advantage historically between these two teams, riding a two-game winning streak and winners of eight of the last 10, 18 of the last 20, and 27 of the last 30 matchups between the two.

Minnesota though, have the advantage in recent form. Under head coach P.J. Fleck last season the Golden Gophers finished 11-2, ranking 10th at seasons end. Many of their starters have returned, including quarterback Tanner Morgan. He hopes to continue a fruitful relationship with receivers Chris Autman-Bell and 2019 Big Ten WR of the year Rashod Bateman.

Minnesota is expected to miss “a number of players” this week due to COVID-related issues, but P.J. Fleck has shown an ability to control the game with his coaching style, finishing fourth in the nation last year in time-of-possession and fifth in fewest penalties per-game. Whether his substitutes can keep that up will be arguably the biggest factor in deciding this game.

While Minnesota is returning most of their main players from last season, Michigan is not. With only nine players returning (4 on offense, 5 on defense) the Wolverines will have to adjust quickly to coach Jim Harbaugh’s systems. Fortunately for the Wolverines, they currently have no players set to miss action due to COVID.

Michigan’s strength in the past few years has been their defense, ranking top-four in the nation under defensive coordinator Don Brown in four of the last five years. It will be interesting to see how that holds up with the new additions as well.

The key addition everyone will have their eyes on though, is Joe Milton. Milton comes in as the only quarterback on the Michigan roster to have any college game experience. None of the QB’s on the roster have started a college game before.

These teams both have a lot of room to grow, and don’t have much time to do it. We like Minnesota’s cohesion and experience in this one. Both teams will likely look sloppy on both sides of the ball, but we expect a relatively low scoring game and for Minnesota to, at the very least, keep things very close; if not win outright.

Bonus Pick: Game Total UNDER 54.5 (+105)

have always wanted to be a writer and sports are my favorite thing in the world, so I combined the two to make a career. I have been a long-time gambler and sports betting writer that isn't afraid to look at the underdog or specials. I am covering the NHL, MLB and NCAA Football for and am a huge fan of both sports - as well as many others. Follow me on Twitter (@Patrick_Trudeau) so we can talk betting, sports, or why ketchup DOES belong on Poutine.