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NCAAF Betting Rewind/Lookahead: Narrow Escapes for Title Contenders

There was nearly complete chaos after Week 8 of the college football season with No. 4 Florida State, No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 8 Texas and No. 11 Alabama staving off upset-minded opponents. Ohio State also finished strong to hand Penn State its first loss of the 2023 season and remain among the top national title contenders according to the college football betting lines.

Six of the nine remaining undefeated Football Bowl Subdivision teams hail from the Power-5 conferences. The Big Ten leads the way with two teams with perfect records as Michigan and Ohio State remain on a collision course. After Nevada edged San Diego State 6-0, Sam Houston State is the only winless FBS team.

NCAAF Betting Rewind/Lookahead: Narrow Escapes for Title Contenders
Marvin Harrison Jr. #18 of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks on prior to a game/Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP

Ranked teams went 9-12 against the college football sportsbook on Saturday with Penn State, North Carolina, Southern California, Duke and Tennessee all suffering outright losses. Virginia, a 24½-point underdog against North Carolina, was the biggest underdog to come away with the win.

In the national polls, the top six teams remain the same with Georgia followed by Michigan, Ohio State, Florida State, Washington and Oklahoma. Penn State fell from seventh to 10th after losing to Ohio State for the seventh time in a row while North Carolina tumbled from 10th to 17th. LSU and Missouri each jumped up four spots in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

When looking at the college football picks this week, there are two Week 9 matchups between teams ranked in the Top 25 in the Associated Press poll. Oregon heads to Utah and Duke plays at Louisville.

Michigan (+225) and Georgia (+265) lead the way in the odds of winning the national title. Florida State (+700) and Ohio State (+700) are the next closest competitors according to the college football championship odds.

Ohio State Does it Again

Penn State continues to be known as the “Not Ready for Prime-Time Players” of the college football world.

Despite injuries to multiple star players for Ohio State, the Nittany Lions came up short against the Buckeyes once again.

The last time that Penn State defeated Michigan and Ohio State in the same season was 2008. After traveling to face a 5-2 Maryland, Penn State gets to face Michigan.

Speaking of coming up short, USC fell to Utah for the fourth straight time. The Trojans were favored in three of those games.

On Saturday, the Trojans rallied from a 14-point deficit to tie the game with nine points in 77 seconds. However, a failed two-point conversion pass after Caleb Williams’ 11-yard scoring run proved costly.

Utah, listed by the college football betting lines as 7½-point underdogs, drove 54 yards in 1:46 to set up Cole Becker’s game-winning 38-yard field goal to give Utah the 34-32 win.

It is about time to end any talk of Williams winning back-to-back Heisman Trophies. He was 24 of 34 for 256 yards. However, he did not throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 25 games. Two TD passes and three interceptions over the last three games have not done wonders for his Heisman Trophy odds.

Are You Not Entertained?

The game-winning kick by Utah’s Becker is just one of the many down-to-the-wire finishes featuring teams that came into the season with national title hopes.

Oklahoma needed to stop a two-point conversion run by UCF with 1:16 and then recover the ensuing onsides kick to hold off the Big 12 newcomers and remain undefeated with a 31-29 victory.

Texas lost quarterback Quinn Ewers during the game and he was seen with his right (throwing) arm in a sling on the sidelines late in the game.

C.J. Baxter’s 16-yard TD run gave Texas the 31-24 lead. Houston drove to the Longhorns’ 10 with just over one minute to play before an incomplete pass on fourth-and-1 ended Houston’s upset hopes.

North Carolina’s bid for an undefeated season ended with a late interception by quarterback Drake Maye as the Tar Heels suffered a stunning 31-27 loss to a one-win Virginia squad.

Washington was trailing Arizona State by one point in the fourth quarter when Mishael Powell returned an interception 89 yards for a touchdown. The final two drives for Arizona State saw Washington limit the Sun Devils to 13 yards on 12 plays.

Georgia is just 1-5-1 against the college football betting lines this season. Tennessee is tied for the SEC lead with a 4-2 ATS mark.

ATS Perfect No Longer

While the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Mountain West, Pac-12, SEC and Sun Belt conferences all have at least one undefeated team, there are no teams still perfect against the Las Vegas College Football odds.

Oklahoma and Penn State both failed to cover in Week 8. The Sooners and Nittany Lions are both 6-1 against the spread this season, as are Arizona and UNLV. Rutgers is 6-1-1 ATS.

Illinois, Temple and Vanderbilt are all 1-7 versus the spread.

Penn State and Miami (the one in Ohio, not Florida) lead the way when listed as the favorite by the sportsbook, with the Nittany Lions 6-0 and the RedHawks 5-0.

Among the teams with at least three games as the underdogs, Arizona (4-0), Wyoming (4-0), Rice (3-0) and UNLV are still perfect versus the spread.

Looking at the Surprises and Disappointments

When looking at the teams that came into the season with the best odds to win the national title, the teams considered to be the biggest disappointments would have to be Clemson and USC.

Both were priced at +1600 in the national championship odds.

Although USC is still in contention for the Pac-12 title, an 0-2 record versus ranked teams ended any hopes of securing a spot in the College Football Playoff field.

Clemson is sitting eighth in the ACC standings after an overtime loss to Miami dropped the Tigers to 2-3 in conference play.

This seems like a good idea to see how the conference odds posted back in August are holding up.

It is business as usual in the Big Ten with Michigan and Ohio State leading the charge. It is a similar deal in the SEC with Georgia and Alabama the current division leaders.

Oklahoma and Texas were the picks to play in the Big 12 title game and that could still happen. Oklahoma State (+4000) and Iowa State (+8000) are among the teams that could spoil the hopes for the Longhorns and Sooners.

In the ACC, Clemson (+140) and Florida State (+160) were the top picks. The Seminoles are alone in first in the ACC. Among the four teams with just one ACC loss, Duke (+4000) and Virginia Tech are the biggest surprises.

Washington (+320 odds coming into the season) leads the Pac-12 with Oregon State (+1000) the most surprising of the challengers.

Tulane, SMU and UTSA had the best odds to win the American Athletic Conference title and they are the three teams with perfect AAC records.

In Conference USA, Western Kentucky and Liberty were the preseason front-runners. Liberty faces the Hilltoppers on Tuesday looking to remain perfect.

Air Force (+380) had the second-best odds in the Mountain West with UNLV (+1800) coming in seventh.

Since James Madison is not eligible for the Sun Belt title, the undefeated Dukes did not show up in the preseason odds.

Preseason favorite Toledo (+170) is the only team yet to drop a Mid-American Conference game in 2023.

NCAAF Week 8 Bad Beats

This is definitely the longest bad beats recap of the 2023 college football season.

While the touchdown in question took place midway through the fourth quarter, those picking Tennessee to cover as eight-point underdogs against Alabama were not thrilled with Volunteers quarterback Joe Milton when his fumble was returned for a touchdown to push Alabama’s seven-point lead to 14.

Tennessee got inside the Alabama 10 later in the quarter but came away with no points.

If the fumble by Milton didn’t cause either groans or cheers, the controversial ruling on

Iowa’s go-ahead punt return for a touchdown would do the trick.

Cooper DeJean was waving his arms to tell his teammates to stay away from the punt with less than two minutes to play but never made what would be considered a legal fair catch signal. The officials thought otherwise and ruled that DeJean’s touchdown return be taken off the board.

Rather than Iowa, the 3½-point favorite, leading 16-12 pending the extra point, the Hawkeyes would lose 12-10 to Minnesota.

Oregon, a 19-point favorite, was looking good to cover until Washington State scored with 52 seconds left to go in a game that finished with the Ducks winning 38-24. That TD in the final minute pushed the game over the 60½-point total.

Miami, a six-point underdog, took the lead on Clemson in overtime. Clemson had the ball at the Miami 1 needing a touchdown and two-point conversion to extend the game. Quarterback Cade Klubnik kept the ball and he was tackled for an eight-yard loss to end the game. Had Clemson scored the touchdown, the Tigers would have covered even if the two-point try was no good. The final Miami score did result in the matchup going over the total.

Pittsburgh, a 2½-point favorite, was ahead of Wake Forest in a rematch of the 2021 ACC Championship Game until third-string quarterback Santino Marucci’s go-ahead touchdown pass with seven seconds left lifted Wake Forest to the 21-17 win.

The clash of the undefeated Big Ten teams was decided when Ohio State scored touchdowns on consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter to go up 20-6 on Penn State. Penn State made things interesting with a touchdown with 29 seconds left to play. Those who jumped on the opening line that had Penn State as 9½-point underdogs back in August made a wise choice. The line closed at 4½.

Navy didn’t get on the board until the final minute against Air Force. When the Midshipmen scored with 50 seconds to go, there were some anxious onlookers when Navy went for two points. A successful conversion would have given Navy the back-door cover as 10½-point underdogs. The pass fell incomplete and Air Force covered thanks to a 17-6 win.

When Wisconsin took the lead on Illinois on a Braedyn Locke touchdown pass with 25 seconds to go, plenty of eyes were cast upon kicker Nathaniel Vanos. His successful PAT enabled the Badgers, listed as three-point favorites, to win 25-21. That score also put the game over the 42½-point total.

Don’t call Hawaii’s touchdown with six seconds left in a 42-21 loss to New Mexico meaningless since that TD sent the game over the 59-point total.

When North Carolina QB Maye threw an interception with 26 seconds left to play, it not only likely ended any chance of him winning the Heisman Trophy but also resulted in Virginia’s 31-27 win landing on the 58-point total.

A 67-yard scoring run by LSU’s Trey Holly with 40 seconds left seemed rather unnecessary but it did send the Tigers game versus Army (62-0) over the 59½-point total.

It was a similar deal in the Michigan-Michigan State game when the Wolverines scored with eight seconds left to see the annual rivalry game end 49-0 and land over the 47-point total.



Questions Of The Day

Which NCAAF team is most undervalued by the odds this season?

Oklahoma State leads all teams from the Power-5 conferences with three outright wins when listed as the underdog in 2023.

Which will have the biggest opportunities to win this season?

Michigan and Georgia have the best odds to win the 2023 national championship.

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