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College Capper: Handicapping Week 8

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

One week into the college football playoff and we already have two victims. Ohio State was the high profile victim last week falling on the road to the Wisconsin Badgers, but another potential national title contender also dropped its first game of the season and oddly enough, the loss by Nebraska was much more of a surprise. Nebraska was nearly a 10-point favorite over the Texas Longhorns this past weekend, but you know how it goes in the playoffs, anything can happen.

Though we lost two high-profile teams this past week, there are still plenty more unbeaten teams left out there. Two of them meet up this week as LSU visits Auburn. While some games during this playoff are single-elimination, see Ohio State and Nebraska, this one may not be as the loser of this game could potentially find a way into the SEC title game and finish the season with one loss and as we all know, a one-loss SEC team still has a shot at cracking the top-two in the BCS standings come early December.

In other non-playoff news, Boise State and TCU keep chugging along, destroying any and all comers. Their playoff games are still a few weeks out as TCU is matched up with Utah and Boise State is matched-up with Nevada. Those games, of course are single-elimination.

The avoid list:

Texas: The ĎHorns are back on the avoid list and if youíve got them figured out, please let me know what the deal is. I was able to call the under correctly last week against Nebraska, but as for a Texas win, and convincing at that, I could have never imagined that. I think itís safe to say that Texas will be dangerous in pick Ďem or underdog situations the rest of the way, but not as a heavy favorite.

Georgia: Another week, another blowout win, but before you go thinking the Bulldogs are back, letís see them beat a real team.

On the radar:

USC: Much like the Longhorns, let me know if youíve got the Trojans figured out. The Trojans were slight favorites heading into their game with California last week, yet they beat them down like they were Washington State. I still donít have this team pegged yet. Perhaps another solid effort and I will believe they are legit.

Weekly recap:

Record: 10-6

Record YTD: 43-45-1

Units: +2.2

Units YTD: -10.0

Best Win: Kansas State: This game was close for about 15 minutes, then all hell broke loose. To be honest, I didnít get a chance to see this game thanks to local hockey coverage on my Fox Sports station, but luckily, there was no need to even sweat this one as Kansas State wrapped this game up by the half.

Worst Loss: TCU: The Horned Frogs were sluggish all afternoon, yet they awoke late in the game, only to run out of time to cover. They ended up near the BYU red zone when the clock ran out. If only theyíd started playing a couple minutes earlier.

Take a Note:
Virginia Tech is back. I wouldnít be surprised to see the Hokies run through the rest of their ACC schedule and end up in a BCS game yet again. FSU appears to be the only competition right now, but I am still not sure how good the Seminoles are.

Oregon controls its fate concerning a spot in the national championship game, but donít count them chickens just yet. There is a long way to go in the playoff and as soon as you start looking down the road, you lose your edge. Oregon having been in this spot just a few years ago will likely say all the right things over the coming weeks, but you never can be sure where the heads of the these college kids are at.

Week Eight:

Thursday Night:

UCLA at Oregon: Oregonís run to the title game starts right here, and if the Ducks arenít careful, it could end here. UCLA has already toppled one giant on the road this season and the Bruins are capable of winning in this spot also. With that said, if the Ducks show up for this game and considering this is a national spotlight game, why wouldnít they, then the only win that UCLA can earn on Thursday is a win against the spread. Oregon has nothing to prove in this spot, so I doubt the Ducks will worry much about piling on, but considering how powerful their offense is, they can continue to score even when the throttle is not fully down. I expect Oregon to build an early lead and steadily add to it during the second half.

Side: Oregon -22 (1)


South Florida at Cincinnati: After a slow start, Cincinnati appears to be on track again, however, this number might be a bit much considering the issues that the Bearcat offensive line has had for much of the year. Louisville was unable to exploit their weaknesses up front last week, but South Florida may be better equipped. The Bulls did a nice job of hanging just outside the number last week at West Virginia and they should be able to do one better this week and actually get within the number this week.

Side: South Florida +7.5 (1)


Duke at Virginia Tech: The Tech offense is rolling right now and the Duke defense has absolutely no chance of slowing it down this week. On the other side of the ball, the Blue Devils have shown the ability to score some points this year and considering this game will be under the radar, I doubt weíll see a top-notch effort from the Hokie defense.

Total: Over 61 (1)

Wisconsin at Iowa: A very difficult spot for the Badgers here as just a week after their huge win over the Buckeyes, they head to Iowa City in what should be another tough road test. If you recall, the Badgers already failed their first test on the road when they failed to put up much of a fight in East Lansing. This spot is likely more difficult and considering theyíve probably spent he entire week listening to how great they are for knocking of OSU, theyíll probably be ill prepared. Iowa is looking at winning the Big Ten Championship this year and it canít afford to slip up here.

Side: Iowa -5.5 (1)

Penn State at Minnesota: the new regime takes over this week as Tim Brewster is no longer at the helm of the Golden Gophers. Actually, the new regime isnít in place yet, but I have a feeling that there will be a sense of optimism from the fans and the team this week as they take the field on Saturday. This game likely represents the last chance the Gophers will have at winning a Big Ten game this season and I expect a good effort. Penn State is having troubles of its own, and though it should definitely be favored in this spot, I donít think it should be laying nearly 10 points.

Side: Minnesota +9.5 (1)

Michigan State at Northwestern: I keep waiting for the sky to fall in East Lansing, but the Spartans credit, they continue to pass every test. This week is another test, be it a little under the radar as the Wildcats have shown the ability to play extremely well in certain spots this year. One of these weeks the Spartans will come out flat and if they do so this week, they will be undefeated no more.

Side: Northwestern +5.5 (1)

Rutgers at Pittsburgh: Rutgers was already having a nightmare season prior to last weekís horrible incident where defensive lineman Eric LeGrand ended up paralyzed after an attempted tackle late in the game. Now they need to somehow set that incident aside and try to put up a decent effort against a suddenly hot Pittsburgh Panther team. Sometimes teams can find inspiration from a fallen comrade, see Connecticut from last season, but I donít think this Rutgers team has the talent to make such a run this season.

Side: Pittsburgh -12.5 (1)

Mississippi at Arkansas: To my surprise, the Rebels were completely held in check last week, but I donít that will be the case this week. The Arkansas defense is coming off a historically poor effort at Auburn last week and although the kids on that side of the ball will surely get an earful this week, I am not sure it will matter much as they face another duel-threat QB this week.

Total: Over 60 (2)

Kansas State at Baylor: I see no reason to jump off the Baylor-over bandwagon now. Sure, it was a little too close for comfort last week, but that had more to do with the opposition. Expect both teams to contribute to the total this week as this one should be one of the easier cashes this week.

Total: Over 59 (2)

Oklahoma at Missouri: Iíve fallen for the Missouri hype before in this spot and as you can imagine, I got burned. Now, college teams are not the same from year to year and although Oklahoma doesnít appear to be as strong as some of its other teams of the past, I still think thereís a mental edge on the side of the Sooners.

Side: Oklahoma -3 (1)

Arizona State at California: Cal was embarrassed last week and so far this season the Bears have shown the ability to bounce back from embarrassing losses. Hereís hoping it happens again this week.

Side: Cal -3.5 (1)

LSU at Auburn: I hope itís not too late to get on the LSU bandwagon, after all, the Tigers have been very fortunate over the past few weeks and I would hate to side with them this week only to see their luck run out. Though I donít completely trust LSU at this point, I donít completely buy what Iíve seen from Auburn either. My guess is the LSU defense will present Cam Newton with some challenges that heís yet to encounter in his brief collegiate career.

Side: LSU +6 (1)

Washington State at Stanford: To their credit, the Huskies have done well hanging in ballgames this season, but this is just a bad spot for them this week. Stanford can score every which way and the Cardinal likely will this week as they roll the Cougars.

Side: Stanford -35 (1)