Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. And last season’s national runners-up, the Clemson Tigers, were that as they nearly saw their College Football Playoff hopes vanish on Saturday against unranked NC State. The Tigers prevailed 24-17 in overtime only after the Wolfpack missed a 33-yard winning field goal at the end of regulation. Clemson, which dropped to No. 4 in the AP poll, gets Week 8 off to count its lucky stars. Here are five Week 8 games to watch and their Sports Interaction NCAA football odds. Matchups on Saturday unless noted.
Miami at Virginia Tech
When: Thursday, 7 p.m. ET Point spread: Virginia Tech -4 NCAAF ATS Pick: Hokies
This game lost some luster as both schools were ranked entering Week 7 but then lost to fall out of the polls. It’s still potentially important in the ACC’s Coastal Division. The Hurricanes have to win to have any shot at playing in their first ACC title game. They are really banged up, however, and lost at home to current Coastal leader North Carolina on Saturday, 20-13. While that loss was understandable, Virginia Tech’s 31-17 defeat at Syracuse was not. It was the Orange’s first win over a ranked team in four years. Miami has won two straight in the series. Last year it was 30-20 in south Florida. Brad Kaaya threw for 296 yards and two scores, including the clinching 2-yard pass to Rashawn Scott with 2:44 to go. Virginia Tech turned the ball over four times.
BYU at No. 14 Boise State
When: Thursday, 10:15 p.m. ET Point spread: Boise State -7 NCAAF ATS Pick: Broncos
The highest-ranked Group of 5 school is guaranteed a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game, this year the Cotton. That school could easily be Boise State if it runs the table — maybe the Broncos even somehow crash the College Football Playoff. This is a non-conference game for Boise but its toughest opponent left in the regular season. I believe the Broncos will be unbeaten entering the Mountain West title game with a victory here. Last year in Provo, BYU beat Boise State 35-24. Tanner Mangum threw the game-winning 35-yard TD pass with 45 seconds left; the Cougars then added a TD on an interception return for the final score. Boise State has never lost at home to BYU, however.
No. 10 Wisconsin at Iowa
When: Noon ET Point spread: Wisconsin -3 NCAAF ATS Pick: Badgers
The winner here will likely be the only challenger to Nebraska to take the Big Ten West Division. Wisconsin has to be the best two-loss team in the nation. It lost on Oct. 1 by just a touchdown at No. 4 Michigan and then took No. 2 Ohio State to overtime on Saturday night but fell 30-23. Last year, Iowa won at Wisconsin 10-6 to end a three-game losing streak in the series on the way to the West title. The Hawkeyes were shut out in the second half, winning their first Big Ten game since 2007 without scoring after halftime. The Badgers won the statistical battle but turned it over four times.
Memphis at No. 24 Navy
When: 3:30 p.m. ET Point spread: Memphis -2.5 NCAAF ATS Pick: Midshipmen
Like Boise State, Navy is in the running to be the highest-ranked Group of 5 school for the Cotton Bowl slot. The Midshipmen also would take a big step toward playing in the American Athletic Conference title game with a victory here. Navy was supposed to play East Carolina last Thursday but it was postponed due to flooding from Hurricane Matthew and moved to Nov. 19. On Oct. 1, Navy supplied one of the upsets of the season with a 46-40 win over No. 6 Houston. The Midshipmen had lost 18 straight games against Top-10 teams. Memphis won at Tulane 24-14 on Friday. Last season, Navy won at No. 13 Memphis 45-20, with the Middies rushing for 374 yards. It was the Midshipmen’s first road win against a Top-15 team since 1974.
No. 6 Texas A&M at No. 1 Alabama
When: 3:30 p.m. ET Point spread: Alabama -16.5 NCAAF ATS Pick: Aggies
Arguably the most important game of the year thus far. The winner would be favored to take the SEC West Division and play in the conference title game because both should win out the rest of the regular season. If this game is close, the loser still has a shot at the College Football Playoff. The Aggies come of their bye week, while Alabama thumped No. 9 Tennessee 49-10 in Knoxville on Saturday, the most lopsided win by either school in that annual rivalry since 1906. A&M’s signature SEC win was on Nov. 10, 2012, in Tuscaloosa against the No. 1 team in the nation behind eventual Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. But Alabama has won three straight in the series since and the past two have been routs.