College Football Week 8 Upset Alert: Auburn Plays Different at Home

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NCAAF Pick: Auburn +6.5 (-105) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Auburn +6.5 (-105)
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The top sportsbooks have released their betting odds for this week’s college football action, and three games interest me: Boston College vs. Georgia Tech, South Carolina vs. Missouri, and Ole Miss vs. Auburn.

For your best bets, I will recommend that you wager on all three underdogs. I like to invest three quarters of a unit in the underdog ATS and the remaining quarter in the underdog ML.

Boston College Eagles vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Saturday, October 21, 2023 – 12:00 PM EDT at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Hyundai Field

Home Field Advantage?

Georgia Tech is favored as heavily as it is in this game because it is the home team.

The assumption in play is that playing at home benefits the Yellow Jackets. However, this assumption lacks credibility because, in three tries, they won only one game at home. The one victim was South Carolina State, a 44-point underdog.

Alarmingly, Georgia Tech also lost to Bowling Green at home, a low-profile MAC school that was a 21-point underdog that won by eleven points.

Asking Boston College to pull off an upset on Saturday appears to be a rather modest ask in view of Bowling Green’s success.

Thomas Castellanos

Boston College’s outlook on Saturday is strengthened by matchup considerations.

The offense will have no problem scoring a lot of points. The key player is quarterback Thomas Castellanos, the Eagles’ leading rusher: he currently has 500 rushing yards on 5.1 YPC. Castellanos is tricky to defend because he will look like he is going to pass but then he will take off. His speed and his vision, evident in his ability to locate and burst through running lanes, make him difficult to contain.

Georgia Tech’s vs. Mobile Quarterbacks

Castellanos is primed to thrive against a Yellow Jackets defense that regularly struggles to contain mobile quarterbacks.

When Georgia Tech failed to cover the spread against Ole Miss, for example, decisive in the Rebels’ success in covering the spread was the running of their quarterback, Jaxson Dart. For Ole Miss, Dart was the leading rusher, as he amassed 136 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on 14 carries.

Even quarterbacks who are not so well-known for running flourish on the ground against the Yellow Jackets. Louisville’s Jack Plummer is one such example. Despite averaging 0.4 YPC on the season, he ran for 51 yards on 5.7 YPC when facing Georgia Tech.

Why This Matters

It’s no coincidence that in Boston College’s best games, especially its upset win at Army and its near upset against mighty Florida State, Castellanos achieved his highest rushing outputs of the season.

As the team’s quarterback and leading rusher, his ability to use his legs is seminal to his offense’s ability to produce successful drives.

What Georgia Tech’s Offense Needs to Do

In order to keep pace with Boston College, the Yellow Jackets will need to establish the run.

Consider two games: when they lost to Bowling Green, they passed much more often than they ran. Conversely, their win at Wake Forest featured a more run-centric approach.

Running is necessary to inject balance into their offense and to help out their quarterback, Haynes King, who sometimes struggles to be efficient and to avoid mistakes.

Boston College’s Run Defense

The Eagles will succeed against the Yellow Jackets’ offense because they can stop the run.

Their ACC run defense statistics look bad because of their season-opening performance against a strong Louisville squad. However, since then, they also shut down Virginia’s rush attack and, much more impressively, held Florida State to fewer than four YPC.

NCAAF Pick: Boston College +4.5 (-107) at BetOnline

NCAAF Pick: Boston College (+173) at BetOnline

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Boston College +4.5 (-107)
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South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Missouri Tigers

Saturday, October 21, 2023 – 03:30 PM EDT at Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field

The Angle

I find it absurd to see the Gamecocks heavy dogs considering their ability to score a lot of points on offense and Missouri’s tendency to surrender a lot of points, especially to strong offenses.

The Tigers’ defense will not be good enough to secure a strong enough lead for the cover, let alone to secure a win.

South Carolina’s Offense

Last week, the Gamecocks scored 39 points against Florida.

Their offense’s achievement against the Gators was particularly impressive because even after last week, Florida ranks 35th nationally in total defense. For comparison’s sake, Missouri ranks 53rd.

South Carolina’s Offensive Line

Skeptics might say: “So South Carolina’s offense had one good game. Who cares? Things often change from week to week.”

However, there was a significant reason for South Carolina’s offensive burst that justifies confidence in the future outlook of the Gamecocks offense. This significant reason is South Carolina’s offensive line play.

Heading into the season, one knew that the Gamecocks’ offensive line would struggle, as their offensive line featured positional switches, youth, and experience. It turns out that it was only a matter of time before this unit gelled together into a reliable group capable of sustaining strong offensive production.

Whereas, two games ago, South Carolina allowed six sacks to Tennessee, the Gamecocks allowed two sacks last week to Florida. With more time to throw against the Gators, quarterback Spencer Rattler was able to accomplish his most prolific passing performance against an SEC opponent this year, as evident in the number of yards and passing touchdowns that he achieved.

Moreover, running back Mario Anderson has continued surging. In his last two games, he has accrued a combined total of 199 rushing yards on 30 carries.

Missouri’s Defense

The Tigers’ pass defense ranks below average nationally, while its run defense has been hit-or-miss. Mizzou has done well against the run when it’s faced teams who are rather dependent on running the ball.

Unlike Kansas State, for example, a team that barely lost to Mizzou, the Gamecocks boast a quarterback in Rattler who complements his team’s ground attack by passing for a lot of yards and touchdowns, by being highly efficient, and by avoiding interceptions.

South Carolina’s Pass Defense

The Tigers will want to keep pace with South Carolina by relying on their pass attack.

However, the Gamecocks’ secondary was supposed to be a strong point this season. Their top cover guy, Marcellas Dial, is a good cornerback. Last year, he ranked 24th in the nation in passes defended.

While South Carolina’s pass defense struggled in a high-scoring affair last week, we can’t allow last week’s game to blind us to the reasons for optimism apparent in previous games.

Most notably, as measured by passer rating, quarterback Joe Milton III for Tennessee and future NFL star Drake Maye for North Carolina both had the second-worst performance of their respective seasons when they played South Carolina.

South Carolina’s defense will bounce back after last week to be good enough to protect the lead that its offense will procure.

NCAAF Pick: South Carolina +7.5 (-110) at BetOnline

NCAAF Pick: South Carolina (+245) at BetOnline

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South Carolina +7.5 (-110)
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Ole Miss Rebels vs. Auburn Tigers

Saturday, October 21, 2023 – 07:00 PM EDT at Jordan-Hare Stadium

Auburn’s Home Field Advantage

There are two different versions of Auburn: the one that plays at home and the one that plays on the road.

On the road, the Tigers barely escaped Cal and were blown out by both Texas A&M and LSU. At home, Auburn surprised against Georgia, its one difficult visiting opponent to date.

In its game against number one Georgia, Auburn easily covered the spread. The Tigers lost by seven, cementing themselves as the one team that Georgia failed to defeat by double digits.

A lot of people doubt Auburn’s ability to upset Ole Miss, but that’s because they fail to make this distinction between the Tigers at home and the Tigers on the road.

Bouncing Back From LSU

In the minds of many, Auburn’s blowout loss at LSU last week justifies confidence in Ole Miss’s outlook this week. However, besides being at home, the Tigers will benefit from following a new game plan.

Last week, Auburn felt pressure to keep pace with LSU and, consequently, succumbed to a deleterious impulse to pass a lot. Auburn’s pass-heavy offense was a bad offense. Falling behind early, the Tigers had to keep passing. As a passing team, they did not have a chance to score enough points.

It is perfectly logical to posit that Auburn will bring a more run-centric approach to this week’s game. This is especially logical because the Tigers will watch Ole Miss’s games until now and see that Arkansas failed to beat Ole Miss while passing a lot more than it ran.

Auburn’s Ground Game

It is clear that a run-heavy approach is necessary against Ole Miss. The Tigers generally do and indeed should want to run the ball.

They boast a quarterback in Payton Thorne, who averages 4.5 YPC and is capable of achieving big plays on the ground, as evident in his 61-yard run against Georgia’s defense.

Multiple running backs can help out, especially Brian Battie and Jarquez Hunter. Against the Aggies, for example, they combined for 112 rushing yards on 17 carries.

Ole Miss’ Run Defense

At home, Auburn’s offensive line looked like a different unit than the one that people perceive it as. The Tigers’ offensive line enabled the team to run for 219 yards on 5.1 YPC against the Bulldogs’ defense.

At home, therefore, Auburn’s offensive line is going to differ from the Arkansas offensive line that has been struggling mightily including in its game against Ole Miss.

Overall, the Rebels’ run defense is vulnerable. Ole Miss has allowed opposing running backs to thrive. Alabama’s Jase McClellan, for example, ran for more YPC against Ole Miss than he did against any other team.

Auburn Defense’s Outlook

At home, Auburn’s run defense allows 123.5 yards per game, which would position it 35th nationally. When they faced Georgia, the Tigers held Georgia to 74 yards and 1.4 YPC below its season averages.

These statistics illustrate the capability of Auburn’s restocked defensive line. Meanwhile, the back seven, an experienced group whose chemistry together allowed it to rank top-25 in multiple pass defense categories last year, forms the strength of the Tigers’ defense.

Ole Miss is a run-heavy team that will struggle to establish the run on the road. Its pass attack, as well as its ground game, would both be hindered further if quarterback Jaxson Dart remains banged up.

NCAAF Pick: Auburn +6.5 (-105) at BetOnline

NCAAF Pick: Auburn (+205) at BetOnline

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Auburn (+205)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.