NCAAF Week 8 Early Value Picks Include Purdue and Tennessee-Martin

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The best sportsbooks have released their NCAAF odds for this week’s college football action. Two games, in particular, interest me as worth investing in.

For reasons that I will explain, now is a good time to play the spread for both games.

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Purdue Boilermakers vs. Wisconsin Badgers

Saturday, October 22, 2022 – 03:30 PM EDT at Camp Randall Stadium

What You Should Know

There is a natural inclination among bettors and, indeed, among humans (in general) to attach extra significance to the most recent events.

This bias, recency bias, is problematic in the case of Purdue's defense because it relies on a failure to identify important distinctions between Nebraska, Purdue's last opponent, and Wisconsin. The most important distinction is Trey Palmer.

Nebraska accumulated 37 points largely because of Palmer. Of the 476 total yards of offense that the Cornhuskers accrued, Palmer gained 297 of them.

Who's Wisconsin's Unique Weapon?

Palmer is a uniquely explosive wide receiver whom Nebraska gladly deploys on punt and kick returns and on jet sweeps and other rushing plays because of his ability to elude defenders in the open field. In the passing game, as he did against Purdue, he'll get behind a defense and reliably make himself available as a target downfield, using his speed to create a cushion for himself.

Wisconsin, though, doesn't possess a player like him. Its leading wide receiver is Chimere Dike, who has about 300 fewer receiving yards than Palmer and generally doesn't intimidate the strong competition. Over half of Dike's receiving yards, this season has come against Illinois State and Northwestern.

Graham Mertz's Effect

Dike and the other Badger pass-catchers are also held back by poor quarterback play from Graham Mertz.

Mertz's pass completion percentage looks attractive because of his game against Northwestern, New Mexico State, and Illinois State.

Generally, Mertz struggles to complete 60% of his passes. Moreover, he is turnover-prone. He was fortunate, last week against Michigan State and its repeatedly porous secondary, to have only thrown one interception, and he is always liable to throw multiple interceptions in a game.

Compared with Purdue's quarterback, Mertz has one more interception on 102 fewer pass attempts. With Mertz and his lackluster pass-catching crew, Wisconsin's pass attack doesn't pose nearly the same threat that Nebraska's did with Palmer.

Badger Ground Game vs. Boilermaker Run Defense

Wisconsin is always famous for its rush attack and, given its problems passing the ball, it certainly makes sense in general for Wisconsin to emphasize its ground game.

Indeed, the Badgers own the nation's 31st -highest run-play percentage. In this respect, their offensive success will hinge on that of their ground game.

Problematically for Wisconsin, Purdue's run defense has been excellent all year. Its run defense numbers last week look bad merely because of one rush executed by Palmer, the same uniquely explosive wide receiver who torched their secondary.

Stacking Up Well Against the Run

Still, currently, the Boilermakers rank 20th nationally at limiting opposing rush yards per game. For example, Penn State ranks 38th in averaging 179.2 rushing yards per game but mustered 98 rushing yards on 3.1 YPC in its game against Purdue. More recently, Maryland rushed for 72 yards against Purdue but averages 160.3 rushing yards this season.

Evidently, the Boilermakers reliably make opposing ground games look much worse than they do against other defenses. Since Wisconsin won't beat the Boilermakers on the ground or threaten them through the air, I am pessimistic about its ability to score many points.

Purdue's Pass Protection

After yielding five sacks two weeks ago, Purdue's pass protection unit answered any doubts by stymying the Cornhusker pass rush. Nebraska didn't even manage a quarterback hurry despite Aidan O'Connell attempting 54 passes.

Wisconsin's pass rush unit doesn't pose a threat against a Boilermaker unit that's been one of the best at limiting the rate at which its quarterback gets sacked. The Badger pass rush is ranked only slightly ahead of Nebraska's sack rate.

O'Connell vs. Badger Secondary

As did Michigan State's, good receivers regularly thrive against the Badger secondary. Expect, therefore, Charlie Jones to accomplish this week his fifth 100-yard receiving output of the season, while other wide receivers and tight ends remain healthy to help him out.

Early Value Pick

Opposing quarterbacks find Badger defensive backs like Ricardo Hallman to target and reliably accrue chunk plays. O'Connell will have plenty of time in the pocket to expose Badger defensive backs downfield when he isn't executing a dink-and-dunk game.

NCAAF Pick: Purdue +1.5 (-117) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Purdue +1.5 (-117)
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Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks vs. Tennessee Volunteers

Saturday, October 22, 2022 - 12:00 PM EDT at Neyland Stadium

Let-Down Situation

This is a classic spot in which to bet on Tennessee's opponent to cover the spread.

The Volunteers are coming off a massive win against Alabama. They celebrated, they were excited, their fans stormed the field after the game, and all of this for good reason: it was a victory against a top-ranked, fellow SEC opponent, one that had had Tennessee's number.

How are the Volunteers going to get themselves excited, after beating Alabama, to play UT-Martin in the early time slot, no less?

I don't know the answer to this question, especially with a ranked Kentucky team as their next opponent, and that's why I recommend UT Martin for your NCAAF Picks.

NCAAF Pick: UT Martin +38 (-105) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

*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.