Week 8 College Football Picks From WhatIfSports.com image

Week 8 College Football Picks

NCAA football predictions for every FBS game
By Eric Schmoldt and Paul Bessire, WhatIfSports.com
October 19th, 2009

Each Monday morning, we will preview every college football DI FBS game of the upcoming week. All of our college football content, including our most recent power rankings and links to the pre-season preview are located here.

The inputs to the 10,000 simulations of these games are based on a rigorous analysis of each team that considers strength-of-schedule-adjusted team and player ratings and then makes modifications for injuries and depth at each position. To see other picks like our Upset and Locks of the Week, as well as our season-to-date performance, click here.

Game of the Week: #4 TCU 34 @ #16 BYU 28
With conference standings always in flux, just about every game of every season affects more than just the two teams playing. But rarely does a situation exist where the outcome of a program - from a different conference, nonetheless - decides the fate of another.

Boise State is a program that fits that mold right now. And almost all the Broncos' eyes will be on TCU, starting this weekend.

With only WAC teams on its schedule, the Boise State controls its destiny when it comes to finishing undefeated. According to our data based on simulations of the rest of the season, Boise State has a 71.3% chance of winning the rest of its games. When it comes to the Broncos' BCS hopes - whether that's the championship game or just making a BCS bowl game - the Horned Frogs could decide their fate.

Playing in the much more competitive Mountain West Conference, if TCU remains undefeated through the end of the regular season, it would likely jump Boise State to snag a BCS bid for the non-automatic-qualifying conferences.

Of course, if the Horned Frogs don't finish undefeated, the Broncos probably have nothing to worry about. TCU will face its biggest road block to an undefeated season this Saturday when it travels to Provo, Utah, to take on BYU.

The Horned Frogs fell behind 6-0 against Colorado State last week before their offense erupted for 44 unanswered points, squelching most doubts about the team one week after they hung on to beat Air Force in below-freezing temperatures. TCU, eighth in the first BCS standings, sits fourth in our power rankings. The Horned Frogs are balanced offensively led by veteran quarterback Andy Dalton. He is one of four TCU players with greater than 200 yards rushing and has also thrown for 1,223 yards with eight touchdowns and just three interceptions. On defense, it's all starts with All-American defensive end Jerry Hughes. TCU is one of just nine teams in the country allowing less than four yards per play and is tied for sixth in the country with 3.3 sacks per game.

BYU's BCS hopes were leveled when the Cougars were routed at home by Florida State. And while they haven't always looked dominant since then, a 10-point victory at San Diego State last week helped them improve to 6-1. The Cougars have remained top-25 mainstay in our power rankings throughout the year, thanks to a season-opening victory over Oklahoma. One of the top offenses in the country averaging 469 yards per game and 6.67 yards per play, the Cougars are also led by a senior quarterback in Max Hall. While he's been more prone to turnovers than previous years, Hall is still throwing for more than 300 yards per game, many of them going to All-American candidate Dennis Pitta at tight end. The Cougars average more yards per completion (9.56) than any other team in the country. But, giving up nearly 5.4 yards per play, BYU's defense has been a bit suspect to this point.

We thought this would be the Game of the Week in our original Week 8 Preview before the season began and it has lived up to the hype, though TCU has widened its margin a bit. Averaging a two-point victory in simulations prior to the start of the season, the Horned Frogs now remain unbeaten - and continue to leave Boise State fans worried - by winning over BYU 69.3% of the time and by an average margin of 34-28.

Other Notable Games in Week 8
The BYU-TCU matchup is the only one this week between two teams ranked in the top 20 of power rankings.

In the Big East, however, the fight for the top contender to Cincinnati continues. The Bearcats, coming off a victory over then-unbeaten South Florida, beat Louisville 89.1% of the time, but the race behind them becomes more intriguing as the Bulls travel to Pitt. South Florida drops its second straight game 52.6% of the time as the Panthers win 32-28.

The Iowa Hawkeyes are also looking to remain unbeaten at Michigan State and they do just that 82.5% of the time by a score of 24-14. Michigan will try to land another blow to Penn State's Big Ten title hopes, but the Nittany Lions win nearly 80% and by a score of 30-20 in the Big House.

Oh, and if you are still actually worried about Boise State suffering an unexpected setback, the Broncos are winners 95% of the time at Hawaii.

To see other picks like our Upset of the Week and Lock of the Week, as well as our season-to-date performance, click here.

College Football Week 8
MatchupWin%Avg Score
Clemson Tigers26.715
@ Miami (FL) Hurricanes73.325
Maryland Terrapins43.815
@ Duke Blue Devils56.218
Florida State Seminoles62.920
@ North Carolina Tar Heels37.116
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets88.827
@ Virginia Cavaliers11.214
Louisville Cardinals10.914
@ Cincinnati Bearcats89.134
Connecticut Huskies34.320
@ West Virginia Mountaineers65.727
Akron Zips34.712
@ Syracuse Orange65.318
South Florida Bulls47.428
@ Pittsburgh Panthers52.632
Minnesota Golden Gophers13.413
@ Ohio State Buckeyes86.628
Illinois Fighting Illini27.116
@ Purdue Boilermakers72.928
Indiana Hoosiers41.315
@ Northwestern Wildcats58.720
Penn State Nittany Lions79.330
@ Michigan Wolverines20.720
Iowa Hawkeyes82.524
@ Michigan State Spartans17.514
Kent State Golden Flashes11.68
@ Ohio Bobcats88.427
Buffalo Bulls31.518
@ Western Michigan Broncos68.525
Temple Owls61.824
@ Toledo Rockets38.221
Ball State Cardinals67.718
@ Eastern Michigan Eagles32.314
Central Michigan Chippewas81.128
@ Bowling Green Falcons18.916
Northern Illinois Huskies94.828
@ Miami (OH) RedHawks 5.210
Washington State Cougars 5.07
@ California Golden Bears95.039
UCLA Bruins17.513
@ Arizona Wildcats82.526
Oregon State Beavers21.521
@ USC Trojans78.533
Arizona State Sun Devils37.119
@ Stanford Cardinal62.926
Oregon Ducks86.630
@ Washington Huskies13.415
Vanderbilt Commodores13.410
@ South Carolina Gamecocks86.625
Tennessee Volunteers17.912
@ Alabama Crimson Tide82.127
Auburn Tigers21.516
@ LSU Tigers78.528
Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks43.817
@ Kentucky Wildcats56.222
Arkansas Razorbacks52.627
@ Mississippi Rebels47.426
Florida Gators95.042
@ Mississippi State Bulldogs 5.013
Idaho Vandals41.027
@ Nevada Wolf Pack59.031
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs73.727
@ Utah State Aggies26.319
Boise State Broncos95.042
@ Hawaii Warriors 5.017
Fresno State Bulldogs95.040
@ New Mexico State Aggies 5.012
Boston College Eagles32.721
@ Notre Dame Fighting Irish67.329
Wake Forest Demon Deacons37.817
@ Navy Midshipmen62.223
Rutgers Scarlet Knights87.625
@ Army Black Knights12.412
Texas A&M Aggies14.418
@ Texas Tech Red Raiders85.633
Iowa State Cyclones19.917
@ Nebraska Cornhuskers80.130
Colorado Buffaloes29.420
@ Kansas State Wildcats70.628
Oklahoma Sooners82.129
@ Kansas Jayhawks17.918
Oklahoma State Cowboys88.436
@ Baylor Bears11.621
Texas Longhorns91.530
@ Missouri Tigers 8.515
Southern Methodist Mustangs 5.013
@ Houston Cougars95.039
Tulane Green Wave17.515
@ Southern Miss Golden Eagles82.530
UAB Blazers37.818
@ Marshall Thundering Herd62.224
Tulsa Golden Hurricane82.130
@ UTEP Miners17.920
UCF Knights90.028
@ Rice Owls10.013
Air Force Falcons23.116
@ Utah Utes76.928
San Diego State Aztecs43.816
@ Colorado State Rams56.220
UNLV Rebels54.721
@ New Mexico Lobos45.319
TCU Horned Frogs69.334
@ Brigham Young Cougars30.728
Florida International Golden Panthers10.011
@ Arkansas State Red Wolves90.028
North Texas Mean Green15.514
@ Troy Trojans84.529
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers23.910
@ Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders76.121
Florida Atlantic Owls33.919
@ Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns66.127

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Eric Schmoldt is a writer and Paul Bessire is the Product Manager of Content and Quantitative Analysis for WhatIfSports.com, a division of FOX Sports Interactive specializing in NCAA Matchup analysis and college football sim games. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, Paul and Eric can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com. Thanks!

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