College Football Week 8 Friday Best Bet: NCAAF Expert Picks & Predictions

There’s only one game to watch on Friday night (10/20/23), but as we gear up for another Saturday loaded with college football, I believe there’s value in this game between SMU and Temple. Check out the Lineups YouTube page for coverage of every primetime Saturday game as well as a ton of great NFL content.

Temple Vs. SMU Best Bet

I initially balked at a spread of 21 points for a road team in conference play, but as I kept digging into this matchup, I realized how big of a mismatch this is. Let’s start with SMU’s defense. The Mustangs are fifth in overall success rate allowed this season and 11th in EPA/play allowed. They’re facing a Temple offense in disarray that could be without quarterback EJ Warner this week as he’s in concussion protocol.

Warner missed last week’s game, and if he can’t go again, Quincy Patterson II would get the nod after completing just 12-30 passes for 105 yards against a North Texas defense that ranks just 126th in overall success rate allowed. Yikes. SMU’s defense is far better, and it’s one of the best in the Group of Five this season. The Mustangs will be living in the Temple backfield on Friday as they rank 4th in PFF pass rush grades and Temple ranks 116th in pass-blocking.

SMU’s offense has lacked consistency this season as they rank just 97th in overall success rate, but they’ve generated a ton of big plays, ranking 9th in explosiveness. Those big plays should come this week against a Temple defense that ranks 113th in explosiveness allowed. The Owls also rank 130th in defensive finishing drives, allowing opponents to score nearly every time they cross the 40-yard line.

Head coach Rhett Lashlee has spoken about SMU’s offense not producing at the level he expects, and we shouldn’t see any letup as he looks to establish consistency on that end against a terrible Temple defense. The Owls will have a ton of three-and-outs here, and they rank 14th in seconds per play, so they should spot SMU a ton of extra possessions.

I expect a breakout game from quarterback Preston Stone and running back Jaylan Knighton, a Miami transfer, on Friday night. Stone’s consistency hasn’t quite been where it should be, which is true of the entire offense, but he’s shown flashes of high level passing ability and could put it all together against a Temple defense that has allowed 3+ passing touchdowns in four straight games.

Temple’s five FBS losses have come by an average margin of 27 points, and the Owls have to be on quit watch as they’d likely have to win out to reach a bowl game. If you’re looking for other ways to play this game, I believe SMU’s team total hits over 37.5 and Temple’s hits under 16.5, as well.

Best Bet: SMU -21

I've been a huge sports fan for as long as I can remember and I've always loved writing. In 2020, I joined the Lineups team, and I've been producing written and video content on football and basketball ever since. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. My goal is to tell enthralling stories and provide meaningful insight on the sports I write about while helping you cash some bets along the way.

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