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Athlon makes its upset picks for Week 8.
Athlon’s experts are back with another week of upset predictions. West Virginia, Utah, Indiana, UCLA and Vanderbilt are popular picks for Week 8. The Mountaineers are coming off a bye week, which came at an opportune time, especially with their injuries at the quarterback position. The Utes are a slight underdog against Arizona, but Utah will have to avoid a letdown after beating Stanford last Saturday. UCLA takes on Stanford this week, a team it lost twice to last season. Indiana’s offense has been on fire this year, but the defense has struggled. Can the Hoosiers contain Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner?
The favorites can't win every game each week, so it's no surprise one of the most popular discussion points every Saturday is upset picks. Each week on AthlonSports.com, the editors will give an upset pick for the upcoming week of action.
College Football Week 8 Upset Predictions
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): West Virginia (+6) over Texas Tech
Considering how things have gone through the first seven weeks of the season, everything is setting up for a wild ending to the Big 12 season. Texas Tech, Texas and Baylor are the only unbeaten teams in conference play, while Kansas State is 0-3 and West Virginia and TCU have combined for a 2-4 start. The Red Raiders have been sharp under first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury, but the overall record of their six opponents is just 12-21. West Virginia has been steamrolled twice this year (Maryland and Baylor), but held its own on the road against Oklahoma and beat Oklahoma State at home. The Mountaineers had a bye last Saturday, which should allow quarterbacks Ford Childress and Clint Trickett time to heal after injuries in the previous weeks. There’s plenty of familiarity between these two coaching staffs, as Kingsbury coached under Dana Holgorsen at Houston. And motivation shouldn’t be an issue for West Virginia after the Red Raiders embarrassed them with a 49-14 win in Lubbock last year. The stat sheet says to go with Texas Tech, but the hunch here says West Virginia delivers an upset.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall): Vanderbilt (+8) over Georgia
The Commodores have been terrible on defense and have shown little life in conference play in 2013. That said, Georgia is decimated by injuries and has struggled, at times, in Nashville. The Bulldogs won by five the last time they visited and needed a late field goal to beat the Dores in 2007. Vanderbilt has beaten Georgia just once since 1995 (2006) and should be well rested coming off the bye week. Look for UGA to struggle again without it's offensive weaponary. In it's current form without five of top six playmakers on offense, Georgia is an average team that can be beat on any weekend. And fans can bet James Franklin's bunch is starving for some good news on West End.
David Fox (@DavidFox615): Indiana (+7.5) over Michigan
Indiana’s schedule has gone win, loss, win, loss, win, loss. The Hoosiers are due. In seriousness, it’s tough to put much trust in Michigan. The Wolverines offense essentially consists of one quarterback who is exceptionally turnover prone. Devin Funchess emerged last week, but Devin Gardner still accounts for nearly 1,300 more yards of total offense than anyone else on the team. Indiana lost by two touchdowns to Michigan State, but that may be more of an indication of the Spartans’ defense. The Michigan State game was the first in which Indiana failed to gain six yards per play. It’s a crazy upset, but there’s enough volatility in Ann Arbor to give IU a chance.
Mark Ross: Utah (+4) over Arizona
Utah is coming off of a historic upset of Stanford at home and now must venture into Tuscon to face an Arizona team that almost pulled off an impressive comeback victory of its own last week at USC. While the ingredients - emotional letdown following huge win, playing on the road - are there for Utah to lay an egg in this one, I'm going to take my chances on Kyle Whittingham's team to do what it has done all season, hang tough and compete. The Utes' two losses this season have come by a total of 10 points. The first was in overtime at home against Oregon State, while the other was a seven-point loss to then No.12-ranked UCLA on the road. Arizona has dropped its first two Pac-12 games, but the Wildcats are still a threat to pile up the yards and points on offense, and their defense has played fairly well too. I think the difference in this one will be quarterback play, as Utah's Travis Wilson has performed better under center than Arizona's B.J. Denker. I also think the Utes' defense is a little bit more physical and up to the challenge of stopping a talented Wildcat running attack. This Utah team rose to the occasion at home last week, and I think it will do the same out in the desert.
Stephen Schindler (@SteveSchindler): UCLA (+6) over Stanford
Stanford beat UCLA two weeks in a row last year to take the Pac-12 crown. However, this is an improved Bruins squad in 2013. The Cardinal haven’t lost back-to-back games since 2009. Led by Heisman candidates on both sides, UCLA is strong on offense and on defense. Sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley has been sensational this year, leading the Bruins to 45.8 points per game, good for 7th in the nation. Linebacker Anthony Barr has the pro scouts raving as many are calling him the nation’s top defensive player, vaulting over preseason draft favorite Jadeveon Clowney. Stanford coach David Shaw compared Barr to former All-Pro Jevon Kearse. They certainly have reason to make such claims as Barr has racked up four sacks, 10 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles in just five games. A key stat to keep your eye on is the Bruins success on 3rd downs. UCLA ranks second in the nation in third-down conversion defense (24 percent), and fifth in the nation in third-down conversion percentage (56 percent).