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MC&J: Clemson hosts Syracuse in a battle of ACC unbeatens in Week 8 national action

Plus, TCU and UCLA will try and stay perfect on the year when they take on one-loss foes on Saturday.

Syndication: The Greenville News Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

Last week ATS: 6-6 (2-3 B1G, 4-3 National)

Season ATS: 52-60-3 (26-31-1 B1G, 26-28-2 National)

Sometimes it feels like I’m a broken record when trying to make myself feel better about some of the losses from the previous week. Hitting on Tennessee straight up was nice, but then there are my TCU and Utah picks. While both teams won, neither team covered. Even though we treaded water last week, at least we didn’t fall any games farther behind .500.

National games:

(All lines courtesy of Draftkings Sportsbook.)

No. 14 Syracuse v. No. 5 Clemson (-13.5) - 12:00 p.m. - ABC

Last week Syracuse added to NC State’s woes, beating the Wolfpack 24-9, running the Orange’s record to 6-0 this year. Over the last 10 seasons, Syracuse has won at least six games in a season only three times, so nearing November without having suffered a loss yet is unfamiliar territory for Syracuse.

On the other hand, it is pretty normal these days that Clemson is still undefeated at this point of the season. Last week the Tigers beat Florida State for the seventh-straight time. The 34-28 final score makes the game look a little closer than it actually was, as Clemson jumped out to a 34-14 lead before the Seminoles were able to score a couple times in the fourth quarter.

I’m still not sure if Syracuse is really all that good. Sean Tucker is a great running back and quarterback Garrett Shrader is solid, but who have the Orange really played? Last week Syracuse beat a beaten up NC State team that lost quarterback Devin Leary for the rest of the season. The best win otherwise for Syracuse is over Purdue in a really weird game. I just think Clemson is a lot better, and the difference between the two teams is going to be obvious on Saturday at Death Valley.

Clemson 38, Syracuse 17

No. 21 Cincinnati (-3.5) v. SMU - 12:00 p.m. - ESPN

Following a loss to Arkansas to start the season, Cincinnati has reeled off five-straight wins. The last two wins by the Bearcats have been tight victories, as Luke Fickell’s team won 31-21 at Tulsa to start the month, and the following week they beat South Florida 28-24. Quarterback Ben Bryant has settled into the role, throwing 15 touchdowns, while Charles McClelland rushed for 179 yards against the Bulls.

There’s no question that SMU has a potent offense. The Mustangs average 490 yards and 35 points per game. Oklahoma transfer Quarterback Tanner Mordecai has been good, teaming with wide receiver Rashee Rice to form one of the most dangerous combos in the country. The problem with SMU is they don’t play much defense.

Cincinnati hasn’t had much trouble with SMU of late, winning the last three meetings with the Mustangs, and five of the six times the schools have met since 2013. The Bearcats are a lot more disciplined than the Mustangs, which makes this short line a lot more attractive for the road team. SMU will put some points on the board, but it won’t matter since Cincinnati will get enough stops to win by at least a touchdown.

Cincinnati 41, SMU 31

No. 7 Ole Miss v. LSU (-2) - 3:30 p.m. - CBS

LSU’s 40-13 loss at home to Tennessee a couple weeks ago doesn’t look all that bad after the Volunteers beat Alabama last week. The Tigers were able to rebound from getting routed two weeks ago by traveling to Florida and beating the Gators 45-35. Quarterback Jayden Daniels was living in the end zone last Saturday, throwing three touchdowns and adding another three scores on the ground.

Is Ole Miss for real? The Rebels are a fun team to watch, I’m just not sure they are ready to be in the College Football Playoff discussion. We’ll find out a lot more about Ole Miss in the upcoming weeks, since their schedule will get a little more difficult. Aside from a 22-19 win over Kentucky at the beginning of the month, there isn’t much impressive about the rest of the wins by the Rebels.

LSU is going to be the most challenging team Ole Miss has played this year. The Rebels have found a lot of success running the ball this year, but it is going to be a lot tougher to move the chains on Saturday. Jaxson Dart has thrown six interceptions this year, and a few more picks will be added to his season total as the Rebels suffer their first loss of the season.

LSU 34, Ole Miss 23

No. 9 UCLA v. No. 10 Oregon (-6) - 3:30 p.m. - FOX

Just over a month ago UCLA was struggling to beat South Alabama. Now the Bruins are coming off wins over Washington and Utah, with both those opponents being ranked at the time. It looks like what Chip Kelly is trying to do in Pasadena is finally landing, with the Bruins averaging over 500 yards per game of offense. Dorian Thompson-Robinson has scored 19 total touchdowns so far this year, while Michigan transfer running back Zach Charbonnet has ran for over 600 yards and six touchdowns through six games.

It’s eerie just how similar UCLA and Oregon are. The two teams have similar offensive and defensive numbers. Thompson-Robinson and Bo Nix are both quarterbacks that can run and pass the football. Both teams are even coming off a bye week, which means they’ll be rested for this Pac-12 showdown. About the only thing in one team’s favor is the Ducks have won nine of the last ten against the Bruins.

I just feel like this is going to be a close game that comes right down to the wire. Chip Kelly brings his best team to where he made a name for himself as coach, and it feels like he finally gets a win against his former employer. The Ducks are a very good team, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they ended up beating the Bruins. I figure I gotta take a shot with the underdog here. No matter who wins, this feels like a game that is decided by a field goal.

UCLA 38, Oregon 35

No. 20 Texas (-6.5) v. No. 11 Oklahoma State - 3:30 p.m. - ABC

Six of the last seven games between the Longhorns and Cowboys have been decided by eight points or less. There’s no reason to think this game won’t follow the script we have seen recently when the two schools meet. Oklahoma State is coming off a double overtime loss to TCU, which was their first loss of the season.

Texas was less than impressive last week in a 24-21 win over Iowa State. Bijan Robinson ran for 135 yards while Quinn Ewers tossed three touchdowns in the win over the Cyclones. There’s no doubt the Longhorns are more dangerous with Ewers under center, I’m just not convinced they should be laying so many points in a tough road environment. The Cowboys make it six wins in their last eight meetings with Texas.

Oklahoma State 34, Texas 30

No. 24 Mississippi State v. No. 6 Alabama (-21) - 7:00 p.m. - ESPN

Is Alabama in danger of losing their second game in a row? I’m not betting on it. Especially not against a team they have won 14 straight games against. In those 14 victories, Mississippi State has only scored in double digits three times, and the last time they scored at least 10 points against Alabama was back in 2017.

The Crimson Tide aren’t the only team in this game coming off a loss. Last week Mississippi State traveled to Kentucky and fell to the Wildcats 27-17. Not only was Will Rogers held in check, the Bulldogs only rushed for 22 yards in the game, while Kentucky was able to control the clock by rolling up 239 yards on the ground.

As seen last week, Alabama does have some problems in the secondary. If there is any quarterback that could exploit some of those issues, it is Rogers. Mississippi State will break their streak of not scoring at least 10 points against the Crimson Tide, as they’ll put up a few touchdowns and keep the final score inside 21 points.

Alabama 42, Mississippi State 24

No. 17 Kansas State v. No. 8 TCU (-3.5) - 8:00 p.m. - FS1

TCU will be looking for their fourth-straight win against a ranked team when they host Kansas State on Saturday night. The Horned Frogs beat both Kansas and Oklahoma when those teams were ranked, and last week they staged a furious comeback to beat Oklahoma State 43-40 in double overtime. Quarterback Max Duggan is leading an offense that is averaging almost 530 yards per game.

Kansas State is such a weird team. Sometimes they’ll lose a game to someone like Tulane, and then they’ll come out and beat a ranked team. We already saw it earlier this season when the Wildcats knocked off Oklahoma, who was ranked sixth in the country at the time. Two weeks ago Kansas State barely beat Iowa State, and now they’ll be looking to end TCU’s dreams of an undefeated season.

The Wildcats have gotten great quarterback play out of Adrian Martinez so far this year, while Deuce Vaughn has rushed for 661 yards and three scores through six games. TCU is vulnerable against the pass, but luckily for the Horned Frogs passing the football isn’t something the Wildcats do all that well. TCU has a little too much firepower at home in this one.

TCU 37, Kansas State 27

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.