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2023 College Football Week 8 Sleeper Picks

By Hank Blaine

How much longer will Texas A&M put up with Coach Jimbo Fisher? His team is now 4-3 after a 20-13 road loss at Tennessee on Saturday and the fanbase wants Fisher gone – but he’s due about an $80 million buyout. “We gotta coach them better and execute better,” Fisher said after his eighth straight road loss. His team is now 0-8 on the road vs. ranked teams in the SEC since taking over in College Station. Here are three sleeper picks around college football in Week 8.

Top 2023 College Football Week 8 Sleeper Picks

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

Wisconsin quarterback Tanner Mordecai broke a bone in his throwing hand in Saturday’s upset loss to Iowa. The SMU transfer had a pin surgically placed in his hand to correct the damage and he will be out indefinitely. Mordecai had 12 completions for 106 yards prior to exiting Saturday’s game. Mordecai sustained the injury with less than two minutes remaining in the second quarter when his hand hit Iowa linebacker Jay Higgins’ helmet on a follow-through while completing an 8-yard pass to receiver Will Pauling. Mordecai had kept the play alive on a scramble near the right sideline. Former Mississippi State transfer Braedyn Locke entered the game to replace Mordecai and is expected to get the starting nod with Mordecai out. Locke threw for 122 yards while completing 50% of his passes, but he threw an interception and took a safety that gave Iowa a 12-6 lead in the fourth quarter. The Badgers lost 15-6.

Illinois has been a big disappointment this year at 3-4 but comes off a 27-24 upset win at Maryland as Caleb Griffin hit a 43-yard field goal as time expired for the Illini’s first Big Ten victory of the season. After the Terrapins tied the game with 90 seconds left, the Illini marched down the field to set up the game-winning field goal. A 29-yard completion to Washington moved the ball into Terrapin territory before Aidan Laughery took the ball inside the Maryland 30. Getting to the Terrapin 25-yard line, Griffin hit his second game-winning field goal of the season. Saturday vs. Wisconsin is Homecoming and the 91st meeting between the Fighting Illini and the Badgers. Wisconsin holds a 44-39-7 edge in the all-time series, but Illinois leads 22-19-3 in Champaign. Last year, Illinois won in Madison for the first time in 20 years by outscoring the Badgers 17-0 in the third quarter and cruising to a 34-10 win. Illinois held Wisconsin to just two yards rushing.

2023 College Football Week 8 Pick: Illinois

Texas Longhorns vs. Houston Cougars

Houston finally gets to play Big Brother Texas in Big 12 action but of course the Horns will leave for the Big Ten after this season. Texas and Houston will square off against Houston for the 26th time in series history and first time since 2002. Former Southwest Conference foes, the Longhorns and Cougars squared off every year from 1976-95. Texas comes off its bye week and UT has tallied at least 500 yards of offense in each of the last three games (503 – at Baylor; 661 – Kansas; 527 vs. Oklahoma), equaling the longest stretch in UT history for the first time since 2018. It marks the sixth time in program history that the Longhorns have tallied 500-plus yards in three consecutive games. The Longhorns are one of only 10 FBS schools (and seven Power 5 programs) scoring at least 35 points (35.0) and allowing fewer than 17 points (16.3) per game. Jonathon Brooks leads the Big 12 Conference and ranks fourth in the nation averaging 121.0 rushing yards per game.

The Cougars are riding momentum into Saturday thanks to a thrilling 41-39 victory last Thursday over West Virginia. Houston quarterback Donovan Smith, who completed his final 16 pass attempts of the game, found wide receiver Stephon Johnson in the endzone on a 49-yard Hail Mary as time expired. It was not only Houston’s first Big 12 Conference victory, it was the first league win for any of the conference’s new three members from The American and the first by any of the four newcomers against a preceding Big 12 program. Houston’s eight-game win streak in October (Oct. 1, 2021-present) is the longest for the program since winning nine straight from Oct. 29, 1977-Oct. 27, 1979). Saturday’s matchup is Houston’s first against a Top 10 team inside TDECU Stadium since defeating #3 Louisville, 36-10, on Nov. 17, 2016.

2023 College Football Week 8 Pick: Houston

Ole Miss Rebels vs. Auburn Tigers

The Rebs have been off since escaping at home vs. Arkansas on Oct. 7, 27-20. Ole Miss held to 288 total yards of offense, the fewest for Ole Miss against an SEC opponent since 2019. That includes just 36 yards on the ground, the fewest given up by the Rebels against an SEC opponent since holding Tennessee to zero on Oct. 18, 2014. Ole Miss’ defense had five sacks and two interceptions, first by senior Ashanti Cistrunk in the first quarter and then by senior John Saunders Jr. to seal the game in the fourth. Offensively, the ground game of Quinshon Judkins and Ulysses Bentley IV led the way for Ole Miss, combining for 159 yards and a pair of scores. Judkins has now entered the top-10 all-time at Ole Miss in career rushing yards, currently ninth with 2,010.

Of course, Auburn is coached by former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze. The Tigers are third in the SEC in rushing offense, averaging 191.5 yards per game. Thirteen of the Tigers’ 19 offensive touchdowns have come via the ground game. Auburn leads the SEC in red zone defense (.789). The Tigers are third in the SEC in turnover margin (0.5 per game). They are second in the SEC in turnovers forced with 11 through the first six games (7 interceptions, 4 fumbles recovered). Auburn leads 35-12 in the all-time series against Ole Miss, dating back to 1928. Ole Miss was a 48-34 winner last season in Oxford; before that, the Tigers had won six straight in the series. Auburn leads 17-3 in Auburn. Thirteen of the last 19 games in the series have been decided by double digits; Auburn has a 10-3 record in those games.

2023 College Football Week 8 Pick: Auburn

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READ MORE: 2023 College Football Week 8 Odds, Overview & Picks