The initial BCS rankings were released this past Sunday night, and the race for a spot in the BCS bowl series and national title game is in full gear. While there are a number of marquee showdowns on this week’s schedule that will have a direct impact on that race, I prefer to dig through the Week 8 matchups in search of a few “diamonds in the rough” in the mid-majors. These games may not attract all that much attention from the betting public, but they offer a ton of value in the lines if you know where and how to look.
I have now gone a combined 5-1 on my top plays in the last two weeks after a shaky start to bring my year-to-date record to 11-9-1. After digging into this week’s pile of potential gems, I came up with the following three free football picks using lines provided by 5Dimes.
Florida International Golden Panthers vs. Troy Trojans (-7)
FIU came into this season as one of the favorites to win the Sun Belt Conference, but the season has been a complete disaster so far with a 1-6 straight up start and a 2-5 record against the spread. The Golden Panthers are ranked 81st in the country in scoring and are giving up an average of 37.3 points on defense, which is a bad combination to try and beat any team they may face.
Troy has pieced together a couple of victories in its last three games to improve to 3-3 SU and 4-2 ATS. The Trojans’ passing game is racking up an average of 312.8 yards a game behind quarterback Corey Robinson. He has completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 1,595 yards and seven touchdowns but remains questionable for Saturday’s game with a head injury. Look for Deon Anthony to get the start if Robinson cannot go.
The current spread is already depressed a bit due to Robinson’s questionable status, but the talent gap between these two teams still remains rather large. Troy won eight straight games in this matchup before losing in each of the last two seasons, so revenge will be a factor this time around. Especially considering that it lost by three points in overtime last year as a seven-point road underdog.
Take #412 Troy (-7) over Florida International (Saturday, Oct.20, 1 p.m.)
Ball State Cardinals (-3) vs. Central Michigan Chippewas
Ball State moved to 4-3 SU (5-2 ATS) on the year with a thrilling 30-24 overtime victory over Western Michigan last Saturday as a 2.5-point home favorite. It got another big effort from quarterback Keith Wenning and from Jahwan Edwards running the ball to help pull out the win. These two have been getting it done all season long for the Cardinals to provide excellent balance to an offensive attack that is averaging 33.1 points a game.
Central Michigan has dropped its last three games by a combined score of 136-72 to fall to 2-4 SU and 1-5 ATS on the year. The Chippewas’ defense has all but disappeared over this stretch after playing somewhat decent ball in the first three games. It is now ranked 116th in the country in points allowed to complement an offense that is putting up less than 25 points a game.
Head-to-head, the road team in this series is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings and the favorite is 5-2 ATS in the last seven games. Ball State has won this Mid-American West Division showdown three of the last four years and is in perfect position to add another notch to the win column this Saturday afternoon.
Take #317 Ball State (-3) over Central Michigan (Saturday, Oct.20, 3:30 p.m.)
East Carolina Pirates (3) vs. Alabama-Birmingham Blazers
East Carolina has followed every win with a loss this season to compile a 4-3 record both SU and ATS. Last week it waxed Memphis, 41-7, as a 17-point home favorite behind Shane Carden’s 308 yards passing and five touchdown throws. The sophomore is finally finding a rhythm that has him poised for another big game come Saturday night to finally break this up-and-down string.
It is hard to fault UAB for a 1-5 SU start with games against South Carolina and Ohio State, but the Blazers have to be disappointed with their 39-17 loss last Saturday to Houston as 13-point underdogs on the road. It was the fifth game this season in which the defense gave up more than 28 points. UAB’s offense has been erratic all season long behind a running game that is averaging just 82.8 yards a game.
The Pirates have won six of the last seven meetings SU dating back to 2005 and are 5-2 ATS over the same stretch of games. They did fail to cover as 14.5-point home favorites in a 28-23 victory last season, but they should have little problem putting enough points on the board with Carden at the helm to cover the three-point spread on the road this time around.
Take #395 East Carolina (-3) over UAB (Saturday, Oct.20, 7 p.m.)
Year-to-date record: 11-9-1
Doc’s Sports wants to give you a great offer to try out our expert college football handicappers for free with no obligation, no credit card required and no salesman ever! These are the same college football picks that our clients receive from any of our Advisory Board handicappers and you can get $60 in picks credit in minutes. Click here for more details and to take advantage of this free $60 picks credit today.