College Football Picks: South Florida at West Virginia Betting Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 10/14/2010
The Big East has been a laughingstock among the BCS conferences this year and on Thursday night’s ESPN game we get to see the lone ranked team in the conference with No. 25 West Virginia hosting USF. With Pitt, Cincinnati and UConn all starting slowly, it’s quite possible there will be no ranked teams come bowl season if WVU doesn’t carry its weight.
But it’s still hard to even know if the Mountaineers are any good. Their lone loss came in a close game at LSU a few weeks ago, and there’s no shame in that. But their four wins are over a bunch of non-bowl teams: Coastal Carolina, Marshall, Maryland and UNLV. WVU did look good in crushing the Rebels last week, 49-10. The Mountaineers had so many big plays that they had 10 minutes of possession at the half but were up 35-0.
South Florida has to have played the worst non-conference schedule of any BCS school in the nation. The Bulls, under first-year coach Skip Holtz, have beaten cupcakes Stony Brook, Western Kentucky and Florida Atlantic – seriously the school should be ashamed of itself. In USF’s two games against big-boy teams, it was beaten by 24 at Florida and lost Saturday, 13-9, at home to perennial Big East doormat Syracuse. USF had won five in a row over the Orange by a combined 174-53.
However, USF has had West Virginia’s number, winning three of the past four. And WVU was ranked in each of those games.
College football picks: Team breakdowns
In last year’s 30-12 South Florida win over WVU in Tampa, then-redshirt freshman B.J. Daniels had one of the best performances in the Big East all season. He passed for 232 yards and three scores and ran for 104 to outgain WVU by himself by 13 yards. He was just the fifth Mountaineers opponent to surpass 100-100 and the second to surpass 200-100.
But this year Daniels hasn’t been as good. He has completed 50-of-95 passes for 684 yards for four touchdowns and seven interceptions in his first season in Holtz's new system. In USF’s two losses, Daniels is 14-for-43 for 208 yards with one touchdown and six picks. He has rushed for 186 yards on 52 carries, which is almost a yard per carry fewer than 2009.
WVU QB Geno Smith has emerged as one of the Big East’s best in his first year as a starter. He ranks second in the conference in passing efficiency (156.4), and third in yards per game (227.8 avg.) and total offense (236.2 yards/game). He has thrown for at least 200 yards in four of the five games this year. Last week Smith got another weapon back in receiver Brad Starks, who had four catches for 100 yards and three touchdowns. He hadn’t yet played this season due to a hip flexor injury and is a good deep threat complement to No. 1 WR Jock Sanders. USF ranks No. 1 in the Big East in pass defense, but consider the schedule.
Of course no Mountaineers offensive preview can be written without mentioning running back Noel Devine. He is No. 1 in career rushing yards among all D-I players with 3,772 yards and has an average yards per carry of 6.3. He did suffer a toe injury in the loss to LSU and had just three carries last week but still totaled 84 yards and two TDs. With the big lead he wasn’t needed in the second half.
South Florida at West Virginia betting odds
WVU is currently a 10-point favorite at most books, according to college football point spreads, but there are a few where WVU is 10.5 -- if you like the Bulls that’s obviously smart shopping to get that extra half point. About 65 percent of the lean is on WVU. The total is 43. The side opened at 11.5 at most books while the total really hasn’t moved. USF is 2-3 ATS while WVU is 3-2.
South Florida at West Virginia betting trends
USF has lost its past five Thursday games and hasn’t covered in any of the five
USF is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings
The ‘under’ is 4-1 in the past five meetings
WVU is 3-13 ATS in its past 16 games following a win by more than 20 points
South Florida at West Virginia Betting Predictions and College Football Picks
Hard to ignore that Thursday trend for the Bulls. And Holtz was 1-4 in his career against West Virginia while at East Carolina. USF’s running game is better this year under Holtz, but the passing game has suffered as it is last in the Big East. And WVU’s has a Top-10 defense in the nation in most categories. I would definitely grab this line at 10 before it jumps to possibly 10.5 because I think at worst you are looking at a push giving WVU and 10. But do that, and take the ‘under’
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