St. Petersburg Bowl Predictions: Southern Miss vs. Louisville Odds and Picks
by Robert Ferringo - 12/16/2010
Louisville and Southern Miss might seem like a random bowl pairing this holiday season: another meaningless game on a bloated bowl game schedule. However, of all of the matchups on the college football bowl slate these two opponents could be considered the biggest rivals of any two schools facing off.
Louisville will take on Southern Mississippi at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 21 in the St. Petersburg Bowl. The game will be played at Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays.
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This game marks the 29th meeting between these two schools. They played every year from 1978 to 1991 and then were Conference USA foes before Louisville joined the Big East in 2004. Southern Miss holds a commanding 18-9-1 series lead.
The last meeting was in Louisville last October. The host Cardinals overcame a 16-7 halftime deficit to win, 25-23, as a 2.5-point underdog. The teams posted nearly identical statistics save one: Southern Miss had a commanding 34:19 to 25:41 time of possession advantage. But beyond that, the rushing yards (181 to 180), passing yards (229 to 259) and first downs (24 to 19) were all fairly even.
The appearance in the St. Petersburg Bowl is the first bowl game for Louisville after a three-year drought. Rookie Coach Charlie Strong had realistic expectations with this team, but he had them playing tough, consistent football all season long. They blew out lowly Rutgers in their last regular season game to finish 6-6 and secure this invite and the team would love nothing more than to cap Strong’s first year with a win.
Southern Miss is a team that had dreams of a CUSA title when the season began. But a couple heartbreaking losses in league play relegated them to runner-up status. First, they blew a 20-0 lead at home to East Carolina and lost 44-43. Two weeks later they again lost by one point at home, this time in a 50-49 decision to UAB.
The Eagles had four losses on the year. The three league losses were by an average of less than three points per game and their only other ‘L’ was a 41-13 loss at South Carolina to start the year.
One edge that Louisville has is that they have 21 seniors on their two-deep and 14 senior starters. Those four-year players have never had a winning season, going 6-6, 5-7 and 4-8 the last three years. That extra motivation of getting their first winning year could make a difference in this one.
St. Petersburg Bowl Betting Odds: Southern Mississippi vs. Louisville
Louisville is a stock favorite, laying three points to Southern Miss. The game opened at -3.5, according to college football odds, but was quickly bet to an even 3.0 with the Eagles taking a slim majority of the action (56 percent to 44 percent). The total is steady at 57.0.
St. Petersburg Bowl Betting Trends: Southern Mississippi vs. Louisville
Cardinals are 12-1 ATS in their last 13 vs. CUSA.
Cardinals are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games as a favorite.
Cardinals are 30-11 ATS in their last 41 non-conference games.
Cardinals are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games in December.
Cardinals are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 bowl games.
Golden Eagles are 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 bowl games as an underdog.
Golden Eagles are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games as an underdog of 0.5-3.0.
Golden Eagles are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games.
Cardinals are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 meetings.
Home team is 5-2 ATS in their last 7 meetings.
Underdog is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings.
St. Petersburg Bowl Predictions: Southern Mississippi vs. Louisville Betting Picks
The number that jumped out at me in this game was the total. I understand that Southern Miss has only been held to less than 40 points one time since the end of September. But those numbers are skewed because Conference USA is a little like playing in the Arena League. Southern Miss faced only one team with a total defense ranked better than No. 75 or with a scoring defense ranked higher than No. 76. They faced three teams ranked 105 or lower in scoring or total defense.
At heart, Southern Miss is kind of a physical, run-first team. Louisville is the same. They want to pound the ball on the ground and rely on their stellar defense. Louisville is No. 10 in the nation in total defense (No. 9 against the pass) and they are No. 15 in scoring defense, allowing just 18.7 points per game. The Cardinals have only given up over 20 points in regulation one time since Oct. 2 and I think they are going to turn this one into a grinder. Play the ‘under’ here.
Robert Ferringo is a writer and a professional NFL and college football handicapper for Doc’s Sports. He picked up over $13,000 in profit for his dime bettors last weekend and will have a trio of 7-Unit Plays available this bowl season. You can sign up for his college football and NFL picks and get more information here.
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