College Football Picks: Mid-Major Game Day Predictions
by Dave Schwab - 9/7/2011
As the college football season progresses, the oddsmakers will only get better and better at sharpening their pencils to tighten up the spreads on the games. Despite this, there is always value to be found in the lines, especially when it comes to the mid-major conferences.
The following is a look at a couple of games that fall into that very category, and have been deemed our ‘best bets’ for Week 2 for college football picks.
Houston Cougars (-22) at North Texas Mean Green
The Cougars finished the 2010 season with a 5-7 record, but there was one key component that was missing from last year’s squad: quarterback Case Keenum. He missed most of last season with a knee injury, so he was granted another year of eligibility to return as the starter this year. So far he is making the most of the opportunity with a 310-yard passing day against UCLA in the season opener to help lead Houston to a 38-34 victory over the Bruins as a 1.5-point home favorite.
This week he faces a North Texas team that was pummeled by Florida International, 41-16, as a 13.5-road underdog. The Mean Green never knew what hit them after falling behind 28-0 in the first quarter.
If FIU ran up 401 yards of total offense on North Texas’s defense last week, just imagine what Keenum and the Cougars will do this Saturday night.
The Pick: Houston 45, North Texas 13
UTEP Miners at SMU Mustangs (-20)
UTEP lost six of its last seven games down the stretch last season to finish 6-7 on the year, but that one lone victory just happened to be against SMU with a 28-14 win as a 6.5-point home underdog. The Miners opened this season with a 31-24 overtime win over Stoney Brook, but failed to cover as a 13.5-point home favorite.
The Mustangs stumbled to a 2-2 straight-up finish after that loss to the Miners to wind-up 7-7 on the year. They find themselves in a 0-1 hole to start this season after falling to Texas A&M, 46-14, as a 15-point road underdog in last week’s season opener.
SMU is the better team in this Conference-USA matchup, but has really struggled with the Miners over the past several seasons. The Mustangs are just 2-6 straight-up in the last eight meetings and 0-4 against the college football point spread in the last four. In 2009, they beat UTEP, 35-31, at home, but could not cover the seven-point spread. The close-call against Stoney Brook will also help to serve as a wake-up call for a UTEP team that has much higher expectations for this year.
The Pick: Southern Methodist 27, Texas El Paso 17
Tulsa Golden Hurricane (-13) at Tulane Green Wave
Staying in the Conference-USA, the Golden Hurricane will look to bounce-back from a 47-14 pasting at the hands of Oklahoma as a 24.5-point road underdog. There was one positive take away from that pounding in that Tulsa proved it can move the ball through the air on a very good team. It racked-up 271 passing yards on the No. 1 team in the country, paced by wide receiver Willie Carters’ five receptions for 135 yards.
Last week, Tulane outscored Southern Louisiana, 47-33, but missed covering the spread as a home favorite by half a point. The main concern for this week’s game is a Green Wave defense that gave up close to 300 yards passing to a far less potent offense than Tulsa’s.
Look for Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne to have his way in this one as the Golden Hurricane roll over the Green Wave.
The Pick: Tulsa 34, Tulane 16
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