College Football Picks: Mid-Major Game Day Predictions
by Dave Schwab - 8/31/2011
The 2011 college football season kicks-off this Thursday night with the majority of both Division IA and IAA teams in action over the extended Labor Day weekend. This is your first crack at wagering on some meaningful football action since last year’s Super Bowl, but before you devote all your handicapping efforts on the marquee matchups on this week’s college football schedule, it is worth taking a moment to scour the current lines for a few games that may not be the center of attention. Often, there is value to be found in games such as this, but you have to take the time (and do your homework) to actually find it.
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North Texas Mean Green at Florida International Golden Panthers (-13)
Our first ‘off the grid’ game of our college football picks this week is North Texas at Florida International (-13). This is a rare conference matchup for an opening-day schedule that is filled with nonconference warm ups for the majority of the majors and step-up games for the mid-majors. These two Sun Belt programs are on opposite ends of the conference with FIU a 3/1 favorite to win the title this season and the Mean Green of North Texas a moderate longshot at 9/1.
The Golden Panthers are a perfect 4-0 both straight-up and against the spread in the last four meetings between the two, including a 34-10 romp as a 4.5-point road favorite in last year’s game. They have a wide receiver named T.Y. Hilton, who was last season’s Sun Belt’s ‘Player of the Year’ and a defense that returns eight starters from a year ago.
College Football Picks: FIU 28, North Texas 10
Villanova Wildcats at Temple Owls (-6)
Our next two ‘off the grid’ picks are a couple of opening day rivalry games that clearly favor a couple of solid underdogs from the Division IAA Colonial Athletic Association. The first game pits Villanova at the MAC’s Temple Owls (-6) in a battle for bragging rights in the City of Brotherly Love. While the Wildcats may be better known nationally for their basketball program, they have established themselves in recent years as one of the top programs in IAA. Villanova won a National Championship in 2009 and made it all the way to the semifinals last season before losing to eventual champion Eastern Washington, 41-31.
Temple comes in as a solid 4/1 favorite to win the MAC this season, but intense city rivalries such as this tend to level the playing field. The Owls got the best of it last season with a 31-24 victory as a 4.5-point home favorite, but Villanova won the prior two meetings, 27-24 and 23-20, with no posted line on the games. Another plus for the Wildcats is the game will be played at Lincoln Financial Field, which actually negates any home field advantage for the Owls.
College Football Picks: Villanova 24, Temple 20
William & Mary Tribe at Virginia Cavaliers (-7)
The second rivalry game is a battle for state bragging rights with the William & Mary Tribe taking on the ACC’s Virginia Cavaliers as seven-point road underdogs. Much like Villanova, the Tribe have established themselves not only as a power in the highly competitive CAA, but on the national level as well. In fact, they lost to the Wildcats, 14-13, in the IAA semifinals in 2009 and bowed out of the playoffs last season with a 31-15 loss to Georgia Southern, which went on to lose to another CAA team, Delaware, in the semifinals.
Virginia is in a major conference, but has hardly played like it with just seven combined wins in the last two seasons. These two teams last met in 2009 with William & Mary pulling off a shocking 26-14 victory in a game that had no posted line. Last year they came very close to upsetting North Carolina as a 20-point road underdog in a 21-17 loss to the Tar Heels, while the Cavaliers were blown out by the same team, 44-10, as six-point home favorite.
College Football Picks: Virginia 21, William & Mary 17
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