College Football Picks: Mid-Major Game Day Predictions Week 9
by Dave Schwab - 10/25/2011
While there was a major shakeup in the Top 5 of this week’s BCS rankings with losses by Oklahoma and Wisconsin, a couple of mid-major teams continue to climb the ladder with Boise State moving up one spot to No.4 and Houston moving up two spots to No. 17.
While most of the betting public tends to focus much of its college football handicapping attention on the high-profile games in the major conferences, much of the true value that exists in the college football betting lines can be found in the mid major matchups.
Each week we crunch the numbers in these ‘under the radar’ contests in an effort to mine this value. Last week, we struck gold on Ball State’s 31-27 victory over Central Michigan as a 1.5-point home favorite. With the opening point spreads already released for next week’s games, we have been hard at work looking for a few more solid plays to cash in on.
Rice Owls at Houston Cougars (-27)
Rice comes into this Thursday night matchup at 2-5 straight-up (3-4 against the spread) after losing to Tulsa, 38-20, last Saturday as a 10-point home underdog. It was the Owls fourth loss in their last five games overall and they are 0-4 SU (1-3 ATS) on the road this season.
Houston comes in a perfect 7-0 SU (5-2 ATS) after pasting Marshall, 63-28, as a 24-point home favorite this past Saturday. The Cougars are a perfect 4-0 both SU and ATS in four previous home games. They are averaging 49.3 points a game and have outscored their opponents by an average of 29.5 points a game.
The Owls are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games as road underdogs and the Cougars are 4-0 ATS in their last four games as favorites at home. The home team in this series is 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings
Prediction: Houston 49, Rice 20
BYU Cougars at TCU Horned Frogs (-12.5)
These two foes were very familiar with one another when BYU was still a member of the Mountain West up until this season. The Cougars opted for the independent route and are 6-2 SU (4-4 ATS) on the year. They are now 5-0 SU after losing two of their first three games. BYU is 2-1 both SU and ATS in three road games this year.
TCU is no longer ranked in the Top 25 after losses to Baylor and SMU, but it is still 5-2 SU (4-3 ATS) overall and 3-1 SU (2-2 ATS) at home. The Horned Frogs are ranked 18th in the nation in rushing with an average of 217.4 yards a game and ranked eighth in scoring with an average of 43.6 points game.
Friday night’s game will mark the seventh season in a row these two teams have met, with TCU holding a 4-2 edge both SU and ATS, including a 31-3 victory last season as a 30-point home favorite. The Horned Frogs are still the better team, but these two are not nearly as far apart talent-wise as they have been for the past few seasons.
Prediction: TCU 33, BYU 24
UAB Blazers at Marshall Thundering Herd (-5.5)
The highlight reel for UAB’s season so far has been pretty thin as it has just one win in seven games. That win just so happened to come this past Thursday night in a 26-24 victory over Central Florida as a 16.5-point home underdog. The Blazers are now a healthy 5-2 ATS overall this season and 5-0 ATS in their last five games.
Marshall has been bounced around as well with an overall record of 3-5 SU (5-3 ATS) and a 2-1 record both SU and ATS at home this year. One of those loses was a 16-6 setback to the UCF Knights as a 19.5-point road underdog on Oct.8. The Thundering Herd are ranked near the bottom of D-IA in scoring with an average of just 16.4 points a game.
The Blazers are 5-1 ATS in their last six games as road underdogs, while the Herd is 1-5 ATS in its last six games as 3.5-point or higher home favorites. The underdog in this series is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings. UAB may not win this game, but it will be able to keep things close enough to cover with the 5.5 points.
Prediction: Marshall 17, UAB 14
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