UConn (+2) at South Florida
Last year's UConn-USF match-up was the first game out of the He Who Must Not Be Named era and offensive coordinator T.J. Weist took over as interim coach. One of Weist's first acts was to burn Tim Boyle's redshirt and give the true freshman his first start. The Bulls were coming off their first win of the season and only their second in the previous 14 games. Heading into this game last year, UConn was 0-4, averaging 18 points and 272.5 yards of total offense per game. The Bulls' win over the Huskies last year gave USF two straight wins - both without scoring an offensive touchdown. This would also be the only two wins that USF would get in 2013.
USF has a 6-5 series lead. No team has had longer than a three-game winning streak in the series and USF has tied their mark of two straight wins heading into this game.
South Florida (allegedly) had the top recruiting class in the AAC this past winter. Freshman running back Marlon Mack led the nation in rushing after week 1, accumulating 275 yards and four touchdowns on 24 attempts against Western Carolina. Against FBS schools, Maryland and North Carolina State, Mack has not scored and has gained a combined 124 yards on 34 carries.
USF's opponents have doubled the Bulls in first downs this year (74 to 37) and have outgained them by an average of 455 to 300 yards. The Bulls have scored eight touchdowns this year, all but one of those touchdowns have come on plays that were over 56 yards (two were by the defense). UConn has been outgained 368 to 265 in yards per game this year. The most amazing stat is that UConn has been much more disciplined than their opponents, who have racked up 323 yards on 34 penalties, compared to UConn's 14 penalties for 145 yards.
Vegas stats: UConn is 8-2-1 against the spread in their last 11 games on road against teams with a losing home record. USF is 1-10-1 against the spread in their last 12 at home against teams with a losing road record. While the under is 14-5 in USF's last 19 games. The under is 7-0 in the last seven when playing teams with a losing record. In addition, the under is 10-1 in the last 11 home games when playing teams with a losing road record. This game opened with an over/under of 48, but is down to 44. These teams have played every year since 2005. Since that time, these teams have averaged 33.9 points per game, going over the set number of 44 twice in the nine year period. Averaging 16.2 points per game in the first half. The first half under is set 21.5, which has only been surpassed twice in the past nine years.
Prediction: As long as UConn prevents the big plays and doesn't turn the ball over (both are very realistic goals), I see this being a very low scoring game in UConn's favor. I doubled down last week against UConn and it worked well. I hate to put all my eggs in one basket, but I am going to with this game.
Pick: UConn +2
Pick: First half under 21.5
Pick: Second half under (I am going to guess it will be about 22)
Pick: Under 44
Middle Tennessee State (+12) at Memphis
The Blue Raiders of MTSU gave up 718 total yards in a 50-47 triple-OT loss against rival Western Kentucky last weekend. While Memphis is off of a bye, after flying across the country and putting a scare into UCLA. UCLA accumulated 540 yards. I'm a believer that Memphis has turned it around from their turnaround. This spread opened up at 7.5 in favor of Memphis and has gone all the way up to -12. The over/under opened at 65.5 and it is down to 61. MTSU seems to be a team that just has Memphis' number. These teams have played six times since 2007. Memphis won ONE of those games. Memphis and MTSU have played high scoring teams this year. In those six games, it has gone over 61 points twice. One of those times took a 35-point fourth quarter to get over that number. I'm going with the numbers on this one
Pick: MTSU +12
Pick: Under 60
Texas A&M (-34) at SMU
If you think your team is having a bad year. Realize that SMU is averaging -7 yards rushing per game in their two games. Yes, NEGATIVE SEVEN YARDS PER GAME! I'll reiterate a stat I gave in last week's recap. SMU misses Garrett Gilbert. Since Garrett Gilbert was injured last year (just before halftime) in the third to the last game to the season, SMU has scored just 32 points in the last 18 quarters. Over that same time frame, SMU opponents have scored 145 points. Head coach June Jones resigned on Monday after their 43-6 loss to North Texas (Yes, the location of UConn's championship!! That place!). SMU scored on a 33-yard pass with no time remaining in the game, which has been their only points all season. Maybe SMU steps it up for their new coach? Enter the No. 6 team in the country coming off a terrible performance due to the weather. This seems like a game that will be a blowout in the first half and the dogs will be called off in the second half. The spread opened at 28 and has been up all the way to 34. I can't imagine SMU scoring more than 10 points in this game. In College Station last year, with Johnny Football against Garrett Gilbert, Texas A&M won 42-13. The Aggies led 32-6 at halftime.
Pick: Under 60
Pick: First half Texas A&M -21