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Vegas Mike: UConn and more against the spread

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Since lines usually come out really late for FBS vs. FCS games, I thought I'd offer up some free advice on some juicy match-ups that are near and dear to our hearts as American (Athletic Conference) citizens.

Navy at Temple

Today at 3, under the bright lights of ESPN3, Temple hosts future AAC member Navy, who is coming off a near upset of Ohio State in Baltimore. Temple opened the season with a remarkable upset victory at Vanderbilt.


Last year, Temple finished the season 2-10, but seven of those 10 losses were by 10 points or less. So, they were close in nearly every game. However, Temple did lose to Idaho (which was Idaho's only win all year) and Fordham of the FCS. Against Idaho last year, Temple scored 24 points - Idaho only had two games all year that they let up less than 37. The Owl's two wins came against teams who won three games all year. Where did this come from?


Excluding the game in which there were 108 total points scored, the average number of total points in Temple's 2013 games was 49. If you take out the one outlier in Temple home games (75 total points were scored), then games that Temple hosted averaged 45.4 points per games.


All four of Navy's losses last year came on the road: losing by 12 to Western Kentucky, 28 to Duke, one to Toledo and four to Notre Dame. In neutral site and away games for Navy, total points averaged 53.75. Overall (excluding FCS teams), there were 53.25 points per game. Last week, Navy combined with Ohio State to score 51 points. Last year, Navy averaged three less points per game on the road than at home and Temple averaged nearly five points less per game at home.

Temple forced seven turnovers last week and did not allow a single offensive touchdown. The Owl's scored 27 of their 37 points off of turnovers, a feat they are unlikely to repeat. Watch Navy's running game vs. Temple's defense. The Midshipmen racked up 370 yards on 63 carries (it helps to accumulate those yards when you only throw the ball four times) -good for 8th in the country.  Temple held Vanderbilt to 1.9 yards per carry on 29 rushes (it helps when you have five sacks). Temple was 2 for 4 on fourth downs, but was a terrible 2 for 17 (11.8%) on third downs.

I just don't see another five sacks and seven turnover performance by the Owls. While I believe coach Matt Rhule is on the cusp of getting Temple to a bowl game, the Owls will have to start another win streak next week. I will be more a lot more surprised if this game goes over than if Temple wins.

Pick: Navy -3
Pick: Under 58.5

***

Randy Edsall (Maryland) at South Florida

Both of these teams played an FCS school last week; one was favored by 24.5 and won 52-7, while the other team was favored by 27 and won 36-31. Obviously, USF pulled a USF so you know which one they were. While at UConn Randy Edsall went 4-2 against USF. In the three games in Tampa, the average score was 39.7 total points, while in the six total games it was 39.5.

Last year Maryland games on the road averaged 52.8 points per game and 50.8 overall. Excluding FCS opponents, USF home games averaged 41 points per game (including a 70 point game - 35.2 total points per game without the 70 point game). Overall, there was an average of 39.5 points per game against FBS opponents. Last year, USF lost 53-21 at home to an FCS school and then played Michigan State close in East Lansing (losing 21-6). Could this be a repeat of last year?

Including FCS games, the Bulls never scored more than 26 points in a game, scoring 21 or less in 10 of 12 games! Maryland opened as a 10-point favorite with an over/under of 50. Maryland is now a 13-point favorite with an over/under of 53.5.

Pick: Maryland - 13
Pick: Under 53.5

***

Stony Brook at UConn

After mustering only 10 points against BYU's defense and a multi-quarterback attack, UConn has a weaker opponent on the schedule and will only play one QB (Chandler Whitmer) because Casey Cochran reportedly suffered a concussion in that game.

It will be interesting to see how many receptions Geremy Davis has after finishing with seven last week. Coach Bob Diaco said that he expects Davis to have double-digit receptions each game. When Chandler Whitmer was under center he threw 17 passes -completing three of six that were thrown to Davis- targeting 35.3% of his passes to the senior wide receiver. I expect Davis to surpass the 50% catch rate that he had against BYU and that get double-digit receptions this week.

UConn's biggest struggle defensively was getting a push at the line of scrimmage as Taysom Hill had all day to throw. This is the week to build confidence and get pressure on the quarterback as Stony Brook allowed five sacks last week against Bryant. An added incentive is that the Seawolves' QB is a transfer from Syracuse. Also, one of Stony Brook's running backs Stacey Bedell (116 yards on 27 carries) transferred from UMass.

If you take away Stony Brook's only touchdown (61-yard pass), the Seawolves would have finished with 125 TOTAL YARDS IN THE GAME. To put that in perspective, BYU had 329 yards of offense...IN THE FIRST HALF! Stony Brook actually played two teams that UConn played last year, losing 35-21 at home to Towson (UConn lost 33-18 at home), and 26-23 in 5 overtimes at Buffalo (UConn lost 41-12 at Buffalo). Earlier this week, UConn defeated Stony Brook 3-0 in men's soccer. I wouldn't be surprised if UConn wins by the same score.