Some of the best betting value in college football is hiding beyond the BCS, in the small conferences. Each week, Covers Experts’ Doc’s Sports will look at the little programs that could help you make big cash this college season.
Team to watch: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Week 1 odds: +4.5 vs. Kentucky
An intriguing matchup not only pits instate competitors against each other but also head coaches with new jobs: Western Kentucky’s Bobby Petrino vs. Kentucky’s Mark Stoops. Western Kentucky went to a bowl game for the first time last year and Willie Taggart promptly bolted for South Florida.
Enter Petrino, who will implement his pass-happy offense under a new starting quarterback Brandon Doughty. The Hilltoppers’ feature running back, though, is the same. Senior Antonio Andrews rushed 304 times for 1,684 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.
Western Kentucky, which beat host Kentucky 32-31 in overtime last September, is 4-0 ATS in its last four games against the SEC and 5-1 ATS in its last six non-conference dates. Petrino is 8-0 in season openers as a college head coach.
Team to beware: Bowling Green Falcons
Week 1 odds: -3.5 vs. Tulsa
Bowling Green returns 17 starters from a 2012 squad that compiled a respectable 8-5. Some of the personnel losses, however, are key. Defensive tackle Chris Jones (12.5 sacks) and linebacker Dwayne Woods graduated. On the other side of the ball, running back Anthon Samuel transferred to Florida International and offensive lineman Fahn Cooper also left in unexpected fashion.
Tulsa is a team that could capitalize on the absences of Jones and Woods in the middle of the Falcons’ defense. The Golden Hurricane finished ninth in the nation with 245.7 rushing yards per game last season while averaging 34.7 points per contest. Tulsa was 5-1 ATS in its last six games of 2012. Bowling Green, meanwhile, is 2-5 in its last seven contests out of conference.
Total team: Troy Trojans
Week 1 odds: 63 vs. UAB
The over was 4-0 in Troy’s last four home games of 2012 and 6-1 in the team’s last seven contests overall. Looking back long term, the Trojans have gone over the total 21 times in their last 28 non-conference games. They host UAB Saturday and it looks like another non-conference date that should go over the total of 63.
Corey Robinson, already the most accomplished quarterback in Troy history with at 3,000 passing yards in each of his first three seasons, is back for his senior campaign. On the other side of the ball, Troy allowed 30.5 points and 443.6 yards per game last year. Its defensive unit returns only four starters, which may be a good thing in the long run, but not for Week 1 of the season. The Trojans beat the Blazers 39-29 in 2012 and another shootout can be expected.