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Thursday's NCAAF action: What bettors need to know

South Florida Bulls at Houston Cougars (-17.5, 53.5)

Houston must avoid looking ahead to a pair of American Athletic Conference showdowns when they host South Florida for a Halloween clash on Thursday. The Cougars defeated Rutgers 49-14 on Saturday to remain unbeaten in the league along with No. 22 Central Florida, who they visit Nov. 9 before a trip to Louisville for a showdown with the No. 17 Cardinals.

The Bulls will test Houston’s high-octane offense, but have not scored an offensive touchdown in a school-record 12 straight quarters despite winning two of three. Freshman Mike White is expected to make his first career start, the fourth different quarterback to do so for South Florida. Freshman quarterback John O’Korn leads a Cougars offense that has averaged 42 points and almost 500 yards and Houston’s defense leads the nation in takeaways with 27.

LINE: Houston has seen a major shift in the line, up to a 17.5-point favorite after opening at 14. The over-under is set at 53.5.
WEATHER: N/A
TRENDS:

* Bulls are 1-12 ATS in their last 13 contests after scoring 20 or fewer points in their previous game.
* Cougars are 17-5 ATS in their last 22 games following an ATS win.
* Under is 7-1-1 in South Florida's last nine games against teams with winning records.

UL Monroe Warhawks at Troy Trojans (-3, 60.5)

The host Trojans carry a three-game winning streak into Thursday night's showdown with the Warhawks. Senior Troy quarterback Corey Robinson leads a top-25 pass attack, having racked up 2,195 yards and 16 touchdowns through the Trojans' first eight games. They'll be in tough against a Louisiana-Monroe team that followed up a narrow victory at Texas State with a 38-10 drubbing of Georgia State.

Robinson is dominating the Sun Belt Conference to date, leading the way in passing yardage, TDs and completion percentage (70.4). The Warhawks haven't had nearly the same level of success from quarterback Kolton Browning, though the senior did throw four touchdown passes against Georgia State after missing the previous two games with a torn quad muscle many thought would sideline him for the season.

LINE: Troy has held steady as a 3-point fave. The O/U has risen from 58.5 to 59.5.
WEATHER: Temperatures will be in the mid-70s with mostly cloudy skies and wind blowing north across the length of the field at 10 mph.
TRENDS:

* Warhawks are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games on turf.
* Trojans are 2-10 ATS in their last 12 October games.
* Over is 7-0 in Troy's last seven home games.

Rice Owls at North Texas Mean Green (-4, 52.5)

The visiting Owls bring one of the nation's most relentless rush attacks into Apogee Stadium for a date with Conference USA-rival North Texas. Senior running back Charles Ross leads the conference in yards per game (116.2) and is tied for first in touchdowns (six), and has racked up 319 yards and two scores in consecutive wins over New Mexico State and UTEP.

The Mean Green boast the stingiest defense in the conference, allowing just over 20 points per game. North Texas has been particularly difficult to run against, limiting teams to 125.8 yards on the ground - the third-best mark in C-USA. The Mean Green also have a robust passing offense, averaging the third-most yards through the air in the conference (258.9) thanks to the exploits of senior QB Derek Thompson (1,980 yards, 11 TDs).

LINE: North Texas opened as a 3-point fave, but the line has since risen to 4.5. The O/U has jumped a half-point to 52.5.
WEATHER: Temperatures will be in the low-60s with clear skies and wind blowing diagonally out of the northwest at 10 mph.
TRENDS:

* Owls are 6-0 ATS in their last six road games.
* Mean Green are 4-0 ATS in their last four home games.
* Under is 9-1 in North Texas' last 10 games on Fieldturf.

Arizona State Sun Devils at Washington State Cougars (+11.5, 71.5)


Arizona State can take another step toward being the South Division representative in the Pac-12 title game when it visits pass-happy Washington State on Saturday. The Sun Devils hold a one-game lead over three teams in the division race and are averaging 56.3 points in three conference victories. Ironically, the Cougars have allowed an average of 56.3 in their three Pac-12 defeats,

Washington State isn’t even attempting to establish a running game as Halliday is being asked to air it out. The junior set school and conference records with 557 passing yards against the Ducks but was also picked off four times. Arizona State has a versatile attack with senior running back Marion Grice leading the nation with 18 total touchdowns.

LINE: Washington State opened as a 13.5-point underdog, but the line has dropped to 11.5. The O/U has risen a point to 71.5.
WEATHER: Temperatures will be in the low-40s with partly cloudy skies and wind blowing diagonally out of the southwest at 6 mph.
TRENDS:

* Sun Devils are 5-1 ATS in their last six conference games.
* Cougars are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games against teams with winning records.
* Over is 17-4 in Arizona State's last 21 games following an ATS win.

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