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: Northern Illinois Huskies (4-0 SU, 2-2 ATS)
This week: +9 at Kent State
The Huskies won’t sneak up on anyone this year - not after going 12-1 in the 2012 regular season en route to an Orange Bowl appearance. Still, they’re rolling even with a bulls-eye on their back. So far in 2013, Northern Illinois’ 4-0 record includes defeats of Iowa and Purdue. The MAC favorites have scored at least 30 points in all four contests and they have posted at least 43 points in three of four.
Ranked No. 23 in the USA Today poll, NIU is 6-2-1 ATS in its last nine road games and 12-5-2 ATS in its last 19 overall. On Saturday it will visit a Kent State team that is 1-3-1 ATS in its last five home games and 0-5-1 ATS in its last six against the Huskies. The Golden Flashes’ three losses this season have all come by at least 19 points.
Team to beware: UL Monroe Warhawks (2-3 SU, 1-4 ATS)
This week: +7 vs. Western Kentucky
What a difference a year makes. In 2012, the Warhawks beat Arkansas, lost to Auburn in overtime, and made it to a bowl game. By comparison, last season they barely lost to Baylor 47-42 and issued a 63-10 beatdown on Tulane. This season they got humiliated by Baylor 70-7 and fell to Tulane 31-14 (Tulane, meanwhile, was coming off a 52-17 blowout loss at Syracuse).
Heading into Thursday’s home game against Western Kentucky, Louisiana-Monroe is 1-6 ATS in its last seven at home, 1-5 ATS in its last six overall, and 0-4 ATS in its last four against teams with winning records. The Hilltoppers are 3-2 with a win over SEC foe Kentucky. They are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 against opponents with losing records. UL Monroe also lost star QB Kolton Browning to injury and will be handing the offense to sophomore Brayle Brown.
Total team: Troy Trojans (2-3 SU, 5-0 O/U)
This week: 61.5 vs. South Alabama
The over is 11-1 in Troy’s last 12 overall, 6-0 in its last six home games, and 5-1 in its last six against Sun Belt opposition. Its first conference contest of 2013 resulted in a 41-34 loss at Arkansas State. Ironically, the Trojans’ last conference game of 2012 was a setback by the same score to the same team.
Last season they pinned 31 points on a South Alabama that is 2-2 so far this season. The Jaguars have scored at least 21 points in all four games and have given up at least 22 in all four. They will have to shore up their pass defense (249.0 yards per game) against a Troy squad that is averaging 320.8 yards per game through the air.