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: Rice Owls (9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS)
This week: +4.5 at Marshall
Marshall has won five in a row by an average of 34 points and it has scored at least 45 points in each of its last six contests, but not all has gone perfectly for the Thundering Herd heading into this week’s Conference USA Championship at Rice.
Because the two teams have the same 7-1 record in C-USA action, the expanded BCS rankings (neither team is in the Top 25) determined which school would host and Rice came out just ahead. The Thundering Herd will also be without sophomore running back Kevin Grooms, who was suspended indefinitely after being arrested on misdemeanor domestic battery charges following last Friday’s 59-28 win over East Carolina.
They still boast a stellar ground attack with Essray Taliaferro and Steward Butler, but Grooms had 503 rushing yards and six touchdowns this season and he scored four times in last year’s double-overtime win over Rice.
The Owls are 5-1 (3-3 ATS) at home in 2013. Marshall is a vastly different team home and away. It is 3-3 (1-5 ATS) on the road compared to 6-0 (6-0 ATS) at home.
Team to beware: Utah State Aggies (8-4 SU, 8-4 ATS)
This week: (+3.5) at Fresno State
Utah State need not apologize for playing in the Mountain West Championship, but it didn’t have to face the top two teams from the West Division (Fresno State and San Diego State, which dealt Boise State its two conference losses).
The Aggies have lost five offensive starters over the course of the season -most recently receiver Travis Reynolds, who is questionable due to a knee injury. Despite missing last week’s win over Wyoming, Reynolds has 51 receptions for 832 yards and four touchdowns.
Fresno State saw its BCS hopes busted by San Jose State last Friday, but its 12-game home winning streak is still intact. The Bulldogs have not lost in Fresno since an Oct. 1, 2011 contest against Mississippi.
Total team: South Alabama Jaguars (5-6 SU, 4-7 O/U)
This week: (58) vs. UL Lafayette
Don’t expect the Ragin’ Cajuns to call off the dogs on their defense that ranks second in scoring and second against the run in the Sun Belt when they face South Alabama. Louisiana-Lafayette has already accepted a bid to the New Orleans Bowl, but an outright conference title is still on the line.
The Jaguars were all over the backfield in last weekend’s 38-17 rout of Georgia State, recording four sacks and eight tackles for loss. Saturday’s game is still a decent way off, but the current forecast calls for rain and wind throughout the entire weekend in Mobile.
The under is 4-0 in South Alabama’s last four overall and 4-1 in its last five at home. The under is 3-0 in ULL’s last three road trips.