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 (12-1 SU, 8-5 ATS)
Poinsettia Bowl: -1 vs. Utah State
The Poinsettia Bowl may not be what Northern Illinois had in mind after playing in the Orange Bowl last season, especially not when it was undefeated going into last Friday’s MAC Championship against Bowling Green. Still, this is the final game for senior QB Jordan Lynch. He will want to impress NFL scouts while also proving his worth for the Heisman Trophy ceremony invitation he received. The Huskies are 5-2 ATS in their last seven overall.
Up next for NIU is Utah State on Dec. 26. The Aggies will still be without Chuckie Keeton, who threw 18 touchdowns compared to only two picks before tearing an ACL and MCL on Oct. 4. Freshman backup Darell Garretson has been mediocre by comparison, with nine TDs and five INTs in seven games.
Garretson is questionable due to a severe concussion in last week’s MWC Championship loss to Fresno State. Utah State is also expected to miss Travis Reynolds (51 catches, 832 yards, four TDs), who suffered a knee injury on Nov. 23.
Team to beware: Boise State Broncos (8-4 SU, 6-6 ATS)
Hawaii Bowl: +4 vs. Oregon State
The domino effect of Steve Sarkisian’s move to USC is underway, and the second one to fall came in the form of Boise State head coach Chris Petersen bolting for Washington. Now the Broncos will contest the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24 against Oregon State with interim Bob Gregory at the helm.
Petersen’s long-awaited departure for a BCS program came near the end of a rebuilding year for the Broncos, who have losses to Washington (by 32 points), Fresno State, BYU, and San Diego State. They also have a QB controversy on their hands, as Joe Southwick missed four games with an ankle injury but returned in a Nov. 30 rout of New Mexico to attempt two passes in relief of Grant Hedrick.
Either Southwick or Hedrick may be without receivers Kirby Moore and Shane Williams-Rhodes. Leading tackler Ben Weaver is also questionable due to injury.
Total team: Ball State Cardinals (10-2 SU, 8-4 O/U)
GoDaddy Bowl: (48.5) vs. Arkansas State
Head coach Pete Lembo, thought of as a great offensive mind, has already interviewed with Wake Forest and UConn this month. Andy why not? Lembo’s offense is averaging 40.1 points per game this season, 14th most in the FBS.
How are the Cardinals scoring so much? They are ninth in the FBS in turnover margin (+1.0 per game) and seventh in fewest penalty yards per contest (31.58). On the defensive side of the ball, cornerback Quintin Cooper will likely remain out with the broken leg he sustained on No. 15.
The over is 4-0 in Ball State’s last four overall. Arkansas State, the Jan. 5 GoDaddy Bowl opponent, has scored at least 31 points in four straight games and the over is also 4-0 in its last four overall.