Free College Football Pick: Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns at South Alabama Jaguars

Analysis: Almost from the outset, sharp money flooded the betting market in favor of South Alabama, moving the Jaguars from 1-point home underdogs to 2.5 to 3-point favorites. The concern now for the Jaguars is the fact that they are a money-burning 0-5 ATS in their last five conference games as favorites and are coming off an emotionally draining 24-point comeback win over Idaho last week. Let’d also note that South Alabama is 5-17 ATS in its last 22 home games, 1-8 ATS in its last nine conference affairs, 0-7 ATS following a win, 1-11 ATS in weeks ten though thirteen and 3-13 ATS in its last sixteen games overall.

Despite the above-referenced trends, the smart money continues to support the Jaguars. South Alabama takes the field with a subpar offense that is averaging 26.7 points and 381 total yards per game at 5.6 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 6.0 yards per play. The Jaguars’ ground game has been completely ineffective, averaging 4.2 yards per rush attempt against teams that would combine to allow 4.8 yards per rush play. However, the Jaguars’ attack has shown some signs of life recently, averaging 33.7 points at 4.7 yards per rush play and 5.8 yards per play over their last three games.

Overall, South Alabama’s offense is 0.6 yards per play worse than average from the line of scrimmage, which is not goof enough to exploit a bad Louisiana Lafayette stop unit that has been 0.3 yards per play worse than average in 2015 (5.8 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.5 yards per play). The concern for Lafayette investors is its defense on the road, which has been abysmal. Specifically, the Ragin’ Cajuns are yielding 35.2 points and 422 total yards per game at 6.3 yards per play and 12.0 yards per point on foreign soil this season. I still give Louisiana Lafayette’s defense a nominal advantage over the Jaguars’ attack.

Like Louisiana Lafayette, the Jaguars’ stop unit has been 0.3 yards per play worse than average this season (5.7 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.4 yards per play. Surprisingly, the Jaguars are just 2-2 SU and 1-3 ATS at home this season where they are giving up 41.0 points and 433 total yards at 5.8 yards per play. South Alabama’s defense has also been susceptible to giving up the big play as evidenced by the fact that opposing teams are averaging 10.6 yards per point at Cajun Field, including 9.7 yards per point over the last three weeks and 10.3 yards power point in conference play.

The good news for South Alabama is the fact that Louisiana Lafayette does not possess an offense that can exploit its weakness on the defensive side of the ball. Indeed, the Ragin’ Cajuns are averaging just 5.7 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 6.3 yards per play, thereby giving the Jaguars an advantage from the line of scrimmage when they have the ball. South Alabama also has superior special teams and is looking to avenge last year’s 19-9 loss at Cajun Field. With a line under three points, I will give a modest lean to South Alabama in this game, although there are much better investment options over the weekend.

Start Time:  7:30 PM on ESPU
Where: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama

Free College Football Pick: South Alabama (-2.5) (-110) over Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns

(click here for updated odds)

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Read moreFree College Football Pick: Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns at South Alabama Jaguars

Sharp Money Report from Oskeim Sports

Throughout the course of the 2015-2016 football season, Oskeim Sports will provide a weekly Sharp Money Report to highlight the games that are getting a lot of attention from professional bettors (i.e. sharps). The Report will also include football games that are receiving lopsided action from the betting public (i.e. squares). Please find below Oskeim Sports’ Sharp Money Report covering the college football games on Saturday, November 7:

College Football Teams Receiving Significant Professional Betting Action:

Penn State
Louisville
Florida State
Middle Tennessee State
Texas State
California
USC

Of course, the professional bettors got the best of the numbers in the above-referenced games, which is what distinguishes pros from the betting public. For example, the sharps grabbed Louisville at -12, Middle Tennessee State at -1 and California at +6. The squares will likely chase the steam and settle for less desirable numbers that no longer carry value.

From strictly a value standpoint, it appears as if the wrong team is favored in the Penn State/Northwestern game, and many outfits took notice and grabbed the Nittany Lions earlier in there week at +2.5 points. The most surprising line move involves Middle Tennessee State, who is coming off a bye but takes the field with a number of significant injuries. In all, 21 Blue Raiders have missed playing action this season, with a good number of those players expected to miss the remainder of the season according to head coach Rick Stock-still.

Meanwhile, Marshall has won 21 of its last 23 games overall and is now getting a field goal on Saturday. Regardless of those facts, the sharps prefer laying the small number with Middle Tennessee State. Another game to keep an eye on is Michigan State/Nebraska. With the line hitting six at a vast majority of shops as of Friday afternoon, I expect to see significant money coming in from some sharps if/when the spread hits 6.5 to 7 points. We may see similar reaction in the Cincinnati/Houston game if the Bearcats reach +9.5 or +10.

College Football Teams Receiving Significant Public Betting Action:

Michigan State
Florida
Notre Dame
Stanford
Wisconsin
Texas A&M

Amateur bettors have never met a favorite they didn’t like, and the Spartans appear to be the public’s favorite choice on Saturday. Good luck this weekend and be sure to check out Oskeim Sports Rare 5% College Football Game of Month and Huge 4% College Football Underdog Shocker!

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Free College Football Pick: Cincinnati Bearcats at Houston Cougars

Houston has dominated this series, winning nine of the last 11 meetings overall and posting a 5-1-1 ATS mark in the last seven clashes with the Bearcats. The Cougars are the prohibitive favorite to remain undefeated Saturday afternoon, and that does not come as a surprise in light of their explosive offense. Houston is averaging 45.9 points and 538 total yards per game at 6.8 yards per play and 11.7 yards per point against teams that would combine to allow 6.4 yards per play. The Cougars are also averaging 48.5 points and 536 total yards per game at 7.1 yards per play and 11.1 yards per point at home in 2015.

The problem for Houston is its weak schedule, which consists of wins over Texas State, SMU, Tulane and Central Florida.], among other inferior opponents. In fact, a colleague of mine pointed out that the Cougars have not played a team in the top 46 of the ESPN Power Index, and have only faced two foes in the top 100 of the same index. I won’t go as far as to say that the Cougars are overrated, but their lack of quality wins is a major red flag moving forward. With that said, Houston has outgained each of its eight opponents this season and stands at +205 yards per game at home and +190 yards per game in conference play.

While I have been extremely impressed with Houston, I generally avoid investing on bloated Homecoming favorites like the Cougars because they are often times overvalued by the betting market. My math model only favors Houston by 6.5-points and the Bearcats possess the offense to keep this game close. Specifically, Cincinnati is averaging 38.5 points and 577 total yards per game at 6.9 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow just 5.9 yards per play. Starting quarterback Gunner Kiel has been an incredible 1.6 yards per pass attempt better than average this season, which is good enough to exploit a decent Houston secondary that is 0.6 yards per play better than average (6.7 yards per pass play to teams that would combine to average 7.3 yards per pass play).

It’s also important to note that two of Cincinnati’s losses have come without Kiel on the field for all four quarters. The Bearcats are +200 yards per game this season and have faced four opponents in the top 46 of the ESPN Power Index. Kiel returned from suffering a concussion against Memphis to guide the Bearcats to consecutive blowout wins over Connecticut and Central Florida. He threw for 327 yards and two touchdowns in a 37-13 victory over Connecticut on October 24 before completing all 15 of his passes with five touchdowns in last week’s 52-7 win over Central Florida.

It was the most pass attempts without an incompletion in an FBS game in 20 years. “Finally being back and playing again and getting into a rhythm is a great feeling,” Kiel said. “Things are rolling right now. We’ve just got to keep pushing.” From a technical standpoint, Cincinnati is 9-1-1 ATS in its last eleven conference games, 7-3-1 ATS in its last eleven games off a win and 5-0 ATS in its last five November contests. The Bearcats are also 5-1-1 ATS in this series, 3-0-1 ATS versus undefeated opposition from Game 6 out and 4-1-1 ATS as conference road underdogs of of seven or more points. With the underdog standing at 5-2-1 ATS in this series, grab the generous points with the Bearcats as Oskeim Sports Free College Football Pick for Saturday.

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Read moreFree College Football Pick: Cincinnati Bearcats at Houston Cougars

Free College Football Pick: Utah Utes at Washington Huskies

Washington is two wins away from bowl eligibility and remains one of the most underrated teams in college football. Despite standing at 4-4, the Huskies’ three conference losses were each by six points or fewer, and head coach Chris Petersen has this program heading in the right direction. “I’ve been saying we’re going to get good if we can persist,” Petersen said. “If we can continue to stick to this process which is really, really difficult to do when all the results aren’t coming right away.”

Washington’s success is predicated upon an outstanding defense that is allowing 16.9 points and 360 total yards per game at 4.8 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 6.1 yards per play against a mediocre defensive squad. Even more impressive is the fact that the Huskies are limiting opponents to a mere 15.2 points per game at 4.5 yards per play at home this season.

Meanwhile, Utah arrives in town with a grossly overrated offense that has been 0.2 yards per play better than average this season (5.6 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 6.4 yards per play). Utah will try to pound the ball with star running back Devontae Booker, who ranks eight among FBS backs with 156.0 yards from scrimmage per game. Booker has accounted for 43.2% of Utah’s scrimmage yards this season, but he will have a stiff challenge against a stout Washington front seven.

Indeed, Washington is yielding just 3.2 yards per rush attempt to a group of running backs that would combine to average 4.7 yards per rush play, thereby making Petersen’s stop unit 1.5 yards per rush attempt better than average. Utah will also struggle to throw the ball against a very good Washington secondary that has been 0.8 yards per pass attempt better than average (6.9 yards per pass play to teams that would combine to average 7.7 yards per pass play). Overall, Washington’s defense maintains a substantial 1.1 yards per play advantage from the line of scrimmage over the Utes’ overrated attack.

Washington takes the field with an underrated offense that is averaging 34.6 points and 420 total yards per game at 6.9 yards per play and 12.1 yards per point at home in 2015. Overall, the Huskies’ attack is 0.1 yards per rush attempt, 0.2 yards per pass attempt and 0.2 yards per play better than average which isn’t good enough to exploit a solid Utah defense that is 0.6 yards per play better than average (5.2 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.8 yards per play). Both defenses posses an advantage from the line of scrimmage in this game, but the Huskies have a greater edge overall.

The Utes are 7-1 this season, but they are only +24.0 yards per game and looked disinterested against Oregon State last week. Utah is 2-5 ATS in its last seven November games and 2-5 ATS in its last seven conference games, whereas the Huskies are 4-1 ATS in their last five November games and have won all eight meetings in this series (but only 2 of those meetings have occurred in the L/18 years). Lay the points with Washington as Oskeim Sports’ Free College Football Pick.

Good luck!

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Read moreFree College Football Pick: Utah Utes at Washington Huskies

Free College Football Pick: Stanford Cardinal at Washington State Cougars

Saturday College Football Free Pick: Cardinals at Trojans

Washington State delivered an outright underdog winner for us last week as Mike Leach’s squad invaded Tucson as 7-point underdogs and left with a 45-42 victory.  Despite their recent success, including road wins over Oregon (45-38) and the aforementioned Arizona, the Cougars remains grossly undervalued by the betting market.  Washington State is 3-0 SU and ATS (averaging +127.0 yards per game) in its last three games, and we will once again invest on an underrated stock that is a profitable 8-3 ATS as a conference home underdog of eight or more points.

Coach Leach deserves a lot of credit for keeping Washington State focused after losing its season-opener to Portland State as 31-point home favorites.  Washington State possesses a very goof offense that is averaging 36.4 points and 506 total yards per game at 6.2 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 5.7 yards per play to a mediocre offensive squad.  The Cougars’ attack has been even more efficient over the last three weeks where they are averaging 47.3 points and 597 total yards per game at 6.6 yards per play and 12.6 yards per point.  I also like the fact that Washington State is averaging 42.5 points and 549 total yards per game in conference play this season.

The Cougars should be able to move the ball against a good Stanford stop unit that is allowing 5.2 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.7 yards per play.  However, the Cardinal are yielding nearly 400 yards per game at 5.4 yards per play on the road and 373 yards per game at 5.9 yards per play versus Pac-12 foes this season.  Overall, Washington State and Stanford match up evenly from the line of scrimmage when the Cougars have the ball.

The area in which Washington State does not get enough credit is on the defensive side of the ball where new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has done a tremendous job.  Specifically, Washington State is yielding 6.0 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 6.3 yards per play.  The Cougars also boast a very good secondary that has been 0.4 yards per pass play better than average (7.3 yards per play to a group of quarterbacks who would combine to average 7.7 yards per pass attempt).

The Cougars will be tested by a potent Stanford attack that is averaging 6.7 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 5.4 yards per play.  The Cardinal can beat you both on the ground (0.8 yards per rush play better than average) and through the air (3.1 yards per pass play better than average).  The silver lining for Washington State investors is the fact that the Cougars play their best defense at home where they are limiting opponents to 23.0 points per game at 5.2 yards per play.  Regardless, Stanford’s offense possesses a significant advantage from the line of scrimmage and should be able to move the ball at a good clip Saturday night.

Free College Football Pick: With Stanford standing at 4-7 ATS as a road favorite, grab the generous points with the Cougars as Oskeim Sports’ 3% college football free play.