Miller: My Four Favorite Under-the-Radar College Football Bets for Week 12
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kyle Johnson.
Everyone will have their eyes on Georgia-Auburn and Oklahoma-Baylor this weekend, but don’t forget that there’s plenty of value in some of the weekend’s less heralded games.
The lines often aren’t as sharp and there aren’t as many eyes on the games. If you know personnel mismatches, coaching staffs and advanced stats for Group of Five teams, you can position yourself well to make some money.
Every Saturday, I’ll be putting out a few of my favorite bets in some under-the-radar games.
This week I’ve got four, so let’s jump in.
Week 12 College Football Bets
Troy at Texas State
- Odds: Troy -7
- Total: 63
- Time: Saturday, 3:00 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN3
It wouldn’t be a Kyle Miller best bets post without covering a Troy game. I really like the way the Trojans have played last week against Georgia Southern and I’m looking to back them again. Texas State is one of the worst football teams in the nation and I don’t see any way the Bobcats are able to score enough to keep up with Troy.
I’ve outlined Troy’s offensive strengths at length this space each of the last two weeks so I’ll keep this one brief. Simply put, Troy is one of the most efficient offenses in the Group of Five. These guys rank 27th in yards per play, 30th in passing success rate, and 33rd in overall efficiency. They aren’t an overly explosive bunch, but quarterback Kaleb Barker can hit some long passes at times.
Texas State’s defense is respectable, particularly when it comes to stopping explosiveness. They’re going to have a tough time stopping Troy’s high-powered offense because the Bobcats have the 125th ranked defensive line compared to Troy’s 13th best offensive line. Look for Troy to do whatever they want when they have the football.
The Bobcats use tempo on offense and they pass the ball on nearly every play. That’s fine if you’re able to move the ball, but this offense has nearly reached Northwestern levels of ineptitude. It’s a combination that can lead to very quick three-and-outs and cause your defense to tire. The last thing you want against Troy’s offense is a tired defense and there’s a very good chance that’s just what will happen. Troy has a bad defense but it’s better than the Texas State offense. Sometimes capping Group of Five football comes down to who is less bad.
I make the number right around where it’s sitting right now so there isn’t a ton of value in the number, but this is a bad matchup for Texas State. The Bobcats are coming off a conference win against lowly South Alabama but the good feelings in San Marcos will come to an end on Saturday.
Pick: Troy -7
Southern Miss at UTSA
- Odds: Southern Miss -17
- Total: 52.5
- Time: Saturday, 6:00 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN+
In the preseason, I expected Southern Miss to be one of the best teams in the C-USA. I was right about that but I couldn’t have been more wrong about the way this particular team has achieved that stature. I expected the Golden Eagles to have the top Group of Five defense in the nation but be held back by their offense. Like I said, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Instead it’s Southern Miss’ offense that is one of the top in the Group of Five, ranking 23rd in yards per play, 24th in passing success rate, and ninth in explosive play percentage. Quarterback Jack Abraham has been so impressive this season, completing 70 percent of his passes for 2,634 yard and 15 touchdowns. His nine interceptions are a few too many but if he can avoid mistakes he’s a big play waiting to happen with some electric wide receivers.
UTSA is one of the worst teams in college football. Their record shows that they’re 3-5 but advanced metrics paint a much more bleak picture for the Roadrunners. They rank poorly in every category on defense besides Havoc and defensive line score. The only chance they have in this game is to force Southern Miss turnovers and, honestly, there’s a possibility that they do just that.
Unfortunately for UTSA, even if they get those turnovers I don’t see them being able to convert them into points. The only bright spot in the Roadrunner offense has been some explosive runs, but that plays right into the strengths of Southern Miss’ stop unit.
I see good value in this number as I make Southern Miss a 19-point favorite and SP+ has the Golden Eagles winning by 21. I’m comfortable taking Southern Miss at 17 or better in what should be a C-USA blowout.
Pick: Southern Miss -17
Appalachian State at Georgia State
- Odds: Appalachian State -17
- Total: 61.5
- Time: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPNU
Man, what could be for Appalachian State this season if they didn’t slip up at home on blustery Wednesday night against Georgia Southern. The Mountaineers have defeated both North and South Carolina as well as top Sun Belt contender Louisiana to set themselves up to be a top-25 team. Of course, they aren’t nearly that high in my power ratings, but they’re an impressive Group of Five team.
Appalachian State’s offense is known for their ability to run the football and pick up chunk yardage. The Mountaineers rank 13th in the nation in rush explosiveness which spells big trouble for a Georgia State defense that’s 124th in defending that particular stat. The Mountaineer offensive line will have a massive advantage as well.
I’ve written about it plenty so far this year, but Georgia State boasts one of the worst defenses in the whole country. There isn’t anything that Panthers will be able to do to slow down Appalachian State’s offense.
The Panther offense goes very quickly and they’re highly efficient. This is a run-heavy bunch that’s compiled some gaudy rushing numbers on the season. This is one of the tougher defenses they’ll face in 2019 but I think they’ll be able to throw in a couple of scores in the first half. They will be without quarterback Dan Ellington, but I expect the backup to be able to navigate a run first offense down the field.
App State should win this one going away, so I like the first half over while they’re still trying score as much as they can. The first half total isn’t shaded nearly high enough to reflect the spread and situation so I think there’s value here.
Pick: Appalachian State/Georgia State over 31 first half
Air Force at Colorado State
- Odds: Air Force-10.5
- Total: 63.5
- Time: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN2
This rivalry game features my favorite set of mismatches on the Week 12 slate. Air Force is one of college football’s biggest surprise teams this season and coach Troy Calhoun has his team playing inspired.
The Falcons’ triple option offense ranks 38th in yards per play, 4th in rushing success rate, 6th in offensive line score, and 27th in overall efficiency. The efficiency number is particularly staggering because it’s adjusted for opponents. This week they’re in lucky as the face a Colorado State defense that’s just 95th in defensive rushing success rate, 102nd in defensive efficiency, and 103rd in defensive line score. Air Force will run the ball at will all day against the Rams defense, but they should be able to hit some big runs as well. Air Force rarely gets explosive run plays but if they’re going to do it, this is the defense they’ll do it against.
As strong of a team as Air Force is, they have one glaring weakness on defense and that’s their ability to stop the pass. Colorado State is nicely equipped to take advantage of that weakness as their 51st in passing success rate.
Quarterback Patrick O’Brien has been solid in relief of Collin Hill, but it’s wide receiver Warren Jackson that will cause the most problems for Air Force. The 6-foot-6 junior wideout is a no-doubt NFL Draft prospect and he’s had a monster season, racking up 55 catches for 852 yards and six touchdowns. Air Force is a good football team, but they don’t have the athletes in the secondary that can slow down a future NFL receiver like Jackson.
Back on October 26th, Colorado State put up 300-yards passing and 41-points against Fresno State. Fresno’s defense isn’t as good as Air Force’s, but they do defend the pass better. Look for Colorado State to have even more success through the air this week than they did a few weeks ago against the Bulldogs.
It’s never ideal to take an over in a game featuring a triple option team, but there are plenty of mismatches to be had in this one. What makes this game one of my favorite of the year is Colorado State Mike Bobo’s awareness of what his offense needs to do to combat those long scoring drives.
He said this week that he’s cut down his playbook to just the plays that he knows can have success against Air Force. That means he’s going to keep the ball in the air and some shots to the end zone. This game is going to be very high scoring.
Pick: Air Force/Colorado State over 63.5