Thursday College Football Betting Picks & Odds: Temple-USF & Louisiana-Coastal Carolina
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Temple Owls linebacker Shaun Bradley (5) at Lincoln Financial Field.
- How should you be betting the Thursday night college football games?
- Check out our complete betting breakdowns below, including analysis of the latest odds and the picks offering the most value.
You’re not tired of mid-week college football yet, are you?
We have two more games on Thursday night — Louisiana at Coastal Carolina (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU) and Temple at USF (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Our college football betting experts break down both matchups below, highlighting the bets that are offering the most value.
Let’s dive in.
Louisiana at Coastal Carolina Odds
- Spread: Louisiana -14
- Over/Under: 58.5
- Time: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPNU
Louisiana at Coastal Carolina Line Movement
After opening as low as -11, UL Lafayette has been bet up to (and in some cases through) the key number of -14, as a few shops have continued the movement up to -14.5. A 63% backing making up for 74% of money helps explain the drastic movement.
The total has been even more lopsided, but perhaps a result of less overall action, has really moved from its opening number. It still sits right around 58.5 despite 80% of bets and 80% of money hitting the over. — Danny Donahue
Collin Wilson: The Numbers Explain the Steam
The opening line for this game, Louisiana -11, did not last long. Sportsbooks have seen nothing but Ragin’ Cajun money for this game and that has sent this spread to -14 around the market.
This is a good example of why having a power ratings system that you can trust is important. The Action Network’s projections make Coastal Carolina a 14.5-point underdog in this game.
When you dig into the stats, you can see why the market is showing a lot of love for the Cajuns. Louisiana is No. 1 in the country in rushing success rate and 20th in passing success rate. The Ragin’ Cajuns match up well with the Chanticleers, who rank 65th in opponent rushing success and 117th in opponent passing success.
Coastal Carolina is coming off an emotional home victory against Troy. The Chanticleers sealed the win with a successful two-point conversion. The win covers up some blemishes, though.
The Chants have been out-gained in each of their last four games and allowed over 300 rushing yards to Georgia Southern and Georgia State. UL Lafayette struggled in a game against Appalachian State on Oct. 9, but the Cajuns have scored at least 30 points in every game since then. In fact, the only two teams to hold Louisiana under 30 points are Mississippi State and Appalachian State.
Coastal Carolina’s defense should not pose a problem compared to those two units. The Chants rank 93rd in line yards and 129th in opponent red zone touchdown scoring. Louisiana’s offense excels in the red zone, ranking 15th in that same category.
This would indicate that there will be plenty of points, but our projected Over/Under for this game is 56.5. If this number keeps climbing, I’ll be looking to take an Under at 58.5 or higher. As for the side, I’d take Louisiana at anything better than -14 and Coastal at anything better than +14.5. — Collin Wilson
Temple at South Florida Odds
- Spread: Temple -1.5
- Over/Under: 49
- Time: Thursday, 8 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
Temple at South Florida Line Movement
While the line movement hasn’t been all that big in this matchup, it has been meaningful given its direction. Even though 76% of bettors and 71% of money are landing on South Florida, the Bulls have fallen from opening numbers of -2/2.5 down to -1.5/2.
The movement on the total has been more in line with the betting percentages, though it’s been interesting to see the public so heavy on an under. Seventy percent of bettors, in fact, have hit this under, dropping the line from 54 to 49 on 79% of money. — Danny Donahue
Collin Wilson: Will Defense Be the Story?
After starting the season 1-3, South Florida went into the bye week and came out a different team. New offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell re-booted the offense and benched quarterback Blake Barnett. The changes paid off.
Jordan McCloud gives the Bulls a dual-threat option under center, but the rushing attack is really what’s breathed new life into USF’s season. South Florida ranks fifth in power success rate, seventh in line yards and 13th in opportunity rate.
This game sets up as a strength vs. strength showdown, as Temple’s defense ranks 21st in line yards. That is good news for under bettors but there’s a lot more where that came from. Both of these defenses rank inside the top 10 in opponent red zone scoring percentage and neither offense is particularly strong at converting third downs.
Our projected total for this game is 46.5, so there’s still an edge on the Under at 49 even after moving down from 53.5.
The Pick: Under 49 or better
Stuckey: Is the Wrong Team Favored?
We have an interesting AAC matchup on Thursday night between two teams coming off of a bye.
The Bulls have quietly been playing much better football after a horrid 0-2 start to the year. They’ve won 4 of 6 with the only two losses coming against ranked Navy and SMU.
One of the biggest reasons for the turnaround has been the change at QB with Jordan McCloud taking over for the injured Blake Barnett. The passing offense still struggles but McCloud fits much better in Kerwin Bell’s rush heavy attack.
Led by RB Jordan Cronkrite, USF can run the ball, especially with McCloud at the helm. On the season, they average 5.0 yards per carry, which ranks 37th in the nation. And over the past four games, USF has averaged over seven yards a pop in a span that does include Navy and BYU.
Also, it’s worth noting that McCloud dealt with numerous injuries in October but is now apparently 100% healthy according to multiple reports out of Tampa. The bye certainly helped in that regard.
The offensive line should also get a lot of credit for the USF ground game results as it’s a unit that ranks 7th in the country in Line Yards (a measurement of OL success in run game), per Football Outsiders.
On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, Temple has really struggled this year on offense despite having a solid quarterback in Anthony Russo and some quality skill position players. The reason? Its offensive line. Temple ranks 116th in that same statistic I mentioned above. And as a result, the Owls are only averaging 3.5 yards per rush, which ranks 110th in FBS.
That’s good news for an opportunistic USF defense that is better overall against the pass. Temple will still hit a few explosive plays through the air but I also expect Russo to turn it over against a USF squad that ranks in the top 10 nationally in turnover margin (Temple ranks outside the top 90). Only Illinois has forced more turnovers than USF which will face an Owls team that doesn’t care for the ball (15 turnovers, tied for 98th).
Yes, Temple has five wins on the season but let’s take a closer look at those five:
The first three wins are meaningless and the last two were coin flips that both went Temple’s way — each by a field goal margin. To be honest, this could really be a 3-5 team.
The Owls needed multiple goal line stands against a Maryland team that turned out to be much worse than we all initially thought. And they got extremely fortunate against Memphis thanks to turnover luck.
USF does struggle throwing the ball (and in pass protection) which isn’t ideal against a Temple defense that can really get after the quarterback. However, I do think Kronkrite and company can have enough success on the ground to pull out a huge win.
This game just means more for USF which really needs it for any shot at bowl eligibility at only four wins with Cincy, Memphis and UCF remaining on the schedule. Meanwhile, Temple is sitting at five wins and still has a gimme to close the year at home vs Uconn. I expect the home team to continue its domination of this series.
In regards to the total, it’s under or nothing at 49 but turnovers and special teams blunders are a bit of a concern. For what it’s worth, South Florida’s special teams have been an unmitigated disaster. Temple hasn’t been great either but certainly not as bad as the Bulls.
The Pick: South Florida +1.5