Week 9 College Football Group of 5 Parlay: 3 Picks for Saturday, Featuring Boise State, Old Dominion, Colorado State
Tyler Ingham/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Boise State quarterback Taylen Green.
Each week, to coincide with the release of the “Group of Five Deep Dive” under the Big Bets On Campus podcast banner, I’ll be sharing my Group of Five parlay of the week.
After our parlay hit in Week 7, last week went down as Snakebit Saturday.
UAB lost its starting quarterback and tossed a fourth-quarter red-zone interception with a win just 10 yards aways. Cincinnati nearly choked away a 15-point fourth-quarter lead, sneaking out with a straight up win and an against-the-spread loss in Dallas against SMU.
And finally, the Memphis-Tulane total was destined to go over thanks to a 90-yard punt return touchdown and a muffed punt that set the stage for a quick Tulane touchdown all in the first quarter of play.
So, back to the drawing board with a gross under in the Mountain West, and a double dip of Fun Belt action that is counting on two of the conference’s newest additions to come through in the clutch.
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Louisiana vs. Southern Miss
Louisiana dominated the Sun Belt West for years under Billy Napier, but it’s proven to be more than mortal in Year 1 of the Michael Desormeaux era. The Ragin’ Cajuns are 4-3 overall and 2-2 in Sun Belt play, including a four-point road loss to in-state rival UL Monroe.
The Warhawks and Ragin’ Cajuns have played every year since 1997, and it’s been all Louisiana in the past fifteen years. ULL had taken 12 of the previous 14 in the series, but it was bested by ULM this time around, 21-17.
For me, that marked the official changing of the guard in the Sun Belt West. All bets are now off, and anyone who can play stout defense has a shot to win on a weekly basis. Enter Southern Miss.
The Southern Miss defense is the real deal. The Golden Eagles rank 14th in Defensive Success Rate and 32nd in Havoc. Louisiana loves to run the football, but it’ll be running head first into the 13th-ranked run defense from a success perspective. Opponents average just 3.4 yards per carry (22nd) against USM this season.
When teams opt to pass the ball, things get even dicier. Southern Miss is up to 10th in Sack Rate and has taken the ball away better than just about any Group of Five team (15th in interception rate).
Louisiana’s Ben Wooldridge is coming off of a career-best five-touchdown performance, but it came against lowly Arkansas State. As a team, ULL still sits 89th in completion percentage and 94th in Success Rate through the air.
This wager really comes down to USM’s freshman Zach Wilcke. Can the youngster protect the football? The first-year starter has seven picks in his last three games, and ULL turns opponents over through the air better than any team in the Sun Belt.
But Wilcke played well enough to upset Tulane earlier this season, and I have faith that USM can use multiple formations and schemes to protect him in this game.
If he helps the Golden Eagles push or win the turnover battle, this will ticket will cash.
Pick: Southern Miss -1
Old Dominion vs. Georgia State
Old Dominion has been a Jekyll and Hyde team for much of 2022.
The Monarchs upset Virgina Tech to start their season and demolished previously unbeaten Coastal Carolina. But they also lost outright to Georgia Southern and needed a massive second half to hold off Arkansas State.
Georgia State, meanwhile, has failed to put it together at all and is on the verge of packing it in this season. It’s also been less than intimidating at Center Parc Credit Union Stadium. The Panthers lost to Coastal at home by 17 and to Charlotte by one.
They just got blown out by Appalachian State by 25, and three of their next four are on the road. I would be shocked if their woeful defense that ranks 125th in Success Rate comes to play at all on Saturday.
While GSU is sinking, ODU is in a spot to save its season with an upset victory. A win here would set up a scenario in which it could split its remaining four games to reach bowl eligibility. So, the reward is right in front of Ricky Rahne’s young team.
I also love what Old Dominion brings to the table on offense.
Beyond its dynamic passing game (23rd in explosiveness) that features a future NFL wideout in Ali Jennings III, the Monarchs have welcomed back one of the best G5 running backs. Blake Watson has racked up 447 rushing yards in the last three weeks and five total touchdowns. He should feast on Saturday afternoon in Atlanta.
I’ll be playing ODU plus the points and sprinkling some cash on the moneyline as well at +145.
Pick: Old Dominion +4
Colorado State vs. Boise State
I won’t bury the lede here. The key in this game is the Boise State defense.
All of the advanced metrics love Boise except for one: explosive plays allowed through the air. The Broncos give up around one deep bomb a game of 40 yards or more, which ranks them 68th nationally. If they can tighten things up on the back end and limit the big plays from the Rams, this thing goes under in a heartbeat.
That’s the core of this play, but if you’re looking for a little window dressing, I have that too. Since Andy Avalos took over in the City of Trees, the under has cashed in 14-of-19 games. His 74% under rate takes the cake as the best bet in the world of college football unders in the past two seasons.
But it takes two to tango on a total, so how is Colorado State running this season? The Rams have played under this total in all three of their Mountain West games. And Boise is holding conference opponents to just 15 points per game.
Toss in cold and clear conditions in Boise, ruling out any weather-induced fumbles, and this total appears to be a gift. If Boise sticks to its offensive script, running into a middling Colorado State front seven, it should salt this game away with long, second-half drives.
It also helps that the Rams somehow limit big plays through the air this season (9th in explosiveness allowed). Nothing kills a low total faster than quick-strike passing touchdowns.