College Football Group of 5 Parlay: Our Top Bet for Week 12, Including New Mexico vs. Boise State
Tyler Ingham/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: The Boise State Broncos.
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.
Last week, we came up short in excruciating fashion.
The gambling gods nearly delivered a miracle over, but UL-Monroe threw an interception on their final drive, taking a would-be overtime off the table against Arkansas State. The rest of the card was a smashing success, but it’s a zero-sum game for parlays.
So, it’s back to the grind this week in search of parlay gold.
We’ll start in the AAC before heading to the Mountain West for my pick of the year and wrap things up with my undying faith in America’s Greatest Natural Resource: Bailey Zappe.
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Memphis vs. Houston
It’s a great sign when I feed the weekly lines into my spreadsheet and have a game pop up that’s off by a touchdown. In this case, Houston is teeming with value, at least in my power rankings.
As for the fundamentals of this play, let’s start with personnel. Memphis’ Calvin Austin III is banged up and that is awful news for the Tigers offense. They just don’t have the same pop with their Swiss Army Knife dinged up.
Memphis has scored over 30 points just once since Oct. 2 and is going up against a surging Houston team with tremendous pass defense.
Houston is the only team in the nation that appears in the top 10 in both sack percentage and interception percentage. The Cougars get to the passer and take it away when the ball is in the air.
Offensively, Houston is averaging 42 points per game since the start of October. Clayton Tune and freshman running back Alton McCaskill have alternated leading the way for the Cougars offense in recent weeks.
That offensive balance has made Dana Holgorsen’s Air Raid nearly impossible to defend.
With UConn on deck, there is no look-ahead factor to scare you off the Cougars here. The AAC title game is on the horizon, but if Houston wants to keep its slim NY6 Bowl Game prospects alive, it needs to thump Memphis at home on Friday night.
When you pepper in their College Football Playoff ranking, a home sellout crowd sure to go nuts and the fact that this is a revenge game from last season, all signs point to the Cougars winning by two or more scores.
Pick: Houston -8.5
Florida Atlantic vs. Western Kentucky
The Hilltoppers offense has been an absolute menace in C-USA play. Now averaging close to 45 points per game in conference, it’s time that the national media got in on the coverage.
This is the best passing game in the nation, with no disrespect to Ohio State, Mississippi State or SMU.
Zappe is now averaging 417 yards per game through the air, hitting on 70% of his passes while sporting a 6:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Elite doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Last week, WKU hit the team total against Rice, a team that wanted to hold the football and play keep-away for four quarters.
Florida Atlantic also doesn’t want to play fast, but while the Owls may limit overall plays, they’re going to get torched by Zappe and company. FAU is one of the nation’s worst pass-rushing teams and will be hard-charging against a great WKU pass-blocking unit.
This team total is considerably lower than WKU’s average in C-USA play because of FAU’s success mucking games up. But considering the fact that the Owls just surrendered 30 points to ODU last week, I see no reason to pass on my old standby (WKU TT over).
Pick: Western Kentucky Team Total Over 37.5
New Mexico vs. Boise State
And now for my play of the year.
This is the time of year where it’s advantageous to identify teams that have “quit.” No unit in the country has a higher “quit factor” than the Lobo offense.
UConn, UMass, Vandy and New Mexico State all score more points per game than the lowly Lobos. New Mexico hasn’t scored more than 17 points in a game in two months, which explains why it’s dead last in scoring in all of college football with fewer than two touchdowns per game.
When New Mexico does fall behind Boise on the Smurf Turf, it’ll be forced to put the ball in the air, which is good news for Bronco backers. New Mexico has the worst non-service academy passing attack, averaging an anemic 126 yards per game through the air.
Boise, meanwhile, has won four of its last five games and has finally found a groove offensively with balance between the pass and run.
Running back George Holani, in particular, is finally cooking, having posted back-to-back 100-yard games.
New Mexico isn’t nearly as bad on defense as they are on offense, but PFF ranks it the 109th-stingiest run defense, an assertion backed up by the fact that it surrenders 153 yards per game on the ground.
When the Broncos do opt to put the ball in orbit, Hank Bachmeier has proven to be a reliable quarterback. In his last three games, Bachmeier has hit 65% of his passes, while avoiding turning the ball over even a single time.
Left for dead at midseason, it’s time for bettors to put their faith in the Broncos now that they have things rolling. I foresee a 45-10 outcome.