College Football Group of 5 Parlay: 3 Picks for Week 11, Including UCF vs. Tulane, Army vs. Troy
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images. Pictured: Tulane’s Dorian Williams.
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.
We swung for the fences last week, but didn’t quite get the ball outta the ball park. Two winners out of three isn’t bad and winning a bet placed on UConn should count for double, in my opinion.
This week we start things off on a Friday Night in Sin City, keep the party going down in the Big Easy on Saturday afternoon and then head up I-10, deep in Fun Belt territory, for a pillow fight between a Service Academy and a program in search of its first outright conference title since 2009.
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Fresno State vs. UNLV
Despite losing Jake Haener early in the season, the Bulldogs circled the wagons and held on long enough for their senior gunslinger to saunter back into the huddle to save their 2022 campaign.
Showing no signs of rust, Haener has thrown for 721 yards and seven touchdowns in the last two games. The quarterback of the Bulldogs defense, Evan Williams, is also back from injury and leading a rejuvenated Fresno State unit.
If the Bulldogs win out, they will win the West Division of the Mountain West and appear in the conference title game. Their head-to-head win over San Jose State, which is also 4-1 in conference play, is the tiebreaker for the Bulldogs.
So, with the stakes this high and the margin for error nil, there won’t be any reason for the Bulldogs to look past UNLV.
The’ Rebels are 0-4 straight up in their last four, and despite the return of their own injured quarterback, Doug Brumfield, the good times are not rolling for UNLV. In his last start against San Diego State, Brumfield was battered, taking three sacks and tossing two picks. His final QBR in that game? A rough 15.4.
One team is ascending, the other is in an uncontrolled dive and the home team will be lucky to draw 20,000 fans in this one. Don’t overthink it; hop on the Bulldogs’ bandwagon.
Pick: Fresno State -9.5
UCF vs. Tulane
College GameDay snubbed Tulane, but despite ESPN’s oversight, Yulman Stadium will be sold out and rocking for arguably the biggest game in Tulane program history.
The Green Wave haven’t been this close to the top 10 since 1998 when they completed a perfect season under head coach Tommy Bowden. A win over the Knights would put them within striking distance of both the top 10 and a New Year’s Six Bowl invitation.
While Tulane’s offense has been solid, particularly on the ground when Tyjae Spears is toting the rock, it’s been their defense that has won the day.
This defense shuts down explosive plays, ranking ninth nationally in that department. Opponents are averaging just 3.7 yards per carry this season running into a brick wall of Green and White.
Thus far through nine games, TU has shut down East Carolina’s dynamic Keaton Mitchell and the ever-dangerous K-State rushing attack. During its historic upset of Kansas State in Manhattan, it held the Wildcats to just 186 yards on the ground, 20 yards less than their season average. That was a preview of what it could do to John Rhys Plumlee and the uptempo rushing attack that UCF relies upon so heavily.
Since Gus Malzahn showed up in Orlando last season, two things have held firm. Both he and the Knights are a nightmare at the Bounce House (12-1 SU). And when they take their show on the road, things tend to fall apart. UCF is just 3-5 under Malzahn on the road.
It’s time to take Tulane to the NY6 seriously, and it starts on Saturday.
Pick: Tulane -1.5
Army vs. Troy
Matt Mitchell, producer of the Big Bets on Campus podcast, refers to matchups like this as “double blanket games.” As in, place your bet, locate your TV, drap blankets over the TV and watch precisely zero seconds of it.
Troy unders have cashed in six of its nine games this season, and when it faces FBS opponents at home, those contests are averaging just 30 total points per game.
We know that Army wants to methodically move the ball down the field, utilizing a triple-option attack designed to gain three, four and sometimes even five yards at a time.
Troy, meanwhile, has a terrific run defense — perhaps the very best in the Group of Five. The Trojans rank 21st in run defense while holding opponents to just 3.5 yards per carry.
The Trojans are far from explosive on offense, ranking 105th in points per play this season, so I’m not very concerned about big plays throwing this under into question early on.
The key will likely be both teams' red-zone defense. Both are mediocre in this department (Troy 57th, Army 60th) but not awful by any stretch. Field-goal attempts are an under bettor's best friend.