College Football Group of 5 Parlay: Week 13 Picks for James Madison vs Coastal Carolina, Colorado State vs Hawaii & More (Nov. 25)
Eakin Howard/Getty Images. Pictured: JMU’s Kaelon Black.
Feast Week is wrapping up, and the season of giving is right around the corner.
There are a few spreads that I view as gifts in Week 13.
We’ll start with James Madison’s Super Bowl, which sadly has the potential to be their last game of the season on Saturday. Then we’ll hit up a familiar face by fading Trent Dilfer one final time this fall. And we’ll round things out in the tropical climate of Hawai’i as Colorado State looks to get bowl-eligible.
James Madison vs. Coastal Carolina
This could be the Dukes' last game of the season due to the NCAA’s transition rules. If there are not enough bowl-eligible teams, JMU is all but certain to receive a bid as the next school in line, but I think their coaching staff will play up the last game of the year angle.
For that reason, I expect maximum effort from the Dukes.
On the field, Coastal Carolina has an awful run defense. The Chanticleers are 119th in Rush Success Rate allowed while surrendering 170 rush yards per game.
What they specialize in is a variation of the bend-but-don’t-break defense. Coastal is a top-35 red zone defense, and JMU has been below average in the red zone.
So why the faith in the Dukes if it’s challenging to finish drives against Coastal?
Well, James Madison has more than made up for their red zone deficiencies by skipping the red zone altogether. This is one of the most explosive Group of Five offenses, checking in 24th nationally in pass plays of 30 yards or more. They should be able to stick to that script against the Chants.
With a lead, I trust the JMU defense will squeeze the life out of Coastal Carolina.
The James Madison defense, in SBC play, is far and away the most efficient unit against the pass. They have 31 sacks in seven conference games and live in opposing teams’ backfields.
And finally, it’s with a sense of sadness that I report that Grayson McCall remains doubtful with a concussion. One of the greatest players in G5 history is having his final year taken away from him due to a head injury that isn’t improving. As a result, we’ll get Guest or Vasko as Coastal's QB1.
They’ve been fine as a duo, but they’ve played five straight lousy defenses. Arkansas State, Marshall, ODU, Texas State, and Army all have serious defensive deficiencies. The only team in that mix with decent stats was Marshall, but they give up more big plays than just about anyone in the country.
A win here also locks up a de facto SBC East title for JMU to hang their hat on.
For all these reasons, I like JMU in a runaway.
Play: James Madison -8.5
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UAB vs. North Texas
The Trent Dilfer experience has been a mixed bag.
Offensively, the Blazers have risen to 17th in Success Rate and have found their groove on the ground in conference play. But as good as their offense has been, their defense has been twice as bad.
Here’s a quick rundown on Dilfer’s defensive ranks:
- Success Rate: 131st
- Scoring Defense: 130th
- Run Defense: 125th
- Sack Rate: 102nd
- Points Per Opportunity: 118th
This is music to the ears of Mean Green backers on Saturday.
Despite an underwhelming 4-7 regular season record, there are reasons for optimism in Denton. The North Texas offense has taken off with Chandler Rogers as their field general. Rogers has a sterling 26:4 TD-INT ratio and is off a dominant performance, dominating Tulsa for 294 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown last week.
With leftovers in everyone's fridge, Rogers will carve up the Blazers on Saturday.
The final piece of this gambling puzzle is UAB’s issues on the road. The Blazers are 2-3 ATS (-4.8 ppg) and 0-5 SU away from home. UTSA and Navy hammered them on the road in the past six weeks.
And Dilfer has mentioned motivation being an issue with bowl eligibility out the window and the transfer portal creeping into his players’ minds. From his lips to gambling gods’ ears.
Play: North Texas -2.5
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Colorado State vs. Hawaii
Hawai’i has been boom-or-bust all season long on the island.
They have impressive upsets of New Mexico State and Air Force. They also surrendered 41 points to a dysfunctional San Diego State offense and got shut out, 35-0, by San Jose State at home.
When things go sideways, it gets ugly for the Rainbows.
The issue for Hawai’i is their defense, which remains a work in progress. They don’t create negative plays at a high enough rate, struggle to take the ball away (107th in interception rate), and are in the bottom 20 against the run.
Those last two facts bode well for Colorado State.
Freshman Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi struggled with turnovers early in the season, but he’s calmed down in the past two weeks and avoided turnover-worthy throws. And critically, they’ve found a freshman in their running back room to feed the rock. Freshman Justin Marshall has carried it 37 times in the past two games for 217 yards.
The Rams are now equipped to take advantage of Hawai’i’s weaknesses.
Colorado State is surging down the stretch and could very easily be 7-4 instead of 5-6 had they won an overtime thriller over Colorado or gotten one more break in a 25-23 loss to UNLV on the road.
With everything at stake, the Rams are on the rise, while Hawai’i is out of the running for a postseason bowl berth. Toss in that they were outclassed 42-9 on the mainland by Wyoming last week, and I think it’s safe to say this is white flag time for the 4-8 ‘Bows.
Play: Colorado State -5.5
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Calabrese's Group of Five Parlay for Week 13
- James Madison -8.5
- North Texas -2.5
- Colorado State -5.5