College Football Group of 5 Parlay for Week 2: Picks for UAB vs. Georgia Southern, Texas State vs. UTSA & More
Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Memphis’ Jonah Gambill.
The tired cliché that teams improve the most between Week 1 and Week 2 of the season is, for the most part, correct.
Without a preseason, teams use their openers to knock off the rust while inserting new players onto the field for the very first time. As a result, teams often make a sizable jump by their second game.
From a gambling perspective, this means that you shouldn’t be a prisoner of the moment.
There are a few teams on the slate this week that underperformed in Week 1, begging to be taken at the window in Week 2. Conversely, there were a few teams that creamed powder-puff opponents in their opener. That’s fool’s gold, so try to avoid reading into those blowouts.
This week, we’ll start with Trent Dilfer’s true introduction to college football, head to San Antonio for a high-scoring affair and wrap things up in the Paint Bucket Bowl. It’s a real thing, look it up.
Trent Dilfer’s weekly press conferences are a real treat. In a matter of 20 minutes, you get the best and worst of him.
The best being his ability to share actionable gambling information and the worst being his inability to refrain from preaching directly to the press corps while creating unhinged analogies. This week, he compared his quarterback to a surgeon while saying other passers are more akin to a butcher wielding a machete to make a pastrami sandwich. I couldn’t make this stuff up.
What he also said on Labor Day was that his team is at a bit of a disadvantage this week in Statesboro.
You see, Georgia Southern has a new defensive coordinator who's a rising star by the name of Brandon Bailey. The 29-year-old coordinator presided over the nation’s most Havoc-inducing defense last season as Buffalo’s DC. His safety, Marcus Fuqua, led the nation in interceptions while earning third-team All-American honors.
What Dilfer and his staff wanted was film on Bailey. Unfortunately for Dilfer and company, Georgia Southern opened with The Citadel. The Bulldogs are in the midst of a switch from a pure triple-option offense to a spread attack that utilizes option principles. As a result, The Citadel threw the ball just eight times, making the film not very valuable.
“When you don’t know your opponent well, when you haven’t seen a lot of stuff, evidence of what they do, there’s some guesswork there,” Dilfer said Monday.
Additionally, UAB opened with North Carolina A&T, a lowly FCS opponent that doesn’t throw the ball. On Saturday, the Blazers will face a hybrid Air Raid offense that threw the ball 40 times on Saturday. So, his staff is behind the eight ball, and his players didn’t get any experience defending a complex passing attack.
Then there’s the venue, which has been a gambling graveyard for opposing teams. Since moving up to the FBS level in 2014, the Eagles are 32-20 against the spread at home. They’re even better as a home favorite 19-11 (63.3%), posting the seventh-best mark at the window in those situations.
I’m banking on Bailey’s attacking defense to give UAB’s offensive line fits. The Blazers returned the fewest starts in the entire country and surrendered a worrying seven tackles for loss to North Carolina A&T.
Offensively, Georgia Southern has a trio of skill position talent in Derwin Burgess Jr., Khaleb Hood and Jalen White who are the envy of just about every G5 program. They’ll score in the 30s and force UAB’s Jacob Zeno into enough mistakes to cover this number.
The Bobcats of Texas State were in desperate need of a makeover. In 11 years of FBS football, the Bobs’ high-water mark has been a 7-5 season back in 2014 under Dennis Franchione. That was their lone winning season at the highest level of college football, and it’s been a slog ever since with a 23-73 straight-up record.
So, the administration sent Jake Spavital packing and brought in FCS savant G.J. Kinne.
The 34-year-old Kinne set the world on fire with Incarnate Word, helping the Cardinals reach the FCS semifinals last season while leading the country in scoring at 51.5 PPG. His quarterback, Lindsey Scott Jr., won the Walter Payton Award (FCS Heisman) and accounted for 71 total touchdowns.
Kinne pulled off a “pseudo-Sanders” in the offseason, overturning his roster. By the time the dust settled, 35 transfers had made their way into the program and 49 new faces were on the roster in total.
The hope was that one of the two marquee quarterback transfers could make this offense sing. T.J. Finley and Malik Hornsby arrived with SEC experience and gave this team hope.
But their 42-31 win over Baylor was more than anyone could have hoped for in San Marcos. As four-touchdown underdogs, the Bobs’ inventive offense simply shredded a Dave Aranda defense.
Now they travel to play another Texas heavyweight in UTSA.
The Roadrunners have won conference titles in each of the last two seasons and have a prolific quarterback in his seventh year.
It’s important to avoid the “prisoner of the moment” trap in this game. Yes, UTSA scored just 14 points against Houston in its opener. But that was on the road against a Power 5 opponent with one of the game’s best defensive coordinators in Doug Belk calling plays.
Now, the Roadrunners return home to face a patchwork TSU defense that just gave up 524 yards to a Baylor offense that was far from dynamic by the end of last season. The Bears finished 42nd in the Offensive EPA metric last fall, while UTSA finished eighth.
What this tells me is that UTSA will bounce back in a big way on Saturday against a lackluster TSU defense. Frank Harris, a quarterback with 99 career touchdowns, is simply too good.
Texas State’s Finley was phenomenal on Saturday and has the kind of receiving corps to keep the good times rolling against a slightly above-average G5 defense. The Roadrunners held Houston to 17 points last Saturday but benefitted enormously from a pair of fourth-down stops deep in their own territory and a missed field goal.
If Houston had been more effective inside UTSA’s 30-yard line, it could have easily scored 10-14 more points. For that reason, I believe this total is slightly below what it should be, providing some value on the over.
Butch Jones was on the verge of tears in his team’s opener against Oklahoma last Saturday. The Red Wolves entered with major questions on offense and defense.
After enduring the humiliation of a 73-0 blowout, they return home to face another dynamic offense. That’s not good news for a coach who was already on the hot seat.
Arkansas State’s defense looked powerless to slow Oklahoma through the air or on the ground. It surrendered 95% of available yards to the Sooners, which essentially means that whenever OU had the ball, it marched it down the field.
The Sooners racked up 36 first downs. They gained 7.83 yards per play and averaged 12.8 yards per pass attempt.
We already knew this was going to be a bad defense after ASU allowed over 31 points per game last season. But it returned just five starters and did next to nothing in the portal. This unit looks like a special kind of bad here in 2023.
Making things even worse is that their chosen quarterback, Colorado transfer J.T. Shrout, seemed like a stretch to lead this offense. Shrout was awful in Boulder, posting a QBR of 23.2. And he was tasked with turning around a unit that finished 118th in total offense last season — with competent quarterback play from James Blackman.
This has the makings of a disaster, and things will continue to deteriorate on Saturday. Keep in mind Arkansas State enters below in-state Central Arkansas and 18 other FCS programs in the Sagarin ratings. This team is in freefall.
Memphis makes the hour drive up I-555 with a bus full of playmakers. The Tigers are well-balanced, versatile and talent-rich.
Seth Henigan, Memphis’ veteran quarterback, has started 25 games and looked sharp in the opener. He completed 75% of his passes for two scores with a 9.3 yards per attempt average.
And when the Tigers opted to run it, they ran it very well. Sutton Smith looked great, as did Old Dominion transfer Blake Watson, who punched in three scores.
Defensively, Memphis needed to get stronger along the defensive line, and it did that via the portal. Josh Ellison (OU) and Keveion’ta Spears (La Tech) both transferred in and are big boys at 300 pounds.
If they can force Arkansas State to abandon the run and once again hand the game plan over to Shrout, this will be another bloodbath.
- Georgia Southern -7.5
- Texas State vs. UTSA Over 65.5
- Memphis -21