College Football Group of 5 Parlay for Week 8: 3 Picks, Including UAB, Cincinnati & More
Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Cincinnati tight end Leonard Taylor.
- Mike Calabrese breaks down his favorite Group of Five parlay for Week 8 of the college football season.
- In this edition, Calabrese features UAB, Cincinnati and Memphis-Tulane.
- Read below to get the three legs of the parlay.
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.
Fire the cannons, because last week we hit our G5 Parlay with a clean sweep of the board.
Old Dominion didn’t need any points in Conway, beating the Chanticleers outright, 49-21. Charlotte stormed out to a halftime lead and held on to cover a 23.5-point spread in Birmingham against UAB. And finally, the Warhawks of UL Monroe dug deep and scored 34 points on the road, covering easily as 17-point underdogs in Sun Belt play.
What can I do for an encore? How about a double dip in AAC country and a nationally televised Friday night game in Conference USA?
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UAB vs. Western Kentucky
As long as Bailey Zappe is getting some run in the NFL, his Western Kentucky rags-to-riches story will continue to give the program juice. Ol’ No. Four may be cashing NFL paychecks, but the offense that made him famous is still alive and well in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Austin Reed and the Hilltoppers offense aren’t quite as dynamic as the 2021 version, but no one could be. Even with a slight statistical downgrade, WKU ranks fourth in passing yards and completion percentage this season. And overall, this team still exceeds 40 points per game, which is good for 12th nationally.
The defense is vastly better than it was last season, especially against the run. That’s good news with the Blazers coming to town.
No one in the C-USA runs the ball as well as UAB, and outside of the service academies, no one in the entire country can really match what UAB does on the ground.
DeWayne McBride has 378 yards and six ruhsing touchdowns on 68 carries (5.6 YPC) in C-USA play. And his backup, Jermaine Brown Jr., is averaging 6.1 yards per carry.
As a team, the Blazers average 247 yards per game on the ground and are graded as the fourth-most explosive rushing unit in the nation.
But the true reason I love them in this game is their pass defense. In a strength vs. strength battle, they have the secondary to ground the WKU passing attack.
From a PPA standpoint, this pass defense ranks seventh nationally and just bottled up Charlotte’s passing attack last week. Chris Reynolds, the 49ers’ quarterback, has eight career 300-yard passing games and was held to just 214 yards and picked off twice.
The Blazer defense did the same thing to Georgia Southern’s high-flying passing attack last month. It’ll be more of the same here in a low-scoring UAB victory.
Pick: UAB ML +115
Cincinnati vs. SMU
For those of us who live in G5 box scores, you come across players like Tanner Mordecai fairly often — a player who feasts on subpar defenses and then wilts against premier competition.
Against TCU earlier this season, a Power Five defense that’s merely average, Mordecai and the Mustangs couldn’t keep pace down the stretch and were undone by a pair of interceptions.
Against UCF, Mordecai threw the ball 45 times but averaged just 6.6 yards per attempt and failed to find the end zone through the air.
And last season, he fell flat on his face when he faced solid AAC competition. He was picked off twice against Tulsa in a three-point loss and was completely corralled when he threw into Cincy’s elite defense.
His stat line against Cincinnati — 15-for-26 for 66 yards — looms large in this game. This play is banking on the UC staff cooking up another confounding game plan for Mordecai and the Ponies.
When Cincy has the ball, you could make the argument that it’s actually better this season than last, at least through the air. The passing attack ranks 28th in explosiveness, and Ben Bryant already has three 300-yard games on his stat sheet here in 2022.
A scare against USF was just what the doctor ordered headed into the bye week. Luke Fickell needed to grab his team’s attention, and it’ll respond on national television in Dallas.
Pick: Cincinnati -3
Memphis vs. Tulane
They’re partying like it’s 1998 in the Big Easy. That’s the last time the Green Wave finished a season ranked in the AP Top 25. Tulane finished its campaign undefeated and ranked seventh in both polls in Tommy Bowden’s last season in New Orleans.
Its offensive coordinator at the time, Rich Rodriguez, dialed up the fourth-best offense in terms of total yards and second-best in terms of scoring at 45.4 points per game. Shaun King actually received one first-place Heisman vote.
It seemed like a once-in-a-generation moment.
Well, fast-forward nearly 25 years, and a new generation of Tulane football is taking the AAC by storm. The Green Wave brought in a new offensive coordinator this season, Jim Svoboda, in the hopes of supercharging their offense. It has paid big dividends.
While it isn’t 1998-esque Tulane is scoring 30 points per game, and has been balanced between the ground and air.
But it’s actually been the defense that has helped the Green Wave race out to a surprising 6-1 start. Only four teams in the entire country limit explosive plays better than Tulane, and Chris Hampton's defense checks in at 20th in Success Rate against the run.
If it can make Seth Henigan and the Memphis offense one-dimensional, that’s great news for Tulane and its chances at covering a touchdown spread.
But I’m not in focused on the side here; it’s the total that has the most value.
Memphis simply doesn’t strike fear into opposing defenses the way it did when it had Calvin Austin III on the perimeter last season. And its four-overtime game from last week may be inflating the public’s perception of this offense’s ceiling.
I’ll take advatange of a total that I believe is too high by about five points and ride Tyjae Spears and the Tulane rushing attack in a lower-scoring AAC affair.