NCAAF Moneyline Underdogs: Louisiana-Monroe, North Texas Hold Value in Week 1

NCAAF Moneyline Underdogs: Louisiana-Monroe, North Texas Hold Value in Week 1 article feature image

Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: ULM wide receiver Tyrone Howell.

  • A full college football Saturday slate means there are plenty of underdogs with betting value.
  • Collin Wilson and Stuckey see moneyline betting value on two underdogs Saturday: North Texas and ULM.
  • Check out their moneyline picks for Saturday's Week 1 college football games below.

It's good to be back. For the sixth straight season on our college football betting podcast, Big Bets on Campus, Collin Wilson and I pick our two favorite moneyline underdogs for each week's slate. For Week 1 of the new season, we both rolled with a pair of home dogs from the Group of Five.

  • 2018-22: 60-98 +8.3 units
  • 2023: 0-0 +0.0 units
  • Overall: 60-98 +8.3 units

We will get things started in the late afternoon down in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and finish up about 300 miles east via I-20 in prime time. If you're feeling lucky, a parlay of both pups pays out just under 12-1 at the time of writing this.

Wilson: North Texas +230

Saturday, Sept. 2
4 p.m. ET
California Odds
-112o / -109u
North Texas Odds
-112o / -109u
Odds via BetRivers. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAF odds here.

After an underwhelming 4-8 season, Cal head coach Justin Wilcox made significant changes to his coaching staff in the offseason, primarily due to the offense desperately needing a charge heading into 2023.

Jake Spavital joins as offensive coordinator after an unsuccessful stint as the head man at Texas State. The Bobcats never got an offense up to par in the Sun Belt, ranking bottom-10 in Standard Downs and Passing Success Rate.

The Bears also will hope for a spark from the portal after taking a deep dive there in the offseason, ranking in the top 20 with their 20 commits.

The primary pickups come on the offensive line and under center. Stanford transfer Barrett Miller will start at left tackle, while the prize of the portal class comes in former TCU quarterback Sam Jackson V.

There's no ceiling to the potential of Jackson as a runner in an RPO-based system, but with only 10 career dropbacks, there's plenty to prove on known passing downs. Spavital indicated the quarterback competition was close in training camp, but Jackson’s ability to get into the end zone won the third-year quarterback starting duties.

Similarly, North Texas will undergo a change with Texas native Eric Morris taking over as head coach. A former quarterback and Mike Leach mentee, the Mean Green will keep Air Raid philosophies with tempo — although they have a very strong group of backs they will certainly still get heavily involved.

The good news for the new North Texas offense is it will face a declining California defense.

Wilcox, a former defensive coordinator, saw his Bears fall to 125th in Havoc last season. They do receive positive marks in terms of defensive returning production, but it's a group that finished dead last in FBS in Standard Downs Success Rate in 2022. That's not a very encouraging sign.

This will be a defense-optional game with whoever can finish drives the most efficiently taking the game outright. I'll take my chances with the Mean Green offense at home in the sweltering heat, which could serve as a major detriment to Cal as the game wears on.

Plus, I see the Bears having early offensive execution issues with new personnel on the offensive line and at quarterback in a new system.

For what it's worth, since the beginning of his tenure at Cal in 2017, fading Wilcox as a favorite and betting him as an underdog has netted a ridiculous 43-21-1 ATS record (67.2%). That includes a 2-8-1 mark as a favorite in nonconference matchups

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Stuckey: UL Monroe +300

Saturday, Sept. 2
7 p.m. ET
NFL Network
Army Odds
-112o / -108u
ULM Odds
-112o / -108u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAF odds here.

Why not bring the NFL Network into the mix on this glorious real first day of the college football betting season?

When it comes to identifying a viable underdog moneyline, I like to hunt for games with heightened variance, especially early in the season. Well, that's exactly what we have here with an Army team breaking in a new quarterback and a shift in offensive scheme.

Similarly, while we know Louisiana Monroe doesn't have a very high ceiling, the Warhawks still have a raised level of uncertainty with the number of incoming transfers they'll rely on once again during a heavy roster rebuild.

I also never mind fading a service academy as a double-digit favorite since triple-option teams have trouble gaining separation in games with lower possession totals. The new clock rules will also be even more magnified for offenses that rely on the ground game chipping away.

And while Army is changing its offense, it will still utilize plenty of triple-option principles from the shotgun. Therefore, the style won't change that drastically, especially early on as the offense adjusts to some of the changes.

The Black Knights also must replace their top two defenders from last year's squad, including linebacker Andre Carter (now with the Vikings), who became the first AP All-American from Army in over 30 years.

For reference, service academies have gone 66-83-2 against the spread (44.3%) as double-digit favorites since 2005.

And even more relevant, if you faded them on the moneyline away from home as 10-plus point favorites, you would've gone 11-24 (31.4%). That doesn't look great on the surface, but that actually would've generated a gaudy 51.6% ROI. A $100 better would have turned a profit of over $1,800 over those 35 games. Not bad.

Lastly, Louisiana Monroe has won four games in each of Terry Bowden's first two seasons as head coach. However, three of those victories came as double-digit underdog:

  • 2022: Beat Georgia State as 13.5-point underdogs
  • 2021: Beat South Alabama as 13.5-point underdogs
  • 2021: Beat Troy as 23.5-point underdogs

The Warhawks have certainly shown a propensity for pulling off an occasional big upset under Bowden, who has gone 3-5 on the moneyline in this spot since 2021. Only three other teams have been more profitable as double-digit underdog moneylines over that span (MTSU, Georgia Tech and South Carolina).

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