UConn vs UMass Predictions, Picks: Bettors Debate Friday’s Point Spread (Nov. 4)
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UConn vs UMass Odds
Do you know why this is the “Game of the Year?”
Because this football game is so horrific, so sicko, so bottom-of-the-barrel, only chaos and excitement can ensue. As the great Al Michaels would say, these two football teams are so bad that the game is actually going to be great.
Al Michaels: "Sometimes a game can be… so bad, it's almost good. You know what I'm saying?"
Kirk Herbstreit: "No! I'm not feeling that just yet over here!"
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) October 7, 2022
The total for this game is tumbling below 40. Plus, it might continue to fall because Collin Wilson projects this total at 33.
Do you want to lay over two touchdowns with this game script?
In what world will UConn cover 16 points when we might not see 30 points between the two?
I’m not arguing that UMass is a football powerhouse, but UConn shouldn’t be laying this many points against anybody. The Huskies rank 117th in Success Rate on offense and 119th in Success Rate on defense. Quarterback Zion Turner is averaging 5.5 YPA, and lead running back Victor Rosa is averaging 3.5 YPC.
I think UMass could be frisky in this game, but we’ll get to that later. My main argument is this: Connecticut isn’t good enough to cover a 16-point spread against anyone, including UMass.
It’s the only argument I need. It nullifies any argument Mike wants to make. But let him make more so I can crush him with my superior vocabulary and handicapping.
This game between the University of Connecticut and the University of Massachusetts has been sarcastically called the “Game of the Year” for some time now. It has become a staple in Tom Fornelli’s Bottom 25 Game of the Week.
But you can’t even make that joke anymore. Because if you haven’t heard, the UConn Huskies football team is an absolute wagon this year.
Good teams win, but great teams cover. Well, no team in the entire country has more covers against the spread than UConn this year. It’s 7-2 against the spread on the season, tied for the most covers in college football with Tennessee (which covered last week by the way, just as I told Tanner it would).
UConn has won three of its last four games outright. It upset Mountain West leader Fresno State as 23-point underdogs, went on the road to FIU and won by 21 points, and just beat Boston College at home as more than a touchdown underdog.
UMass, meanwhile is just 1-7 and 3-5 against the spread. It hasn’t won more than one game in a season since 2018 under Mark Whipple. Tanner is going to try and convince you that UMass doesn’t have to win, it just has to “keep it close.”
Well, the Minutemen haven’t kept things close all season. They have lost seven games this year by an average of 23.9 points per game. Just two of them were within 15 points.
Our Action Network power ratings make UConn a 15-point favorite on a neutral spread. Add in the intimidating and raucous home-field advantage that is Rentschler Field, and it could win this by 40.
You don’t just walk into the Rent on a Friday night and expect not to get your doors blown off.
McGrath: I’m happy Mike brought up UConn’s recent schedule because here’s my second argument: Connecticut is overvalued.
The Huskies’ recent run is spectacular. I’d describe it as magical, as UConn couldn’t have won three of the last four games without some help from the mythical Lady Luck.
Connecticut has a +8 turnover differential in the three wins Mike describes above. The Huskies were outgained in two of the wins, including 335-280 against Boston College in a game the Eagles turned the ball over five times.
The Huskies have covered plenty this season, including in five straight games. However, we know the market will continue upgrading UConn until it’s overvalued.
Meanwhile, UMass has failed to cover three of its last five games and two straight. We know that the market will continue downgrading UMass until it’s undervalued.
Sometimes in gambling, you have to catch the falling knife. This is that moment. The true talent level between these teams is not as large as the market has been made to believe. This 15.5-point spread is due to recency bias and gambler’s fallacy.
I’m also happy you brought up the Minutemen because these two teams will make the least of every minute.
UConn and UMass rank top-six nationally in rush rate and bottom-15 nationally in seconds per play. The clock will never stop running except for the occasional (and unlikely) first down.
Again, does that sound like the type of game the Huskies can cover? Not to me.
Ianniello: For starters, “Connecticut isn’t good enough to cover a 16-point spread against anyone?”
The Huskies just went on the road a couple of weeks ago and smoked Florida International by 21 points. Does FIU suck? Absolutely. But the one team our Action Network power ratings have worse than FIU is Tanner’s beloved UMass team. In fact, Collin Wilson makes FIU a six-point favorite against the Minutemen.
Connecticut is overvalued?
First of all, Connecticut has the best pizza in America. New Haven, Connecticut, is the pizza capital of the world. Frank Pepe’s, Sally’s and Modern are untouchable and the best pizza you’ll ever eat. Speaking of New Haven, the hamburger was literally invented at Louis’ Lunch in New Haven. You’re welcome, America.
We also invented Wiffle ball, the greatest summer pastime of every backyard. Again, you’re welcome, America. John Mayer — one of the greatest voices of our generation — is from Connecticut.
Don’t even get me started on the dynasty that is UConn women’s basketball. And even all of the delicious lobster rolls you eat up in Massachusetts are literally called “Connecticut-style” because we’re smart enough to know that mayo is trash.
Also, we have legal sports betting, and Massachusetts doesn’t.
Oh, you mean overrated in the game? Nonsense. This defense is good (by UConn standards). Over the last four games, teams have averaged just 13.5 points per game against the Huskies. UConn ranks 77th in yards per game this season and 67th in scoring defense. That’s average!
UMass ranks 130th in the country in Success Rate on offense. The Minutemen average 245 yards per game and 3.79 yards per play — both the worst in the entire country. They can’t move the ball on a high school team. The only chance UMass has to put up points on the board is taking advantage of a breakdown and picking up a big play.
Well, this UConn defense ranks 10th in the country at defending explosiveness. Linebacker Jackson Mitchell is second in the entire country with 100 tackles this season. He was just named a Butkus Award Semifinalist for the nation’s top linebacker.
Safety Malik Dixon-Wilson is excellent in coverage and a great tackler. He keeps everything in front of him and won’t allow UMass to get anything over the top.
This Huskies defense might shut out the Minutemen.
McGrath: The UConn defense is good because it snatched up a bunch of unforced turnovers over the last half-dozen games. Allowing 13.5 points per game is a false accomplishment, and it’s time to dig under the hood.
The Huskies are horrific in terms of efficiency. UConn is:
- 113th in Rush Success Rate Allowed
- 108th in Defensive Line Yards
- 117th in Pass Success Rate Allowed
- 99th in Havoc
- 93rd in PFF’s tackling grades
In what world is that a good defense?
While UMass can’t move the ball on anyone, the Minutemen have shown signs of a real football team on defense.
UMass ranks 55th overall in Success Rate — a truly average defense — and is top-30 in creating Havoc. These men have put together a team that’s top-60 nationally in PPA allowed on both standard and passing downs.
From an efficiency standpoint, this will be the worst offense the UMass defense has faced this season, save New Mexico State. For what it’s worth, the Minutemen held NMSU to 23 points (without turnover luck) and kept it a 10-point game.
This game will play out almost identically to that one.
Ianniello: We know that UConn wants to pound the rock. Pizza and running the ball, that’s what UConn does. Donald Brown, Jordan Todman, Terry Caulley. The Huskies are basically a running back factory.
They have the 10th-highest rushing rate in the country this year and rank 57th in the yards per rush. That ranks top half of the country. Right below them are teams like Illinois, Texas A&M and Coastal Carolina.
Despite a young running backs room, UConn has found success with multiple rushers. Sophomore Devontae Houston has missed the last two games but is expected to return. He had over 100 yards in back-to-back games before the injury and is averaging 6.7 yards per carry.
Also expected back is wide receiver Cam Ross. He led the team in receiving as a freshman in 2019, finishing second among all freshmen in the country with 60 catches. Ross played just two games last year before breaking his right foot; he broke his left foot during fall camp and has yet to play this season.
Now with no feet left to break, Ross could return this week, and Jim Mora was almost giddy in his press conference about adding Ross back to this offense.
The Huskies just have significantly more weapons than UMass does, and the Minutemen won’t be able to keep up.
McGrath: Bet UMass +15.5
I’m going to say it louder for the people in the back: UConn shouldn’t be a 16-point favorite against anyone.
Connecticut is having fun right now, and so is Mike. The pizza is good, everyone is playing good Wiffle ball, and the Huskies are running for plenty of yards because they’re running a million times per game.
But it’s time for regression. UMass won this game by two touchdowns last season. Both teams returned 15 starters. Now, UConn is supposed to win this game by three touchdowns?
That doesn’t make any sense.
I expect one team to win a low-scoring, grinding, clock-moving game that lasts less than three hours. There’s no chance either team wins by more than two touchdowns.
Plus, I actually believe UMass has a competent defense, which is invaluable in a game of this pathetic magnitude.
You always take the points in the Toilet Bowl.
Ianniello: Bet UConn -15.5
I said it before, and I’ll say it again: Good teams win, great teams cover. UConn is 7-2 against the spread this season, the most covers in the country.
It’s covered in five straight games and continued to be underrated in the betting market.
These are not your slightly older brother’s UConn Huskies. Mora has this team playing solid fundamental football, and it’s playing with a ton of confidence right now.
UMass continues to be the worst program at the FBS level by a wide margin. Action Network’s power ratings make them six points worse than any team in the country. It has UConn as a 15-point favorite on a neutral field.
Coming down I-91 to Rentschler Field on a Friday night, where the Huskies are 3-1 this year and coming off of home victories over Fresno State and Boston College is basically a death sentence for the Minutemen.
Lay the points with UConn as the Huskies continue to roll.