Week 11 College Football Group of 5 Parlay: Our Top Bet, Including Utah State vs. San Jose State
George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Deven Thompkins.
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.
A pair of over calls and a pair of scoreless first quarters pretty much summed up my Week 10 effort. Much like Cincinnati, I’m running out of time here in Week 11 to impress my core audience (CFP committee/gamblers).
Luckily, the board had more than a few enticing plays that provided significant value vis-a-vis my power rankings.
So, let’s start down in the Fun Belt where two putrid defenses will be putting on a broken tackle clinic, then head out west for a Mountain West showdown between the reigning champs and a high-upside underdog and wrap things with Bailey Zappe and his aerial attack that is embarrassing C-USA defenses on a weekly basis.
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Western Kentucky vs. Rice
The Bailey Zappe show has been consistently productive throughout the season, particularly once the Hilltoppers entered C-USA play.
The Tops offense is now pumping in 43.2 points per game in conference play, which included a 46-point outburst against nationally-ranked UTSA.
The aerial show has been dynamite from Day 1 thanks to a deep receiving corps headlined by probable All-American Jerreth Sterns.
What’s nice is that the WKU running game has come into its own, by Air Raid standards, in recent weeks. Adam Cofield and Noah Whittington have provided balance on the ground, opening up even more throwing lanes for Zappe and his perimeter playmakers.
Can Rice slow the Tops down? Not a chance. Rice can rush the passer, but that’s its only calling card. Big plays will be there all game if WKU can protect Zappe.
Luckily, the WKU offensive line has gelled in 2021, allowing just 11 sacks through nine games. Given how many dropbacks Western called for Zappe, only SMU has a better sack/pass attempt resume this season.
Rice has played three top-25 scoring offenses (Houston, Texas, UTSA), and it surrendered 40+ in all three. Make this number four.
Pick: Western Kentucky Team Total Over 40.5
Arkansas State vs. UL-Monroe
No team in the country gives up more explosive plays this year than Arkansas State. For perspective, Georgia has given up seven plays of 30 yards or more all season. Arkansas State’s defense has surrendered 39 such plays.
The Warhawks’ Chandler Rogers is going to be able to spark the big play through the air or on the ground, as he did against a much stouter South Alabama defense last month.
Since taking the reins, Rogers is averaging 51.5 yards per game on the ground in games he’s started and finished. Expect that number to increase against the Red Wolves’ nonexistent front seven. No team in the country has allowed more rushing yards during conference play than ASU (331.6 yards per game).
It takes two to tango on an over, so what can the road team contribute in this tilt?
Well, Arkansas State is gonna throw it a lot for starters (44 times per game), and I expect a bounce-back performance after a rough month offensively for ASU. It faced four tough Sun Belt defenses in a row: Coastal, Louisiana, South Alabama, App State. That murderers’ row is over.
UL Monroe allows opponents to hit 68% of their passes. And it can’t offset that with a decent pass rush.
And finally, expect a lot of play in this one. Arkansas State plays fast, nearly sitting top-25 in plays per game, and UL Monroe isn’t far behind at 37th. This has track meet written all over it.
Pick: Over 66
Utah State vs. San Jose State
The Aggies are one of the best stories going in college football this season.
In fact, if Blake Anderson’s squad can reel off three more wins, a proposition that isn’t out of the question given the manageable slate, the first-year head coach will likely find himself as a National Coach of the Year finalist.
Utah State was 1-5 last season, and all of a sudden, it controls its own destiny in the Mountain West’s Mountain Division. That’s a special turnaround.
The major driver of this special season has been the Aggie passing attack. Utah State is now all the way up to 12th in passing yards per game.
The Logan Bonner-to-Deven Thompkins connection is officially out of control. In the last two games, the pair has connected for 16 passes, 391 yards and two TDs. The stage is set for more of that against an average Spartan secondary.
After winning the Mountain West last year, SJSU’s pass defense has fallen off considerably. Opposing quarterbacks are connecting on 62.5% of their attempts (77th), and the Spartans don’t pick off opposing passers (100th).
When you compound those numbers with their anemic pass rush, it’s clear that Utah State will be a live dog in this one.