Week 2 College Football Group of 5 Parlay: Our Best Bet, Including Houston vs. Texas Tech & Eastern Michigan vs. Louisiana
Emilee Chinn/Getty Images. Pictured: Houston quarterback Clayton Tune.
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.
Last week, Mike Ianniello and I hit two of our three plays, with the lone loser coming from Florida Atlantic. The Owls wilted down the stretch, blowing a halftime lead while allowing a career day from Ohio’s Kurtis Rourke (345 yards, 4 TDs).
After coming up just short last week, we’re fading a Group of Five program in freefall (Charlotte), counting on a shootout in Hub City, and tailing an Eagle team set to take off (offensively, at least).
Before we dig into a SWC rivalry renewed and a MACtion-Fun Belt collision, let’s see what Tua’s little brother is capable of in nonconference play.
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Maryland vs. Charlotte
As I mentioned at the top, Charlotte appears to be one of the nation’s worst FBS teams here in 2022.
Prior to the start of the season, there were sizable concerns about the 49ers’ defense, but most believed that their offense could help them win a few shootouts this fall.
Unfortunately for them, Club Lit’s elder statesman, quarterback Chris Reynolds, has been banged up and wholly ineffective through two games. His backup, James Foster, has attempted 17 passes on the season, and his QBR currently sits at 3.1 (out of 100).
Things are dysfunctional at best on offense.
But it’s the 49ers’ defense that really make this a top play for me in Week 2. They played FAU and William & Mary in Week 0 and Week 1, respectively. They lost by 30 to FAU and found a way to lose to their lone FCS opponent by 17. To give up 84 points to those offenses is the definition of a red flag. The next flag they’ll be raising is a white one.
Will Healy got off to a great start in Charlotte, securing a bowl bid in Year 1 in the Queen City. But since then, Charlotte is just 7-13 straight up and has been wholly uncompetitive of late.
Dating back to last season, the 49ers have allowed 38 or more in seven of their eight games. And the only team they held down in that window was hapless Rice. This season, they’re already giving up 520.5 yards per game (119th). This could be the game to break their spirit.
Maryland likes to make statements in nonconference play, evidenced by the fact that they covered big numbers against Howard and Kent State last season.
Taulia Tagovailoa was electric last September, tossing 10 touchdowns against one interception. He looked sharp in the opener, but he failed to find the end zone for first time in 16 games.
Given his treasure trove of skill position talent, that will change on Saturday.
Dontay Demus Jr., Rakim Jarrett, Jacob Copeland and tight end Corey Dyches provide the Terps with arguably the second-best receiving corps in the Big Ten behind Ohio State. Expect them to dominate the overmatched Charlotte secondary.
The other element in covering a big number is creating Havoc defensively. The Terps proved last week against Buffalo that they’re up to that task. Maryland generated four sacks and seven tackles for loss while holding Buffalo to just 10 points. I foresee a similar performance on Saturday.
Pick: Maryland -27
Houston vs. Texas Tech
Two high-upside passers duking it out in northwest Texas is an over bettor’s dream scenario.
Clayton Tune is coming off of a tremendous performance at the Alamodome when he refused to let the Cougars fall to the perennially pesky UTSA Roadrunners. Tune went 22-for-32 for 206 and three scores through the air. He also chipped in 51 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Texas Tech’s Donovan Smith entered his game in relief of injured starter Tyler Shough.
Smith would finish 14-for-16 for 221 yards and four passing touchdowns. Smith’s big break may be the key to unlocking this over. Zach Kittley’s offense really began to sing when the 6-foot-5, 230-pound sophomore gunslinger started firing passes.
Texas Tech’s 21.5 seconds per play in a blowout win over Murray State sets the stage for an uptempo game against its old SWC rival. And with Smith approaching 70-plus plays against a Houston defense that was just shredded by UTSA’s Frank Harris (400 total yards, 4 TDs), the likelihood of 30+ points from the Red Raiders seems high.
But as I like to say, when it comes to overs, it takes two to tango. Can Houston keep up in a high-scoring affair? Against this Tech defense, absolutely.
The Red Raiders were 119th last season against the pass. Their new coaching staff includes Tim DeRuyter, a crafty defensive coordinator who has turned around many defenses. He just doesn’t do it overnight. In his last two stops at Cal and Oregon, his defenses finished 113th and 89th respectively against the pass in Year 1.
So, it came as no surprise to me that TTU gave up five passing plays of at least 20 yards to Murray State, including two over 50 yards. That was against one of the FCS’s worst passing teams last year.
That’s music to Tune’s ears.
As a bonus pick, a same-game parlay of Houston ML and over 63.5 pays +330 and is worth a look.
Pick: Over 63
Eastern Michigan vs. Louisiana
This line is purely based on the Ragin’ Cajuns’ reputation. Louisiana is 35-5 straight up in its last 40 games. It may surprise many to hear that during that 40-game stretch, it’s just 22-18 against the spread with an even 8-8 record as a home favorite against the closing number.
Billy Napier is gone, and so is veteran starting quarterback Levi Lewis and a few transfer portal departures. What was once a fearsome running game struggled mightly against Southeastern Louisiana in Week 1.
Louisiana averaged just 3.5 yards per carry against its FCS foe, and neither Chandler Fields nor Ben Wooldridge struck much fear into the Lions’ secondary.
The Ragin’ Cajuns led by just 10 with under five minutes left against SELA, which was in its first game without Walter Payton Award winner Cole Kelley. In a word, this opener for Louisiana was “meh.”
Eastern Michigan, meanwhile, shook off a slow start and scored 42 points in the final three quarters of its opener against Eastern Kentucky. The Eagles passing game caught fire, and the well-traveled Taylor Powell finished with three passing touchdowns. Five receivers racked up 30-plus yards for EMU.
Defensively, Eastern Michigan is just as bad we had feared during our preseason previews.Eastern Kentucky is an FCS team with playoff aspirations and a four-year starter at quarterback. But that still didn’t excuse EMU allowing three straight EKU scoring drives to end the game.
The bottom line here is that Louisiana isn’t prepared to take full advantage of a leaky EMU defense, which should translate to 28-31 points. That leaves the backdoor wide open for a potent passing attack that will target a Ragin’ Cajun secondary without star safety Percy Butler, who left for the NFL.
I’ll take the better offense and hope the Cajuns look to grind out their second straight win.