Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Last Thursday night, Connecticut faced a
Massachusetts team making its Football Bowl Subdivision debut with a third-
string quarterback, and the Huskies were only 20.5-point favorites.
Furthermore, the line dropped dramatically in the 24 hours leading up to the
game as Connecticut was favored by 25 points on Wednesday morning. If the
oddsmakers had the Huskies favored by only 25, it showed they did not rate them
as high as they should have to start the season.
My numbers had Connecticut favored by 30, so the Huskies were a five-star play
even before the line dropped 4.5 points. It also could be argued that the
oddsmakers were wrong about Massachusetts, especially since Indiana is favored
by only two touchdowns in Amherst this weekend (I have the Hoosiers giving 20.5
Either way, it was interesting to see North Carolina State as a 6.5-point
choice Wednesday even with the game being played in Storrs (the line has since
dropped to five). I have the game rated as a pick, so it is easy to see where
all of this is heading.
For a second straight week, the Huskies are a five-star play. They shut out
Massachusetts, 37-0, in Week 1, holding the Minutemen to just 59 total yards
and three first downs. The rout would have been even bigger had Lyle McCombs
not fumbled near the goal line early in the third quarter. In addition, new
quarterback Chandler Whitmer threw interceptions twice while the Huskies were
driving inside the Minutemen's 35-yard line.
Mike Glennon, N.C. State's quarterback, also had a terrible game in throwing
four picks against Tennessee. The Wolfpack lost, 35-21, after getting outscored
22-7 in the first quarter. Most folks expect them to bounce back this week and
that is why they are favored on the road.
Still, the Huskies should be able to control the tempo against an N.C. State
defense that allowed 191 rushing yards (on five yards per carry) versus
Tennessee. Don't forget the Volunteers averaged just 90 rushing yards per game
(on 2.8 ypc) in 2011.
History also says Connecticut will win the game. N.C. State is 2-5 straight-up
in its last seven road games and, more importantly, the Wolfpack have not
covered as road favorites since 2002. They have failed 12 straight times with
just one SU victory: a seven-point win at Duke as 20-point favorites.
On the other side, Connecticut is 13-2 in its last 15 games as a home underdog
with nine outright wins. The Huskies are 26-7 SU at home since 2007 while N.C.
State is 8-22 SU on the road since 2006.
All those numbers add up to a Connecticut home victory.
Take the Huskies plus five points.
ONE OTHER FIVE-STAR PLAY
Oregon was nothing short of dominant against Arkansas State. The Ducks called
off the dogs after leading 50-3 late in the second quarter. However, the
competition gets a bit stiffer this week when Fresno State comes to town.
Fresno State's defense should be much improved this season, but it will still
allow its share of points to Oregon. The key will be how many points the
Bulldogs score against the Ducks.
To that end, look for quarterback Derek Carr (20-of-25 for 298 yards last week)
and Robbie Rouse (123 yards on 22 carries) to keep this one closer than the
34.5-point spread. Even if the Bulldogs can't stay with Oregon early, the
likelihood of a backdoor cover is extremely high as the Ducks will once again
take out their starters.
Take Fresno State plus 34.5 points.
South Carolina was very fortunate to escape Nashville, Tenn., with a four-point
win over Vanderbilt. Now the Gamecocks take on East Carolina with Connor Shaw,
their starting quarterback, questionable after injuring his throwing arm last
Even if he plays, look for South Carolina to run the ball close to 75 percent
of the time, just as it did in the opener. That will do two things. First, it
will shorten the clock for the underdog to cover the three-touchdown spread.
Second, East Carolina is much better against the run than the pass, so the
Pirates will have a great chance to keep this one close.
Take East Carolina plus 21.5 points.
Ohio returns home after upsetting Penn State at Beaver Stadium. This
is uncharted territory for the Bobcats because they have not been favored by
three touchdowns since 2000. One has to wonder how this team will respond in
the comforts of its own stadium just one week after such a huge victory.
New Mexico State lost a ton of starters from last season, but the club looked
decent in Week 1 blowing out Sacramento State, 49-19. Sophomore quarterback
Andrew Manley threw for 367 yards and three first-half touchdowns in the win.
These two teams met last season and Ohio only outgained New Mexico State by 84
yards, a game in which Manley was 22-of-41 for 362 yards and two touchdowns.
Additionally, the Bobcats barely defeated Utah State, 24-23, in the Famous
Idaho Potato Bowl last year. Utah State's prior game was at New Mexico State
and the road team won by just a field goal.
If the Aggies can run the ball on Ohio's defense, they have a chance for the
upset. If not, they still should cover the inflated spread.
Take New Mexico State plus 21 points.
Go with UCF +18 (against Ohio State), Indiana -14 (versus Massachusetts), Texas
Tech -18 (at Texas State) and Georgia -2 (at Missouri).
Take Wyoming -3 (against Toledo), Kent State +7 (at Kentucky), Purdue +14 (at
Notre Dame), Oregon State +8 (against Wisconsin) and Oklahoma State -10.5 (at
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