With the return of the Early Bird, I may actually get back to gambling relevance after a incredibly bad Saturday. What's good for the viewer is rarely good for the bettor.
LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE -2.5 at ARKANSAS STATE (Tues.)
Tuesday night Sun Belt games need a cool catch-phrase like their midwestern counterpart (MACtion!).
This week, Louisiana-Lafayett returns to Tuesday to defend its Sun Belt. (That's the best I could do.) Arkansas State is the new contender and they look exactly like the Ragin' Cajuns. Both teams share a balanced offensive attack, a red/black color scheme, and back-to-back bowl apperances.
The Cajuns come in as the better team; after big losses on the road to Arkansas and Kansas State, L-L won four straight. QB Terrance Broadway earns the dreaded game-manager title; he does what he needsto keep his team in ball games. He has a small showing against WKU last week; however his statline from the past three games is impressive: 11 scores to one interception, two 300 yard passing games. Junior receiver Jamal Robinson gets the most work (295 yards, 4 TDs in same span).
Putting this team over the top is the run game and third-down D. RB tandem Alonzo Harris and ELijah Maguire are getting just under six-and-a-half per carry while the defense is allowing third-down conversions just 25% of the time in the past three games.
Arkansas State is too much ofa question mark. The Red Wolves got spanked by Memphis and won a close one against Troy; I don't know what to make of them.
KENTUCKY +10 at MISSISSIPPI STATE (Thurs.)
Mark Stoops is looking to turn around a program who hasn't won more than two conference games since Stevie Johnson was enrolled. This season, Kentucky's only win was against a still-winless Miami-Ohio team. Their next win probably won't occur until they play FCS Alabama State next week. Including the 41-7 win over the Redhawks, UK's point differential is still a poor -54.
Mississippi State isn't much better. After a 8-4 season last year (which peaked with a midseason ranking of 13th), Senior QB Tyler Russell returned to lead a promising team in the SEC West. Instead, Russell was knocked out of the opener against Oklahoma State and missed the following three games.
Back-up QB Dak Prescott stepped in nicely. The dual-threat quarterback looked impressive in two blowout wins and a close loss in Auburn. Auburn needed a game-winning TD with 10 seconds left to put away Prescott's 350 yards and two scores.
When Russell got healthy, HC Dan Mullen created a QB carousel. Russell more throwing, Prescott more running; the gimmick kept things close with LSU until the third quarter. The same gimmick also kept things way too close against Bowling Green.
The total offense the Bullldog duo accumilates makes things look better than they are. Regardless, I don't see Kentucky beating any SEC opponent on the road.
MARSHALL -9 at MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE (Thurs.)
After a win over FCS Western Carolina, it's all been downhill for MTSU. Is their high point a two point win over one-win Memphis or an OT win over FAU? In their last three games (BYU, ECU, N. Texas), the Blue Raiders are being outscored 95-34; MTSU has a sputtering offense.
Marshall is the better team. But how good they are remains to be seen. Their four wins come from teams with a combined record of 8-20, and that includes 4-3 FCS Gardener-Webb.
In losses is where the Herd looked impressive. A three-point loss at Ohio and a 3OT loss to Va. Tech could have both been wins if it wasn't for turnovers. A combined seven TOs occured in the aformentioned games plus seven sacks.
If QB Rakeem Cato can stay both mistake-free and upright, Marshall will roll. But odd things happen on Thursdays and nine points is a bit too high.
BOISE STATE +7 at BYU (Fri.)
Broncos QB Joe Southwick's broken ankle is tough news, but things aren't all kaput in Boise. Backup Grant Hedrick stepped in and made the Broncos' offense look better! Hedrick's speed adds a layer to the offense which was void in Southwick...and he can throw. Hedrick completed 18 of 21 passes.
One negative is that this all came at home against Nevada. Can Hedrick replicate this on the road against Van Noy and BYU's D? The sample size is tiny, but BYU contained Chuckie Keeton well (the only true dual-threat QB they faced).
Another bad sign for the Broncos is their defense. Last week, Nevada ran the football at will in the first half. After a few quick scores, Nevada ditched that plan: Don't expect BYU to ditch that plan. Can Boise State stop Taysom Hill?
This will be a good one, both Taysom Hill and Grant Hedrick are exciting to watch. With the question marks at hand, I see things being close.