The 2018 season is set to kick off Thursday and that means it’s time for another year of Underdogs Against the Spread, where I give you weekly winners from the teams outside the Power Five.
After finishing 34-22 (61 percent) in all my picks last season, it’s time to keep the money train going in 2018. I’ll pick five games every week and we’ll keep track of the winning numbers all season.
The first week is always the toughest to gauge as teams have gone through a major overhaul since the last time we saw them play. With that said, there are still plenty of winning options available in Week 1.
If you haven’t yet, check out our picks for the best over/under win totals for each Group of 5 conference and Independent teams. Here are this week’s winning picks.
*All lines are according to Bovada and are accurate at the time posted
UCF Knights vs UConn Huskies (Over 70)
There is no easier way to start off the season than taking the defending national champions to run up the score to make an opening statement. The Knights should get off to a hot start and 50-plus points will easily be attainable against a UConn defense that was one of the worst in the nation a year ago and only returns two starters on that side of the ball. Four of the last five meetings have hit the over so all we need is UConn to do their part and give us a couple scores. UCF will take care of the rest.
Houston Cougars (-25) vs Rice Owls
It might be built up as a rivalry for the Bayou Bucket, but it has been anything but competitive in recent memory. The Owls have lost the last four meetings by an average of 25 points, while Houston is 5-1 ATS against their last six Conference USA opponents. After watching Rice barely get past Prairie View A&M, there is little reason to believe they’ll keep up with the Coogs.
Marshall Thundering Herd (-1.5) vs Miami-Ohio Redhawks
Marshall is 8-2 ATS in their last 10 meetings against Miami and picked up a five-point win as a home underdog last year. On the other hand, the Redhawks are 0-4 ATS in their last four non-conference games. The Herd will have a new man under center, but otherwise returns more depth from last year’s meeting. Expect a similar result this week.
Old Dominion Monarchs (-6.5) vs Liberty Flames
I’m not going to act like I know a whole lot about Liberty football so this pick is more of me questioning whether the Flames are ready to make that jump to the FBS. ODU finished 5-7 a year ago with a team of mostly underclassmen and expect to improve. With the line being just under a touchdown, I’ll pick on the new guy by rolling the dice on the more established program.
SMU Mustangs vs North Texas Mean Green (Over 71)
Both teams feature quarterbacks that love to air it out and defenses that struggled against the pass. Add in that the over has hit in seven of the last nine road games for SMU and UNT has gone over the total in their last four home games, this seems to be a number that’s kind of low.
Check back with us next week for more and let me know what you think in the comments below or via Twitter. Until next week, SHOW ME THE MONEY!!