Last week, a few teams made big statements and are playing outstanding football as we head into the final half of the season. SMU blew out Temple to stay unbeaten, Memphis bounced back from a tough loss and destroyed Tulane. In Conference USA, a matchup between Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech turned into shootout with the Bulldogs pulling away in the fourth quarter for the win in front of their home crowd. This week’s schedule is full of more intriguing games. Here are the opening lines for this week’s action.
Troy at Georgia State
Spread: Georgia State - 1
The Panthers have won three straight games including last week’s impressive win over Army. Georgia State entered the game as a four point underdog and pulled out a 28-21 victory. They now have quality wins over Tennessee, Army, and Arkansas State. Quarterback Dan Ellington has been incredible with 16 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Troy quarterback Kaleb Barker has also played great for the Trojans with 1,670 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Panthers are 3-0 at home and their defense has improved over the past few games. I give Georgia State the slight advantage on Saturday.
I lean Georgia State - 1
USF at ECU
Spread: ECU + 1
Both teams are reeling after tough loses last week. USF struggled against Navy, and East Carolina lost to UCF. Navy ran for 434 yards in the game and averaged 7.4 yards per rush against the Bulls defense. The Pirates showed much more fight in the loss to the Knights. They fell behind early and fought back and ended up losing by only 13. The Pirates had 31 first downs and almost 500 yards of total offense. Holton Ahlers had 313 yards in the air with one touchdown and one interception. These programs seem to be heading in opposite directions. ECU head coach Mike Houston is in his first season with the Pirates and is building a program, and USF’s Charlie Strong is on the hot seat and may not make it past this season. Look for the Pirates to win this game.
I like ECU + 1
Western Kentucky at Marshall
Spread: Western Kentucky + 6.5
Western Kentucky has been the most surprising team thus far in Conference USA. After suffering a loss to Central Arkansas to open the 2019 season, WKU has won five out of six games with their only loss to an improving Louisville team. The key has been the defense which is allowing 17.9 points per game and only 11 points in conference play. The Hilltoppers are only giving up 110 yards per game on the ground which will be important in their matchup with Marshall. The Thundering Herd have a great rushing attack led by Brenden Knox who just ran through FAU for 220 yards and a couple of scores. Western Kentucky is playing great football, and considering how inconsistent Marshall has been, this line seems high in my opinion. Marshall is only 2-5 ATS and has yet to cover at home. I like Western Kentucky and the points and feel they have a great chance to win outright.
Western Kentucky + 6.5 is the play
UCF at Temple
Spread: Temple + 10.5
The Owls were destroyed Saturday in Dallas against SMU by the score of 45-21. The usually stingy Temple defense gave up 655 yards with SMU’s Shane Buechele throwing for 457 yards and had six touchdowns. The Mustangs jumped out to a 17 point lead and Temple never recovered. It was a poor performance by Temple’s offense as well as they only gained 273 yards. Expect a much better effort as they return home for a big game against the high-powered Knights. Temple is 4-0 at home with two wins over Top 25 opponents. UCF has been a different team on the road losing their past two games to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. The temperature could also be a factor come kickoff. It will be in the 40’s Saturday night in Philadelphia which isn’t freezing but quite cold compared to the mid 80’s in Orlando. This is a great bounce back spot for Temple and I still favor UCF to win, but I’m leaning towards Temple and the points.
Lean Temple + 10.5