Football is right around the corner which means Underdogs Against the Spread is back! Hopefully, we can keep the success over the recent years going. Here is how things fared last season...
- Tulane (Over 5.5) - Trusting in Willie Fritz was the right call as the Green Wave went bowling for the first time since 2013.
- Navy (Under 7) - Easiest bet of the year as the daunting schedule was just too much.
- Memphis (Under 8.5) - One of the few Navy wins helped with this pick.
- ECU (Under 3.5) - A win against UNC had us questioning this pick early in the season, but conference play saved us.
- Rice (Under 3) - With so much change heading into last season, this was an easy call.
- Buffalo (Over 6.5) - “They could flirt with a MAC East title” and they did just that by going 7-1 in the conference.
- San Diego State (Under 8.5) - This looked to be a terrible pick as the Aztecs knocked off Arizona State and Boise State early on, but three straight tight losses to end the season put us on the right side.
- New Mexico (Under 4) - The Lobos gave us a scare by starting 3-2, but thankfully the Mountain West took care of business for us.
- FAU (Over 8.5) - Both of us whiffed miserably as the Lane Train failed to make even a bowl game.
- Charlotte (Under 3.5) - Way off when I said “anything over two wins would be a shocker.”
- BYU (Under 5.5) - A huge wins at Arizona and Wisconsin in the first three weeks made this pick look bad quickly.
- Central Michigan (Over 4.5) - What a fall from grace this was as the Chippewas went from winning eight games to one.
- Ohio (Over 8.5) - A safety in the loss to Miami (Ohio) was the difference maker.
- Eastern Michigan (Under 5.5) - Cyrus got his directional Michigan picks backwards.
- Colorado State (Over 5.5) - It looked promising in mid-October, but did not end well with five consecutive losses to end the season.
- Nevada (Under 6) - Make it two years in a row that the Wolfpack played significantly better in the second half of the season.
- Georgia Southern (Under 5.5), ULM (Under 5.5), Texas State (Over 3.5), South Alabama (Over 4) - Not one correct pick inside the Sun Belt. That’s why we need new Sun Belt contributors!
Win totals courtesy of Bovada
Joe Serpico: Navy 5.5, Under -130 - I was spot on that the schedule was going to hurt them last season. Vegas sees a turnaround, but I do not. I’m already on record in our Navy preview on the Underdog Pawdcast that they will match last year’s number or worse, which is well short of the number above.
Cyrus: UConn 2.5, Under -130 - The juice is a lot here and for good reason, as the Huskies were one of the worst teams in the country last season. Maybe they leave the AAC on a good note, as Illinois and Indiana aren’t exactly stalwarts out of the P5 but I’m just not buying it. The messy exit from the conference will provide extra motivation for AAC foes to ensure the Huskies leave without a conference win.
Joe: USF 6.5, Over -105 - Things fell apart when Blake Barnett began to battle injuries, but barring another injury-ridden year, this team is too talented to let that happen again. Eight wins is obtainable, and at that price, it’s worth the gamble.
Cyrus: Temple 6.5, Over -105 - First-year head coaches are kind of tricky to peg, but I trust Temple’s foundation. Rod Carey is a defense-first type of coach and he has the pieces on that side to maintain the #TempleTuff identity. I see the Owls safely going bowling this season. If QB Anthony Russo becomes a more consistent passer, the Owls could usurp UCF as the AAC East champ.
Joe: WKU 5, Over -115 - There is still some uncertainty at quarterback, but whoever wins the job has all five starters returning up front and some playmakers around him. The defense should be solid for C-USA’s standards and a favorable schedule will get them back to a bowl game.
Cyrus: UTSA 2.5, Over -190 - The Roadrunners were bad last season in large part due to their offense. With Frank Harris presumably healthy at QB, I see UTSA as one of the most improved teams in the conference this year. UTEP, Rice and FCS Incarnate Word are on the schedule. Not a huge value play, but the Roadrunners finished 3-9 last year and will be no worse than 3-9 in 2019.
Joe: Rice 2.5, Under -165 - It’s not the most profitable pick, but there is a realistic possibility the Owls go winless this year. The schedule is brutal in the first four weeks and it doesn’t get any easier in conference play as their two most winnable games - UTEP and UTSA - are both on the road. Not to mention they just suspended one of their best players on the team.
Cyrus: Old Dominion 4, Under -140 - The Monarchs must travel to Virginia Tech, Virginia, Marshall, UAB, FIU and Middle Tennessee. They will be a decisive underdog in each game. That means you’re counting on them to go 5-1 at home in their new stadium to win this bet. WKU, UTSA, East Carolina, Charlotte, FAU and Norfolk State. The only clear home win is NSU. The rest are toss-ups. I’ll take these odds against an ODU team that might be playing for head coach Bobby Wilder’s job.
Joe: BYU 6.5, Under -125 - All you need to do is look at the first four weeks of the schedule. There is a real possibility that they are 1-3 after the first month, and there are still some quality opponents in the back half of the schedule. Six wins is the ceiling.
Cyrus: New Mexico State 3.5, Over -135 - I just really like the value here versus the other Indy bets. They play Liberty twice in that weird home-and-home for this season. Assuming they split those two matchups, NM State needs to pick up three wins out of this grouping: UTEP, Incarnate Word, at New Mexico and at Central Michigan. UTEP, UNM and Central Michigan won a combined four games in 2018.
Joe: Western Michigan 7.5, Over -115 - The Broncos won seven games last season despite injuries to starting quarterback Jon Wassink, when they lost three of four games to end the season. A healthy Wassink, most of his skill players back and an underrated defense could be enough for a MAC Championship appearance.
Cyrus: Western Michigan 7.5, Over -115 - This is a big year for the Broncos. They are one of the most experienced teams in the country and should go 6-0 at home this year. Take care of business against Eastern Michigan on the road, and all you need is a road win over Northern Illinois, Ohio or Toledo to cash out.
Joe: Buffalo 6, Under +120 - It was difficult for me to decide on a second O/U inside the MAC, but I’ll take what I feel are the best odds. They have to find a new QB as Tyree Jackson is now with the pro team in Buffalo, and stud wide receiver Anthony Johnson is not around to bail the new man out. Let’s take our chances that at best the Bulls get to six wins and we walk away with a push.
Cyrus: Bowling Green 3, Under +120 - It’s a Year 0 for new head coach Scot Loeffler, the most confusing hire of the coaching carousel this year. Loeffler wants to be big, physical, and institute a Michigan Man, run-first offense. The Falcons will be transitioning away from an Air Raid offense. I expect this to transition to be very rocky.
Joe: Hawaii 5.5, Over - Even - The Rainbow Warriors won eight games last season with a team of mostly underclassmen. The schedule is tougher this year, but with Cole McDonald, all five starters on the offensive line and most of the defense returning, they are going bowling this season. It doesn’t hurt that they are playing 13 games this season.
Cyrus: Nevada 6, Over -135 - I was way off on Nevada last year but I’ve learned from my mistake. Jay Norvell is actually doing some pretty good things. The Wolf Pack brought in former star recruit Malik Henry, yes THAT Malik Henry. Henry has lived up to the hype at Nevada so far and has a good shot at winning their QB battle. The schedule has five likely wins and four likely losses, providing three toss-ups.
Joe: New Mexico 4.5, Under -140 - The Lobos are coming off back-to-back three-win seasons, have a new offensive and defensive coordinator, and a ton of turnover on a defense that was already suspect. There are way too many new pieces in what will likely be Bob Davie’s final season.
Cyrus: New Mexico 4.5, Under -140 - Completely agree with Joe. The Lobos are in the midst of a ton of transition and their head coach is on the hot seat.
Joe: Troy 7, Over -105 - Neal Brown left for WVU, but much of the foundation still remains that has won 10 games each of the last three seasons.
Cyrus: Troy 7, Over -105 - Didn’t love the Chip Lindsey hire but the transition shouldn’t be too bad here. The Trojans still have more talent than most of their conference mates and their toughest conference games (Arkansas State, App State, Georgia Southern) are at home.
Joe: Arkansas State 7.5, Under +140 - The Red Wolves have been one of my go-to teams in recent years, but they no longer have Justice Hansen at quarterback. The offense won’t be nearly as prolific without him and the West Division will be much improved this year. At +140, it’s worth the risk.
Cyrus: South Alabama 2.5, Under -105 - The Jaguars were terrible on offense last season and now must start over at QB and WR. Their easiest conference games (Texas State, Georgia State, ULM) are on the road.