Three Underrated CFB Games to Bet
It’s a spectacular weekend of college football with all five Power 5 conferences playing their title games. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t other action on the board worth betting. Here are three such underrated games.
Memphis at UCF (-7)
When: Saturday, Noon ET (ABC)
Great matchup of Top 20 teams for the American Athletic Conference title. The winner should get a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game as the top-ranked school from the Group of 5 – probably the Peach Bowl against an SEC opponent.
It also could be the last game at the school for both head coaches as Memphis’ Mike Norvell and UCF’s Scott Frost are in high demand. Many expect Frost to announce he has taken the Nebraska job – he was a former star quarterback there – after this game. Remains to be seen if Frost would stay at UCF for any bowl game.
The Knights and Wisconsin are the only two school still unbeaten. Central Florida leads the nation in scoring at 47.6 ppg. Memphis is fourth in the country in scoring at 44.3 ppg. Memphis racked up 70 points in last Saturday's win over East Carolina, tied for the second most in a single game in school history. The Tigers have scored at least 70 points in a game three times in two seasons under Norvell after doing so once in program history before his arrival.
The Tigers’ only loss this year was at UCF 40-13 on Sept. 30 – a game that was postponed from Sept. 8 due to Hurricane Irma. QB McKenzie Milton threw for three touchdowns, and Adrian Killins Jr. accounted for two more scores for the Knights. Killins' first touchdown, a 96-yard run, was the longest play from scrimmage in conference history. Riley Ferguson passed for 321 yards and a touchdown but threw three interceptions and lost a fumble for Memphis.
Akron vs. Toledo (-21)
When: Saturday, noon ET (ESPN)
It’s the Mid-American Conference title game from Detroit and a battle or northern Ohio neighbors. Toledo is the MAC West champ and the Rockets scored more than 40 points in three MAC games this season and more than 35 points two other times, including 37-10 over Western Michigan last Friday to lock down the division title. Senior RB Terry Swanson is Toledo's top rusher with 1,139 yards and 12 touchdowns on 210 carries. Senior QB Logan Woodside is 225-of-345 for 3,451 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Akron is the East champ. The Zips finished MAC play at 6-2 with a 24-14 win over Kent State in the Wagon Wheel Challenge. Senior RB Manny Morgan is the team's leading rusher with 342 yards and three touchdowns on 88 carries. Under center, senior QB Thomas Woodson is 154-of-264 for 1,742 yards and 14 touchdowns, while redshirt freshman Kato Nelson is 53-of-107 for 732 yards and six touchdowns.
Toledo beat visiting Akron 48-21 on Oct. 21. Woodside finished 17 of 24 for 304 yards and five scores. Jon'Vea Johnson caught five passes for 102 yards with two touchdowns. However, Nelson is now Akron's starting quarterback – he wasn’t then -- and brings a dual threat as a runner and a passer.
Fresno State at Boise State (-9)
When: Saturday, 7:45 PM ET (ESPN)
It’s the Mountain West Conference title game from the blue turf of Boise. It’s also, oddly enough, the second straight week these teams will play. Last Saturday, Fresno beat visiting Boise State 28-17. Pretty impressive season for the Bulldogs and first-year coach Jeff Tedford as Fresno was 1-11 in 2016. The Bulldogs' eight-win improvement is best in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
They beat a nationally ranked team for the first time in 22 tries dating to December 2004. It was the first time in nine games they've beaten a Top 25 Broncos team. The Broncos failed to score in three of four drives into Fresno State territory in the first half. One-thousand rusher Alexander Mattison was held to 65 yards on 15 carries. Oregon State transfer Marcus McMaryion threw for a career-high 332 yards and two touchdowns for Fresno.
So why is this game at Boise even though it lost to Fresno? Under MWC rules was that if the conference expanded to 12 football teams, “a conference championship game will be played at the home of the team with the highest BCS ranking as of a date specified by the MWC.” The rules were adjusted when the College Football Playoff replaced the BCS. The home team is the division winner with the highest ranking in the CFP.
One area where Boise State struggles is on fourth down this year when going for it. The Broncos failed on both attempts in the first matchup with Fresno State, bringing their conversion percentage to 12.5 (2-of-16) on the season. That’s worst among the 129 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
The only favorite I like to cover is UCF at home. Boise State will be Fresno State but not by 9. Toledo will beat Akron again, but by 14-17. Be sure to check out all the NCAAF Conference Championship lines for all games at MyBookie.ag!