Oskeim Sports breaks down the college football game between Louisiana-Lafayette and Idaho on Saturday, October 7. Oskeim also provides a free NCAA Football Pick in the game.
5th-year head coach Paul Petrino led the Vandals to a 9-4 record last season (6-2 in Sun Belt Conference play), culminating in the program’s first bowl appearance since 2009.
The Vandals proceeded to upset Colorado State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl as 14-point underdogs. Idaho entered the 2017 campaign with continuity within the coaching staff as offensive coordinator Kris Cinkovich returned for his fourth season in Moscow, while defensive coordinator Mike Breske entered his third season under Petrino.
Idaho’s offense has improved in each of Petrino’s first four years in Moscow, but this year’s unit welcomed back just five starters. However, the two most significant skill positions are anchored by outstanding talent, including senior quarterback Matt Linehan, who threw for 3,184 yards with a 61.9% completion rate in 2016.
The Vandals also return their top two running backs from last season in Isaiah Saunders and Aaron Duckworth, making it the Sun Belt’s best backfield.
The Vandals’ offense has been average from the line of scrimmage this season, garnering 5.8 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 5.8 yards per play to a mediocre attack. Linehan, who some
Linehan, who some believe possesses NFL talent, is completing 63.6% of his pass attempts this season at 7.8 yards per pass play. The NFL prospect should easily exploit a terrible Louisiana-Lafayette secondary that is yielding 9.4 yards per pass attempt to a group of quarterbacks who would combine to average just 6.7 yards per pass play against a mediocre defense).
Overall, Linehan and his receiving corp. own a significant 2.7 yards per pass attempt advantage over Lafayette’s inept secondary (I actually re-ran the numbers because I couldn’t believe how bad Lafayette’s pass defense was).
The Ragin’ Cajuns are allowing 53.7 points and 563 total yards per game at 7.0 yards per play to teams that would combine to average just 6.0 yards per play. The Ragin’ Cajuns are 0-2 SU on the road where they are giving up an alarming 55.5 points and 573 total yards per game at 10.3 yards per point!
How bad is Lafayette’s defense? The Cajuns gave up 514 total yards to FCS foe SE Louisiana at home in Week One, rating 1.8 yards per play worse than average. I don’t see a scenario under which Lafayette will be able to stop Idaho’s aerial attack in this game.
Meanwhile, the Ragin’ Cajuns are 0.6 yards per play worse than average offensively (6.0 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 6.6 yards per play to a mediocre attack), which gives Idaho’s stop unit a 0.7 yards per play advantage from the line of scrimmage.
Lafayette won’t be able to throw the ball against a Vandal secondary that has been 0.4 yards per pass attempt better than average in 2017. The Ragin’ Cajuns’ aerial attack (or lack thereof) is 1.5 yards per pass play worse than average (6.8 yards per pass attempt against teams that would combine to allow 8.3 yards per pass play to a mediocre quarterback.
This game is a complete mismatch from the line of scrimmage but, unfortunately, the betting market quickly adjusted to reflect Idaho’s substantial advantage by moving the opening line of -3 to -7 within 36 hours. Despite the four-point line swing, solid value remains with the Vandals who are favored by double-digits by both of my math models.
The possibility of Idaho scoring 28+ points against the Ragin’ Cajuns’ defense is a near certainty, which is significant in that the Vandals are a perfect 10-0 ATS in games in which they score 28 points or more over the last two seasons.
I also like the fact that Idaho is a profitable 10-1-1 ATS in its last twelve games overall, 8-0 ATS in its last eight games after covering the Vegas number, 13-3 ATS in its last sixteen affairs versus .499 or worse opposition, 15-5-1 ATS in its last 21 conference tilts and 4-0-1 ATS following a bye week.
With the Ragin’ Cajuns standing at 0-5 ATS in their last five games overall and 0-4 ATS in their last four games off a week of rest, lay the points with Idaho as Oskeim’s free NCAA Football Pick for Saturday, October 7.
Free NCAA Football Pick: Idaho (-7) over Louisiana-Lafayette
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