One has to question the psychological state of the Indiana football team after the Hoosiers blew a 14-13 halftime lead over Ohio State before unraveling in the second half. Indiana’s one-dimensional offense managed just 17 rushing yards at 0.6 yards per carry, while its defense gave up 36 points in the final two quarters.
Losing a season opener against a conference opponent of Ohio State’s magnitude would weigh heavily on most programs, but the Hoosiers could taste victory in the second half, making the 49-21 loss even more difficult to accept.
The technical analysis is not kind to the Hoosiers in Saturday’s road tilt against the Cavaliers. Game Two favorites who appeared in a bowl game the prior season are a money-burning 85-93-2 ATS when entering off a season opening loss, including 20-33-1 ATS on the road and 13-24-1 ATS versus non-conference opposition.
These non-conference road favorites are an even worse 7-18-1 ATS when they failed to cover the spread in their first game by more than five points. Ouch!
Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall is 15-11-1 ATS as an underdog following a win in his coaching career, including 8-3 ATS coming off exactly one win. Meanwhile, new college football head coaches like Indiana’s Tom Allen are a woeful 22-90 SU and 48-64 ATS on the road in Game Two of the season against opponents off a win (since 1990).
Virginia’s 2016 campaign was marred by negative variance as the Cavaliers were 0-3 in one-possession games, dropping competitive battles to Louisville, Wake Forest and Connecticut. Virginia was also incredibly unlucky in the turnovers department (-9), which typically regresses to the mean in following years.
The Cavaliers’ defense welcomes back eight starters, including linebacker Micah Kiser and end Andrew Brown, who combined for 23 tackles for a loss and 12.5 sacks last season. Kiser also had eight passes defensed and five forced fumbles. Virginia’s secondary returns almost fully intact and should be vastly improved in 2017.
Finally, the Cavaliers’ attack should be more efficient this season under returning quarterback Kurt Benkert, who threw for 2,552 yards in ten starts last year. Benkert will have a more experienced wide receiving corp. to throw to and the offense is now familiar with coach Mendenhall’s scheme.
With Virginia standing at 27-12 SU at home versus non-conference foes and 4-1 ATS in its last five games off a win, grab the points with the Cavaliers as one of Oskeim Sports’ NCAA Football Picks for Saturday, September 9, 2017.
NCAA Football Picks:
Virginia (+3) (-105) over Indiana
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