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Georgia Southern at Ball State (+6.5) (-110)
Report: Ball State head coach Mike Neu enters his eighth season and has done a nice job in Muncie. In 2020, Neu led Ball State to its first MAC title since 1996 and its first bowl win in school history. The Cardinals also finished in the AP Top 25 for the first time in program history. Stability defines the program as both coordinators – Kevin Lynch (offense) and Tyler Stockton (defense) – enter their fourth seasons with Neu. Ball State entered the 2023 campaign undervalued based on its 5-7 record last year. However, the Cardinals were seventh in the country in percentage of underclassmen (73.3%) and welcome back fourteen starters from last year’s team that was one play away from a bowl berth.
Ball State’s schedule was unforgiving to start – road games against Kentucky and Georgia – but the Cardinals enter off a 45-7 win over Indiana State and are home for the second consecutive week against a Georgia Southern squad coming off a physical 35-14 loss at Wisconsin. Ball State’s defensive front seven is one of the best in the conference and ranks 61st nationally in yards per game (334.7), 40th in rushing yards per game (106.3), 44th in completions allowed (17.0), and 68th in completion percentage allowed (60.0%). Let’s also note that the Cardinals’ stop unit is disciplined, checking in at 26th in the country in fewest penalties per game (4.7).
In contrast, Georgia Southern’s offense is averaging 6.7 penalties per game (93rd) at an average of 61.7 yards per game (100th). Georgia Southern’s defense was terrible last season, allowing 511 yards per game at 6.8 yards per play to teams that would combine to average just 5.5 yards per play against a mediocre stop unit. The Eagles’ secondary gave up an alarming 13.4 yards per completion to FBS teams last year and it appears that their defense is just as bad in 2023, ranking 124th in the country, per Pro Football Focus.
Since 1999, non-conference home underdogs of +5 to +8.5 points are 54-25-3 ATS (68.4%) in the first four weeks of the season if they are coming off a season in which they won 4-8 games. This situation is 11-4-2 ATS (73.3%) since September 21, 2019. My math model only favors Georgia Southern by 2.3 points and the Eagles are traveling for the second consecutive week.
Western Kentucky at Troy (-3.5) (-110)
Report: The Trojans enter off a misleading 16-14 loss to James Madison in which they outgained the Dukes 5.2 yards per play to 4.3 yards per play, posted better offensive and standard down success rates and finished with more explosive plays. That defeat is significant in that the Trojans are 14-4-1 ATS (77.8%) as underdogs of less than 30 points (or as favorites) following an upset loss as favorites since October 15, 2011, covering the spread by an average of +6.74 points per game in that span.
Troy possesses a mediocre offense that is ranked 70th in yards per play ( 5.9), 63rd in yards per rush attempt (4.5), 57th in passing yards per game (248.7) and 67th in yards per completion (12.2), which is good enough to exploit a pathetic Western Kentucky defense ranked 129th in yards per game allowed (490.0) and 125th in yards per play allowed (6.7). Western Kentucky is also one of the most undisciplined units in the country, averaging 8.3 penalties per game (124th) at 77.3 yards (123rd). The Trojans should dominate the line of scrimmage against an overmatched Western Kentucky front seven ranked 129th in Run Defense and 106th in Tackling, per Pro Football Focus (PFF).
Since 2009, college football teams coming off a home loss by less than five points are 213-144-4 ATS (59.7%) in the first six weeks of the regular season, including 90-49-1 ATS (64.7%) since 2018, covering the spread by an average margin of +4.11 points per game. College football teams off a home loss by fewer than four points are 110-57-4 ATS (65.9%) during the first four weeks of the regular season, including 50-21-1 ATS (70.4%) since 2018, exceeding market expectations by +4.44 points per game.
College Football Betting Trends for Saturday, September 23
- College football home underdogs coming off back-to-back wins in which they scored more than 40 points are 83-46 ATS (64.3%) since 1989, covering the spread by an average margin of +4.49 points per game
- Since 1999, non-conference home underdogs of +5 to +8.5 points are 54-25-3 ATS (68.4%) in the first four weeks of the season if they are coming off a season in which they won 4-8 games. This situation is 11-4-2 ATS (73.3%) since September 21, 2019
- Since 2017, ranked college football home teams are 143-73 SU and 122-88-6 ATS (58.1%)
- Double-digit road favorites with revenge are 44-32 ATS (57.9%) since 2016
- Since 2016, college football teams looking to avenge a double-digit loss as favorites are 87-108 ATS (44.6%)
- Since 2016, college football teams seeking revenge against opponents that are allowing 35 or more points per game are 201-150 ATS (57.3%).
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