While many of my competitors were focusing on the prime time contest between Florida State and Clemson, I spent the week finding the best value on the college football card. And, after many hours of fundamental, technical and situations handicapping, I landed on a game that graded out as a very strong 5* investment. While the television cameras and pundits were not talking about this game, my proprietary research and analysis knew that it offered my clients the best opportunity to maximize their return on investment.
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South Alabama (-7) (-105) over Kent State
Analysis: This is a terrible scheduling spot for Kent State as the Golden Flashes are playing their fifth road game in the last six weeks (five different states), whereas South Alabama is coming off a bye week (2 bye weeks in the last five). Even without the scheduling issue facing Kent State, Paul Haynes’ squad is the walking wounded as starting quarterback Colin Reardon has been downgraded to “doubtful” Saturday, while starting running back Trayion Durham is not 100% after sustaining an injury last week. JC transfer David Fisher is expected to get the start for the Golden Flashes, and he has played sparingly in his one-plus seasons at Kent State. Fisher is 7-of-16 for 88 yards this season.
From a fundamental standpoint, Kent State is 0.5 yards per play worse than average offensively (5.0 yards per play against teams that combine to allow 5.5 yards per play) and 0.8 yards per play worse than average defensively (6.8 yards per play to teams that combine to average 6.0 yards per play). Meanwhile, South Alabama is 0.2 yards per play better than average offensively (6.1 yards per play against teams that combine to allow 5.9 yards per play) and 0.3 yards per play worse than average defensively (5.7 yards per play to teams that combine to average 5.4 yards per play). Overall, the Jaguars possess a significant 1.0 yards per play advantage offensively and a 0.2 yards per play advantage on the defensive side of the ball.
South Alabama employs an up-temp, no-huddle attack that is averaging 447.2 yards per game this season. The quarterback tandem of Ross Metheny (1,065 yards, 5 touchdowns) and Brandon Bridge (378 yards, 1 touchdown) play at a furious pace and have helped the Jaguars score 41, 31, 24 and 33 points in their last four outings. The Kent State coaching staff has compared the Jaguars’ offense to that of Northern Illinois, who rolled up 698 yards of total offense in its 38-24 win over the Flashes. The news gets even worse for the injury-riddled Flashes as their best defensive player, linebacker Roosevelt Nix, is likely to miss Saturday’s game due to a back injury.
While South Alabama is only 2-3 on the season, the Jaguars’ three losses came by a combined nine points. Moreover, South Alabama is a perfect 4-0 ATS in 2013, including upset wins over Tulane (41-39 as 4.5-point underdogs) and Western Kentucky (31-24 as 6.5-point underdogs). Even more impressive is the fact that the Jaguars nearly defeated Tennessee and Troy on the road. In fact, South Alabama actually outgained Troy by a significant margin. Lay the point and invest with confidence.