Dennis Franchione is arguably one of the most underrated college football coaches in the nation, and he has done a terrific job with the Texas State program since arriving in San Marcos four years ago. The Bobcats were bowl eligible last season with a 6-6 record, including pulling upsets over Southern Mississippi (22-15; 8.5-point underdogs), Wyoming (42-21; 12.5-point underdogs) and South Alabama (33-31; 1.5-point underdogs). Texas State welcomes back twelve returning starters from last year’s squad, including eight on the offensive side of the ball where the Bobcats will have the most improvement.
The Bobcats’ offense is led by returning quarterback Tyler Jones, who threw for 1,130 yards last season (62.5% completion rate; 8-5 ratio; 257 rushing yards). Jones, a true freshman who landed on campus in August of last year, was inserted into the starting lineup in week four after starting quarterback Tyler Arndt failed to produce results. The offense really started to click a few weeks later when the Bobcats reeled off three consecutive wins, including the aforesaid upset over South Alabama.
The good news heading into the 2014 campaign is the fact that Jones averaged 216 yards per game (67%) with a 6-1 ratio in the final three games of last year. The clear strength of Texas State’s offense is its backfield as everyone returns from last season, including Robert Lowe (945 yards; 5.8 yards per carry) and Chris Nutall (477 yards; 5.7 yards per carry). I also like the fact that the Bobcats return 91 career starts on the offensive line, including 8 of the top ten performers from last season.
The situation could not be better for Texas State as Dennis Franchione’s squad commenced the season with a 65-0 white-washing of Arkansas Pine-Bluff before enjoying a bye week to prepare for Navy’s triple-option attack. The favorable schedule is significant in light of the following trend:
- College football teams in Game Two, coming off a win with a week of rest are a profitable 125-89-4 ATS, including 50-7 SU and 41-16 ATS versus teams allowing 27 points per game or more.
Conversely, Navy will be playing its third consecutive road game to begin the season, which is significant in light of the following trend:
- Since 1991, there have been seven college football teams to open the season on a neutral field and then hit the road for back-to-back games. The collective record of these college football teams is 0-7 SU and 0-5 ATS in Game Three.
The concern for Navy bettors is the fact that the Midshipmen’s defense is allowing 4.7 yards per rush play, 7.2 yards per pass play and 5.9 yards per point to teams that would combine to average just 3.9 yards per rush attempt, 6.9 yards per pass attempt an d 5.2 yards per play. Overall, Navy is 0.7 yards per play worse than average defensively, and I expect Texas State to exploit the Midshipmen’s front seven who are 0.9 yards per rush play worse than average.
Coach Franchione is 4-1 ATS versus military schools and has had an extra week to improve upon that record. Franchione is also 19-6 ATS as an underdog versus teams off a win, including a perfect 6-0 ATS in non-conference games. On the other hand, Navy is 0-6 ATS as a double-digit favorite versus an opponent off a win and 4-8 ATS in its last twelve games as a road favorite. Take the live home underdog and invest with confidence.
College Football Sports Pick Winner: Texas State (+10.5) (-110) over Navy