College Football: Thursday night odds, picks, predictions
The Action Network’s Michael Arinze sets his sights on two plays in college football on Thursday night
With the NFL season not kicking off until next week, college football will take center stage on Thursday night with a 16-game slate. Six of the games will feature all-FBS matchups, and I found two that piqued my interest from a betting standpoint.
Odds provided by BetMGM
WVU Mountaineers vs. Pitt Panthers
Moneyline: WVU (+240) vs. PITT(-300)
Spread: WVU +7 (+100) vs. PITT -7 (-120)
Total: Over 51.5 (-110) | Under 51.5 (-110)
After facing one another for six straight years(2006-2011), the Backyard Brawl returns for the first time in over a decade.
But while you might think the Panthers will take a step back after losing their All-American Kenny Pickett to the NFL, Pittsburgh should do just fine with USC transfer Kedon Slovis taking over at quarterback.
Let’s not forget that Slovis was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in 2019, completing 71.9% of his passes while posting a 30-9 TD: INT ratio. Slovis won all five regular season games he started in 2020, but USC lost to Oregon in the conference championship game.
The Arizona native was hampered by injuries in his final two years at USC and had to deal with the dysfunctional environment created by the ousted former head coach Clay Helton.
Slovis should benefit from a fresh start at Pitt. The Panthers return 65% of their production from the previous year. Most importantly, all five starters on the offensive line return this season.
If we turn to the Mountaineers, they’ll also have a new quarterback with JT Daniels coming over from Georgia. Ironically, Daniels began his career at USC in 2018 but lost the job in his sophomore year to Slovis.
He then went to Georgia but got beat out by Stetson Bennett in 2021.
This West Virginia team has quite a few moving parts, as ESPN’s Bill Connelly lists West Virginia 123rd (47%) in his Returning Production Rankings.
Defensively, second-year coordinator Jordan Lesley has only four returning starters, and he’ll be without six of his seven leading tacklers on a team that went 6-7 last year.
After making the necessary adjustment using my end-of-year power ratings, I have an edge on the Panthers at the current number up to -10. And with the current line sitting at -7, I’ll look to lock in the Panthers before it gets any higher.
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Lousiana Tech Bulldogs vs. Missouri Tigers
Moneyline: LT (+700) vs. MIZZOU (-1200)
Spread: LT +21 (110) vs. MIZZOU -21 (-110)
Total: Over 61.5 (-110) | Under 61.5 (-110)
One of my favorite plays in Week 1 is backing Louisana Tech as 21-point underdogs against Missouri. While you might be put off by the Bulldogs’ 3-9 record last season, Missouri also finished the season below .500 (6-7) and shouldn’t be laying this high of a price.
The Tigers have a significant void to fill at running back, with Tyler Badie moving on to the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL. According to TeamRankings.com, Missouri was tied for 67th last year with 5.5 yards per play, with Badie rushing for five yards every time he touched the ball.
Missouri also ranked below Louisana Tech (-0.098) with a -0.107 points per play margin.
On defense, the Tigers will be operating under a new scheme with Blake Baker taking over for Steve Wilks, who returned to the NFL after just one year in Columbia.
If we turn to the Bulldogs, last season, they opened up against an SEC team in Mississippi State and jumped out to a 20-point lead before allowing three unanswered touchdowns to lose 35-34.
The Bulldogs closed as 20.5-point underdogs, and apparently the bookmakers didn’t learn their lesson.
Throughout their 2021 campaign, Louisana Tech performed well, stepping up in class against teams like SMU and NC State. The Mustangs needed a Hail Mary to defeat the Bulldogs while the Wolfpack held on to win by a touchdown (34-27) as a 17.5-point favorite.
I think Week 1 is a great time to back a Louisana Tech team that should have plenty of excitement with former Texas Tech offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie making his head coaching debut.
This game also fits one of my favorite angles—fading SEC favorites laying at least 21 points in Week 1.
According to the Action Labs database, this system play is 87-60-1 for a profit of 20.7 units. Take the points with the road dogs.
Louisiana Tech +21
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