It’s been an incredible run in college football over the last couple of weeks, and we’re now 34-13 over our last 47 games. As always, I’m looking to stay level-headed and not overextend myself simply because of the recent hot streak. However, there are a few midweek games I have my eyes on for some fun half-unit plays.
One thing I’ve decided to start doing is differentiating between half-unit and full-unit plays for college football. You can find my most confident full-unit plays on my Twitter profile @wayne_sports_, but there are a few plays in the midweek games that I feel confident enough in to place some half-unit wagers. If I decide to upgrade them to a full unit, that will be posted to my Twitter account. Without further ado, let’s dive into some midweek college football action.
College Football Record YTD: 68-45-3 (60.1%)
Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns at Marshall Thundering Herd
Game Info: Wednesday, October 12, 7:30 PM EST
On Wednesday night, we have some midweek Fun Belt action on deck. Both Louisiana and Marshall are coming off extended breaks and haven’t played since October 1, meaning we should get two fresh teams ready to compete. The Ragin’ Cajuns have had a rough go of it in their first year without Billy Napier as they are just 0-2 in conference play and 0-3 in their last three overall.
Louisiana’s offense has struggled this year as they rank just 93rd in EPA per play offensively and have scored just 25.6 points per game, which ranks 94th in the country. Quarterback Chandler Fields got hurt last week, leaving Ben Wooldridge as the new starter, but I’m not convinced that’s a massive downgrade as Wooldridge has completed 64.9% of his passes in limited action compared to 56.8% for Fields. The Marshall defense will have the upper hand either way, as they rank fourth in defensive EPA per play this year.
However, I’m not sold on Marshall’s offense this week. The Thundering Herd rank just 111th in EPA per play on offense and 125th specifically in passing. They are facing a Louisiana defense that ranks as the eighth-best in passing defense EPA. Quarterback Henry Colombi recently suffered an injury, and while he’s expected to play this week, he likely won’t have an overwhelming amount of success against Louisiana’s defense.
Given the injury to their starting quarterback, Marshall will likely look to keep it on the ground this week with Florida State transfer Khalan Laborn ranking fourth in the country in rushing yards. That run-heavy approach will likely lead to longer drives and less explosive offense, which plays into Louisiana’s ability to keep this game close. Marshall will also be tested in terms of ball security as Louisiana has multiple takeaways in every game this year.
— Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns® Football (@RaginCajunsFB) October 3, 2022
The Thundering Herd are looking for their first Sun Belt win after an uninspiring 17-6 loss to Troy, and they are just 1-2 straight up and 0-3 ATS after their upset win over Notre Dame. I believe the market over-inflated Marshall after that win, and the gap between them in Louisiana is not this large. The number for this game opened at seven and quickly jumped to ten, and I believe that’s too far. Bill Connelly’s model agrees as SP+ has the projected spread at -4.7. I’ll happily take anything over ten points here.
Best Bet: Louisiana +10.5 (bet to +10)
Temple Owls at UCF Knights
Game Info: Thursday, October 13, 7:00 PM EST
This might not be the most exciting game to watch on the surface, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find value on the board. The over/under line for this game opened at 49 points and quickly dropped to 46, and you can make the argument that there’s still value at that number. However, I’m more looking to back the underdog in what could wind up a very low-scoring game.
Temple has had a rough season as they rank 127th in EPA per play on offense and have socred just 15 points per game, which ranks 126th in the FBS. However, they have allowed just 16.8 points per game, ranking 21st, and rank 18th in defensive EPA per play. UCF is coming off a 41-point performance against a much worse SMU defense, and now their offense is overinflated in this game.
The UCF offense is heavily reliant on running the ball, and they rank 19th in rushing EPA. However, Temple ranks 25th in run stuff rate and will limit big plays on the ground. When UCF does reach the red zone, Temple is allowing just 2.8 points per possession past the 40-yard line, and they should be successful in limiting UCF to field goals rather than touchdowns.
— Temple Football (@Temple_FB) October 11, 2022
I’m not going to sit here and sell you on the Temple offense – it’s been a rough year. E.J. Warner, Hall of Fame passer Kurt Warner’s son, has more interceptions (6) than touchdowns (5) and is coming off his worst game of the season against Memphis where the Owls only put up three points. Temple only has nine red-zone trips this season, which ranks 130th in the FBS.
A 23-point spread is pretty big for what I expect to be a gross, lower-scoring game. On this Wednesday night, I’ll be splitting a unit between Temple +23.5 and the under 46.5 points. Sometimes, you have to plug your nose and attack the value on the board, and it’s there in this game. Keep in mind that these two plays have strong correlation – if I’m wrong about the Temple defense and UCF has a field day offensively, then they will both likely miss. If you feel more strongly about one or the other, feel free to pick your poison.
Best Bet: Temple +23.5 (bet to +23) and under 46.5 points (bet to 45)
Baylor Bears at West Virginia Mountaineers
Game Info: Wednesday, October 13, 7:00 PM EST
This game feels like the polar opposite to the Temple-UCF game, and this will certainly be the main screen game on the TV. In fact, I might watch this over the snoozer between the Commanders and Bears. While the Chicago Bears have struggled offensively all year, the same is not true for the Baylor Bears. Baylor ranks 33rd in the FBS in offensive EPA per play. After a tough game at BYU, Blake Shapen has looked great in each of the last three weeks.
This week, Shapen has the luxury of facing one of the worst defenses in the country. West Virginia ranks 125th in coverage grade per PFF and 123rd in pass defense EPA. Shapen has juice on downfield passes, and this passing offense should generate some big plays this week. The Mountaineers also rank 111th in finishing drives, so expect Baylor to end their drives with touchdowns more often than not.
On the other side, the West Virginia offense will be without leading rusher C.J. Donaldson who has 389 yards and six touchdowns through five games. While you might expect that to hurt the offense, it could actually help them put up more points as they opt for a more pass-heavy approach. J.T. Daniels has quietly had a very good season as he’s completed 63.5% of his passes for 1,209 yards and eight touchdowns to just two interceptions.
Daniels has developed strong chemistry with his top wideout Bryce Ford-Wheaton, a junior who has 35 catches for 412 yards and four touchdowns this year. The Mountaineers’ passing game should find success against Baylor’s 83rd-ranked pass defense by EPA. The Bears rank 24th in rush defense EPA, and a pass-heavy game plan will help given the matchup.
To further help the over in this game, both West Virginia and Baylor play at a high pace. The Mountaineers rank 14th in plays per game and the Bears rank 53rd in the FBS. I lean towards Baylor in this matchup, and I feel confident that they win, but it’s worth noting that West Virginia is 5-0 against them at home. Rather than laying the points at -3.5, I’ll just take the over and sit back to enjoy a classic Big 12 shootout.
Best Bet: Over 54.5 (bet to 55)