Tulane at Tulsa and Two More Picks From Outside The Power 5 Conferences
Last week was scary and frustrating for college football fans. It felt like games across the country were being cancelled left and right. A total of 15 division 1 college football games last week were cancelled or postponed because of COVID-19 and for a minute it felt like the entire CFB season was in Jeopardy. Thankfully, many games still went off without a hitch. Both Indiana and Wisconsin covered with ease and if it wasn’t for 2nd half collapses, Washington State and Arkansas would have covered too. Let’s get this week started with my top three picks against the spread for games outside the Power Five conferences for week 12 of the College Football Season.
Top 3 Under The Radar College Football Picks
Tulane +6 at Tulsa – Thursday, 7:30 PM
If this was your first season watching college football, you might not realize that the American Athletic Conference was not considered a power five conference. They look to be as competitive top to bottom as any conference in the country. Many members including UCF, SMU, and Cincinnati have found themselves ranked in the top 25 nationally. Cincinnati is currently the undefeated #7 ranked team in the country. The Tulsa Golden Hurricane are currently 4-1 and the #25 ranked team in the country. This Thursday night they will host the 5-4 Tulane Green Wave.
Tulsa were able to crack the top 25 this week because last week they were able to knock off the #19 ranked team in the country SMU 28-24. In fact, their win over SMU was their fourth win in a row and their second win over a ranked team this season. Tulsa also beat UCF when they were ranked #11. Tulsa’s only loss came to Oklahoma State in the first game of their season and Oklahoma State have proven themselves to be one of the top teams in the nation since then. This is all well and good, but Tulsa has not been winning their games with an impressive margin of victory. Three of their four wins have been one score games and their last two wins have come by exactly four points.
Tulane enters this game with a nice win streak of their own. The Green Wave has won three straight games over Temple, ECU, and Army and they have won each of these games by a lot. The Tulane offense has scored exactly 38 points in each of their last three games and the Tulane defense has allowed 12, 21, and 3 points in those three games. On the season Tulane has a greater average margin of victory than Tulsa as well.
The Pick: Tulane is averaging about a 9 point win in each game and Tulsa is averaging about a 7 point win in each game. Tulane and Tulsa both just played ECU. Tulsa beat them by 4 in Tulsa and Tulane beat ECU by 14 at ECU. I don’t believe there is enough separation between these two teams to warrant a six point spread so give me Tulane +6 to get my week started on a good note this Thursday night.
Coastal Carolina -5.5 vs App State – Saturday, 12 PM
Coastal Carolina’s matchup last week against Troy was called off last minute due to positive COVID-19 tests on the Troy Trojans team. Coastal were able to stay COVID free and will come into this game well rested and with most of their starters healthy. I was worried that Coastal might be overlooking Troy because they knew they had Appalachian State on their schedule this week. The Appalachian State Mountaineers pose one of the biggest threats to the Chanticleer’s hopes of an undefeated season.
The #16 ranked Coastal Carolina Chanticleers will take the field as one of the last remaining undefeated teams in the country on Saturday. Right now, the Chanticleers are favored by 5.5 points over App State and I still don’t believe that’s enough. Only one of Coastal Carolina’s seven wins has been decided by single digits and that was a three-point win on the road over #21 ranked Louisiana who look like the second-best team in the conference behind Coastal.
App State have dominated the Sun Belt in recent seasons and if you look at their record you would think this season was no different. The Mountaineers are 6-1 this season with their only loss coming in the second week of the season to Marshall who are now the #15 ranked team in the country and still undefeated. Where App State have struggled is against the spread.
The Pick: Although their overall record is 6-1, the Mountaineer’s record against the spread is an appalling 1-6. Coastal are 5-1-1 against the spread by contrast. Last week App State only beat Georgia State 17-13 at home in Boone, NC. Three weeks ago, Coastal Carolina traveled to Georgia State and beat them 51-0. Coastal have too much talent and will be focused and well rested after their week off last week. I think Coastal gets to 8-0 easily so give me the Chanticleers -5.5 on Saturday.
Liberty +3.5 at NC State – Saturday, 7:30 PM
The Liberty Flames are one school outside the power five that was able to get to 8-0 last weekend. It wasn’t easy for the Flames to get to 8-0. They have had to play two games on the road against teams in the ACC and this week they will go in the road to play an ACC opponent for a third time. This week Liberty will travel to Raleigh, NC to take on the NC State Wolfpack after having already gone to Syracuse and beaten Syracuse and having gone to Blacksburg and beaten Virginia Tech. This has helped the Liberty flames achieve an 8-0 record and has them ranked as the #21 team in the country.
The NC State Wolfpack are 5-3 on the season but both NC State and Liberty are exactly 6-2 against the spread. NC State has achieved this record with a much stronger schedule than Liberty as well. This success is thanks to NC State’s offense. In their games against unraked opponents, NC State has scored over 30 points every single time. Ranked opponents have provided a bit more of a challenge for the Wolfpack because when their offense can’t perform their defense is not good enough to keep them in games. NC State is giving up an average of 33.9 points and 456.5 total yards per game. This includes the 178.5 yards per game that the Wolfpack are giving up on the ground.
The Pick: Liberty is averaging 254.5 rushing yards per game on offense and their running back Malik Willis already has 700 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns on the season. I expect him to have a big game against the Wolfpack on Saturday and if he does that Liberty should be able to keep this game close. As long as their defense can get a few stops, Liberty should be able to compete in this game and that is why I am going to take the Flames +3.5 on Saturday.
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