Unable to ride the wave following its upset at then No. 25-ranked Miami, last week’s Underdog of the Week selection from us failed to cash, as Middle Tennessee didn’t cover in a 45-30 home loss to UTSA. But with teams getting deep into conference play, there’s more at stake, and more underdogs providing more winners.
Here’s a look at this week’s Group of Five Underdog of the Week, along with notable honorable mentions featuring college football betting odds via BetMGM (as of Thursday morning):
Ball State (spread: +7.5, moneyline: +230) at Central Michigan
The Cardinals weren’t going to let Northern Illinois head west over the state line with the Bronze Stalk trophy in possession last week. MACtion is alive and well.
Trailing by three touchdowns, Ball State overcame the first-half deficit to pick up a 44-38 double-overtime win, securing its first conference victory of the season. A 3.5-point underdog in that contest, the Cardinals are entering this week’s conference matchup as even bigger dogs against a 1-3 Central Michigan squad whose lone victory came against Bucknell (0-3).
We’ll hopefully see redshirt junior John Paddock and Ball State’s top passing offense in the MAC (307.6 yards per game) build off last week’s come-from-behind win.
The odds have already been on the move in favor of the Cardinals, and if they can hold off Lew Nichols III from a repeat performance of last season, they should have a chance to cover, and maybe even grab a win.
Southern Miss (spread +6.5, moneyline +200) at Troy
Coming off a bye week and on a two-game winning streak, the Eagles battled from a 0-2 start to the season. Now, Southern Miss is hitting the road to play in its first-ever conference matchup as members of the Sun Belt. The Eagles joined the league July 1.
That alone should be enough motivation to make a statement, especially against what has traditionally been one of the top programs in the league in Troy.
Southern Miss has been an underdog in each of its games this season and is 4-0 against the spread. If the Eagles can limit Troy’s passing offense, there’s a chance they can make that 5-0.
Eastern Carolina (spread +3.5, moneyline +140) at Tulane
The season has been somewhat of a rollercoaster for both of these programs so far, but more so for Tulane.
The Green Wave defeated No. 20 Kansas State, suffered a hangover the following week against Southern Miss, and bounced back with an overtime road victory at Houston — even without starting quarterback Michael Pratt. Early news suggests Pratt will play this week as he’ll try to help stymie another hangover.
Regardless, the Pirates will look to counter Tulane’s top-ranked AAC defense (259.6 YPG) with their second-ranked offense (486.2) and ruin the hype of Tulane’s new uniforms as Aaron Judge did. ECU running back Keaton Mitchell should be good to go after missing last week’s game with an injury. Mitchell was forced to exit early two weeks ago after logging just five totes. He combined for 345 rushing yards in the Pirates’ two games prior.
UTEP (spread +3, moneyline +130) at Louisiana Tech
It’s tough to gauge where UTEP sits.
The Miners beat lowly New Mexico State by a mere touchdown almost a month ago. Two weeks ago, they defeated Boise State 27-10. If there was going to be a come-down spot, it could’ve been last week, but UTEP held on to knock off Charlotte 41-35, covering the -3.5 line.
Now, the Miners look to move to 2-1 in C-USA play behind its ground attack that has put up a combined 451 yards in its past two outings. That, matched with its stout defense against a one-win Louisiana Tech team that hasn’t scored more than 24 points in a game this season, could put UTEP in position to cover, and potentially win outright.