With the first full weekend of college football games in the books, only one team from a Group of Five conference remains in the AP Top 25: the University of Houston.
Here’s a look at why the Cougars are the Group of Five Underdog of the Week, per the college football betting odds, plus a few honorable mentions:
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No. 25 Houston (spread: +3.5, moneyline: +125) at Texas Tech
Despite being the only ranked team in this matchup, No. 25 Houston is an underdog to Texas Tech by more than a field goal. However, there are several reasons to feel confident in the Cougars winning outright in Lubbock this weekend.
One is that the Red Raiders have yet to be tested this fall after rolling over FCS Murray State 63-10 in last week’s opener. The program seems headed in the right direction under first-year head coach Joey McGuire, but it’s still unclear how they will respond when faced with adversity. Houston, meanwhile, opened its season with a triple-overtime road win over reigning C-USA champion UTSA that included a 14-point fourth-quarter comeback.
If there was an area of concern coming out of Texas Tech’s opener, it lies in the fact that Murray State quarterback DJ Williams went 8 of 16 with 207 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions — indicating that the worst pass defense in the Big 12 from a year ago still has some room for improvement. UH quarterback Clayton Tune will pose a much greater challenge. Tune only threw for 206 yards on 22 of 32 passing, but he had three touchdowns through the air and no interceptions while adding 51 yards and a score on the ground. Veteran receiver Nathaniel Dell hauled in two touchdown catches in the win.
Fresno State (spread: +1, moneyline: -105) at Oregon State
While it’s by a narrow margin, the Bulldogs are technically an underdog on the spread for Saturday night’s showdown with Oregon State. The Beavers’ recent 34-17 win over Boise State might scare some bettors away from taking a Mountain West team here, but there’s reason to believe Fresno State is superior to its conference foe.
The primary reason: the quarterback position. Jake Haener showed last week why he was tabbed as the Mountain West’s preseason offensive player of the year this summer, completing 36 of 42 passes for 377 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions in a 35-7 win over Cal Poly. Albeit, the Mustangs are an FCS program, and not an elite one at that. But a 21-0 start and a second-half shutout do spur optimism. Boise State, meanwhile, re-opened its quarterback competition this week.
Appalachian State (spread: +18.5, moneyline: +650) at No. 6 Texas A&M
The Mountaineers are a stretch as far as moneyline bets go, even after nearly taking down North Carolina in a 63-61 shootout last week. At +18.5, though, they are worth consideration on the spread.
Texas A&M defeated Sam Houston 31-0 last week, but it’s worth noting that the Aggies were playing a Bearkats squad that lost nearly all of its starters during the offseason, and still only mustered 14 points after halftime. Texas A&M struggled to establish its ground attack, with running backs totaling just 53 yards on 22 carries. Haynes King showcased his big-play ability at quarterback, throwing touchdowns of 43, 63, and 66 yards. However, he was just 17 of 28 with 192 yards and two interceptions outside of these three plays.
Offense isn’t an issue for Appalachian State, which totaled 40 points in the fourth quarter alone, with quarterback Chase Brice throwing for 361 yards and six touchdowns and Nate Noel rushing for 116 yards and a pair of scores on only 14 carries.
Georgia Southern (spread: +23.5, moneyline: +1000) at Nebraska
It’s difficult to gauge where the Eagles are at after one game. On one hand, they lit up Morgan State 59-7, while out-gaining their opponent 504-250. On the other, they were playing an FCS team that is coming off a 2-9 season.
Like Appalachian State, cashing a moneyline bet of Georgia Southern doesn’t seem very plausible. However, 23.5 points seems a bit steep on the spread for a struggling Nebraska team. The Cornhuskers entered the half tied with the second-best FCS team from North Dakota last week, before pulling away to win 38-17. They also dropped their opener to a Northwestern squad that has the fourth-highest odds to win the Big Ten.