We can sweep last week’s selection under the rug as Western Kentucky didn’t come close to covering in a loss to Auburn. The Hilltoppers still don’t play well in big games. We should have rolled with Navy for the second week in a row.
It’s on to this week though, where there should be a ton of close games and a lot of intrigue as teams try to bulk résumés for the bowl committee, while other squads are playing for a spot in conference championship games.
This week’s dog falls in the former category.
Here’s this week’s Group of Five Underdog of the Week featuring college football betting odds via BetMGM:
Coastal Carolina (spread: +13.5, moneyline: +422) at James Madison
If it was 2024, the winner of this game would be representing the Sun Belt East in the Sun Belt title game. But it’s not 2024 and JMU still has one year of postseason ineligibility because of its recent reclassification to the FBS level (although the Dukes can apply for a waiver to play in the postseason in 2023).
So, this is the Dukes’ last game of the season. They’re going to leave everything on the field. Coastal, on the other hand, still has two games remaining after this week. And this week’s game will have a lot of say in how big that second game is. The latest College Football Playoff ranking features three AAC teams:
The winner of that conference will probably earn the G5 New Year’s Six Bowl game. But if in some way that doesn’t happen, the Chanticleers should hope they fall into that spot. Seems unlikely, but they should play like it isn’t. That means not only covering the spread here, but beating JMU by probably a couple of possessions.
Coastal’s last-ranked pass defense in the league will need to limit the Dukes’ top-scoring offense if that’s going to happen. In yesterday’s G5 Power Poll, we talked about Coastal’s weak strength of schedule. This can be a quality win they need.
Western Michigan (spread: +7.5, moneyline +235) vs. Toledo
In the month of November, Western Michigan has been an underdog in each game but has given its opponents a run for their money. This includes a 12-10 win over Central Michigan last week. The Broncos’ offense isn’t great by any means and averages just 18 points per game, which ranks last in the MAC.
The defense, however, has been lights out and ranks second in the MAC (25 PPG). This includes allowing 15.3 PPG this month. Toledo has a high-powered attack, but it hasn’t been playing its best as of late and hasn’t covered in its last four games. Meanwhile, WMU has covered in three of its last four. Let’s ride with the Broncos on a Friday afternoon.
Memphis (spread: +4.5, moneyline: +160) at SMU
The Mustangs’ three-game stretch where its offense was on a heater came to an end last week at Tulane. SMU averaged 54.3 PPG in those three games, including that 77-point explosion against Houston. That was the first time I expected a team’s offense to keep pace with SMU’s, and I was wrong.
Memphis’ defense isn’t as bad as Houston’s though, and the Tigers 35.5 PPG rank just behind SMU’s 38.8. Seth Henigan’s 299.6 YPG also ranks third in the AAC, just behind SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai. This is also a game that lands on our G5 games to watch this week.
Akron (spread: +10, moneyline: +290) at Northern Illinois
The worst squad in the MAC West meets the worst squad in the MAC East. The Zips haven’t won a conference game this season, and here lies the last chance to do so (unless last week’s postponement against Buffalo is rescheduled). I think they’ll go out and play loose with nothing to lose. Even a 1-9 team can be scary doing that. The Huskies are 0-5 ATS at home and 0-5 ATS as a favorite. Akron is 3-1 ATS in its last four games.