While there aren’t a ton of realistic opportunities for Group of Five teams to upset Top 25 opponents this week, there are a handful of underdogs to keep an eye on.
Here’s a look at the Group of Five Underdog of the Week, plus a few honorable mentions (college football betting odds via BetMGM):
SMU (spread: +3, money line: +125) at Maryland
The Mustangs have one of the top average win margins in the country through two games, ranking 14th in scoring offense and 26th in scoring defense. They haven’t been heavily tested in blowout victories over North Texas and Lamar, but Maryland hasn’t exactly been playing juggernauts either, with wins over Buffalo and Charlotte to start the season.
This will serve as a solid benchmark heading into AAC play for SMU. Playing against similar caliber opponents, the two teams have posted almost identical overall grades on Pro Football Focus — Maryland is 14th in the FBS with a grade of 91.7, while the Mustangs are one spot lower at 91.6.
Albeit it’s a small sample size, but pass defense could be the difference in a matchup that features two talented quarterbacks. SMU ranks fifth in the country in passing efficiency defense, while the Terrapins are 43rd. The Mustangs also seem to have an edge on special teams, coming in at 20th in PFF’s ratings, while Maryland sits in a tie for 79th.
RELATED: G5 Power Poll
New Mexico (spread: +2.5, money line: +120) vs. UTEP
The Lobos are slight home underdogs in a showdown between two teams that appear destined to finish near the bottom of their respective conferences. UTEP is the only one with an FBS win on the year, beating perennial bottom-feeder New Mexico State by seven last week. However, the Miners have been among the worst second-half teams in the country this season, getting outscored 47-6 after halftime through three games.
New Mexico is coming off a rough showing in a 31-14 loss to Boise State, during which it averaged just 2.2 yards per play while getting outgained 318-123. However, the Lobos showed fight down the stretch, with a 69-yard touchdown pass and 100-yard kickoff return for a score in the fourth quarter. They also hold a slight advantage in ESPN’s Football Power Index, ranking 10 spots ahead of UTEP at No. 112.
Georgia Southern (spread: +11.5, money line: +340) at UAB
While Nebraska isn’t the power it used to be, Georgia Southern’s offense continued to impress in a 45-12 upset win over a Power Five opponent last week. The Eagles are averaging 52 points per game in year one under Clay Helton, and have more to feel good about than UAB does at this point.
After blowing out Alabama A&M to open the season, the Blazers lost to Liberty 21-14 in their first FBS test of 2022. That’s not to say they won’t rebound against Georgia Southern, but 11.5 points on the spread seems a bit steep, considering the performance of each team in the limited action we’ve seen this season.
Nevada (spread: +23.5, money line: +1000) at Iowa
The Wolf Pack receive an honorable mention here, but it’s not a credit to them after a 55-41 loss to FCS Incarnate Word last week. This is purely a spread play on the basis of what Iowa’s offense has — or hasn’t — done in 2022.
Through two games, the Hawkeyes have just one touchdown, which came after a blocked punt set them up at their opponent’s 16-yard line. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is notorious for being conservative, and while a Nevada win is unlikely, it seems even less likely that the Hawkeyes score enough points to cover the spread.