Friday's Tip Sheet
September 19, 2018
By Brian Edwards
Editor's Note: Brian Edwards is ready to get after the books this week with plays loaded for Friday, in addition to his package for Saturday. Also, don't miss out on his next pay-if-it-wins-only selection.
There are three games on Friday night’s college football card, including a pair of excellent matchups in Florida Atlantic at Central Florida and Washington State at Southern California.
We’ll break down both of these games and briefly touch on Penn State at Illinois in Bonus Nuggets.
**FAU at UCF**
-- As of Wednesday, most betting shops had UCF (2-0 straight up, 1-1 against the spread) installed as a 13.5-point home favorite with a total of 75. The Owls were +400 on the money line (risk $100 to win $400).
-- I always say that games played on a short week are advantageous to the home team. In this instance, that’s the case even more since UCF saw its game at North Carolina last week postponed due to Hurricane Florence. Therefore, the Knights have had two weeks to get healthy and prepare for the Owls, who are playing their fourth game in four weeks. Unlike other road assignments on a short week, however, FAU doesn’t have to travel far. The bus ride up The Turnpike shouldn’t take more than 2.5 hours.
-- UCF has won 15 consecutive games, including a 56-17 season-opening win at UConn and a 38-0 home triumph over South Carolina State. The Knights covered the number as 24-point road ‘chalk’ in Storrs, but they failed to take the money as 52-point home favorites vs. S. Carolina State.
-- Josh Heupel replaced Scott Frost as head coach after a record-setting season with Drew Lock and Missouri as its offensive coordinator. He inherited a team that went 13-0 SU and 7-4-1 ATS last season. UCF returned six starters on offense and five on defense after senior free safety Tre Neal decided in August to bolt for Lincoln and rejoin Frost at Nebraska as a grad transfer.
-- The most important returnee was junior QB McKenzie Milton, who garnered fourth-team All-American honors in 2017 thanks to a 37/9 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Milton completed 67.1 percent of his throws for 4,037 yards last year. He also makes plays with his legs, rushing for 613 yards and eight TDs with a 5.8 yards-per-carry average in ’17. In UCF’s first two games, Milton has connected on 45-of-71 passes (63.4%) for 589 yards with a 6/3 TD-INT ratio. He has run for 66 yards on 10 attempts.
-- UCF sophomore WR Tre Nixon, who sat out last season after transferring from Ole Miss, has eight receptions for 154 yards and two TDs. Sophomore Gabriel Davis has 15 catches for 151 yards and two TDs, while junior Dredrick Snelson has 11 grabs for 135 yards. Snelson caught 46 balls for 695 yards and eight TDs during the Knights’ unbeaten ’17 campaign.
-- Junior RB Adrian Killins was a first-team All-AAC selection in ’17 when he produced 790 rushing yards and 10 TDs with a 6.5 YPC average. Killins has run for 127 yards and three TDs on merely 17 carries this year, averaging 7.5 YPC.
-- After losing three of the first four games of the Lane Kiffin Era, Florida Atlantic won 10 straight to win Conference USA and called the season with a 50-3 win over Akron as a 22.5-point home favorite in the Boca Raton Bowl. Nine wins during the 10-game surge came by margins of 14 points or more. Kiffin’s second team brought back five starters on offense, 10 on defense and lost just 18 lettermen.
-- FAU (2-1 SU, 0-3 ATS) started the year with a daunting trip to Norman to take on Oklahoma as a 19-point road underdog. The Sooners dominated early and often on their way to a 56-14 victory. The 70 combined points inched ‘over’ the 69-point total thanks to a seven-yard TD run by FAU’s Kerrith Whyte with 4:13 remaining. OU led 56-0 before the Owls got on the board with 55 ticks left in the third quarter on a Devin Singletary five-yard TD scamper.
-- In Week 2, FAU bounced back with a 33-27 win over Air Force as a 7.5-point home favorite. Kiffin’s squad appeared poised to hook up its betting backers until the Falcons blocked a punt and Lokota Willis returned it five yards for a TD with 50 seconds remaining to secure a backdoor cover. The Owls went ahead of the number four separate times during the game, but that was little solace to their supporters.
-- Sophomore starting QB Chris Robison, who started his career at Oklahoma, bounced back from a tough outing against his former school. Robison torched Air Force by completing 33-of-40 passes for 471 yards and three TDs without an interception. Junior WR Jovon Durante, who sat out last season after transferring in from West Virginia, had 12 receptions for 174 yards and one TD vs. the Falcons. Tavaris Harrison had seven catches for 138 yards, while Willie Wright had six grabs for 75 yards and two TDs. Singletary ran 16 times for 57 yards and one TD.
-- Singletary was a fourth-team All-American pick in 2017 when he ran for 1,920 yards and 32 TDs while averaging 6.4 YPC. He hasn’t been able to duplicate those stats this year, rushing for 210 yards and seven TDs on 53 carries for a 4.0 YPC average. Singletary had five rushing scores and 84 yards on 19 totes in last week’s 49-28 non-covering win over Bethune-Cookman as a 41-point home ‘chalk.’
-- Robison has completed 68.8 percent of his passes for 799 yards with a 4/2 TD-INT ratio. Durante has been his favorite target, hauling in 23 catches for 298 yards and two TDs. Harrison has 11 receptions for 195 yards, while junior TE Harrison Bryant, a second-team All-AAC choice last season, has nine catches for 135 yards. Wright, who paced the Owls with 56 receptions for 657 yards and six TDs in ’17, has 12 catches for 113 yards and two TDs.
-- FAU is 1-1-1 ATS as a road underdog on Kiffin’s watch. Going back to 2012, the Owls are 20-8-1 ATS in their 29 games as road ‘dogs.
-- UCF is 29-20-1 ATS as a home favorite since 2009.
-- Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
**Washington State at Southern California**
-- As of Wednesday, most books had USC (1-2 SU, 0-3 ATS) listed as a 3.5-point favorite with a total of 53. The Cougars were +155 on the money line (risk $100 to win $155).
-- Clay Helton’s squad trailed UNLV for nearly the entire second quarter and only led by a 19-14 count going into the final stanza of its opener at The Coliseum in Week 1. USC would outscore the Rebels 24-7 in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 43-21 victory, but the Trojans failed to cover the spread as 24.5-point home favorites. True freshman QB J.T. Daniels hit on 22-of-35 throws for 282 yards and one TD without an interception. RB Aca’Cedric Ware produced 100 rushing yards and one TD on merely 10 attempts, while Vavae Malapeai had 47 yards and a pair of rushing scores on eight carries. True freshman WR Amon-Ra St Brown, the prized five-star recruit, had seven receptions for 98 yards and one TD.
-- USC dropped a 17-3 decision at Stanford as a five-point underdog in Week 2. Daniels completed only 16-of-34 passes for 215 yards and was intercepted twice. The Trojans averaged only 3.1 YPC on 37 attempts for 114 rushing yards.
-- USC was fortunate to edge Texas at home in double overtime last season. The Longhorns avenged that defeat last Saturday night by capturing a 37-14 win as three-point home favorites. USC had negative five rushing yards on 16 attempts. Daniels completed 30-of-48 throws for 322 yards with zero TDs and one interception.
-- Daniels has completed 58.1 percent of his passes for 819 yards with a 1/3 TD-INT ratio. St Brown has 18 receptions for 304 yards and one TD, while sophomore Tyler Vaughns has 15 catches for 157 yards. Ware has rushed for a team-best 167 yards and one TD with a 5.2 YPC average.
-- USC star senior OLB Porter Gustin will miss the first half due to a targeting infraction in the second half of last week’s defeat in Austin. Gustin has 15 tackles, 3.5 sacks, two tackles for loss, two QB hurries and one pass broken up through three games. Also, junior LB John Houston (wrist), senior CB Isaiah Langley (groin) and freshman DB Isaiah Pola-Mao (shoulder) are listed as ‘questionable.’ Houston has recorded 12 tackles and two PBU, while Pola-Mao has eight tackles and one forced fumble. Pola-Mao didn’t play at Texas. Langley, who had 38 tackles and six PBU last season, has seven tackles and four PBU this year.
-- USC has compiled a 9-9 spread record in 18 games since Helton took over midway through the 2015 campaign.
-- Washington State (3-0 SU, 3-0 ATS) owns a 16-8 ATS ledger in 24 games as a road underdog during Mike Leach’s seven-year tenure.
-- With the loss of the school’s all-time leading passer (Luke Falk) and the tragic death of Tyler Hillinski, Falk’s promising heir apparent, there were questions about the QB position headed into the season. Well, unlike Jim McElwain who famously said at his intro presser at Florida that he could score points with his dog, Clara Belle, playing QB, Leach probably can score points with his dog under center. And to be clear, we aren’t calling East Carolina grad transfer Gardner Minshew a dog and certainly not one with fleas. Minshew has been outstanding for his new team, completing 70.9 percent of his passes for 1,203 yards with an 8/3 TD-INT ratio.
-- Washington State has posted wins and spread covers at Wyoming (41-19), vs. San Jose State (31-0) and vs. Eastern Washington (59-24).
-- Washington State junior RB James Williams has run for 137 yards and four TDs with a 4.3 YPC average. Williams also has 18 receptions for 127 yards and two TDs.
-- Tay Martin had 31 receptions for 366 yards and six TDs as a true freshman in ’17. He may surpass those number Friday night at The Coliseum. Martin has team-highs in catches (24), receiving yards (290) and TD grabs (three). Jamie Calvin has 15 grabs for 188 receiving yards.
-- When these Pac-12 rivals collided in Pullman on a Friday night last season, Washington State captured a 30-27 victory as a five-point home underdog. Renard Bell had three catches for 101 yards, while Martin has six receptions for 55 yards and one TD. The Cougars’ defense limited Sam Darnold to 164 passing yards and intercepted him once and held him without a TD pass. The 57 combined points dipped ‘under’ the 60-point tally.
-- Both teams have watched the ‘over’ go 2-1 overall.
-- ESPN will provide television coverage at 10:30 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- Penn State will hit the road Friday night to take on Illinois. As of Wednesday, the Nittany Lions were favored by 28 points with the total at 60. PSU (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS) had a close call in Week 1, needing to rally late in the fourth quarter to force overtime in a 45-38 triumph over Sun Belt power, Appalachian State. Since then, James Franklin’s team has dusted Pittsburgh (51-6 as a 7.5-point road favorite) and Kent State (63-10). Illinois (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS) is off a gut-wrenching 25-19 loss to USF at Soldier Field. Although Lovie Smith’s club covered the number as a 14-point underdog, it allowed 19-7 fourth-quarter advantage to get away. FS1 will have the telecast at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
-- BetDSI has a pair of MAC wide receivers with the shortest odds to win the Biletnikoff Award that goes to the nation’s top wideout each year. Buffalo’s Anthony Johnson is the +270 ‘chalk,’ while Toledo’s Diontae Johnson has +350 odds. A-Johnson has 16 receptions for 207 yards and two TDs for the unbeaten Bulls, who play at Rutgers this week. D-Johnson has eight catches for 179 yards and three TDs.
-- Gamblers might want to think about going into degenerate-as-hell mode in Alabama games by backing its team total ‘over’ for the game, first half and first quarter, in addition to the Tide in the game, first half and first quarter. Those plays are all perfect to date this year.
-- Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa is the +200 ‘chalk’ to win the Heisman Trophy at Sportsbook.ag. The next-shortest odds belong to OU’s Kyler Murray (+450), Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins (+500), WVU QB Will Grier (+500), BC’s A.J. Dillon (12/1) and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor.
-- Let’s give David Cutcliffe a hat tip here right this second. He loses his star QB Daniel Jones, who had started 27 games in a row since he stepped on campus. ‘Cut’ also lost his best defensive player, CB Mark Gilbert, a first-team All-ACC selection in ’17 when he had six interceptions, to a season-ending injury in Week 2. Nevertheless, the Blue Devils went on the road and won by double digits for a second straight weekend, winning 40-27 at Baylor as short underdogs one week after collecting a 21-7 victory at Northwestern. This Just In: Dude can coach.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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