Philadelphia, PA – Indiana has surprised a lot of the oddsmakers this season despite its 1-4 straight-up record versus Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
The Hoosiers gave both Michigan State and Ohio State all they could handle the last two Saturdays, losing to the Spartans and Buckeyes by a combined seven points. It's not often a team labeled for last place in its respective division is primed for a pair of upsets in back-to-back weeks, but coach Kevin Wilson has the Hoosiers playing at a high level.
Indiana is averaging 38 points per game in its five FBS contests - all overs. In fact, the club is 11-0-1 to the over in its last 12 games. Most of them were due to a sieve-like defense that allowed an average of 37 ppg in 2011.
The Hoosiers are still porous on that side of the ball, giving up an average of 42 ppg in their last four games. However, the offense has been much-improved, going from 21 ppg a season ago to 35.5 in 2012.
After three straight Big Ten matchups, Indiana travels to Annapolis, Md., to meet a Navy team that has averaged 29.5 ppg in its last two games. The Midshipmen struggled with Trey Miller at quarterback, but are now flying high with freshman Keenan Reynolds under center.
Navy is not known as a team that logs a lot of overs (only one since last Oct. 29), but this contest sets up perfectly for a high-scoring affair. Navy should run the ball effectively against Indiana's defense, which is last in the Big Ten and 109th nationally in run defense. Meanwhile, Indiana should throw the ball with ease because the Midshipmen are allowing opposing quarterbacks to hit on 66 percent of their passes.
Navy hasn't seen an offense such as Indiana's since the opening game of the season when Notre Dame piled up 50 points. The big difference between that contest and this one is that the Midshipmen will score a lot more than 10 points against an Indiana defense that is miles behind Notre Dame's.
Take over 60 points in the first of six, three-star plays.
TWO PAC-12 THREE-STAR MATCHUPS
First, Oregon takes on Arizona State in Tempe Thursday night. The last time these two teams played at Sun Devil Stadium, the fifth-ranked Ducks won, 42-31, with Arizona State scoring a touchdown inside the final three minutes to cover by a single point.
The Sun Devils gained 597 yards on the eventual BCS Championship runners-up (outgaining them by 192 yards), but were done in by seven turnovers. One could argue that this year's squad is better than the one that played Oregon two years ago and the 2012 Ducks are a tad worse than they were in 2010.
Say what you want about Todd Graham for jumping from one job to another, but his teams are 4-0 against-the-spread the last four games against Top 25 opponents. He has brought new life to the Sun Devils, which has translated into four wins in five games.
They are second in the Pac-12 behind Oregon in scoring, but their defense has been the real story. The unit is ninth nationally in scoring and eighth in total defense. Furthermore, the Sun Devils are tops in the Pac-12 in pass defense. They also are allowing just 3.2 yards per carry - third-best in the conference.
Oregon's offense has been outstanding in 2012, scoring 49 points or more in five of the six games. Nevertheless, the Ducks have played just one road game and that contest wasn't even in the opponent's home stadium.
Look for the Sun Devils to keep this one close with an outside shot at the upset.
Take Arizona State plus the eight.
Second, Oregon State proved itself against BYU last week with an impressive 18-point road score in Provo. Cody Vaz, replacing the injured Sean Mannion, threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns versus a defense that had allowed just 10 points the previous three games combined.
The Beavers return home for just their second home game since Sept. 8. They knocked off Washington State, 19-6, in the first one failing to cover by 1.5 points. This is a team that is 1-7 in its last eight games as a home favorite.
Utah, meanwhile, has had its share of shaky moments this season, but the Utes have covered in three of their last four games and have lost by more than 10 points just once in almost a year.
Take Utah plus 10.5 points.
MOUNTAIN WEST, CONFERENCE USA AND INDEPENDENT ACTION
What a job Bob Davie has done with New Mexico. The Lobos have won as many games (three) over the past four weeks as they had the previous three years combined.
This week, they are double-digit underdogs at Air Force, a team that has beat one FBS opponent this year by more than 10 points, and that came against helpless Colorado State. The Falcons shut out the Lobos, 42-0, in last year's matchup, so look for New Mexico to gain some revenge in what should be a close contest.
Take New Mexico plus 11 points.
Tulane is at UTEP on Saturday in a battle of Conference USA bottom feeders. The 1-5 Green Wave snapped a seven-game losing streak with a victory over SMU last week, while UTEP is 1-8 in its last nine games.
Ryan Griffin returned at quarterback for Tulane and threw for three touchdowns in the club's one-point win over the Mustangs. On the other side, the Miners lost by 22 at Tulsa less than a week ago. Starting quarterback Nick Lamaison and running back Nathan Jeffery are battling injuries, so it's amazing that UTEP is favored by more than two touchdowns.
Take Tulane plus 14.5 points.
Finally, BYU goes to Notre Dame after its worst performance of the season against Oregon State. It looks like a tough spot for Notre Dame after the Fighting Irish played such an emotional game against Stanford. Moreover, the Cougars are solid against the run, which will limit the Irish offensively. If Riley Nelson can stay away from turnovers, BYU has an excellent shot to keep this one in single digits.
Take BYU plus 13.5 points.
Go with San Jose State -11 (Texas-San Antonio), Washington +7.5 (Arizona), Michigan -10 (Michigan State) and East Carolina -3 (UAB)
Take Houston -5 (SMU), Miami (Fla.) +20.5 (Florida State), Baylor +11 (Texas), Toledo +7 (Cincinnati) and San Diego State +7 (Nevada).