Published October 25, 2012
| Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA – Louisiana Tech has gotten all the love, ranked 24th in the nation, while its conference foe Utah State did not even get a single vote in this week's AP Top 25 Poll.
Utah State's two losses certainly has a lot to do with it, but when one takes a deeper look, he'll see that the two defeats came by a total of five points - at Wisconsin and BYU.
The final Western Athletic Conference championship most likely will be decided in the Utah State-Louisiana Tech showdown in Ruston, La., on Nov. 17. Until then, the Aggies play the two newest league members: Texas-San Antonio (on the road Saturday) and Texas State (Nov. 3 at home).
Utah State's defense has been unbelievable in 2012 as the unit has held its opponents to just 14 points per game. The run defense is sixth nationally, allowing opposing rushers only 2.7 yards per carry. Furthermore, the unit has allowed just one rushing touchdown all season.
The Aggies turned the corner last year, making the postseason for the first time since 1997 after 13 straight losing seasons. They have carried the momentum into the new campaign with an outstanding defense and an offense that has not faltered despite losing running back Robert Turbin to the NFL.
Texas-San Antonio is 5-2 in its first season in the Football Bowl Subdivision, but that record is very deceiving. The Roadrunners have played only four FBS teams and one of them was South Alabama, also in its first FBS season.
Last week, their first test against a quality opponent did not go so well. San Jose State blew them out in San Antonio, 52-24, and the game wasn't even that close. The Spartans led 31-0 early in the second quarter.
The Roadrunners were obliterated by Rice the week before, losing, 34-14, to a team that had one prior victory - a one-point win over 1-6 Kansas.
I usually do not touch favorites giving three touchdowns or more on the road, but the disparity between the two teams is so great that Utah State should win by over 30 points.
Take Utah State minus 23 as this week's lone five-star play.
A pair of Atlantic Coast Conference games highlight the three-star selections.
First, North Carolina State is in Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina for the 102nd time. The Wolfpack have defeated the Tar Heels the last five meetings, winning the last four as underdogs.
North Carolina State has won five of its last six games with the only loss coming in the final 20 seconds against Miami (Fla.). The Wolfpack have been involved in very close contests, winning three of their last four FBS matchups by a combined six points. Additionally, their lone defeat came by a single touchdown.
North Carolina comes into this one off a three-point road loss to Duke. In fact, the Tar Heels' three losses have been by a combined nine points. Moreover, they only beat Miami (Fla.) by four the week before losing to Duke.
Take the Wolfpack plus 7.5 points.
The other ACC game features Maryland and Boston College. The Terrapins have been an extremely unlucky team as they are down to their third-string quarterback after Perry Hills was hurt last week.
They have scored three touchdowns or less in five of their games this season and that was with Hills under center. Another unsettling scenario is the banged-up offensive line, which will certainly be an issue for whichever quarterback starts on Saturday.
Boston College, despite scoring 30 points or more in four of its seven games, might not be able to put up even three touchdowns against a rock solid Terrapins' defense. Not only are the Terps ranked 11th nationally in total defense, but they are sixth against the run, and one of just three teams to hold opposing quarterbacks to below 50 percent passing.
Take under 47 points.
The final three-star play is Mississippi State at Alabama. These two teams are a combined 14-0 and 7-0 in league play. The Bulldogs have given up an average of 14 ppg the entire year, while the Crimson Tide have not allowed more than 14 points in a single game.
The under has been the right call the last five times these two teams have squared off, with the highest total being 40 points two years ago. In fact, there has not been a game that totaled more than 44 points since 1998.
Take under 47.5 points.
Go with Duke +27.5 (Florida State), Auburn +15.5 (Texas A&M), Kansas +21 (Texas) and South Carolina -13.5 (Tennessee).
Take Arizona +6.5 (USC), Tulane +3 (UAB), Texas State +20.5 (San Jose State) and New Mexico +14 (Fresno State).