C-USA Week 3 Overview: Middle Tennessee Covers as Georgia Eases Up

Doug Upstone

Tuesday, September 11, 2018 2:21 PM UTC

Tuesday, Sep. 11, 2018 2:21 PM UTC

Middle Tennessee had more than they could handle at Vanderbilt two weeks ago, losing 35-7 as 3.5 point underdogs. It will be even harder for the Blue Raiders on Saturday in Athens, home of the Bulldogs.

Doug's 2018 CFB Record: 3-1

C-USA Spotlight: Middle Tennessee (1-1 SU and ATS) at Georgia (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS)Saturday, 7:15 p.m. ET (ESPN2)Free NCAAF Pick: Middle Tennessee +31.5Best Line Offered: JustBet

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Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill welcomed back 17 starters, including his son Brent at quarterback, but they were no match for Vanderbilt and will face a much stronger SEC foe on the road.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart was paying attention at Alabama as their defensive coordinator and he's building a program in the exact likeness to Nick Saban, where the games are easier than the practices. The Bulldogs took out South Carolina on a hot steamy afternoon in Columbia and left no doubt they are a top-4 team again this season.

The college football odds have Georgia as a heavy 31.5-point pick over the Blue Raiders and they are 9-2 ATS after a victory by 21 or more points over Smart.

Rick Stockstill has always been known for a keen offensive mind and his Indeed.com resume would have these words on it: Offense Balance. Stockstill's team seldom gives up on the running game, firmly believing it helps the pass offense.

His most successful clubs averaged 175 or more yards on the ground, with a close relationship to rush and pass attempts. The latter is true again this year with 69 passes and 69 runs. The quandary is effectiveness, averaging 102 YPG on the ground at 3.0 yards a carry. Even against Tennessee-Martin, it was 33 rushes for only 88 yards and we'll go out on a limb and suggest the Georgia defense is a smidge better.

If it's third-and-long between the hedges all night for Middle Tennessee, it will be a long evening.

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Coach Smart's weekly press conference will begin at noon. Tune in!

📺 https://t.co/N5L7vgdRLV pic.twitter.com/qvsQuawVuF

— Georgia Bulldogs (@UGAAthletics) September 10, 2018

Not that Smart and his staff will not be intense, but not sure the Bulldogs players will be in what could be a let-up, as opposed to a letdown spot for Georgia.

The Dawgs could not have been sharper against the Gamecocks. With an interesting battle at Missouri next week, a Georgia victory all but gives them every needed tie-breaker in the SEC East except for Florida, who lost last week to Kentucky.

Look for the Bulldogs to start fast, build a big lead and the reserves see serious playing time. Under Smart, Georgia is only 3-8 ATS as a home favorite, often saddled with ginormous spreads. For college football picks, the Dawgs win 45-17 and the Smurfs get the cover.

Around Conference-USA (All Games Saturday)

UTEP (+29) at Tennessee, noon ET, on SECN: UTEP has started 0-2 SU and ATS and is 8-21-1 ATS as a road underdog since 2013. Tennessee is 2-6 ATS handing 20+ points the past decade.

Tulane at UAB (+4), 1 p.m. ET: First meeting since 2012, but prior to this these southern schools played nine times since 1999. UAB trails 5-4 and is 2-6-1 ATS.

Southern Miss (+14) at Appalachian State (-17.5), 3:30 p.m. ET, on ESPN+: Southern Miss is an above-average 51st in total offense but has seven turnovers in two games. Appalachian State has lost two prior meetings and is only 8-13 ATS as a home favorite.

UTSA (+21.5) at Kansas State, 4 p.m. ET, on FSN: UTSA is 0-2 SU and ATS is 127th in total offense and 125th in scoring (13.5 PPG). K- State is not recruiting like two decades ago, but is 12-0 ATS after being outrushed by 200 or more yards in last game.

North Texas (+7) at Arkansas, 4 p.m. ET, on SECN: North Texas has never defeated Arkansas in nine tries, all on the road. Oddsmakers are giving them at least a chance after the Razorbacks lost to an ordinary Colorado State crew 34-27 as two-touchdown faves.

Old Dominion (-2) at Charlotte, 6 p.m. ET, on ESPN3: In this C-USA conflict, these are two of the poorest pass defenses in the country, with Charlotte 109th and ODU 119th. The Monarchs have won all three contests, yet is 1-2 ATS.

Bethune-Cookman at Florida Atlantic (TBA), 6 p.m. ET: The Wildcats are out of the MEAC and split a pair of games. FAU has a huge game against UCF the following week and undoubtedly will be looking ahead.

Marshall (+13.5) at South Carolina, 7:30 p.m. ET, on ESPNU: South Carolina was outclassed by a superior Georgia team and is in a nonconference letdown spot with a game at Vanderbilt next. The Thundering Herd has covered seven straight as underdogs.

Western Kentucky (+23.5) at Louisville, 7:30 p.m. ET, on ACCN: Bobby Petrino is in his second stint at Louisville and spent one year at Western Kentucky (2013) before coming back to the 'Ville. Petrino is 26-18 ATS in nonconference action and Mike Sanford is 5-10 ATS as the Hilltoppers' head man.

Massachusetts at Florida International (-4.5), 7:30 p.m. ET: This is the fourth consecutive year these clubs have met and the home team is 3-0 SU and ATS.

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