College Football Pick: Florida Atlantic +4½ over UAB

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 4:00 AM GMT

The 1-4 Florida Atlantic Owls actually have a very good and underrated defense, and that unit can possibly key an upset when they visit the UAB Blazers on Saturday.

While an outright upset is entirely possible, taking the points Saturday in a Conference USA clash seems prudent when the Florida Atlantic Owls (1-4, 1-3 away) pay a visit to the UAB Blazers (1-3, 1-0 home) at Legion Field in Birmingham, AL at 3:00 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Florida Atlantic as a road underdog for this contest with the current line at +4½ with odds of -102.

Like quite a few other teams, Florida Atlantic is making the transition from playing in the Sun Belt Conference last season to joining Conference USA this year, and despite the Owls being 1-4, they have been quite competitive while going 4-1 ATS including a decisive outright upset of South Florida 28-10 as 12-point underdogs.

The Blazers meanwhile have not been quite as competitive while going 0-3 straight up and 1-2 ATS vs. FBS competition, as their only outright triumph came 52-28 over Northwestern State out of the FCS here at home. Quarterback Austin Brown completed only 50.0 percent of his passes there though vs. an FCS defense, which unfortunately does not vary much from his year-to-date performance, and his erratic play could help keep Florida Atlantic in this game.

FAU has remained competitive solely because of its defense, as if you take out one game vs. Middle Tennessee State where the Owls allowed 446 total yards in 42-35 overtime loss, they are allowing just 346.3 yards per game in their other four contests. Remember, this is a team that was actually competitive with the undefeated and nationally ranked Miami Hurricanes for a half in Week 1 before the Canes pulled away 34-6, Miami’s second lowest point total this year.

The Owls rank a respectable 48th in the country in total defense and they amazingly rank seventh in passing defense, and considering that they are entering a Conference USA that often treats defense as an afterthought, that unit could help FAU spring an upset or two in its first year in the conference, and this contest could very well be one of them.

UAB comes off of a 52-24 demolition absorbed at the hands of the Vanderbilt Commodores with Brown completing just 10-of-20 passes for 51 yards before being benched in favor of Jonathan Perry. That leaves Brown with a 51.6 completion percentage for the entire season while passing for 647 yards, and he does not figure to improve here vs. the excellent FAU pass defense.

That means that the Blazers will rely heavily on the running of Jordan Howard and Darrin Reaves, each of whom is averaging better than 6.0 yards per rush on the year. However, expect the Owls to put eight or maybe even nine men in the box to counteract that until Brown proves that he can beat the very good FAU cornerbacks over the top, and based on his performance the first four games, that may not happen.

Add all of this up and Florida Atlantic looks like a dangerous underdog with a realistic chance at an outright upset on Saturday.

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College Football Pick: Florida Atlantic +4½ (-102)