Pick Middle Tennessee State +3.5 Against Old Dominion

Jeff Grant

Monday, September 22, 2014 4:09 PM GMT

Monday, Sep. 22, 2014 4:09 PM GMT

The Old Dominion Monarchs are preparing to play their first Friday night home game in history, but the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders are capable of ruining the party. With sportsbooks slow to release the betting odds, we set our own lines and make our predictions.

Loving the Red Zone
Middle Tennessee has split its first four games of the 2014 campaign, but it has scored on all 20 of its trips inside the redzone, which is important to consider when making your Week 5 college football predictions for this nationally-televised contest on Fox Sports 1.

The Blue Raiders have to be pleased with that type of production, considering Austin Grammer is in his first season as a starter under center—completing 78 of 118 passes for 960 yards.

Placekicker Cody Clark is also a weapon for ninth-year head coach Rick Stockstill, as he’s hit 13 of his last 14 field goals.

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Spotlight Game
Old Dominion won its inaugural game in Conference USA last Saturday, as it earned a 45-42 victory over the Rice Owls as 6.5-point road underdogs, while outgaining its fourth consecutive opponent to start the season.

The Monarchs will be playing their first midweek game in school history, which can’t be ignored when looking over the college football betting lines, as they’ll likely play in front of a sellout crowd of 20,118 at Foreman Field in Norfolk, VA.

Over the last two-plus seasons, the program is 2-0 SU and 0-2 ATS in home games versus lined opponents.

 

Creating Turnovers
Over the last 17 games, the Blue Raider defense has forced 39 turnovers, but only six of those have come this season despite returning eight defensive starters from 2013.

Middle Tennessee State will face one of the best signal-callers in the country in this matchup, but its stop unit has come up with 28 interceptions over its last 22 contests, with 15 of those coming by eight different players a year ago.

 

Heinicke
The Monarchs will likely receive a majority of the action from the betting public, as senior Taylor Heinicke is the active career FBS leader in total offense, passing yards and touchdown passes.

He’s coming off a magical performance against the Owls—throwing for 430 yards and five touchdowns.

Heinicke has a major target in sophomore Zach Pascal, who had a game-high six catches for 111 yards last week, but he’s playing behind an offensive line that has had four different lineups in as many games.

 

Prediction
For the first of my free picks this week I’m going to recommend that readers back the Blue Raiders, as they’ve gone 12-5 ATS in their last 17 conference games.

College Football Pick:  Middle Tennessee State +3.5

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