The Halloween College Football slate is absolutely loaded but for those looking to whet their appetite with some Friday Night betting, a Halloween-eve tripleheader will be the cure that ails you.
Here’s a breakdown of each contest and the Best Bet to take in each. If you’re feeling like testing your luck with good ol’ fashioned sports betting and are looking to upgrade your Halloween candy from Milk Duds to Reese’s (the GOAT of Halloween candy please don’t at me), read along.
Minnesota (0-1, 0-1 B10) at Maryland (0-1, 0-1 B10)
Spread: Minnesota -18.5
Total: O/U 61
Time/TV: 7:30 PM ET, ESPN
The Friday Night slate kicks off with the Week 2 opener in the Big Ten when Minnesota travels to College Park to face Maryland in a matchup of two teams looking to rebound after blowout defeats to start their respective seasons.
Entering the 2020 season, expectations were high for a Minnesota team that went 11-2 a year ago, but a 49-24 thumping at the hands of Michigan was not the start PJ Fleck had in mind. What better ‘get right’ spot for the Golden Gophers than a road date with a woeful Maryland Terrapin team coming off a 43-3 loss to perennial Big Ten powerhouse Northwestern.
Minnesota could not have started their season a whole lot worse than they did last week, as Michigan outplayed them in virtually every facet of the game. The Gophers did look noticeably rusty on offense, particularly the play of their junior quarterback Tanner Morgan who only threw for 197 yards with two turnovers in that loss to Michigan. In general, the offense looked off, and the turnovers were quite uncharacteristic for a PJ Fleck coached team. Expect that to clean up this week.
Where Maryland can potentially make this a more interesting contest comes not so much because of their offense, which showed virtually nothing in their season opener, but a Minnesota defense that struggled mightily and played like a unit that had eight new players on it.
If the Terrapins offense can shake off a 40-point loss to Northwestern, it will need significantly better play from new quarterback and Alabama transfer Taulia Tagovailoa. Taulia went 14 for 25 for 94 yards and three interceptions while posting a QB rating of 28.1 in his debut start. Did I mention he did this against NORTHWESTERN?
Maryland’s defense was a complete disaster, surrendering 537 yards to a team that boasted the 123rd overall offense in college football a season ago. The Terps having a terrible defense was expected coming into the season, as they posted the worst defense in the conference last season but playing that poorly against Northwestern was a slight surprise.
This game ultimately comes down to what Maryland can do offensively and the burden will fall on young Taulia Tagovailoa, however, not even his older brother could save the Terrapins this season. Minnesota rolls and gets back to .500 on the young season.
Prediction: Minnesota 45, Maryland 14
Best Bet: Minnesota (-18.5)
East Carolina (1-3, 1-2 AAC) at Tulsa (2-1, 2-0 AAC)
Spread: Tulsa -16.5
Total: O/U 59.5
Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET, ESPN2
After an extensive layoff due to games behind shuffled from COVID-19, Tulsa finally returned to action a week ago and blew the doors off South Florida in a 42-13 road victory.
The Golden Hurricane improved to 2-0 in American Athletic Conference play and most importantly proved their defense is for real. Tulsa held South Florida to just 305 total yards of offense while also forcing the Bulls to go just 2-for-15 on third down. It was their third impressive performance of the season, and they’ve officially put the rest of the conference on notice.
Offensively, Tulsa posted their best outing of the season following the long layoff. Not only did the Golden Hurricane post a season-high 42 points in the win, they did it by mercilessly running the football against a helpless South Florida defense. Tulsa entered the game with 231 yards on the season, they rushed for 227 and four touchdowns against the Bulls. Their rushing unit could be in for another big game as East Carolina surrenders over 200 yards a game on the ground.
If Tulsa can get better consistency from their offense to pair with their ferocious defense, they have the potential to become a real problem in the AAC.
However, East Carolina’s offense is dynamic enough to potentially make the game closer than Tulsa would like. First of all, they get starting quarterback Holton Ahlers back after he missed his start against Navy with a positive COVID-19 test. Rahjai Harris is the Pirates’ best weapon with 287 yards rushing and two touchdowns in ECU’s last two games.
ECU’s defense though, for lack of a better word, stinks. They allowed 100 points in their first two contests, and have improved somewhat since then as they did limit Navy to a modest 27 points, but Navy did gouge them for 288 yards on the ground. Overall as a unit, the Pirates surrender nearly 460 yards per contest and don’t do a lot of things especially well. They could be in for a long evening facing a steady dose of running from a Tulsa team that recently rediscovered they can do that.
I’m wary of the point spread in this one, so I’ll back the under which has moved from 61.5 all the way down to 59.5 before kickoff. I would back the under up to 58.5.
Prediction: Tulsa 34, ECU 20
Best Bet: UNDER 59.5 (Up to 58.5)
Hawaii (1-0, 1-0 MWC) at Wyoming (0-1, 0-1 MWC)
Spread: Hawaii -1
Total: O/U 59.5
Time/TV: 9:45 PM ET, FS1
Cold and windy conditions await the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors when they meet Wyoming in the team’s second straight road game to start their abbreviated Mountain West Conference season.
In recent seasons that may have been enough to leave the pass-reliant Rainbow Warriors for dead, but they are coming off of a game in which they ran for 323 yards in their season-opening victory over Fresno State.
It was a new look at a much different offense heading to the Island’s courtesy of their new head coach Todd Graham, with his dual-threat quarterback Chevan Cordeiro doing the brunt of the damage with 116 yards rushing and two touchdowns to accompany his 20-for-31 for 229-yard passing effort. Hawaii’s junior running back Miles Reed also contributed 109 yards on 21 carries and Hawaii opened the year with a semi-surprising 34-19 win in Fresno.
To avoid having the team fly back to Hawaii only to fly back into Laramie, Graham elected to keep his team in Denver for the week where they will then make the two-hour bus ride north for this contest.
Unlike Hawaii, Wyoming sputtered out of the gate early in a road loss to Nevada. The Cowboys opened the game trailing 28-6 before putting forth a frenetic comeback, ultimately falling short in a 37-34 loss.
Wyoming’s slow start to the season could be attributed to the loss of their quarterback as Sean Chambers suffered yet another season-ending injury on the third play of the Cowboys season. It is the third consecutive season cut short by a season-ending injury for the Wyoming quarterback and a brutal reminder of how cruel this sport can be.
Freshman quarterback Levi Williams took a bit to get settled before leading the rally, and he was tabbed as the quarterback of the future in Laramie, the future was just not expected to start quite this soon.
The young QB figures to lean a bit more on the running game tonight considering the cold and windy conditions in the forecast. Xazavian Valladay, who possesses one of the best names in all of college football, will be the Cowboys workhorse back tonight and is coming off a modest 87 yards rushing on 22 carries in the Wyoming opener. However, Wyoming was forced to throw the ball much more than they typically do considering the 22-point hole they found themselves in so look for Valladay to improve on those numbers.
Defensively, the Cowboys looked rusty and as though they were still gelling as a group. This isn’t a surprise considering Wyoming’s defensive unit did have a considerable amount of turnover in the offseason, but in the second half of their loss to Nevada, they looked like a much better group and closer to their 2019 iteration.
This has all the makings of a classic overreaction game and the overreaction is in regards to Hawaii’s uncharacteristically phenomenal day on the ground (their largest since 2016) and a misleading opening game from Wyoming. The weather will be anything but Hawaii like on Friday night, and a cold wind will impact the Rainbow Warriors and send them back to paradise with a .500 record. In my best bet of the evening, I am backing Wyoming.
Prediction: Wyoming 33, Hawaii 20
Best Bet: Wyoming ML (-106)
Halloween Treat: Wyoming -6.5 Alt Line (+180)