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Reply To: Week 5 – Friday Service Plays 10/2/15

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Memphis (-8½) 35 SOUTH FLORIDA 25

Memphis could suffer a letdown this week after last week’s thrilling 53-46 win over Cincinnati and the Tigers actually do apply to a negative 104-183-11 ATS road favorite letdown situation based on that high scoring affair. However, I’m still inclined to lean with Memphis despite the negative situation. The Tigers have averaged 54 points per game with quarterback Paxton Lynch in the company of the best quarterbacks in the nation with an average of 10.3 yards per pass play and 0 interceptions for the season. South Florida’s pass defense is a little better than what Lynch has faced on average this season but the Bulls did allow 9.0 yppp to Maryland in their most recent game. Lynch should post good enough numbers to make up for what should be poor rushing numbers (my model projects just 3.4 yard per rushing play for the Tigers) but I don’t expect Memphis to come close to their 54 point average.

The Memphis defense has looked horrible the last 2 weeks against the explosive attacks of Bowling Green and Cincinnati (7.7 yards per play and 87 points allowed) but the Tigers allowed just 4.3 yppl to Kansas and 2.9 yppl to Missouri State, so they’ve shown that they’re capable of shutting down bad offensive teams. South Florida’s offense isn’t as bad as those two teams but the Bulls are worse than average offensively (5.8 yards per play against teams that would allow 6.2 yppl to an average team) and their offensive strength, their running attack, doesn’t match up well against a Memphis defense that’s had problems defending good pass attacks but is better than average defending the run (4.2 yprp allowed to teams that would average 4.6 yprp). USF quarterback Quinton Flowers has averaged just 4.2 yards per pass play (against teams that would allow 6.3 yppp to an average QB) so he doesn’t appear capable of hurting Memphis through the air, as the Tigers allowed just 3.7 yppp to sub-par pass attacks of Missouri State and Kansas.

This game opened with Memphis as a 12½ point favorite and my math model favors the Tigers by 14½ points. The number has come down to 8½ points so the value is on the side of the Tigers and I’ll lean with Memphis despite the negative situation that they’re in tonight.

BYU (-17½ ) 31 Connecticut 14

BYU has faced the toughest schedule in the nation so far, with wins over Nebraska (on a Hail Mary) and Boise State and losses to UCLA and Michigan the last two weeks. The Cougars get a bit of a break this week and I might expect a letdown had they not been so thoroughly whipped last week by the Wolverines (a 0-31 loss). Home favorites of 16 points or more are 139-99-3 ATS (58.4%) if they’re coming off a loss of 20 points or more the previous week, including 53-27 ATS if they’ve lost 2 or more games in a row. So, last week’s embarrassment should supply good motivation for the BYU tonight. However, BYU’s offense is mediocre statistically this season, averaging 4.9 yards per play with Tanner Mangum at quarterback while facing teams that would allow 4.9 yppl to an average team. The offense took a hit with the injury to starting running back Adam Hine, who had 312 yards at 5.8 ypr before injuring his ankle. Connecticut has a good defense that’s allowed just 17.3 points per game and 5.0 yards per play against a schedule of teams that would average 5.2 yppl against an average defense. The Huskies have actually been worse than average against the two option teams (Army and Navy) that they faced but have been 0.5 yppl better than average defending teams that don’t run the option. So, U Conn’s defense will probably be better than their season rating against BYU’s pro-style attack.

Connecticut has averaged only 16.5 points per game and a sub-par 5.2 yards per play in their 4 games (against teams that would allow 5.7 yppl to an average team) and that unit is likely to struggle against a solid BYU defense that’s yielded 6.0 yppl to a good slate of opposing offensive teams that would combine to average 6.3 yppl against an average defensive team. Overall the math favors BYU by only 14 points but the situation favors the Cougars. I’ll pass on this game.