Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:30 AM EST.
UL LAFAYETTE -1 -105 over App St - Cajun Field – Lafayette, LA
8:00 PM EST. Appalachian State is a team whose pedigree speaks for itself. This is a program that is very simply one of the giants of the mid-majors who has a history filled with a fabled upset and several FCS Championships. The Mountaineers are also the kings of the Sun Belt Conference and are a three-time defending champion. App State is also undefeated in bowl games. Given the accolades of the Mountaineers, as a general rule of thumb, you can expect to pay a premium to get behind them outside of any bout with a Power Five opponent. The Mountaineers were favored (-150) to repeat as Sun Belt Conference Champion in preseason futures markets. Though App State former Head Coach Scott Satterfield left for Louisville in the offseason, the Mountaineers have not missed a step, as they come into this contest undefeated and boast a win over North Carolina three weeks ago in Chapel Hill. The same UNC team that nearly shocked Clemson the week thereafter. Appalachian State is now evenly priced against an opponent that was priced at 14-1 to win the SBC in the same preseason futures market.
The question now is why is Lafayette being given so much respect by oddsmakers? The Ragin’ Cajuns have never defeated the Mountaineers previously, let alone lost a game by a single-digit margin once to App State. In fact, Appalachian State was laying double-digit points to the Ragin’ Cajuns the last five times these two have met. This game is also a stand alone game and to an unsuspecting market, the team with pedigree, series domination and recognizability is going to look like a gift. However, we assure you there is no such thing.
Coach Billy Napier has something special going on in the Bayou country. His Ragin’ Cajuns are the best rushing team in all of America, averaging an insane 314 yards per contest. This figure is just shy of being 90 yards greater than the fifth-ranked App State rushing attack which compiles a not-too-shabby 224.5 rushing yards per match (22nd in America). The Mountaineers average 47 points per game (5th nationally) while ULL averages 44.4 points per game (9th in the FBS). However, the deciding factor here is defense, most notably against the run. Appalachian State gets carved up against the run by giving up a generous 255 rushing yards per fixture (95th in the FBS) whilst the Cajuns are far stingier giving up 186.6 yards on the ground per match (23rd in America). When taking a look under the hood at both teams, it’s perfectly clear as to why Lafayette is priced as they are; they are literally in a position to run away with this one. That said, that’s X’s and O’s and readers of this space understand we don’t put much emphasis on that but it is the tale of the tape.
What’s noteworthy to point out is that the name that is Appalachian State is what is influencing this market. There is a strong belief held by many in this market that the Mountaineers are not supposed to lose to teams like Lafayette. However, this sentiment can very well work against the Mountaineers, as their dominance may cost them their strength (to quote Bane). These two teams met last year in the Sun Belt Conference Championship where ULL fell to App State 30-19 in what was a competitive bout until the Mounties pulled away in the fourth quarter. However, the Cajuns have an ever better shot at finally solving this Appalachian State riddle and they get to do so with their die-hards behind them in Cajun Country. Napier and company have undoubtedly been foaming at the mouth for the opportunity to settle the score with the Goliath of this league and we trust they have their rock and slingshot ready. In this stand alone game, oddsmakers opened this up with ULL being a -3 point choice and they didn’t make a mistake.
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UL LAFAYETTE -1 -105 (Risking 2.10 units - To Win: 2.00)