Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 3:10 PM EST.
Conference-USA Championship Game - Joan C. Edwards Stadium – Huntington, WV
UAB +4½ over MARSHALL
Streaming: CBS Sports Network in the Sports Group or the Sports & Outdoor Group
7:00 PM EST. UAB and Marshall have not crossed paths in six years so any useless trend that you read, see or hear about can be tossed out the window. If one were to hit the rewind button or travel in a time machine to 2014, UAB was a much different animal compared to what it is now. University of Alabama Birmingham was in maligned form and eventually folded its program, albeit temporarily before resurrecting a few years later. Channeling it’s inner Magikarp, the Blazers have evolved into a full-blown Gyrados in terms of the Conference USA pecking order. Like the legendary dragon itself (UAB’s mascot is also a dragon), the Blazers, too, have been breathing fire since they have returned to football and we suspect that this program sees this as yet another opportunity to remind the masses that they are not the UAB of yesteryear. The trends that favor Marshall are the same trends that provide us with this outstanding opportunity to get behind a live puppy.
Against the number this season, Marshall sits at 5-3 while the Blazers are 2-6. As a result of their against the spread records, UAB is working with an inflated number here. Despite all of the favorable trends and profits that are in Marshall’s favor, the linesmakers are reluctant to give the Blazers more points than the number offered. This resonates strongly with us, since the Thundering Herd were ranked in the teens at one point this season and remain the #21 ranked team in America. With home field also working to their advantage on paper, clearly Big Green looks primed to pay off but we’re urging you to not buy high.
Indeed, Marshall is a ranked outfit while UAB is not, but when taking a closer look under the hood, both teams are closer to each other in quality than the rankings suggest. One could make an argument that the Blazers are better than the Herd. Yes, the Herd only lost one game but that was perhaps one of the most severe losses of the entire season. The Thundering Herd were blanked 20-0 in their own yard by the visiting Rice Owls who were taking back 24½ points at kick-off. This was also the last time we saw Marshall on the gridiron. We cannot understate how bad of a loss that was. Aside from that, who the f**k have the Herd beaten? Their résumé consists of wins over Eastern Kentucky, Western Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, Florida Atlantic, UMass and Mid-Tennessee State. Marshall’s only credible win came against App State but the Herd scored just 17 points in that contest and were very fortunate that App State didn’t score more. One would be hard pressed to find a slate of games easier than Marshall’s this season. Marshall paid the price once for scheduling games against garbage and they are about to double down.
On the flipside, UAB opened its season with a loss at Miami (where the Blazers led at one point) to a Hurricane team that cracked the top-10 this season, lost a bitter defeat to UL-Lafayette (presently ranked inside the top 20), and then followed up the heartbreaking loss by blowing a two-touchdown lead on the road against Louisiana Tech where two overtimes were required for the Blazers to lose. In all three of those games, UAB could have actually won. At worst, UAB is on par with Marshall. They are also the far more battle tested team, which is more than enough reasons to grab these points. Throw in some UAB on the money line in some parlays and you have some outstanding value working.
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UAB +4½ -110 (Risking 2.20 units - To Win: 2.00)